Category Archives: mali

We Are Here


Who are we

We are refugees. We have applied for asylum in this country. Our claims have been rejected. Now we are called ‘illegals.’ But we prefer to call ourselves refugees. Wars, international conflicts and systematic violence have devastated our countries. So you understand why we don’t like being called illegals. We are refugees. And now we live on the streets. We barely have rights. We have no means of subsistence.Here we are together. Here we are more safe. Here we keep hope. For a normal life.



Why we are here

We came here because our lives and freedom are in danger in our countries. That’s why the right to leave your country is a fundamental human right. We have no right to stay in Holland. We have been denied the right to move to another country. We cannot return to where we came from. Sometimes the governments of our countries refuse to take us back in. Sometimes our country does not even have a government. And sometimes we don’t want to go back because we fear it is not safe. We don’t agree with the decision of the Dutch government to deny our refugee status. We claim that asylum procedures are not always fair and just. And many practitioners and scholars in law agree with us. We are not allowed to live here but we can also not go back there. We are suffering the drastic consequences of an unfair and unjust asylum system and a failing return policy.



Where we go

We want to have a normal life and a future. We want to make ourselves a home, work, raise our children, learn, love and laugh. We want the insecurity and despair to end. We claim the basic human rights that have been denied to us. We have been pushed back to the margins of society. But now we are in your face. And by becoming visible we have made visible the severe shortcomings in Dutch asylum and return procedures.



We are here. And so are you. If you want to bestow dignity, freedom and justice upon your country, raise your voice with us. Support us in our struggle to emancipate ourselves from this misery. As a citizen you have the power to stand up and say ‘No’ to your government. Come and talk with us. Many have done so before you. Citizens, academics, lawyers, journalists, artists, photographers, local politicians, and human rights activists support our cause. We kindly invite you to join in.



Facebook: Wij zijn hier
Twitter @wijzijnhierNL @vluchtkantoor

Open escape routes, take in refugees!

Appeal from Choucha:

We want to leave! Europe must help!”  The demands on the cardboard signs of refugees and migrants at the Tunisian-Libyan border are clear – and compelling: 5000 people have been waiting for weeks and months in unbearable conditions in the camp of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Choucha. All of them managed to escape the escalating civil war in Libya. Many were employed as migrant workers, others had sought refuge from the war and crisis zones in Sub-Saharan-Africa. Survivors of capsized refugee boats meet in Choucha those who, arising out of despair and despite all dangers,
are setting off for the road back towards the Libyan border to risk the dangerous crossing to Europe. On the 5th of May 2011, when four  refugees from Eritrea died at a fire in the improvised tent city, there were spontaneous protests and road blockades. The Tunisian
Military responded with tear gas, residents attacked the camp. At least two refugees were killed, many were badly injured.


The refugees in Choucha were and still are hoping for help and support from the UNHCR, which had requested the European countries, among others, several times during the recent weeks with the intake of at least 6,000 refugees from Libya. In vain. Rather, the European border agency Frontex is given more and more contracts and the new democratic governments in Northern Africa are lured with offers of money, so they continue to be the watchdogs on the southern rim of European borders.
The situation in Choucha must be seen in the context of the forward externalisation of the European border regime to Northern Africa. In the defense of refugees and migrants, the European countries have shamelessly worked together for years with the despots of the Maghreb, especially with Ben Ali in Tunisia and Qaddafi in Libya.
Now, indeed, the democratic transition is welcomed, but help is refused to all those who are stranded in the Tunisian refugee camps and for whom there is no return.

The voices of Choucha stand for the desperate protest against a policy of flagrant human rights violations, as they take place every day in many hot spots of Europe’s external borders. A break with this policy is necessary to stop the dying at sea and in the desert. The
democracy movements in Northern Africa provide the opportunity for a fresh start. Instead of fatal exclusion and grotesque threat scenarios, openness and solidarity must shape the future of the Mediterranean area. It needs bridges instead of walls for a new
African-European relationship in order that Europe becomes a place of real freedom, general security and equal rights for All.

The acceptance of refugees from Choucha in Europe would, in this sense, set a first, not just symbolic character. We therefore call on the responsible policymakers at the European level, in the federal government, states and municipalities,

– to take emergency aid measures and take in the refugees from Choucha and other temporary refugee camps in Europe.

– ­ to provide humanitarian support for Subsaharan migrants, who were already flown out from Libya or Tunisia. For example just in Mali over 10,000 refugees have arrived since the beginning of the war in Libya.

– to give up the existing deportation policies at the external borders in favor of a humane and generous asylum and immigration policy that is consistent with the rights of refugees and migrants.

