A special investigation into 45 deaths in Europe in 1998.
Human rights abuses, we are told, occur in the Third World – certainly not in democratic Europe. But the 45 deaths we document here throw into question Europe’s respect for human rights. For the treatment of immigrants, asylum-seekers and ethnic minorities is the benchmark by which we should judge the democratic nature of European society and, in particular, its criminal justice systems.
Out of the total of 45 deaths, 29 were of asylum-seekers or undocumented workers whose deaths, we believe, arose as a direct consequence of immigration and asylum policies which deny individual human rights.
Institutionalised racism played a part in many of the remaining sixteen cases documented here. Of these 16 deaths, seven were Roma killed either by the police or in racially motivated incidents in eastern or central Europe, seven were EU citizens (five of immigrant descent) killed in racially-motivated incidents and two were EU-citizens of immigrant descent killed by the police.
The human cost of exporting immigration control
The European Union – the world’s largest trading entity which accounts for twenty per cent of world trade – takes in less than ten per cent of the world’s refugees. Yet the EU regards this figure as too high, and envisions introducing a new system of controls which will make flight to western Europe virtually impossible. No one knows the extent of the deaths which are occurring as a result of the EU’s asylum and immigration policies – when, for instance the poverty-stricken attempt to cross the Straits of Gibraltar in small fishing boats or when asylum-seekers travel by land to Italy from Albania or to Greece via Iraq and Turkey. Spanish aid agencies estimate that at least 1000 people died attempting to cross the Straits in 1998, but, when it comes to acknowledging these deaths they say there is a conspiracy of silence.
Most of these deaths, like that of the Iraqi Kurd stoned to death by Albanian smugglers for refusing to give them a supplementary payment for his crossing into Lecce, Italy, or the two Africans who died of hunger and thirst when smugglers abandoned a leaking ship close to the shores of Cyprus, are at the hands of ruthless traffickers who were also behind the murder of the UK citizen Edgar Fernandes. At the behest of the EU (which has instructed EUROPOL to act against international trafficking networks), the UN is considering the introduction of a convention against the smuggling of illegal immigrants.
But what all these international denunciations of the criminal mafias which engage in human smuggling amount to is a desire to crack down on the symptoms of the trade and not its cause the restrictive immigration and asylum policies which close down all legal routes of entry to Europe and thereby turn human trafficking into a lucrative trade. Where, we ask, is the concern for the smugglers’ victims? Instead of addressing the causes of flight, and speaking up for the persecuted, the EU wants to close down all routes by which asylum-seekers escape to Europe. It aims to export its ‘refugee problem’ to eastern Europe, on the one hand, and the countries which border southern Europe – Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey – on the other. Thus, eastern and central European countries which want to join the EU are being instructed to act as the frontline of its immigration controls, preventing asylum-seekers from moving into the more affluent EU countries. At the same time, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia are being pressed to set up temporary refugee camps where refugees would be held until it was deemed safe to return them home. The EU wants to open up ‘reception houses’ in Turkey in conjunction with the government. Italy is helping to finance reception centres on the Moroccan and Tunisian coastline and a reception centre in Kukes, northern Albania to hold 2000 Kosovo-Albanians. In this way, the EU’s ‘refugee problem’ will be exported to its neighbours.
Deaths at frontier check points
This, then, is the EU’s plan for the future. In the meantime, groups like the Schengen Task Force are instructing frontier police to carry out identity checks with greater zeal, making available new technology, like the device which can identify stowaways hidden in the cargo of lorries by detecting their heartbeats and x-raying the content of lorries. The German Federal Police have been given increased powers to carry out checks within a 30kms frontier zone. Even federal ministers have admitted that a police roadblock system on the German border with Poland, which works by cutting up the tyres of a vehicle, is highly dangerous.
At a time when the EU is swift to condemn those soldiers of the former GDR who shot and killed east Germans attempting to cross the Berlin Wall, who monitors the frontier guards today at Europe’s equivalent of the iron curtain? While governments regularly publish statistics on the number of people attempting to cross its borders illegally, they do not publish information on the injuries and fatalities that arise from these stops. We document three deaths arising out of confrontations with police or customs officials at frontier crossing points, in Austria, Bulgaria and France. Two of the victims were Romanian, one Albanian. CARF and UNITED believe that what happens at Europe’s frontiers should be made public, and that frontier guards should be held accountable for their actions.
