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[ 09. Dec 2012 ]

Protest camp Amsterdam evicted and church squatted

We want a legal life!

Three month old migrant protest camp Osdorp/ Amsterdam evicted - 96 undocumented arrested, 86 released, 1 deported -; followed by big church squatted for continuation protest in western suburb of Amsterdam; protest camp in The Hague threatened with eviction.


Netherlands, 07. Dec 2012 - The migrants in protest demonstrate against the Dutch way of treating rejected refugees. Since 2010 asylum seekers from countries - like Somalia and Irak - who have been rejected are no longer entitled to basic rights such as shelter and food. Even when it is impossible to return to their countries of origin, the Dutch government argues that they can leave voluntarily. Denying them access to reception centers, putting them in prison and forcing them to survive in parks, railway stations and insecure hiding places, that is the way to convince them to leave this country. In the first half of 2012 4.680 asylum seekers have been dumped on the street without any life support. The self-organized action by the refugees have highlighted a humanitarian problem that has been growing for years and was hidden from the public eye. The Osdorp camp was the 4th in one year with as biggest the 400 migrants camp in Ter Apel May 2012 that ended with a violent eviction by mass police force.

Now these people have made themselves visible and seek solutions by entering in dialogue with civil society and democratic representatives. To realize their aims they need to be together, safe and visible. Apparently the authorities want to make them disappear again. The only offer is for some of the refugees to go for 30 days in dispersed shelters for homeless people. After that they would again be on their own, insecure and invisible.

Our life is in danger. On their blog, the refugees that camp out in Amsterdam declared: "We are here because our life is in danger. There are many reasons for this. War is the most important one. There are several armed conflicts in Africa that cost many lives, disrupt families and livelihoods. Political violence and oppression, religious division, problems between tribes and clans add to make solutions complicated. Drought, famine and other economic factors also push people to find a better future elsewhere. All these cases are inter-related. We can see this in the extremist movements. They make life impossible for you if you do not conform to strict rules. Having a drink can cost you your life. Being a member of another tribe, or of another religion, can bring you into deep trouble. So we are here because we face persecution and danger in our countries. We need to be in the Netherlands because this country is a free country where our lives are safe and we could build a future. - We want your help. We want to get out of this situation. We want your help, not just with food and drinks, but with the broader issues. Help us with publicity, be creative: think about how you could help. Whether you're politically active, or a journalist, everyone can help in their own way. We have 5 representatives you can talk to, to explain our situation."

They fight not only for the migrants that are rejected citizens but cannot be deported. It is a struggle for all migrants who instead of being welcomed, are put away in asylum centres, detention centres or they are left to their fate without care, without housing without prospect of a decent existence. The approximately 100 refugees demonstrating in the Osdorp camp were determined to stay where they were and face the police force and subsequent detention. They called on people to witness and support the protest at the eviction. "We call for witnesses, observers and comapssionate citizens to join and demand the right to live for all who are here." Some 80 activists and supporters blocked the entrance to the camp for the police on the eviction day on the 30st of November, were dragged away one by one. The police could not convince the migrants to leave the camp voluntarily and so 96 migrants were arrested. Some 86 were released in the same night after the camp was gone. Most were Somalians who cannot be deported and because of this cannot be detained. Eight persons from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen, Mauretania, Ivory Coast, Somalia and Kenya are still in detention. One man from Armenia has been deported.

A couple of days later the Student Squatting Group occupied the church. After the squat the protestant church declared itself solidair with the refuge church. It protested against the fact that the migrants from the Osdorp camp were arrested and put on the street without being able to leave the country and without having any right for housing or income. The protestant church gives the protest chuch juridical and financial support.

Description of political background in the NLs:

Desperate to eject some refugees it does not want, the Netherlands is refining the art of radical deprivation. No single step, no single decision, no single action in this process is horrible. Yet the cumulative effect is grotesque.

Some months ago, a group of refugees from East Africa and the Middle East protested loudly against the Dutch state"s refusal to grant them legal residency despite the fact that they are stateless. They set up a tent camp outside the asylum centre where they had been rejected. They asserted that this was a political statement, not a request for humanitarian hand-outs. They refused to be helpless and needy;.... read more @ :: The moral sadism of the Dutch State, 4 December 2012

About the squat and build-up of the church:

On Friday, 30 November a group of approximately 100 asylum seekers was ejected from their tent camp in Amsterdam Osdorp. With nowhere to go, the refugees took to the streets. In the following days, they were received by various Amsterdam citizens from all walks of life in a spontaneous act of hospitality. Meanwhile, a team of activists looked for a new home for the asylum-seekers. This new home has been found.

On behalf of the asylum-seekers, on Sunday, December 2nd the student faction of The Amsterdam Squatters Movement (Studenten Kraak Spreekuur) occupied the St. Joseph Church in the Bos en Lommer area of Amsterdam West.

Read more about @ :: This is our story.