– ­ to support the democratic upheavals in Northern Africa seriously and to understand it as an opportunity for a changing neighbourhood policy.

Pro Asyl, Medico International, Borderline Europe, Afrique-Europe Interact, Welcome to Europe
31st of May 2011

Sign online: / Choucha-appeal

For further information and to sign online refer to:

Paris: Union kicked out migrants

On Monday 29 the French trade union CGT has evicted the undocumented migrants (sans-papiers) who had occupied the Bourse du Travail for more than a year. They demanded respect from the CGT in their struggle for acceptance in France.

M2M Radio talked with Gibril last May, under the painting on the picture. Ecoute!

“The occupation had turned into a squat”, declared a spokesperson of the CGT.


Here’s a report in French

Chez elle, la CGT n’aime pas les sans-papiers. Expulsion. Le service d’ordre du syndicat a fait évacuer la Bourse du travail de Paris, hier.


Matelas sous le bras, sacs et couvertures à la main, ils sont sortis un à un, sous le regard des CRS.  Sur le trottoir,  bordé par des dizaines de fourgons de police et de cars de CRS,  des femmes pleurent,  en état de choc.  Après quatorze mois passés à vivre jour et nuit dans les locaux de la Bourse du travail à Paris,  les occupants de ce grand bâtiment proche de la place de la République se sont retrouvés à la rue hier midi, évacués de force.


.Africains en situation irrégulière,  ils étaient autour de 500 à y vivre en permanence et près de 1 200 par intermittence. Qui a mené l’opération ? Les évacués ont vite accusé non pas la police mais la CGT, qui aurait envoyé son service d’ordre faire le sale boulot.  Scénario que le syndicat a fini par reconnaître quelques heures plus tard : «Après avoir essayé en vain de négocier pendant des mois, nous avons décidé de mettre un terme à une occupation qui était devenue un squat», justifie Patrick Picard, secrétaire général de l’Union départementale de Paris.
Pourquoi un syndicat qui monte régulièrement au créneau sur la question
des travailleurs sans-papiers a-t-il délogé. des travailleurs sans-papiers
? D’abord pour récupérer son lieu de travail, la CGT disposant d’une
partie du bâtiment. Ensuite, le syndicat entretient depuis le début des
relations tendues avec les occupants, pour la plupart travailleurs isolés,
employés dans le nettoyage ou la sécurité, qui se sont rassemblés dans un
collectif autonome, la CSP 75 (coordination des sans-papiers), sans jamais
vouloir se rapprocher de la CGT pour les demandes de régularisation.

Après plusieurs semaines de menaces, la CGT a donc envoyé hier «quelques
dizaines de militants», qui n’ont pas fait les choses à moitié. Les
témoins décrivent tous la même scène, très brutale : vers 12 h 30, alors
que, comme chaque mercredi, le gros des occupants manifestait place du
Châtelet pour réclamer des régularisations, une trentaine de gros bras,
«crânes rasés», brassard orange, masqués, ont débarqué armés de «bâtons»
et de «bonbonnes de lacrymo», les yeux protégés par des «lunettes de
piscine». Gazés, les occupants sont contraints de quitter les lieux. La
police, arrivée «dix minutes plus tard», reste à la porte du bâtiment,
faute, explique-t-on, de réquisition du propriétaire, en l’occurrence la
mairie de Paris.  CRS et pompiers suivent.


One wall of the occupied   Bourse du Travail.
«ratonnade»,«nettoyage»,«Sarkozy assassin». Certains jurent reconnaître
parmi les policiers en civil présents les mêmes qui ont forcé le bâtiment une demi-heure plus tôt. Dans les rangs de la police, on ne nie pas avoir eu des hommes présents, «comme chaque mercredi, pour encadrer la manifestation», mais on se défend d’avoir participé à l’évacuation, menée «par le service d’ordre de la CGT». En fin de journée, les sans-papiers achevaient de débarrasser leurs affaires, sans savoir où ils allaient passer la nuit. Impossible pour l’heure de réoccuper le bâtiment, bloqué par la police.
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Fofana is free. Live on M2M

Last Wednesday M2M went out to Alphen to visit Fofana and Imran Khan in prison.  The security did not let us do that, so we walked around the building to meet and greet the prisoners on the West and the East. We exchanged some names and numbers and will try to communicate and facilitate.
Meanhwile, Fofana’s lawyer had informed M2M that he would be released this very day! So we stayed around until we could embrace the man. We asked several guards coming out from work if they knew Fofana, but all refused to talk with us. They have strict instructions NOT TO COMMUNICATE.
Well, we don’t and finally we met Fofana at the railway station, where he was dropped off in a blind combi.
He did not know that we were waiting for him, because the security had refused to tell him, so he was kind of lost.
He had never seen anything but prisons in the Netherlands. So there you are at a station under construction, with 2 heavy bags and nowhere to go.