Killing of deportees by the immigration police
Governments are also adopting a brutal approach within Europe towards asylum-seekers whose applications have been rejected – an approach with denies even their basic human rights. The fact that specially chartered flights are used to carry out group deportations is just one aspect. For group deportations carried out after police searches for rejected asylum-seekers and other undocumented workers are the antithesis of a system that respects individual human rights. For instance, a mass deportation of 74 Bosnians from Berlin in Summer ’98 included traumatised people who had lived through the concentration camps, a person suffering from severe epilepsy, a mother who was sent back without her daughter and people who had previously been promised that they would not be sent back by force because they had enrolled in a programme which aimed at the voluntary return of whole communities together.
The immigration police seem to take the view that injuries, even death, are the price that has to be paid to effect deportations. No case demonstrates this more vividly than that of the rejected Nigerian asylum-seeker, Semira Adamu, who suffered a heart attack brought on by a brain haemorrhage after Belgian immigration police attempted to deport her using the notorious ‘pillow restraint method’. The deportation attempt was recorded on video (it is, apparently, routine practice for Belgian police to film ‘difficult deportations’) and subsequently broadcast on national television. Shocked viewers witnessed gendarmes laughing and cracking jokes while suffocating Adamu with a cushion.
It is only through deaths like that of Semira Adamu, or that of the Jamaican UK deportee, Joy Gardner (who died in 1993 after a special deportation squad sealed her mouth with 13-foot of adhesive tape and restrained her with a leather body belt ), that the true facts on violence and deportations are made public. Following Adamu’s death, the French ministry of justice launched an investigation into its deportation techniques after revelations that French police were using tranquillisers and the ‘pillow-method’ to carry out deportations. ‘They squeezed my neck and covered my nose and mouth to stop me breathing’, one Malian deportee testified. ‘They put a pillow over my mouth… I was tied to my seat with a cord round my neck and my feet.’
Protecting the vulnerable
It is a miracle that there were no more Semira Adamus in 1998. Just one month after Adamu’s death, and despite the Belgian interior ministry promising a two-month moratorium on all deportations, an attempt to expel a 20-year-old pregnant Rwandan woman from a detention centre near Brussels ended in tragedy. Blandine K was not deported, but only because she had to be taken to hospital with severe abdominal pain. One month later she miscarried.
On what basis can violence against pregnant women be justified? What sort of human being would bind and gag a woman in front of her five-year-old son, as the immigration police did in the case of Joy Gardner? Who sanctions state violence against the sick and the disabled? In Norway, in November, a 24-year-old woman from Sri Lanka confined to a wheelchair was deported.
What we need is greater public scrutiny of the actions of the immigration police. Without questions being asked, without the accountability of the immigration police, the violent practices that lead to death will be dropped when there is publicity, only to be reinstated at a later date. In Belgium, the use of pillows by the immigration police was banned in ’93, only to be surreptitiously reintroduced in ’96. And what of the police killers? Who punishes them? While the police officers who killed Joy Gardner were acquitted of manslaughter charges in ’95, the French police officer who killed a Tamil asylum-seeker in ’91 by gagging him and wrapping him in a blanket on a Paris to Colombo flight, still awaits prosecution eight years later.
Death by deportation
‘Death by deportation’ refers to those deportees who are killed in their home countries after being sent back by governments which effectively sign their execution orders. No EU institution, no national government systematically monitors the fate of deportees. So evidence about torture, deaths and disappearances only sees the light of day when the victims’ families are linked to campaigning groups within Europe. While we have documented three deaths in 1998 (Muhamet Islami Gjeli, Naser Islami Gjeli, Bequir Sejdiu – all Kosovo Albanians deported from Germany and executed by Serbian forces), other fatalities may well have occurred. For instance, an Iranian deported from Denmark in October and immediately arrested and interrogated in Tehran, has disappeared. At least, in this case, the Danish government has launched an investigation. But the Spanish government, which is responsible for administering the most degrading refugee camps on European territory, at its North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, is completely impervious to the fate of the hundreds of Algerians – all asylum-seekers claiming political persecution – who are routinely rounded up for deportation. (When European parliamentarian, Glyn Ford visited Melilla in 1997, Algerian asylum-seekers were on hunger strike, having received news that one of their compatriots sent back to Algeria had been assassinated.)
