Stories from Quick Reads and Migration & Immigration
After years of promotion and reviews of documentaries devoted to social change, the site Films for Action released a list of what they consider to be the 100 most influencial and provocative. From critiques to manistream media to the corporate world, passing through the ideas and solutions proposed in and by the majority world, this list of films present a wide view of ideas that many consider crucial to discuss.
Documentaries have an incredible power to raise awareness and create transformative changes in consciousness both at the personal and global levels […] All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online. There are several films we would have loved to add to this list, but they currently don't have an accessible way to view them. As that changes, we'll be updating this list over time. Enjoy!
The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.
I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.
I demand urgently and immediately:
- Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
- Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
- Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.
The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.
Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.
The government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the Asylum Law on June 16.
Read more of our special coverage: Streams of Refugees Seek Sanctuary in Europe
20,000 Nigeriens took to the streets in Niamey, Niger on June, 6. There are multiple causes for the protests: endemic poverty, mediocre governance and restricted free speech are among the main grievances from Nigerien civil society. These protests come on the hill of similar uprisings in Burkina Faso, Burundi and Togo. The government resigned in Burkina Faso while elections are postponed in Burundi. In May, citizens in Lome protested presidential election results that saw Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe won a third term.
Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:
AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?
Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.
I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.
I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.
The perils of crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are well documented, but for thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, crossing Mexico is even more dangerous.
To reach the US border, undocumented migrants from Central America undertake a dangerous 1,500-mile trip through Mexico, where they risk being kidnapped, assaulted or killed by the drug cartels, gangs and even the police. What happens in that journey?
This animation will take you through that journey, explaining the threats that migrants face to reach the “safety” of the US.
What is it like to be gay in the Caribbean? The Travelling Trini occasionally gets emails from young gay Trinidadians who “have the burning desire to go abroad, travel, and see the world”. She deduces that this wanderlust stems from the fact that “the Caribbean is a incredibly homophobic place with a raging macho-man culture, and coming out is an incredibly difficult, and often dangerous, thing to do.”
The post goes on to list several songs that promoted homophobia and gay violence back in the nineties: Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye was unsurprisingly at the top of the heap, but the blogger describes them all as “dark, violent and downright disgusting.” She asks:
Why is it not considered hate speech? Why are radio stations allowed to play it? […] The question is, why is it okay to still be so violently anti-gay in 2015?
She connects this constricted reality with the desire many gay Caribbean people have to migrate and testifies that the Far East, where she currently resides, “is a very gay friendly place, indeed”:
There are thriving gay scenes in every country, from the liberal far east to the conservative Middle East and everywhere in between.
The whole world is not straight. It never has been, and it never will be. […]
Unfortunately these liberal lifestyles are not tolerated in the Caribbean, and are in fact still criminalised under law. There is no legal protection for LGBT citizens […] just as people fought for equal rights based on race, and equal rights based on gender, the next step in our human evolution is equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Europe is fighting its own make-believe enemy”: This is the message that a dozen of associations in defense of migrants wanted to convey when they organized a human chain between the tramway station “Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights)” and the EU Parliament station in Strasbourg on November 26. In order to put Human Rights back at the core of Europe” and oppose the policy adopted by the European Agency of Border Control Frontex, protesters held signs that narrate the tragic plight of migrants trying to reach Europe. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to make the journey from their hometowns into Europe.
Here are a few photos of the event :
Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]
A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.
From El Salvador, Pablo Lüers writes an open letter to migrant children who have traveled on their own to the United States and who will be deported back to their countries:
Ustedes aquí en El Salvador y en su pueblo o barrio, se van a encontrar de vuelta con cada una de las razones que los hicieron emprender el viaje, a pesar de todos los riesgos. Quienes de ustedes tienen hermanos mayores pandilleros, los van a encontrar todavía sin perspectiva de salida de la cárcel o de la vida criminal, porque aun no existe una política pública para abrirles puertas a una vida dentro de la sociedad.
[…] Todos, hayan sido victimas de pandillas o de policías o simplemente de la violencia generalizada, van a regresar a lo mismo. Porque es ilusorio pensar que las grandes noticias sobre su odisea en los desiertos y los territorios de narcos en México, sobre su captura y su sobre su deportación hayan despertado en los gobernantes de su patria El Salvador conciencia de lo que deben a esta generación perdida que llaman “jóvenes en riesgo”.
