Geert Lovink on Mon, 16 Mar 2009 12:41:55 -0400 (EDT)

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<nettime> Migrants in detention complex Schiphol Airport fight brutality, call for help

Migrants in detention complex Schiphol Airport fight brutality, call  
for help

M2M Radio, Migrant to Migrant, calls on activists and artists for  
international collaboration in solidarity

Amsterdam, NL. March 2009

On the 18th of February the inmates of Block L demanded clear  
information on their fate. ?How long can they keep us here? Is asking  
for  asylum a crime in this country? Why are we here?? In Block L  
migrants are detained who are supposed to be deported back home.  They  
did not fulfill the tough requirements to be accepted as a refugee.  
But it can take a long time, even more than a year, for the Ministry  
of Justice to find out how to deport a single person, especially when  
s/he is from a country like Sudan, Somalia or Palestine, where the  
civil registers are not quite up to date. According to Dutch law the  
simple fact of not having the proper documents is not a violation. The  
reason for detaining thousands of migrants is administrative: to  
facilitate a smooth exit when opportunity knocks.

Hunger strike

When satisfying answers to their questions were not available from the  
staff and the director, some 40 of the migrants, decided to insist by  
sitting down on the ground of the cage for fresh air and refuse to  
return to their cells. This action was then broken by forcing them one- 
by-one back to his or her cell, handcuffed and when ?opportune? in  
isolation cells. Fifty riot police in full gear entered the stage and   
used ?proportional violence?, in the terms used by the managing  
director of Penitentiary Institutions in a report of Dutch NOVA TV.  
Twenty inmates were forced to watch how Surah Keladze (from Georgia)  
was beaten up, how Ibrahim Hussein (Sudan) was hit in his genitals.  
That same day 36 of the inmates of Block L went on hunger strike and  
are now organizing their resistance, their fight for freedom. And they  
call on us to fight with them.

In Dutch detention centers the conditions are worse than in regular  
prisons. There are women among the men, which is against the law.  
People have to sleep in paper sheets. There are less facilities for  
recreation, medical care and communication. This adds to the isolated  
locations and the lack of family in many cases. This drives many of  
the detained sans-papiers crazy and mad. Resistance is met by  
violence: isolation cells, hand cuffs and beatings are regular  
practices. It is not the first time that a group of inmates starts a  
protest, but it  is a new that inmates manage to communicate directly  
with activists and advocacy groups in the country of Holland. M2M  
Radio, Migrant to Migrant, receives daily reports from several  
outspoken detainees in Block L over the phone. This is made possible  
by people who donate eleven Euro for phone credit. You can listen to  
their recorded phone calls at the M2M website:

The number eleven is a direct symbolic reference to the eleven  
migrants who died in the fire in Block K in October 2005. This fire  
has been a turning point in the growing social movement rallying  
against these detention centers and for a humane treatment of  
migrants. The survivors of the ?Schiphol Fire? are united in their  
quest for truth and justice and M2M is their platform.

The cause of justice for all survivors boils down to the case of the  
only man that has been accused so far: his name is Ahmed Isa. He was  
condemned to three years in jail in 2007 and will stand to appeal in  
spring 2009. Parallel to the proceedings against Ahmed Isa, criminal  
charges have been brought up by an ad hoc committee of human rights  
groups and other advocates of the survivors and relatives of the  
deceased against the two directly responsible ministers accusing them  
of creating the conditions that made the fire possible and for inhuman  
treatment of the survivors of the fire. The European Court of Human  
Rights has endorsed the accusations and this means that for the first  
time the authorities are brought to account. They have to reply to all  
points of the accusations. A proper administration of justice is of  
the highest importance for the well being of the survivors and indeed  
for their lives.

The Dutch detention complex

More than three years after the Schiphol Fire no substantial change  
has been made in the migration politics: migrants are chased, locked  
up by the thousands and either deported or rotting a way like dead  
dogs in detention. The lesson learnt by the state is to build new and  
permanent facilities for detaing migrant, including special child  
friendly facilities for minors and mothers. At Rotterdam Airport and  
Schiphol these new prisons will replace the redundant temporary and  
substandard  hangars and containers. Worse even, the Dutch deputy  
minister is succesfully promoting this Dutch approach as a model for  
the European Union: Italy, Spain and the UK have adopted the same  
regiem and the EU has opted for a maximum period of one-and-a-half  
year of administratieve detention. So far Holland had no legal time  

Many people find it hard to believe that the Netherlands, a country  
that poses as a champion of human rights and international justice, is  
guilty of this systematic violation of human and civil rights. Not  
only undocumented migrants, also legal immigrants and complete  
communities and neighbourhoods are disturbed and disrupted by this  
state policy. It is a policy that goes hand in hand with the wave of  
xenophobia and anti-islamic nationalist parties. That is why M2M does  
not hesitate to call this region a frontline in the global struggle  
for the acceptance of migration as a fundamental freedom of man.  
Outlawing human beings is not only brutally humiliating, it undermines  
the core values and the basic rights that any civilized society is  
held to respect.

No borders between us! Cross the line. Break the silence!

Every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. People come to perform together in  
acts of witnessing, protest and solidarity at the fence of the  
detention complex at Schiphol Oost.

Address: Ten Pol, 1438 AJ Oude Meer (bus 187 from Schiphol Plaza)

The M2M Foundation promotes free communication of migrants.
Look with us, not at us.

Donations to Postbank 3452284, Jo van der Spek, Amsterdam. Ref: M2M,  

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