Tag Archives: Syrian refugees

Go, Worcester, go! “Power to the people!”

By Rosalie Tirella


I’m the grand-daughter of immigrants…
Rosalie and her Polish grandpa many moons ago🌃

All of us Americans, if we look far back enough, or just over our shoulders to our parents, have roots that lead back to other lands, places that often persecuted us, kept us down, treated us like second and third class citzens and worse …

These past few years the blood has flown in Syria – horrible oppression and chaos and war. Maybe President Obama should have sent troops into Syria, U.S. combat boots on the ground, especially after the country’s “leaders” began using poisonous chemicals to kill dissidents, killing the children, too. Horrific. Many Syrian families swarmed into inflatable “boats” to cross the ocean to leave their hellish country for new countries … They had hope. But they were poor…So many of the people, little children!, didn’t make it…

“Turkish media identified the boy as three-year-old Alan Kurdi and reported that his five-year-old brother had also met a similar death. Both had reportedly hailed from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the site of fierce fighting between Islamic state insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year.” The Guardian

When Donald Trump bans Syrian refugees from American soil for months, this can happen…

“A Turkish police officer carries the young boy who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos.” The Guardian. Photographs: Reuters.

And this …


Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney has sunk to a new low, and his toxic political shell game could have brought our city to its knees. But instead the people were glorious and rose up and rallied! – HUNDREDS IN A JANUARY SNOWSTORM OUTSIDE OUR CITY HALL! Where, in the snow and raw New England cold, they shouted, NO! NO! NO! NEVER IN OUR CITY! Refugees and immigrants ALWAYS welcome here!

And then, inside Worcester City Hall, people whose roots extend to countries all over the globe got up to testify – tell their family stories. Armenia. Vietnam. Central America. Italy. Ireland. Africa. They were saying: Listen to our stories. The refugee and immigrant stories of today are our stories! AMERICAN stories!


The Gaffney resolution went down to defeat tonight. So will City Councilor Konstantina Lukes’ miserable proposal. A toxic after-thought cobbled together by – get this! – the daughter of Albanian immigrants who owned and operated a diner in Connecticut! (What would your father think of your shit-sandwich, hold the compassion, Konnie? You were the apple of his eye!)

Worcester is not Trumpland! We are not a police state where people are bullied into doing what our impetuous, vindictive, dangerous new president wants them to do! As Worcester Mayor Joe Petty said to the peaceful, yet ebullient (cuz they were on justice’s side😇) crowd before the City Council meeting: He – WE – will not allow WALLS TO GO UP BETWEEN GROUPS OF PEOPLE. In Worcester, the walls COME DOWN!

Go, Mayor Petty, go!!!

No one, no child, should fear that he or she will be forced to leave Worcester, their home: friends, school, church, work, sports teams, a routine they call their own … a place where they’ve begun to realize their unique American Dream!

Power to the people! We, the people, can do amazing things! We did, here in Worcester, TONIGHT!!!

Just every day people …

McGovern: Kerry Must Continue Support for Syria Ceasefire to Ensure Humanitarian Aid Reaches Syrian People

Congressman Jim McGovern, co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, yesterday held a hearing on Syria’s humanitarian crisis and additional steps the U.S. can take to address it and increase civilian protection.

Congressman McGovern has been a leading voice on the need for the U.S. to strengthen its response to the crisis and take new steps to minimize innocent civilian casualties and increase aid to the families affected. In July 2015, Congressman McGovern traveled to the region with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and other members of a Congressional delegation to meet with government officials and aid organizations.

“America must be a leader on human rights at home and abroad. I am grateful to Secretary Kerry and the State Department for their tireless work to achieve a ceasefire and urge them to continue these essential efforts. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and millions have been internally displaced or have become refugees,” Congressman McGovern said. “The Syrian government must be held accountable for its continued targeting of civilians. When there is no accountability for human rights abuses and civilian casualties, conflicts and unrest like this only worsen. The World Food Programme and other aid organizations are at the border, ready to deliver food and humanitarian supplies. We must stop the bombing to ensure that humanitarian assistance gets to the Syrian people who so desperately need it.

“Congress should be talking about and debating these issues. We have strong Syrian communities in Worcester, Massachusetts, and cities across the country who are ready to welcome refugees and help provide these families with a safe haven and fresh start. When we hear about the Syrian conflict, too often it’s only discussed in terms of the U.S. and Russia,” McGovern added. “Ultimately, there must be a political solution – one which allows the Syrian people to determine their own future and respects the rights of all the Syrian people.”