Kosovan-Albanians and Kurds under threat
The three Kosovo-Albanians who died in 1998 were all expelled from Germany which has refused to implement a nationwide ban on deportations to Kosovo. The German government and criminal justice system also seems to take the view that it is safe to send Kurds back to Turkey. It is ironic that a country which lectures the United States for its barbaric execution of two German citizens convicted of murder is only too willing to send Kurds back to Turkey where the death penalty is practised too. German refugee groups have drawn attention to a series of court rulings which effectively deny that Kurds are politically persecuted, and Amnesty International has highlighted the case of 8 deported Kurds tortured by the military in Turkey. For instance:
- After deportation from Germany, a man named as ‘Mehmet G’ was arrested by the Turkish military who tortured him by applying electricity to various parts of his body, including his genitals.
- Abdul Menaf Düzenli, who refused military service and denounced the Turkish army as ‘fascist’, was immediately arrested and interrogated by the Istanbul anti-terrorist police following his deportation. By August 1998, desperate friends and family reported that Düzenli, who is in a military prison pending trial, was suffering from severe neck pain, confused, frightened and dirty since he is not allowed to wash.
- Mehmet Ali Akbas, deported to Turkey and interrogated about his links with the PKK, was allowed to return to Germany after pressure from support groups. He had been interrogated for eight days, during which time he was sprayed with ice-cold water and had a gun pointed to his head.
With international attention currently focused on Kosovo, few in power would dare describe Kosovo-Albanians as ‘economic migrants’. But when it comes to the Kurds, it is a different matter. At the same time as the EU argues that Turkey’s human rights record debars it from entry to the EU, drawing attention to the ‘scorched earth policy’ whereby Kurds have been driven from 3000 villages in south-east Turkey, it negotiates with the authors of human rights abuses to set up detention camps and labels the persecuted Kurds ‘illegal immigrants’. No wonder that the thousands of Kurds who demonstrated across Europe following the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan speak of a European betrayal. ‘When you set a fire around a scorpion it kills itself,’ said one London Kurdish demonstrator. ‘Psychologically, any person in that situation feels that they have no future. The Kurdish people feel trapped and we are surrounded by fire and nobody is listening to us.’
The feeling of being trapped and hunted down accounts for the fourteen suicides recorded in 1998. Eleven of these were asylum-seekers (Hasan Akdag, Daniel Kassa Mehari, Harinder Singh Cheena, Karim Hassan, Julianne Danielle, Sharif Hussein Ahmed, Lin Yan-Guang and four others unnamed), two undocumented workers (Irini P and Vasyl Balakin) and one unnamed Ethiopian domestic worker who committed suicide fearing that her residence permit would not be renewed. Two suicides took place in Austria, four in Germany, two in the Netherlands, one in the UK and one in Spain. The circumstances in which the three rejected Kurds killed themselves highlight how each saw their fate as intimately linked to that of a betrayed and hunted people. For instance, when a 24-year-old rejected Kurdish asylum-seeker killed himself in Wesel, Germany on 5 January by pouring petrol over himself and setting himself alight, he cried out ‘Down with Turkey’ and ‘Long live free Kurdistan.’
Yet again these cases represent only the tip of the iceberg. There is scant information available on suicides of asylum-seekers, so we have no idea whether this is the true figure. Surely, it is not right that information on the deaths of asylum-seekers – the most vulnerable group in our society can only be found by trawling the small print of our papers?
Such suicides raise several fundamental issues:
(a) Lack of care
It should be the responsibility of governments to publicise statistics on all attempted suicides of asylum-seekers as well as monitor trends and review policies accordingly. The refusal to do so amounts to the systematic neglect of asylum-seekers and an indifference to their mental and physical health which amounts to an abuse of their human rights. No group in society has greater mental health needs, yet no group is so systematically ignored as asylum-seekers. Following the death of Sharif Hussein Ahmed, the UNHCR pointed out that long periods spent in detention, pending an asylum decision, lead to mental depression. Some categories of asylum-seekers – like expectant mothers and young people – should not be kept in prisons and overcrowded detention centres at all.