Así que, bichos, prepárense bien: En el aeropuerto los va a recibir con discursos conmovedores, pero al rato les va a tocar ver cómo sobreviven, cómo terminen la escuela, cómo encuentran un trabajo, y cómo hacen para no volverse pandilleros o víctimas de pandilleros, presos o muertos.
Here in El Salvador and in your town or neighborhood, you will face again the same reasons that made you set out on your journey, in spite of all possible risks. Those of you who have older brothers in gangs will find they still don't see a way out of jail or a life of crime, as there are no public policies to open doors for them in society.
[…] All of you, whether victim of gangs or police agents or just the general violence, will be back to the same situation. It is illusory to think that the big news about your ordeal in the deserts and the drug dealer territories in Mexico, about your detention and deportation have awakened awareness in the rulers of your country, El Salvador, about what they owe this lost generation they know as “youth at risk”.
So, lads, be prepared. At the airport, you'll be welcomed with heartbreaking speeches, but in no time you will have to figure out how to survive, how to graduate from school, how to find a job and how not to become part of a gang or a victim of a gang, how not to end up in jail or dead.
From Mexico, Katia D'Artigues, author of the blog Campos Elíseos (Champs Elysées), writes about the children who see themselves forced to emigrate on their own [es], and calls this a “humanitarian tragedy”:
Son niños que son orillados a cruzar la frontera solos. No lo hacen por aventura, sino porque muchas veces no les queda de otra, por pobreza; porque buscan reunirse con un familiar quizá su padre o su madre que ya está en Estados Unidos. Su número crece día con día. Ya se cuentan en miles y al menos un centenar son detenidos todos los días de acuerdo a cifras no oficiales.
They are children who are pulled to cross the border by themselves. They don't do it for the sake of adventure, but because most of the times they don't have any more choices, out of poverty; because they are looking to reunite with a relative, maybe their father or mother who is already in the United States. Figures grow day by day. They are already counted by the thousands and at least a hundred are put into custody every day, according to unofficial numbers.
She then adds:
Cómo están estos niños? Independiente de su estatus y nacionalidad son niños y tienen derechos. […] Lo cierto es que ya se estipuló que se les asignará un abogado gratis para ver su proceso que, como es obvio, es único en cada caso. Ahora, son solo 100 abogados que comenzarán a trabajar en diciembre de este año o enero de 2015.
No van a alcanzar.
How are those children? No matter their status and citizenship, they are children and have rights. […] It's established already that they will be provided an attorney for free to assess their process, which obviously is one per child. For now, there are only 100 attorneys who will start working by December this year or January 2015.
They won't be enough.
While the European immigration crisis is not showing any signs of dying down, the EU has been taking some much needed measures related to saving the lives of the people who are trying to enter Europe trough the Mediterranean. Aside from the Mediterranean Sea, migrants have also been fleeing their home countries by way of the now familiar ‘Balkan Route’, traveling from Kosovo and war-torn Middle Eastern countries. One of the key entrance points to European grounds is the route from non-EU Serbia into neighboring EU member Hungary. Hence, to keep immigrants out of the European Union, the Hungarian PM is planning on erecting a 4-meter-high, 175-kilometer-long fence along the border with Serbia.
Victor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, said during the Globsec Bratislava Security Conference:
Mađarska ne vjeruje u europsko rješenje pitanja ilegalnih imigranata, a zid prema susjedima gradi jer je to “obaveza države”.
Hungary does not believe in the European solution of the illegal immigrant problem and the wall towards our neighbors is this country's obligation
There were more than 50,000 illegal entrances to Hungary since the beginning of January 2015. At the same time, 47,000 migrants have entered Italy. Austria and Germany will return 15,000 illegal immigrants to Hungary and, by the end of the year, there could be some 150,000 immigrants in that country by the end of the year, Al-Jazeera reports.
A podcast by photojournalist Mauro Prandelli describes first-hand what is it like to be an undocumented person and to stay at the immigrant camp in Hungary, an immigrant calling the country “a dead zone for immigrants”. The interview was recorded in Bogovajda bush, 70