‘Best country in the world. You would hate it.’

The new (anti-)integration minister in Denmark, Inger Støjberg of Venstre, wants to put adverts in foreign newspapers warning refugees against going to Denmark to seek asylum. Apparently, someone from that nice agency Frontex, which not too long ago worked closely with Gaddafi because he was good at keeping Africans out of Europe, says migrants—including straight up refugees from war zones—take things like benefits and rules for family reunification into consideration when leisurely choosing which promised land to go to.

Denmark dodges another bullet.

Denmark dodges another bullet.

Because, of course that’s how that works. When shells are raining down over your children, of course you’re going to take the time to study your dream destination. You’re certainly not just interested in fleeing from war and mayhem; you have to think way more long-term. Where can you increase your overall portfolio?!?

In Germany they know whaddup. Source: http://on.fb.me/1GLeBAS

In Germany they know whaddup. Source: http://on.fb.me/1GLeBAS

The extremist right-wing party, Danish People’s Party (extremist in terms of policies, not as in they have few supporters—they’re actually the second largest party in Denmark as of the latest election), wanted to go further and actually film an anti-advert for Denmark. It seems someone in Australia did a similar thing, and now the extremists want to emulate it. I guess they haven’t heard about this deadly island yet. I wonder how they would reconcile the anti-advert with their mantra that Denmark is the best country in the history of countries?

‘This is the best country in the entire world. You would hate it here.’

Anyway, I fiddled with some text and have come up with a suggestion for the governing party Venstre:

Keep your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
I only want the ones to improve my score.
Send these, the rich, young and white to me
I bolt the door to any fleeing from war!

They could put that in their adverts, but also, they could have it ingraved on a little (or big, if that’s how they want to roll) plaque and put it up by the Little Mermaid, just like the one in the Statue of Liberty. It would get on all those tourist photos and get spread around the world for free!

And everyone would know.

Am I an anti-marketing genius or what.

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Filed under asylum, denmark

‘It’s not a human right to [insert human right here]’

A pretty awful letter to the editor appeared in the Danish daily Berlingske yesterday, of all days, penned by a lady with a very Bosnian sounding name. The title is “Denmark should close its borders entirely”, and the author, who writes she arrived in Denmark 22 years ago—ie. same year as I did—starts off by stating:

Many make the mistake of assuming it is a human right to settle down in Denmark. It is not.

While I in my years of working in the asylum rights movement in Denmark never met anyone who claimed they believed any such thing, and this is nothing but a straw man fallacy, let’s have a look at Article 14 (1) of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Denmark is a signatory:

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

So… I mean, not to be nitpicky, but looking at the actual human rights, it kind of is a human right to seek asylum in another country. And even enjoy it, if you get it.

I’m consciously focusing on asylum here, even though the author avoids mentioning it by name, because she specifically lists refugees among those who pose a problem to Denmark. You see, it’s en vogue these days to portray refugees as basically lazy tourists out to live off benefits in hard-working nations of simple folk, and I’m sorry, but that cannot be left unchallenged.

Fun fact: Until your status is resolved, you’re not allowed to work.

Another fun fact: When the text of the declaration was adopted in 1948, Denmark voted for, while the People’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia abstained.

A fun fact that’s even closer to home: Back in 1993, when both the author of the above letter to the editor and yours truly came to Denmark, we were barred from applying for asylum. (Applying, not getting it.) This particular human right remained suspended until mid-1995 while the authorities hoped the war in ex-Yugoslavia would be resolved quickly enough for us to go back and not need any asylum.

You’d think the author would remember this. I, for one, remember those two years in the Red Cross centre vividly. We were as suspended as our human right to seek asylum. And now, all these years later, she rejects it entirely for others?!

You’d think having been in a situation would make you more understanding of those living it today. At least enough to not be saying, ‘Well, I’m safe. Phew! You can bolt the door now, thx.’

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Filed under asylum, bosnia-herzegovina, denmark

One of these things is not like the others

Hint: It’s the ‘Big Brother needs you’ one.

buggy

little patience

hold on

report

Recommended reading: They do this in Canada, too.

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Filed under UK

The Guardian and The Only Democracy™

najia

Because the important thing here is to protect the military power Israel, not the child Najia.

The Only Democracy in the Middle East murders over 450 children in the concentration camp Gaza, and The Guardian is like ‘But think about Israel!!!!11! These children will grow up to hate it!!!’ D:

I’ll say it again: Gaza is a concentration camp, and in more ways than one. Not just because when Israel decides to go about eradicating it, people have no other exit than death. It’s also because of how it’s being run in between these massacres. Did you know that everyone in it is being starved? The army has literally calculated how many calories per person to allow into the concentration camp in order to keep people on the brink of malnutrition. I’ve known hunger as a war child, and I’m telling you, that alone is enough to mark you for life. The hunger alone, even without the massacres, the fire raining from above, the lack of medicine, the lack of any form of certainty that you’ll see the sun rise again.

What exactly do you expect from a child born into captivity and psychotic violence at the hands of a massive military power? How utterly clueless and heartless are you really to demand that anyone preserve a shred of sanity in those circumstances? They’re surrounded by ultra-violence before they’ve even left the womb, and you have a member of the Knesset who has told you that’s what should be the aim.

Any teacher in Bosnia-Herzegovina will tell you that even the children born during or after the war are weighed down by collective trauma even without having experienced the war themselves. The terror of it is not something that magically vanishes with the stroke of a pen signing a bloody agreement even if the shooting stops.

And is Israel going to stop the shooting any time soon? Or the calculated starvation? No. Why should they when the entire world is supporting them, either with actual weapons or complicit silence. The voices pointing out the mass psychosis aren’t nearly loud enough. Poor those people in Israel working against the madness. The poor, poor people. When it’s gone so far than there are open calls for genocide in The Times of Israel.

