kein mensch ist illegal hamburg

"Ihr sollt wissen, daß kein Mensch illegal ist.
Das ist ein Widerspruch in sich. Menschen können schön sein oder noch schöner. Sie können gerecht sein oder ungerecht. Aber illegal? Wie kann ein Mensch illegal sein?"

Elie Wiesel

Freitag, 31. Januar 2014

The political group We Are Here [Wij Zijn Hier] in the Netherlands

art reader with We Are Here

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

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 ......