Geert Lovink on Tue, 12 Nov 2013 20:01:05 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> update from We Are Here in Amsterdam


Update from We Are Here in Amsterdam

The self-organized refugees of WE ARE HERE in Amsterdam will have to leave their building this week. The owner has a court order to that effect. The good news is that we have made a succesfull campaign of more than a  year, since September 2012. And we may well win a legal shelter for a big  number of refused refugees, before the eviction takes place. It seems the  Mayor of Amsterdam does not like to see us on the street again, squatting under the Rijksmuseum. Below you find more info and a call for action to put some extra pressure on the owner: the Bayer Pension Fund in Leverkussen. (Jo van der Spek)

We are part of the Global Uprisings!

The political position of the refugees of We Are Here is very well expressed in audio in a Parliamentary Hearing last Thursday in The Hague.

Dear Sirs, madams,

Thank you for the invitation to speak in this hearing. Today we want to express our feelings to the Dutch parliament as victims of inhuman treatment. Our asylum case has been rejected. Some of us were living on the street for more than five years before we came together in the garden of the Diaconie, the tent camp in Osdorp, the Vluchtkerk, the Vluchtflat and the Vluchtkantoor. The risks and hazards we face are heavier than any normal person can take.

One year ago, we were evicted from our tent camp in Osdorp. We were surrounded by police and taken into detention, because we protested against the violation of our basic human rights. That same day, we were put out on the street again in the cold winter snow, because they did not know what to do with us.

We then had to stay eight months in the Vluchtkerk (St. Josephkerk) which had been empty for years, to escape from the extreme winter cold. The church was sickening. Almost all of us had respiratory diseases. One of our group members was heavily infected by tuberculosis, others had to go to hospital for their disease, if they could get medical attention.

The Mayor agreed with a review of our cases, to see if we had been rightly refused asylum. However, we were evicted again, and had to stay for four months in the Vluchtflat, without any sanitary facilities. In the Vluchtkerk, one of our brothers, Jean Paul Baba, died because he was in the same situation as us. When we had to leave the Vluchtflat on October 1, we had no alternative. We were out on the street and had to sleep in theatres and churches for three nights.

History repeated itself: we are now at the Vluchtkantoor on the Weteringschans 109. We don't have showers, we don't have clothes, we have just enough food to stay alive, and we do not have the opportunity to work or go to school. Now the owner has claimed he needs the building and we will be out on the street again, because we do not want to violate the law or his property rights.

We have to move from place to place, from building to building. We think this is an inhuman treatment. Even if our asylum case is rejected, the Dutch government should grant us basic human rights: shelter, food and clothes because we are stuck here. We cannot go back to our own country, or leave. Our finger prints have been taken and registered. We will be returned to the Netherlands if we cross the border.

State secretary for immigration Teeven, and the Mayor of Amsterdam, mister Van der Laan, refuse to give us protection and shelter unconditionally, even if 60% of us still have no final result of the review of their cases by Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland (VWN).
Our message to the Dutch government is as follows:

According to the decision made by European Committee for Social Rights made on October 25/2013 complaint no 90/2013, you should honour our basic human rights. We should get a house, food and clothes.

We also want to have a future. We do not want to sit in a squatted building and be a burden on individuals, mosques, churches, and welfare organisations. The director of COA, Jan-Kees Goet, recently stated that asylum seekers should be active. Even if we are refused asylum, we also want to make an effort to contribute to society by work or study.

We are here. We want to be a productive group in this society. We are positive thinkers we have no negative intentions. Give us a chance to go to school. Give us a job. Give us protection. Give us a future. Help us to lead a normal life!

We would like to speak a special word to Mr Van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam, if we may.  The owner of the Vluchtkantoor has sent us an eviction notice. A court case has taken place. We refused to defend ourselves because we do not violate property rights, and because we are not criminals. We want to stay together and we will evacuate the building if the court decides so next monday. We worry about the coming winter season. If the court decides to evict us, we have no any option than to leave the building and stay outside. We have always respected the property rights of the owners of the buildings we lived in. We cherish our good reputation with the people of Amsterdam.

Dear Mr. Van der Laan, we know that the Amsterdam City Council is much concerned about our fate. In majority, they have asked you to support us if the state or private persons and organisations fail to do so. Now the European Committee of Social Rights on October 25th, in a reaction to a complaint by the Conference of European Churches, has instructed the Dutch government that people without a permit "evidently find themselves at risk of serious irreparable harm to their lives and their integrity when being excluded from access to shelter, food and clothing." The Netherlands got the following advice: "Adopt all possible measures with a view to avoiding serious, irreparable injury to the integrity of persons at immediate risk of destitution, through the implementation of a coordinated approach at national and municipal levels with a view to ensuring that their basic needs (shelter, clothes and food) are met".

We hope that you, as our Mayor, will understand our desperate condition and act practically and positively on it. Accordingly we ask you to provide us with a better shelter, heating, food and clothing, before we are put out on the street again.

The Vluchtkantoor at Weteringschans 109 in Amsterdam, which is home to the wijzijnhier refugee movement, consisting of more than 220 refugee activists since over a month now, has to be left according to a recent court decission, within 48 hours and will be be evicted if the movement doesn't leave the building until Tuesday 12th November 2013.

Neither the city council nor the owner or any alleged NGO supporters offered any suitable alternatives for the movement to life and continue their struggle collectively, which basically means depriving them again of their basic needs like food, shelter and a decent living, in favour of the benefit of a transnational cooperation and nationalist ideologies spread by the state and it's agents.

The official owner of the building Weteringschans 109, the Bayer Pension Trust e.V. with its head office in 51386 Leverkusen, ( rejected to listen to the refugees demands and emediately took legal steps against the movement to get rid of the
alleged threat to their profit.

To stop BAYER from their inhuman actions and possibly enable the refugee movement Wij Zijn Hier to continue their struggle inside the
Vluchtkantoor let BAYER know, that their inhuman actions against the refugees will not stay unrecognised by the broader public!!!
Write E-Mails to the responsible persons at BAYER PENSION FUND ( talk about what is happening and get organised.

The Struggle against borders must not stop at the borders!!

United we stand!

'WE ARE HERE' is a group of refugees without papers, that wants to make the problems of the unseen visible. 'We Are Here' moved from the tent camp at Notweg where  to the Vluchtkerk, then to the Vluchtflat in Slotervaart. Since the 3rd of October 'we are here' @ the #Vluchtkantoor, in the heart of Amsterdam.

Since November 2012 the struggle for the freedom of movement and for human living conditions of refugees, sans papiers, non-citizens and people with a transnational background in amsterdam and elsewhere continues.

If the evection is succesfull more than 200 refugee-activsts, some of whom with serious health issues will find themselves once again without shelter on the cold and rainy streets of Amsterdam in constant threat of deportation and police violence.

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