On the occasion of the action by refugees-on-the-street who started a camp outside the Collective Center at Ter Apel in the north of the Netherlands on the 8th of May, Jo van der Spek of M2M wrote the following column. These migrants are supposed to return voluntarily to their country, because the Dutch government believes that they are not in danger there. However the governemnt in Iraq refuses to take them back if they are forced. So they have nowhere to go to, no right to be here and no way to go there. But they act together for a chance to live and live better than before. Why not?
Welcoming the Iraqi Invasion Act
Finally it is not the USA that invades The Hague, in order to prevent the application of international justice to American citizens- soldiers. No, it’s Iraqi citizen-migrants occupying common ground in the north of the Netherlands in an effort to force a radical change in
the application of human justice to migrants that are so far denied acces and basic rights.
This act of occupation by a fast growing number of mainly Iraqi refugees-on-the-street is well timed and also well suited to create an uplifting experience amidst the general lethargy that still covers Holland like a blanket of mental smog.
Like so many times before in history an external agent, through an unexpected and autonomous action, is now intervening in the Dutch political landscape, at a moment that everyday political life is in a highly unstable state: no government, a parliament trying to gain legitimacy and a queen dying to hand-over sovereignty to her son. The direct cause for this current limbo lies in the response to the economic recession and the European conditions forcing even a rich country like Holland to take extreme measures of austerity. However, the cornerstone of change, the hinge on which the minds and hearts of a significant section of youth and mindful adults may move, is the approach towards migrants and world affairs in general. Poverty is moving in and migrants are dying on the shores of Europe. Soon we will be drifting together if we don’t take drastic action.
Finally we see the face of globalization reflected in the mirror that Brussels and Ter Apel are holding up for us to see. We see Geert Wilders as just another make-over of Batman, unmasking himself as just another copy cat of Pim Fortuyn, only adding to the pitiful frustration of the merciless masses voting for him, proving once again time for messiah is over. One man will not make the difference. Ask Obama.
Finally the Joker hits back. After two exercises last winter led by Somali brothers and sisters camping in the cold outside the deportation complex of Ter Apel, now the weather is fine and time is ripe for the real thing. These poor asylum seekers, strangled by foreign police and immigration service IND, mentally broken by the thousands in administrative detention, suffocated by laws and lawyers, made dependant on charity and church, are finally showing who they really are: human! They can really move! They are not victims but actors!
They can be tourists like you and me! So let us not help the occupiers in Ter Apel. Let us not support them, don’t give them tents, blankets or telephone credit. Do not bring your redundant laptops, I-pads or even worn-out army boots and leather jackets to their field of honour. No, embrace their exemplary autonomous action, join Ali Aziz and Hadi Abu Sanad like in the 16th century we embraced the House of Orange, invading the Dutch swamps at nearby Heiligerlee. Temperature is rising, parliamentary politics is exhausted, corporate business is selling out to China’s communists and Mexican coke dealers.
We got to save ourselves.
We are here, we the people, we make the difference, we have no borders to cross, we have no cross other than our own indulging in apathy. Let’s throw it off and start the summer. Leave your squat and camp out. Send your children abroad after the exams and restore disorder at home.
Forget your mortgage, bury your debts and love your neighbour.
Let migrants invade this place and help us chase away the ghosts of Rawagade, Srebrenica, the Schiphol Fire and most of all the mist of mental misery hanging over us.