(b) Young asylum-seekers’ rights ignored
No case highlights the systematic denial of young people’s human rights more than that of the 16-year-old Sikh youth, Harinder Singh Cheena, who hanged himself in a youth remand centre in Germany after receiving a deportation order. While in detention, Cheena had refused to eat and mutilated himself on several occasions. At each attempt at self-injury, he was taken to the medical centre where he was bound to the bed. A prison psychologist visited him, but as no translator was provided, he could not communicate with the young Sikh. Unbelievably, the response of the Saxony-Anhalt interior ministry to his death was to declare that prior to Cheena’s suicide there had been ‘no signs of a suicide risk’.
(c) Forced prostituiton
One further death, that of Irini P, a 20-year-old Belarus national who committed suicide in Thessalonka, Greece, after being forced into prostitution, merits further attention, as does the attempted suicide two days later of a 21-year-old Georgian sex-slave who jumped from the fifth floor of a building in Lamia and was hospitalised with severe injuries.
The European Commissioner on Immigration Affairs, Anita Gradin, told a conference on the trafficking in women in 1996 that as many as 500000 women may be living illegally in Europe after being smuggled in by international traders and organised crime syndicates. These women – from Africa, Latin America, eastern Europe – are quite literally slaves, lured to the West by criminals posing as businessmen and promising them a work permit and well-paid jobs as waitresses and dancers, only to later sell them into bondage. Once in Europe, passports are confiscated, and, in order to pay off inflated debts for food, accommodation and travel, the women are forced to work as prostitutes. Of Italy’s estimated 50000 prostitutes, around 30000 – mostly from non-EU countries – live in ‘conditions of slavery’. And many refugee children in Europe are ending up in forced prostitution. A 12-year-old Angolan girl, who ran away from an asylum centre in the Netherlands when her mother told her that the family had received a deportation order, ended up in a brothel. And in the UK, the National Missing Persons Helpline believes that the high number of disappearances amongst refugee children suggests that they are being procured for prostitution.
What completes the circle of entrapment for these women and children is their immigration status which forecloses any means of escape – for without papers they will be deported. If European governments are serious in their desire to end this modern slavery, then they should offer an immigration amnesty to all women who report to the police and denounce their oppressors. In the case of Irini P., three other eastern European women would have given evidence against the Greek national who imprisoned them if Greek law had allowed immunity from prosecution for illegal stay.
Although institutionalised neglect runs like a seam through all the cases documented in this report, we draw separate attention to six other deaths in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy respectively.
All six cases (Haydar Findik, Mehmet K, Saber Abdelh,John Madu, an unnamed Sudanese asylum-seeker and an unnamed African undocumented worker) demonstrate the inhuman disregard for the basic health needs of asylum-seekers which amounts to the denial of their human rights. Blame cannot be attached just to individual medical or prison staff in these cases, for each death reflects the sub-standard medical care afforded to asylum-seekers systematically excluded from the welfare-state, cut off from social security provision and, in the cases of rejected asylum-seekers with AIDS, denied access to expensive combination therapy treatments. The result is a growing underclass of the poor and the sick, swelling the ranks of the homeless.
Sub-standard medical care
Sharif Hussein Ahmed, the Somalian refugee who committed suicide in Austria, was left without financial support or accommodation after being released from a detention centre. And John Madu, a rejected Nigerian asylum-seeker who was turned away by doctors because he had no documentation and no money, died of internal bleeding after collapsing in the railway station in Liège, Belgium. Following the death of a 35-year-old African woman with an AIDS-related-illness in the Netherlands, the African Foundation for AIDS Prevention and Counselling said that, while hospitals do prescribe the required treatment for undocumented workers, they send them away knowing full well that they cannot afford to buy the medicines.
In Germany, asylum-seekers must live in specially-designated refugee centres. What kind of medical care is afforded them there is best illustrated by the deaths of two Turkish Kurds. Haydar Findik sought help for throat pain. But the doctor specifically designated to treat asylum-seekers refused to give him tablets or refer him to hospital. Thus, by the time Findik was admitted as an emergency patient, it was too late for doctors to treat the acute tonsillitis from which he was suffering. There is scant information on the death of the other Kurd, named as ‘Mehmet K’ But we do know that K had previously been tortured in Turkey and was admitted to hospital in Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurttemberg, suffering from ‘anxiety psychosis’ after he learnt that his brother had died in the custody of the Turkish police. How long K’s mental suffering had been allowed to build up untreated, while he was holed up in a reception centre in Karlsruhe, is unknown.