The world continues to support the ongoing destruction of Palestine out of some seriously misguided sense of guilt for the genocide committed against the Jews in the Second World War. ‘We brutalised your ancestors; here, feel free to brutalise these other people on a different continent’? How in the hell does that make any sense? Now, generations of Palestinians have systematically been treated as inhumanely as possible with the explicit aim to destroy them, destroy the fabric of their society so that they will never recover, and that is somehow alright.

You already know that violence begets violence; your panicked headline betrays that much. So why is it that you’re not focusing on stopping the violence here and now instead of running pro-aggression ads using accusations of blood libel, for chrissakes?

Fuck you, Guardian. And fuck anyone who dares say ‘never again’ where I can hear them.

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Filed under media, politics

Dating within the pen

The wrong kind of website chose to follow me on twitter the other day. I was on my phone and just saw it was something with ‘Balkan’ in the name and thought ‘alright, cool’. A couple of days later I actually took a look at the twitter account. And saw red.

Although the bio says something about ‘strengthening the Balkan community in the USA and globally’, it’s actually just a dating website. They most likely followed me at random, as advertising—hoping I’d follow back—or maybe they even saw the ‘bosnae’ in my twitter name and thought ‘here’s a proper patriot’ or whatever.

Anyway, it’s a dating website for people hailing from the Balkans. Because the first thing you want to check out when looking for a date is people’s parents’ passports.

When I called them on it, they were like—

So I said—

After which they unfollowed me since I clearly wasn’t in the target group for, well, racist dating. The kind of dating where your criterion no. 1 is that the other person or at least their parents be from a specific country (and belong to a specific religion as well, I’m sure). ‘Cause what you really want to do is date the parents… or something. I don’t even know how it works, even though I’ve been dealing with this nonsense for at least half my life (I am in my 30s now). This website tries to present the concept in the nicest way possible, but basically, what it boils down to is racism. And the way they talk about it is as if it’s a given that of course you want to only date inside your group. And living among all these other people is just so inconvenient when you want to find a date, they’re just so in the way, you know what I mean? Ugh, FFS.

Not that I don’t think there’s a huge audience for their services. I’ve heard and seen some awfully disappointing displays of bigotry among Bosnians in Denmark, including those of my own generation or even slightly younger, which—back in the day—broke my heart more times than I can count. When I first went off to uni, I thought for sure the people I would meet there would be open-minded, worldly and intelligent. Or at the very least non-racist!

It didn’t quite work that way. On the one hand, the atmosphere at my uni actually became unbearably hostile toward Muslims for a while following the attacks of 11. September 2001, and on the other hand, I experienced social exclusion from a Bosnian student organisation in part for dating a Dane and in part, bizarrely, for being politically active. (Their issue was not what kind of political opinions I had, but the fact that I had them at all. I know, weird.)

Over the years, I’ve had the displeasure of seeing this bigotry in nearly every shape and form and it’s equally disgusting every time. The only difference is that nowadays I’ve got no patience for the bigots anymore.

You would turn your back on a friend for dating outside the tribe? You’re an idiot.

You pass laws sending your young into exile for marrying outside the tribe? You’ll be needing them far more than they’ll be needing you. (I’m looking at you, Denmark.)

You would terrorise or disown your child for dating outside the tribe? You don’t even deserve children. What you should get is, like, orchids or something that you can cross and breed however you like since that seems to be your obsession. Fool.

You actually like someone outside your tribe but choose not to be with them because you don’t want be cast out? I pity you most of all. You know for a fact that what your peers or parents are pressing for is wrong and against your own wishes, yet you choose them over yourself. Because, let me tell you, honey, that is exactly what you’re doing. It’s never a choice between your family and your partner. It’s a choice between whoever is trying to dictate your life and you. Always and only you. And if you start whining about pressure and ‘not everyone is that strong’ and whatnot, just stop. It’s not about strength, it’s about integrity. That persistant voice that will always tell you what’s right and true for you, no matter how hard or scary things are. That doesn’t take strength, it just takes paying attention to yourself. No one says following through is easy, but you have a choice.

Unless of course, you decided to stifle that voice—the better to bleat with the rest of the sheep. In which case you need to own up to it. You can’t lay that down at anyone else’s feet. It’s not an out-clause. But hey, I know just the dating site for you.

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Filed under balkans, society

Bosnia floods: ‘This is going to stay with us for the next 20-30 years’

Originally posted on Bosnia-Herzegovina Protest Files:

‘The material damage caused by the floods is far worse than after the war,’ Vedad Pašić from the Tuzla Plenum tells us on Skype, and I’m so shaken by this I hardly hear the rest of what he says.

We’re at a Bosnia Solidarity Meeting at Brighton University; a meeting that was planned long ago, before the disastrous floods had hit large parts of the Balkans. It was supposed to focus on the uprising that erupted with the protests of early February, but is inevitably coloured by the large-scale disaster in the form of the worst floods the region has seen in 120 years.

In the face of tragedy, people rallied together and helped each other without regard for the divisions that had been wedged between them for over two decades. It isn’t just neighbours helping neighbours either. People travel to the affected areas from other parts of the country—among…

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VIDEO: ‘Bosnia today is a plenum’

Originally posted on Bosnia-Herzegovina Protest Files:

Below is a subtitled programme about the plenums in Bosnia-Herzegovina with activists Damir Arsenijević and Šejla Šehabović, moderated by Senad Hadžihafizbegović on Face TV. Originally broadcast on 14.2.2014. Subtitles by Kole Kili and Amila Bosnae.

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