So he was happy we found him! And then we went to a garden by the river and had a soft landing. And he started talking and talking.

We publish here some words, and will talk more with Fofana in the live prohgram this Friday evening.

Phonecards are like diamonds!


Fofana starts making friends in Amsterdams Olympic Stadium.

You are welcome in our temporary studio in the SCUB

De Ruyterkade 153, 10 minutes walk from central Station

And on our web site, where you can listen live

New revolt starts in Alphen

The inmates of Block West A3 of  the detention complex in Alphen a.d. Rijn (Between Amsterdam and Rotterdam) collectively refused to return to their cells on Friday 19th.  All are undocumented migrants,  like Fofana who is already one year detained. They fight again for their freedom, after some of them launched a hungerstrike before, on the 18th of February at Schiphol Oost.  The action has been triggered by the suicide of a guy from Irak. It was inspired also by the visit of ten activists protesting the planned construction of yet another prison at Rotterdam Airport Zestienhoven.

The activists showed their phone number and the inmates started to call them, using LIPS cards.  Later on one of them told M2M that it appears that the uprising was been cut short by riot police who forcefully pushed them inside their cells. Tomorrow is another day.

World Refugee Day.

In Paris a manifestation took place in front of the “Retention Center” of Vincennes. This prison was evacuated a year ago after fire that was  caused by trhe death of a protesting prisoner from Tunesia.

On Saturday 20th hundreds of migrants and activists will act in front of the CIE (Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros)  of Aluche in Madrid.

so many different names for the same shit

we have only one:

no borders between us

If you don’t know people, they can kill you

Fofana is 23 years old and he has lost the last year of his life in Dutch prisons. As a boy he left Bamako and his family behind and went to his uncle in New York, Brooklyn. Later he lived in Montreal.
Almost a year ago he wanted to visit Italy, with a ticket via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Apparently something was wrong with the ticket so he got stuck. Then somebody advised him to ask for asylum and quickly he was brought to the detention complex for unwanted migrant at  Schiphol East.
Is this the sanction for a wrong ticket, or for asking asylum, for adhering to the wrong advice?  Fofana has been asking this question for a year now. He asked the cops, his lawyer, the IND, the refugee council, his ambassy. Is asking for asylum a crime in this country?
Fofana looks good, like a sportsman. He plays football and basket ball. In prison he does running. And he likes music: hiphop and reggae.
Last week we visted him twice in the new detention complex Alphen aan den Rijn. This is his forth or fifth prison now. On the 26th of June it will be one year. And that’s more than long enough.

Fofana has lost confidence in humanity. For him all people in Holland are the same: lawyers, police, IND, pastors, refugee council, Humanitas are all part of a system that destroys his life and that of his brothers and sisters. He suffers and sees how others suffer with him. He fights and feels the repression.
He tells us on the phone about the everyday resistance. Like the guy from Pakistan who one day refused to clean the unit for only 10 Euro per week. He only asked the chief to let others help him. But the brothers equally refused to do this work for
nothing. Then the unit was not cleaned at all and they had to cook and wash themselves.
When I visited him last Saturday I brought him a T-shirt of the cleaners of Schiphol that are campaigning for respect and better working conditions. They now receive a minimum 10 Euro per hour. I showed him the shirt saying “Power to the cleaners”. He liked it a lot, but we can only give it to him on the 15th of June,  when it is his turn to receive some goodies from outside.
It so happened that the guy from another unit who now does the cleaning was sitting right behind me in the visitors space. He’s Moroccan and is doing time for not having the proper papers. He looks like a pirate with a scarf around his head. And he wants a T-shirt too. In fact everybody wants a T-shirt,  so we ask FNV-Bondgenoten to deliver 20 of them.
As a gesture of support and solidarity.


Fofana sees the other units from a distance. He sees how people fight.  He knows how often people are put in isolation. He sees how a Chinese man in his own unit is fading away, sick, not eating, drinking or sleeping. He knows that 2 inmates died in the last two weeks in Alphen.

Fofana is of course also one of the leaders of the hungerstrike that started on the 18th of February in Block L of Schiphol East.
After this collective uprising Fofana and 5 others were transferred to Kamp Zeist where he spent 6 days in isolation.

Fofana wants to be free. He is tired and desparate.
Let’s send him a big cake filled with gun powder.

and break the walls between us!