Deaths such as these should have prompted government reviews on how to improve the medical care of asylum-seekers. But, instead, they are clouded in secrecy. And such secrecy prompts suspicion that more sinister forces may be at play. The Italian authorities say that the Moroccan leader of a hunger strike at a reception centre for new arrivals in Sicily died on 31 July of natural causes due to heart and lung problems. But the facts that inmates at the reception centre rioted after hearing of Saber Abdelh’s death, and the fact that no official inquiry was launched, has fuelled suspicion. And even if Abdelh did die of natural causes, why haven’t the Sicilian authorities instigated an immediate investigation into what care was afforded such an obviously sick man?
Deaths in police custody
At least six people (other than those categorised in previous sections on border and immigration deaths) died in the custody of the police, in Hungary (the Rom, Nicolai Gheorghe), in Bulgaria (Roms Kolyo Todorov and Yordan Assenov Yankov), in the UK (the Afro-Caribbean, Christopher Alder), in France (the North African youth, Habib Muhammed) and in the Netherlands an Algerian (named only as Samir) and an unnamed Sudanese asylum-seeker who died in disputed circumstances.
Use of firearms
Four deaths were the result of police shootings. Immediately after the shooting in the Netherlands of an Algerian asylum-seeker, following a disturbance at a refugee hostel in Nijmegen, Arnhem, the public prosecutor announced that the police officer shot the Algerian, (who suffered from mental problems and had allegedly been drinking), in self-defence and that there would be no public inquiry. Yet there is evidence that the police officer completely over-reacted to a situation that could have been otherwise controlled. Asylum-seekers at the centre admit that the Algerian was angry and was waving a knife but claim that he could have been restrained by other means. Instead, the police officer opened fire, killing the asylum-seeker instantaneously.
Police killers must stand trial
It is extraordinary that such a killing should prompt no prosecution of the police officer involved or review of the police use of firearms. Are Dutch police really so ill-trained in the use of firearms that they shoot not to maim but to kill? Habib Muhammed, a 17-year-old youth of North African origin was killed when a patrol group opened fire on two youths who were attempting to steal a car in Toulouse, France. The youths were unarmed and posed no threat to the police. On returning to the police station, the police officer did not even bother to report the shooting. Habib’s body was found in the gutter three hours later by a passer-by.
Muhammed’s death, which led to seven days of rioting in the poor immigrant neighbourhoods of Toulouse, is the last in a long line of police killings of young North Africans. There is no policing by consent in France’s immigrant communities; instead the police resemble a colonial-style army of occupation. But instead of opening out the police to democratic scrutiny, the French criminal justice system closes ranks. At the end of 1998, the police officer, who had shot and killed an 8-year-old Roma boy from the former Yugoslavia in 1995 was acquitted when the judge argued that ‘The fact that the victim is innocent is not enough to convict the accused.’ Nine years after Youseff Khaif, a 23-year-old North African was shot dead by police in Yveslines, no police officer has stood trial, prompting the family to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. In the case of Habib Muhammed, the police officer, charged with the lesser offence of ‘involuntary homicide’, has been released under judicial supervision. Habib’s family are pressing for a charge of ‘intentional homicide and failure to assist’ .
This unwillingness to prosecute police officers for the killings of immigrant youth is not confined to France – indeed criminal justice systems throughout both western and eastern Europe seem to be riddled with insitutionalised racism. A similar colonial style of policing obtains in Belgium where, at the beginning of 1999, a Brussels police officer was given a six months suspended sentence for the killing of a 20-year-old Moroccan youth in 1991. The youth’s offence: kicking an empty coke can!
Police and the Roma
At least four Roma died as the result of police violence in eastern Europe where the crude racism of the police is hard to distinguish from the raw racism of the far Right. Bulgarian police claim that Yordan Assenov Yankov was hit by a stray bullet after warning shots were fired when he tried to avoid a passport check. But Yankov’s family tell a very different story. They say that a police patrol car followed the Rom after he was spotted picking wild plums. A police officer then shot Yankov in the foot. When he attempted to crawl away, another officer left the car and cold-bloodedly shot him through the head.
