On Monday [8 June], nearly 100 migrants and activists were detained in Paris as the police were trying to clear an unauthorized migrant camp in the city center.
But it’s not just France that is trying to deal with the increasing number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe. This weekend European ships rescued almost 6,000 migrants who had run into trouble on their way to Italy.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 1,820 have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe. EU leaders are trying to solve this problem; one option is a migrant quota system under which EU countries each take a share of migrants.
RT: Do you think the situation with migrants in Europe is reaching boiling point?
Ajamu Baraka: I think we have reached this boiling point quite some time ago. We have to put this in a historic perspective. The contradiction of many of these individuals who are now going to Europe to seek a ‘better life’ is a direct consequence of the colonial practices of Western Europe.
The unevenness in the terms of the level of economic development in the global South and the development in the North is a direct consequence of the exploitative relationship between Western Europe and the global South. So what we have now in Europe are basically the people who have been exposed, exploited and oppressed, who are now making their way to Europe in order to live a decent life.
RT: France isn’t the only European nation dealing with an influx of migrants. Discontent is growing in Italy too, where the governor of Lombardy has urged local mayors not to accept migrants. Do you think Europe is becoming less tolerant?
AB: Europe has been less tolerant for quite some time and the latest example of that of course are pending plans to address the migrant crisis in Europe by attacking Libya, in essence, attacking the boats, exercising its right to unleash violence against a country in a situation that Libya finds itself in.
Look, this was a situation created by Europe. They have this so-called crisis now because you have something like 200,000 illegal migrants who are going to Europe, a population of over 500 million people, and the result now is to engage in violence and to engage in repressive behavior.
So this is something that we have seen not just recently but it’s been a long standing policy to repress and to brutalize individuals who have been trying to penetrate the European fortress for the last couple of decades.
RT: What will stop this then?
AB: It’s not going to be completely stopped. What has to happen is to allow these nations who are struggling to correct the situation imposed on them by the US and by NATO, to allow them to fully develop. We have to change the relationships between Western Europe and these various countries in the global South.
In the meantime, though, there has to be some kind of rational policy to incorporate, to integrate these populations into European countries and to ensure that they are not going to be subjected to social discrimination.
‘EU wants migration but without any rights’
Western multinationals plundering raw materials and the labor force from Middle East and African countries makes it impossible for people to live there, so they have to come to the EU to find money and help their families to survive, investigative journalist Michel Collon told RT.
Moreover, these enterprises do need migrant labor but they don’t want to provide them with any rights, he adds.
RT: Several proposals on how to deal with the migrant influx have been tabled – from destroying people smugglers’ boats, to assigning migrant quotas. Are these viable solutions?
Michel Collon: When 900 African people die dramatically in the Mediterranean Sea, Europe [said]: “It’s horrible, all this human drama, we have to find a solution.”
But this is hypocrisy because the EU is not the solution; it’s the problem for two reasons.
First, there is a big traffic of human beings organized by the mafia in the eastern part of Libya. In 2011 when I wrote a book about Libya, “NATO and Media Lies” in French (“Libye, OTAN et Médiamensonges: Manuel de contre-propagande”) I [said] NATO made an alliance to overthrow [former Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi first with the Libyan section of al-Qaeda and second with the Libyan mafia east of Libya was organizing this very rich trafficking.
Gaddafi was fighting against the trafficking – he didn’t control everything but he was trying to stop that. So if you are making an alliance with the mafia then you have the results and of course you help them to organize this traffic.
And the second and even more important reason is this: Why are these people leaving Africa or the Middle East or other regions? Because they are poor.
And why are they poor? Because the Western multinationals from France, Belgium, the UK are plundering their raw materials, the labor force and controlling their economy.
So if you make it impossible for African people to live there, they have to come to Europe to try to find some money and help their families to survive. So Europe is not the solution, Europe is really the problem.
RT: What will be the EU approach to the problem of migration? What will be successful?
MC: Actually you have a second hypocrisy when some people and some extreme right parties, like party like the FN in France and others, are saying: “We have too many immigrants and this must be stopped because they take the jobs of the people here,” one has to remember that the [largest] part of immigration happens in the African, Arab and Asian countries and only a small minority comes here.
Immigration has always happened and the only problem is if you make life impossible there you cannot stop immigration. Also the enterprises here don’t want to stop it because they use it, they import migrants, but they do it on the condition that they have no rights, no trade unions, that they cannot defend themselves.
So the idea is to use them to put pressure on the salaries, on the working conditions and this is not only against those people while transformed into sort of slaves but this is also against the workers here. So it’s again hypocrisy because they really want migration, but they want migration without rights.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT, neither do they necessarily represent those of Human Wrongs Watch.