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We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Suspect in Auschwitz sign theft arrested in Sweden

STOCKHOLM—Swedish police on Thursday arrested a former neo-Nazi leader that Polish investigators suspect of involvement in the theft of the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at Auschwitz.

Swedish Prosecutor Agneta Hilding Qvarnstrom said 34-year-old Anders Hogstrom was detained in Stockholm on a European arrest warrant.
Hilding Qvarnstrom said Hogstrom will be appointed a defense lawyer and questioned by Swedish investigators before authorities can decide on extraditing him to Poland.
Polish officials have said Hogstrom is suspected of incitement to commit theft of a cultural treasure.
The infamous sign, which means "Work Sets You Free" in German, was stolen in December from the site of the Nazis' former Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Polish police found it in the woods three days later, cut into three pieces, and charged five Polish men with its theft.
The Polish prosecutor has said he has evidence that Hogstrom visited Auschwitz together with two Poles last spring and told them to steal the sign.
Experts on Sweden's extreme-right say Hogstrom founded and led the Swedish neo-Nazi group National Socialist Front in the 1990s. During that time he helped organize yearly celebrations of Adolf Hitler's birthday and advocated repatriation of refugees to their home countries, according to Expo, a research foundation that has mapped right-wing extremists. However, Expo said he left National Socialist Front in 1999 after two of its members were convicted of a high-profile police murder and became an active opponent to the extreme-right.
Hogstrom has reportedly given conflicting information about his alleged role in the theft. Tabloid Aftonbladet quoted Hogstrom as saying he was acting as a middleman between the Polish thieves and an English-speaking buyer. But in a video clip posted Jan. 9 on the Web site of another tabloid, Expressen, Hogstrom said he had simply been tipped off about the theft and tried to stop it.
The Auschwitz sign is one of the most well-known slogans for Nazi Germany's atrocities during World War II and the Holocaust.
Between 1940 and 1945 more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau or died of starvation or disease while forced to perform hard physical labor at the camp.



Amnesty International on Tuesday slammed what it called a "steady erosion" of minority rights in Italy as the country's record came under review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. "There is a steady erosion of human rights, especially regarding migrants, minorities and possible asylum seekers," said the rights watchdog's Italian spokesman Riccardo Noury. "There are worrisome laws and practices," he said on Italian radio. Noury criticized security and anti-terrorism measures, in particular an accord between Italy and Libya that allows the Italian navy to intercept migrants at sea and return them to Libya with no possibility of applying for asylum. Noury also mentioned "norms that are not there but should have been in place long ago, such as a law that establishes torture as a crime." The Italian government came under criticism last month for its handling of a wave of violence against migrant farm workers in the southern town of Rosarno. The clashes left dozens injured and prompted more than 1,000 immigrants to leave the area, most on special buses arranged by the Italian authorities. In Geneva, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Vincenzo Scotti told the Human Rights Council that Rome was committed to fighting racism and xenophobia. Scotti told the 47-state UN body: "The stigmatisation of certain ethnic or social groups remains a matter of serious concern for the government, state and local authorities. "We are fully aware of the challenge we are facing in this field and we are strongly committed to eradicate racist and xenophobic attitudes from our society," he added on the second day of the council's periodic review, which will run until February 19. Scotti acknowledged that an informal economy had taken hold in Italy that left migrant workers without protection.

The deputy minister detailed a project to improve housing and integration for migrants in Rosarno. He noted that 300,000 non-European workers obtained documents under measures introduced last year. The Rosarno violence prompted two UN human rights experts to call on Italy to make a "vigorous" response to "growing xenophobia" in the country. Some representatives to the council recognized the "challenge" of dealing with an immigrant population that has grown by nearly 250 per cent in the past 10 years. John Mariz of the United States voiced concern over the fingerprinting of Italy's 160,000 Roma and Sinti (gypsies), which he said "could perpetuate their social stigmatisation." Italy took a sharp turn to the right in 2008 when conservative leader Silvio Berlusconi swept to power for a third time in coalition with the anti-immigration Northern League. Their campaign emphasized pledges to fight illegal immigration and crime, often closely linking the two.


Students shocked by graffiti campus attack (UK)

A POLICE investigation is underway after a university was daubed with offensive slogans.

Swastikas and offensive wording, including "no Pakis", were sprayed on a number of buildings at Staffordshire University's Leek Road and College Road campuses at roughly 2am yesterday.
Once spotted, maintenance staff were dispatched to clean up the graffiti.
However, the incident has left students upset, with many saying they wouldn't recommend Stoke-on-Trent as a suitable destination to come and study.
Charlotte McKenzie, aged 20, came to the university from Nottingham.

The broadcast journalism student said: "The graffiti is disgusting. I came to Stoke-on-Trent already aware of the high number of BNP councillors, but gave it a chance.

"This sort of thing makes me not want to be here anymore, or recommend it to my friends.

"I have experienced racism during my time here, whether it is sly remarks or innuendos."

Rochelle Owusu, aged 18, is originally from North London.
The law and journalism student said: "I cannot believe something like this has happened at the place I chose to come to study.

"I'm only in my first year and I didn't sign up to deal with this sort of thing. This is somewhere we should feel safe."
The incident has been linked by some to the imminent university elections where current students' union president Assed Baig is fighting to hold on to his position.
The 28-year-old is facing the polls after a group of students moved for a vote of no confidence.
Mr Baig has been heavily involved in protests against the BNP and in the recent English Defence League demonstration in Hanley.
He also made headlines last year after posting an article on the union website, containing a link to a site identifying 30 BNP members living within two miles of the university's Stoke campus.
Mr Baig, who has Pakistani parents, believes the attack was a message to him.