As in the UK, where there has been increasing concern about the number of deaths of young black men in police custody (Christopher Alder died in Hull police station following a violent arrest), Roma throughout eastern Europe claim violence and ill-treatment in police cells. In Hungary, Nicolae Gheorghe died in disputed circumstances four hours after his family were called to carry him unconscious from a police station in Budila, Brasov county. The Hungarian Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities now plans to fight for the civil rights of the Roma. It has taken up the case of four Roma who say they were forced to submit to being tested with Benzidine, a substance used to detect the presence of blood on inanimate objects, when taken into police custody in Salgotarjan. On human tissue Benzidine has a corrosive burning effect. One Rom claims that police applied the substance to his genitals.
In 1998, racism or fascism on the streets played a part in the deaths of at least eleven people – including four in the UK (Imran Khan, Akofa Hodasi, Remi Surage, Farhan Mohomoud Mire). Another four were Roma (Arpád Balogh, Metodi Rainov, Helena Bihariova, Milan Lacko) killed in racist attacks in eastern Europe. To this should be added the three far-Right inspired murders documented in France and Spain (David Dumont, Gustave Kokou and Aitor Zableta).
EU and the Roma
The EU is guilty of double-standards when it comes to Roma. No European country is happy to welcome the Roma asylum-seekers who are increasingly fleeing eastern Europe. But at the same time as Roma asylum-seekers are described as ‘economic migrants’ and sent packing, the EU piles pressure on its poorer neighbours to improve human rights or have applications for EU membership blocked.
Eastern European countries resent this interference which, at best, inclines them toward introducing cosmetic measures to please their rich neighbours and, at worst, leads to greater victimisation of the Roma who are seen as the source of the country’s bad press abroad. All this is counter-productive, for what is really needed is massive cultural change to root out institutionalised racism. For anti-Roma racism is institutionalised in a criminal justice system that affords no protection to the Roma. In countries like Bulgaria, where a 15-year-old Roma boy, Metodi Rainov, died after being thrown out of the second floor window of an abandoned building in central Sofia, those in authority don’t seem to recognise the need for change. But in other countries, like the Czech Republic, there is some evidence of a shift in attitudes. Yet whatever movements for change emerge in the Czech Republic are constantly being undermined by elements within the criminal justice system. Thus, even as the Czech Supreme Court announced, in an unprecedented move, that the skinheads who murdered Tibor Danihel in 1993 must face a retrial, the state attorney investigating the killing of the Rom Helena Bihariova, beaten by east-Bohemian skinheads and thrown into the river Elbe, declared that it was not a racial incident and those who said so were guilty of ‘hysteria’.
In 1993, a young Afro-Caribbean was murdered on the streets of south London in a racist attack. Thanks to police incompetence and racism, the five white youths widely suspected of the murder of Stephen Lawrence escaped justice. Now, six years later, and following a determined campaign by Stephen Lawrence’s parents, the racism of the Metropolitan police’s investigation into Stephen’s murder has at last been addressed. And in a landmark report, Sir William Macpherson, the chair of an inquiry set up by the Home Secretary to investigate the lessons to be drawn from Stephen Lawrence’s death, has found institutionalised racism to be rife in the police and has criticised educational institutions for not doing enough to value cultural diversity and thereby undermine the xenophobic message of the far-Right.
This is a landmark report – and a clarion call for other European governments to address the institutionalised racism of their criminal justice and education systems which amounts to an abuse of ethnic minorities’ human rights. Too often the victims of racist attacks are, like Stephen Lawrence, young people starting out in life; too often the assailants are young thugs schooled in racism and hatred. David Dumont and Gustave Kokou, two friends – one black one white – were gunned down in the village of Mortefontaine-en-Thalle, in Oise, by Antoine Bonnefil, an 18-year-old skinhead who didn’t like blacks and was connected to the Front National. Bonnefil went beserk when he saw David Dumont, who was going out with his sister, with a black friend. Like Doreen and Neville Lawrence, Gustave Kokou’s and David Dumont’s families have been left devastated by these senseless murders. They, and all the other families bereaved in 1998 due to Europe’s failure to protect immigrants, refugees and minority communities, demand our support.