- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On January 11, 2003
- 0 Comments
Nothing is Sacred but the Human Being
Refugee Women: victims of the New World Order
Speech given at conference entitled ‘In Commemoration of Fadima Sahindal: Honour killings and oppression of women: culture and politics or cultural politics’
A summary glance at the world reveals the intolerable situation of refugees and asylum seekers in general and women refugees and asylum seekers in particular. There has been an all-out war against asylum seekers not just since the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, though the assault was stepped up post 9/11. It all began at the end of the Cold War when Western governments no longer needed to portray themselves pro-human rights vis-à-vis the Eastern bloc. Since then asylum seekers have not only become ‘illegal migrants’ and ‘criminals’ but are now also deemed ‘terrorists’. In this all-out war, women are one of the most adversely affected, shut behind closed doors dying of the freezing cold, suffocating in containers, drowning in seas and languishing in abject poverty and misery. Most women can’t even get to a safer place to apply for refugee status based on ‘membership in a particular social group’. Routes to safety are either shut tight or shutting. This intolerable situation is also an aspect of the New World Order and the USA’s attempts to establish a unipolar world and its complete hegemony and dominance. The September 11 tragedy and the subsequent war of terrorists have been the means to intensify this attempt and establish naked barbarity in the world. In this era, anything is permissible. The USA government can round up all non-immigrant men and boys over 16 born in the Middle East and detain thousands. The EU can propose to make refugee status a temporary one. With the impending war on Iraq, Turkey can send in troops to Iraqi Kurdistan with the specific aim of stopping the refugee flow. Despite continued insecurity and misogyny in Afghanistan, all borders can be closed to those fleeing and EU governments, the UNHCR and border countries such as the Islamic regime in Iran can begin deportations or so-called ‘repatriations’.
Even in their so-called war against terrorism, they don’t even feign to adhere or respect rights. Western governments have left the people of the region at the mercy of political Islam, which incidentally they helped strengthen and maintain. In fact, they have been stepping up the war on the people and women of the Middle East: they are stopping victims from reaching safety while colluding and supporting Islamic states and movements. They have established a Loya Jirga in Afghanistan to ensure that women’s rights do not go beyond the anti-woman Islamic framework. In Iraq, they have gathered a bunch of misogynists and Islamic and other reactionaries to administer Iraq post Saddam Hussein. In Iran, the EU is pursuing a ‘human rights dialogue’ with one of the most oppressive states in human history. And when women flee and manage to reach a safer place to apply for asylum they say that ‘the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution grants women equal rights’ or that ‘Article 21 guarantees women’s rights in all respects’ (reasons given in UK refusal).
Women and women asylum seekers are one of the first victims of this policy and practice. They are the victims of political Islam and Islamic terrorism, USA/NATO terrorism, including bombings and economic sanctions, closed borders and the denial of the right to asylum and also cultural relativism. All standards, norms, rights are relative according to this racist notion. So Iranian prisons are ‘satisfactory for third world standards’ (according to the Dutch government) and peace in Afghanistan is satisfactory according to ‘Afghan standards’ (according to the Economist). This means that women can continue to be stoned, flogged, beheaded, veiled and mutilated under sexual apartheid in the Middle East and can continue to be segregated, veiled, killed in the name of honour and live under different standards and rights in the West itself resulting in the murders of the Pelas and Fadimas (killed in the name of honour in Sweden). The ‘Left’ too is not immune to this racism. It excuses political Islam in its fervour to be and only be anti-imperialist. It holds rallies with Islamists rather than progressives and segregates men and women in anti-war meetings. It too leaves women at the mercy of Islamic states and movements.
One cannot claim to defend refugee women without defending open borders, an end to detention and deportation, and the right to asylum for all women fleeing political Islam. Political Islam is so misogynist, so deadly, and so inhuman that anyone who manages to flee it must be granted asylum. One could not only demand asylum for some Jews fleeing Nazi fascism. In the same way, one cannot demand asylum for only some women fleeing Islamic fascism. One cannot claim to defend women asylum seekers and refugees while remaining silent on or supporting the source of their oppression and reason for flight and without unequivocally opposing political Islam. One can’t claim to defend refugee women without supporting the movement for secularism and the overthrow of Islamic states like the Islamic regime in Iran by the people or supporting secularism and equal rights for women in the Middle East as well as those living in the West.
Before anything, we must begin with the fundamental premise that nothing is sacred but the human being. We must begin with women and their universal rights in order to defend women living in Islam-stricken societies and communities, in order to prevent anymore Pelas and Fadimas, and defend refugee women’s rights. This of course is our task.