venerdì 11 maggio 2012

Report solitour immigration detention centres (NL)

Last Sunday (06-05-2012), more than a hundred people took part in a solidarity-tour passing three detentioncentres in The Netherlands. The tour was organised in solidarity with the people who are being detained in immigration detention. Part of the protest was a big banner with the text ‘tell your story’ next to a phone number. People in detention could call that number, with the aim of opening up their stories to the outside world.
At 12:30, two full touringbusses and some cars depart from Utrecht CS and head to the first stop on the tour: Kamp Zeist in Soesterberg. There’s a noise demo of 45 minutes, and shouting back and forth with the detained over the fences. Visual contact is difficult, but we hear about 6 voices from the other side of the fence. “On the 5th of May you celebrate your freedom, but what freedom? We are here inside”. There is a call from inside: a man tells that there’s only 2 seperate hours in open air a day. He also tells that besides one filthy meal a day, they receive only half a bread per person every two days. The staff of the detention centre made clear to the people inside that they could only watch the protest: a reaction or making noise would be punished.
After 45 minutes we continue our trip and head to the bajesboten (floating jails) in Zaandam. Accompanied by drums, an air-raid alarm and a loud “geen vrouw, geen man, geen mens is illegaal” (no woman, no man, no one is illegal), a group of a hundred people cross a business park towards a big fence on the other side of the water of the bajesboten. On the left and right a few dozen illegalized are the outside areas of the centre. There’s waving back and forth but communication is difficult, and a police patrol boat is blocking the sight now and then. When activists start banging the fence to make noise and others climb the fence to make the banner with the telephone number visible to the other side, there’s a small confrontation with two workers of the company on site. From behind the fence they try to get the activists off the fence by attacking them with steel pipes. They also throw buckets of water at the activists (and police) and park a trailer in front of the only opening in the fence. The activists don’t pull back but start to make even more noise, because that’s why they are here: to support the people in immigration detention, who are only detained because they don’t have the right papers to walk as free people in The Netherlands.
After about 45 minutes, the time has come to travel to the last location we’ll visit on this day: detention centre Schiphol-Oost, where on the 27th of October 2005 eleven people died in a fire. On arrival there are still people in the ‘outside’ area. After activists quickly remove a fence and some nato-wire, it is possible to communicate directly with the people inside. Only a few meters and the fences separate us: it’s an impressive experience to be able to look each other in the eye and communicate. We talk with a male journalist from Togo and a woman from Bangladesh, but soon two guards appear who force the people to go back inside. The people continue to wave from their cells and put notes up against the windows reading ‘help’ and ‘freedom’.
Then we stop at the monument for the 11 deceased from the 2005 fire. Suddenly a fire truck appears on the spot. Later we learn that people inside set off the fire alarm. As a closer to the day, the band Zibabu plays and a recording of a call from inside earlier that day is being played back. After a last noise session we leave.
There have been 8 calls on Sunday, the recordings will be published very soon on the soli-tours website. The idea is to use the telephone number more often to get more stories into the open. We’re looking back on a succesful day, but as long as there are people being detained for nothing in immigration detention it is necessary to take action against this inhumane policy.
No one is illegal! Solidarity to those without papers!
A videoreport from the tour:
The soli-tour was broadcasted live by Pinknoise. The broadcast will soon be made available through their archive at
More info at

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