- Nov 19, 2010
That is not quite correct.On the asylum issue... le Chaim put it in a nutshell to the effect of saying: Should asylum be granted at all?
It's a tough question to answer. The Germans have been dealing with this question for longer than most people think.
Interestingly the word for someone seeking refuge has undergone quite a few name-changes over the decades... over the centuries.
The Hugeonots who fled France for Britain and Germany were termed emigrants because of religious persecution.
The Irish were during the famine were called immigrants.
World war one, i.e. and the establishment of the Red Cross brought the term refugee.
The authorities after World war two which caused much more upheaval used the term "Displaced Persons".
The UN charter on human rights used the term asylum-seekers.
It's interesting why the term keeps changing. Travellers and African Americans have also gone through several name-changes.
The German constitution granted an automatic right to people seeking asylum during the cold war. That public personalities such as sportsmen authors musicians would flee socialism was a powerful propaganda coup against the Warsaw pact countries.
In the 1990's Eric Honecker in the German Democratic Republic hit upon the ingenious response. He allowed the war refugees from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to land in East Berlin and he let them travel on to West Berlin. I'm sure he cackled to watch the friction develop with the native Germans as 1,000, 2,000 .... 20,000 asylum seekers accumulated in the West.
Willi Brandt, the Prez of the SPD who himself had been an asylum seeker in Sweden during the Nazi period was adamant that the asylum rule should stay in the constitution.
I recall that at one stage this group of black African men applied for Asylum in Bavaria. The local official enquired as to their names. The first answered that his name was "JIM Beam", the second "Johnny Walker" and the third "Flavoured Ice Cube"
They were really taking the piss out of the Krauts.
Long story short, the Germans ended up changing their constitution to exclude those asylum-seekers who came from a safe country... and that included all countries bordering Germany: Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Lux, France Czechia and Poland.
But this phase of the story might have caused discomfort and irritation to the German public... and much mirth to the east Germans. There was no terror organization.
What changes the game completely is that now there are the smugglers who bring the people to Europe for financial gain, and also there is the terror organizations who try to destabelize the host country.
It's also the age of the internet, smart phone and kalashnikov.
In my view the clash of govt and Isis and the smugglers will bring surveillance state.
Well it's here already if what Snowden says is true.
Incidentally. If the west were to abolish or curtain the right to asylum it would mean other third world nations would follow suit and use the west's actions as a justification.
On the other hand, there are 60-70 million displaced persons ... and a few hundred million young men in restrictive societies in search of adventure and money...
Can the west really supply bed and board and education and lawyers and court processes and medical and dental to all the new arrivals?
It's going to be expensive and there will be friction with the lower social orders.
End of rant
The incident happened in the 80s- not the 90s. It was a Soviet plot to destabilize Westberlin. The Soviets advertised cheap flights in Sri Lanka from Colombo to East Berlin. Thousands of Tamils sold their last possessions to buy an Aeroflot ticket. On arrival in Schoenefeld they were all transported to the nearest subway running towards the West. Thousands of those people flooded into Westberlin for several days. I remember them being rounded up like cattle and brought to a huge field. The government of Westberlin had to fly them all back to Sri Lanka at its own expense. The Tamils ended up pennyless in Colombo- the Soviets had taken all their money and used them as pawns in the Cold War.