With Bogus Online Rumors and a Fake Humanitarian Agency, Germany Slams the Door on Afghan Refugees
Germany is portrayed as a country that warmly welcomes refugees from all over the world while other European countries are closing their borders and right-wing parties are dominating the political discourse. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considered one of the few politicians who handles the refugee issue in a moral way, avoiding the cynical realism of her European counterparts. Merkel’s opponents have cast her as a naive Gutmensch, a German euphemism often used by right-wingers to describe leftists or liberals.
Despite many setbacks, Germany's refugee policy seems to be more liberal than in other European countries. However, the dark side of the government’s agenda has been mostly kept hidden from public view. Among the most disturbing initiatives put into place by Germany is the inhuman classification of refugees, who are organized according to national and religious groups.
The main victims of this classification are people from Afghanistan, a country devastated by one war after another over the past 40 years. While people from Iraq and Syria are welcomed to Germany, Afghans are not. Seeking to justify this discriminatory policy, Thomas de Maiziere, Germany's Interior Minister, insisted that Afghans do not have any reason to leave their native land, claiming it has benefited from "so much development aid flown into Afghanistan." During his last visit to Kabul, de Maiziere repeated his stance and demanded that the influx of refugees has to be stopped. That day, a suicide bomber killed at least 20 people in the middle of the city.
Meanwhile, Steffen Seibert, the Chancellor's spokesman, insisted that "Afghanistan cannot be described as a country torn by civil war in general. According to Seibert, there are more than enough safe havens inside the country. Why bother fleeing to Europe or Germany when you live in the safety and security of Kandahar?
The facts tell an altogether different story. According to the United Nation's latest report on Afghanistan, at least 11,000 civilians have been killed or injured in 2015, the highest number of casualties since the counting started in 2009. Some analysts suspect that the figures are much higher, noting that the U.N. tabulates its casualties in a very conservative way, requiring at least three sources to confirm a single casualty. The country's most war-torn areas are practically unreachable, especially for journalists and human rights activists. For that reason, there is also a lack of media coverage relating different incidents like drone strikes or NATO special forces missions. The escalating bloodshed in Afghanistan has gone ignored by the German government.
Government generated rumors and innuendo
During the end of last year, Germany started a so-called information campaign on the streets of Kabul and other big cities in Afghanistan as well as on social media platforms. Operating under the hashtag #RumoursAboutGermany, the campaign aimed to discourage Afghan refugees from migrating to Germany. It consisted of a torrent of distressing innuendo and rumors about Germany disseminated through social media in English, Dari and Pashto that portrayed "real life" in Germany as a living hell.
One government-generated social media comment warned that Afghans in Germany are doomed to failure. "Many Afghans in Germany, who are unqualified or do not speak German, are unemployed," the propaganda read, without offering any empirical facts. Another message suggested that living in Germany was impossible without total command of the German language. Such messages target only brown-skinned refugees with Muslim backgrounds, but not the bankers, businessmen and white expatriate hipsters who have overrun cities like Berlin since the fall of the Wall and who contribute to an atmosphere where English is spoken as commonly as German in some areas.
Germany is not just deterring people inside Afghanistan from leaving their country for the shores of Europe. At the end of February, 125 Afghan refugees were directly deported from Frankfurt to Kabul. According to the German government, all of the "participants," mainly aged between 15 and 25 years, agreed to leave the country voluntarily. The Afghans received a few hundred Euros in exchange for self-deportation.
A deportation machine under humanitarian guise
Buried in reports about the voluntary exodus was the fact that the International Organization of Migration, a shadowy transnational organization, assisted the deportation procedures. According to critics, IOM is mainly disguising itself as an humanitarian group while it acts in an iron-fisted manner against refugees, doing everything in its power to keep them out of Europe.
In the past, IOM conducted deportations and described them as "voluntary returns.” It promoted itself as an independent organization while representing the particular interests of different states, democratic or not. IOM frequently pats itself on the back for saving eastern European women from human trafficking and sex slavery, but the organization remains silent on the fact that it is helping only those women who are ready to return to their home countries. IOM is also known for its support of deportations to clearly insecure countries like Iraq or Afghanistan. For that and many other reasons, critics continue insisting that the organization is violating human rights and denying certain people the right of asylum.
At this very moment, German soldiers are still deployed in Afghanistan. The German government assisted the United States' Operation Enduring Freedom without hesitation in the first days after 9/11. During the last decade, thousands of innocent Afghans have been killed and the German military participated in various war crimes in Afghanistan while cooperating with bloody warlords and drug bosses, many of whom are sitting in the current government. The west bears the bulk of responsibility for destabilizing Afghanistan. And while it remains there, worsening the situation, it is slamming the door on the refugees it creates.