<m2m-eng> Detained migrants fight brutality in the Netherlands. Call for support.

Jo van der Spek M2M jo at xs4all.nl
Tue Mar 17 11:08:43 CET 2009

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  --- http://m2m.streamtime.org ----

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. Fourty 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 Surab Keladze (from Georgia)
was beaten up and how Ibrahim Hassan (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 contact with 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

For an analysis of the political causes of the Schiphol Fire see:


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.

e: m2m at streamtime.org
t: +31624248872

Donations to Postbank 3452284, Jo van der Spek, Amsterdam. Ref: M2M,
International Bank Account Number (IBAN):
NL52 INGB 0003452284

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