"I have no idea who has done this, but when they write "no Pakis" outside the entrance to my work, I feel it is aimed at me, especially with the election approaching," he said.

"I cannot understand why somebody would do this, it makes me sick to my stomach."
Gary McNally, aged 24, is chairman of the Students' Union Council.
The modern and international history student, who moved to the Potteries from Newbury, said: "I think it's disgusting that people are trying to intimidate students. We need to bring the community together, from all religions, to fight this.
"This sort of thing really puts people off studying here."

A spokesman for the university said: "We wish to send a strong and clear message to say we do not tolerate racist behaviour in any form on our campuses.

"Our campuses are covered by CCTV and regular night patrols and we will be fully co-operating with police."

A police spokesman added: "We are working with the university and students' union. CCTV footage is being checked."

Witnesses are asked to call PC Keith Emery on 0300 123 4455.

Origianly post This is Staffordshire

Italy immigrants fall into clutches of mafia

Illegal immigrants to Italy get little shelter from the law - leaving them prime targets for exploitation by the local mafia, finds the BBC's Emma Wallis in Castel Volturno, near Naples.
"Immigration is not the first problem of Castel Volturno, it's Camorra, this system of illegality," says Padre Filippo, a Catholic missionary who lives and works in Castel Volturno with Italy's biggest African population.
The Camorra are the mafia in the Campania region, made world-infamous by Roberto Saviano's best-selling book and film, Gomorra.
"Castel Volturno… is a forgotten land, that Camorra is using for their business, and that is the problem. The state here is absolutely absent," says Padre Filippo.
In the vacuum left by the state, illegality reigns, and it is possible to survive here without papers.
The local council was dissolved in January for its failure to collect taxes and dispose of residents' rubbish. The town is now run by an emergency prefect.
The only real indications of the state are the road blocks manned by police, carabinieri and soldiers. They arrived in September 2008 after six West Africans were apparently shot dead by members of the Casalesi, one of the Camorra's most powerful clans. The trial is under way at the moment.

Broken dreams
Violence is not obvious in this region, but suspicion whistles through the empty hulks of villas, holiday villages and hotels that crouch menacingly along the Via Domitiana, the coast road to Naples
The buildings are a testament to the financial clout of the Camorra - but also to the absence of planning permission.
Projects halted half-way through by the state are ten-a-penny here, and are the most visible casualties of the not-so-bloodless civil war between the Italian state and the Camorra, whose tentacles easily gain a stranglehold in places like Castel Volturno, where poverty and desperation are the order of the day.
The other thing you notice all along the roads in town are bicycles, chained up along fences by the bus stops, where every morning at the crack of dawn thousands of migrant workers line up in the hope of finding a job for the day.
Cars, coaches and buses file by to pick them up and transport them to the fields or building sites, where, if they are lucky, they are paid 25-35 euros (£22-26) a day. The unlucky ones head home mid-morning, dejectedly picking up their bikes and cycling back down the road that Padre Filippo has nicknamed "the boulevard of broken dreams".
After violence against African farm workers exploded in the southern Italian town of Rosarno, in southern Italy, at the beginning of January, the uncomfortable symbiosis between organised crime and illegal immigration was laid bare.

Phantom presence
Now Italy's Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, is creating task forces to crack down on immigration. He says he hopes, by doing so, to hit organised crime where it hurts; by turning off the flow of cheap illegal labour.
Caserta's police commissioner, Guido Nicolo Longo, said that his force's aim was to check up on the migrants and try to legalise their work status, so that the revenue they generate could be funnelled to the state's coffers, instead of enriching organised crime
The proposal seems to pay lip service to a centre-left idea of integration through legalisation. But the migrants themselves, and Padre Filippo, say that that is not how it works in reality.
They complain of police checks increasing, nights spent in the cells and, at times, violent treatment at the hands of some officers.
Without any protection from the police, and desperate to work in order to survive, they become vulnerable to O sistema - organised crime - which effectively provides an alternative system to the state.
Campania's councillor for immigration, Lili De Felice, said that her region had put in place an 18m-euro (£16m) fund for services to migrants. But those without papers cannot access it. They barely speak Italian, and without the correct work permits they are just a phantom presence in a lawless town.

Forced underground
The government's new plan for integration is predicated on strict criteria, giving immigrants two years to learn fluent Italian and pass a series of citizenship tests - a time limit that many of the Ghanaians in Castel Volturno have already exceeded.
One of them, Dani, stands in a ripped coat and begs the BBC to tell the world how difficult it is for illegal migrants in Italy.
He says he has been unable to send back even 10 euros to his wife and children in the last few months, as he regularly goes for weeks without working at all.
What he thought was going to be paradise, has turned into a living hell.
Roberto Saviano, the best selling author of Gomorra, rang a warning bell in the New York Times recently.
He sees the migrants revolt in Rosarno as a way of standing up to the mafia. He believes that if the Italian authorities continue to criminalise migrants by targeting them, instead of the Camorra itself, then conversely they will push the Africans into the arms of organised crime in search of protection.
He pleads for the Africans to stay, stand up and fight the Camorra, which has infiltrated almost every inch of Campania.
But, as the sun sets low and red in the sky, sliding across rubbish dumps and the polluted river that runs into the sea, a dusty gloom falls over the town and the migrants line up along the road, hiding from the police, and hoping to find work.
For the moment, the cogs of the Camorra's wheels show no sign of stopping.