In July 2015, Congressman Jim McGovern (second from left) with Senator Tim Kaine and other U.S. lawmakers in Erbil, Iraq during a Congressional delegation visit to the region



According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an estimated 430,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war between March 2011 and August 2016, of whom 86,692 were civilians. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) calculates that 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country, and 6.5 million are internally displaced – half of the country’s total population of 22 million. In 2016, 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, among them 6 million children and 5.47 million who are in hard-to-reach areas, including close to 600,000 people in 18 besieged areas.

This humanitarian crisis, the largest the world has seen since World War II, cannot be characterized as mere “collateral damage” of the civil war. Rather, the war’s belligerents, particularly the government of Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State, deliberately target civilians and actively oppose humanitarian efforts aimed to mitigate the crisis. Furthermore, the Syrian regime has prosecuted the war with complete disregard for international humanitarian law, as evidenced by the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs, the besieging of civilian populations, the systematic targeting of medical facilities and personnel, and the blocking of humanitarian assistance. The most recent partial ceasefire is at risk after the aerial bombardment of an authorized aid convoy. A negotiated end to the conflict does not appear to be in reach in the foreseeable future.

In this context, the hearing will examine what is being done and what more could be done to protect civilians in Syria. Witnesses from organizations operating on the ground in Syria will discuss their efforts to assist civilian populations inside the country, what they have achieved, the obstacles they face and their recommendations. Witnesses from organizations that specialize in protection and accountability will discuss measures to reduce the vulnerability of civilians as the war continues and to create the conditions for accountability for war crimes in an eventual post-war context.


Panel I

· Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, President, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

· Joel Charny, Director, Norwegian Refugee Council USA

· Richard A. Leach, President and CEO, World Food Program USA

Panel II

· Sarah Holewinski, Senior fellow, Center for a New American Security, and Board of Advisors, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)

· Naomi Kikoler, Deputy Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

· Chris Engels, Deputy Director for Investigations and Operations, Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA)

Why must Charlie be king?

By Gordon Davis

Charlie Baker, the Governor of Massachusetts, “proclaimed” yesterday that he would not accept any refugees from the Syrian Civil War.

Twenty four other Republican governors made the same “proclamation.”

Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, said he would not even accept a 5-year-old child. 

The actions of these governors are a political stunt.  States have zero authority in regards to immigration. Immigration is exclusively a Federal area of governance. Governor Baker has misled us in thinking that he has some power over refugees from war. This is certainly dishonesty on his part.

This dishonesty continues when His Excellency Mr. Baker uses the pretext of public safety to justify his false and malicious remarks. When he made his so called “proclamation” it was already known that not one of the attackers in France came from Syria. All of them were born within the European Union. One of the victims of the attack was from Syria. 

Governor Baker’s actions have likely done more harm than good in that it creates resentment and anger.  Already there has been some push back. There is likely to be more push back.

“His Excellency”’s actions and their pretext are further evidence of the racist tendencies of Republicans and their Tea Party constituents.

Please recall that His Excellency Mr. Baker also said he did not want Hispanic children refugees from Central America coming to Massachusetts.

There is a history of racist anti-immigrant fervor in Massachusetts:

In 1854 the so called “Know Nothing” Party aka American Party won elections and was strongest in Boston.

The Know Nothings consisted only of White Protestant men and they oppressed everyone else, including Catholics, Jews. the foreign born, women, and Blacks. Governor Baker seems to be following, at least partially, in The Know Nothings’ footsteps.

In the early Twentieth Century there was what was called the Red Scare in the United States after the Bolsheviks founded the Soviet Union in 1917. Immigrants, some of whom had socialist ideas, were arrested and deported in what are known as the Palmer Raids. Emma Goldman was caught up in this oppression and deported to Russia.

During World War II many Jews fleeing the Nazis were turned away by the United States and forced to return to Germany where they died in the Holocaust.

In the 1990s the Haitian boat people were refused entry into the United States and were forced to live for years in the Guantanamo Bay holding camp.

His Excellency the Governor of Massachusetts has shown he has little compassion and a tendency to fascism. He did not speak of the refugees as people in need.

It would make sense for the Governor to pull back his proclamation. He knows better than to follow the other Republican governors in what seems to be a locked goose step into a moral morass.

Baker should welcome the Syrians and other refugees. He should make their transition to their new homes in the United States as smooth as reasonably possible.

This governor also should be spending more time on fixing the credible problems we have, such as the overloaded DCF, the ill functioning public transportation systems, and inequities of mandatory sentencing.  It makes sense to work on the credible problems, instead of the threats that are not credible.