01. Februar 2014 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Amsterdam Flüchtlingsprotest · Kategorien: Nicht zugeordnet · Tags:


Collective Struggle of Refugees

The political group We Are Here [Wij Zijn Hier] is the first large-scale organization of refugees in the Netherlands to protest the structural denial of its members’ rights to citizenship.

The organization’s members come from a variety of different countries, though most hail from Africa and live in a juridical and political limbo, as their countries of origin either refuse to allow them to return, or international law and other reasons prohibit the Netherlands from sending them back to their homelands.

The group started with support of the diaconate in Amsterdam, the overarching structure of Protestant churches, which in September 2012 allowed a small group of seven refugees to build a temporary camp in its garden. What began as a marginal encampment soon evolved into a continuously expanding collective, aided by the support of citizens who provided donations in the forms of food and clothing. Through collective organization and solidarity between the group and civil society, the refugees began to move out of obscurity and gain visibility.

Soon after their initial gathering, the group’s rapid growth led them to search for a new space, and they moved to an abandoned piece of land located on the Notweg, a street in the Osdorp neighborhood of Amsterdam. At Notweg, the group continued to grow until authorities evicted it in November of the same year. As a result of a collaborative effort between Christian activists and the squatter community, a temporary solution was found by taking over an abandoned church, which immediately became referred to as the Vluchtkerk [Church of Refuge].

By the time they were moving into the Vluchtkerk, the group had grown to approximately 120 members, and thus it became clear that We Are Here was more than just a loose collection of individuals, but rather a political organization. Its collective demand is to arrive at a permanent residential solution for the whole group, not to break up at any cost, and to bring to public attention the plight of the many more invisible refugees living in the Netherlands. In the spirit of the famous slogan, “I Am A Man,” with which the African-American community took to the streets of Memphis in 1968, the We Are Here protests are based on the most existential and political claim: they demand that their existence be acknowledged by civil society and governments. The Vluchtkerk quickly gained national attention and received enormous public support from ……


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