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Migrant protests across asylums in the Netherland - 20 people on hunger strike in Purmerend share their demands

Nieuws, gepost door: nn op 14/04/2023 04:03:10

Wanneer: 14/04/2023 - 14:03

Twenty people caught in the system of the IND are on hunger strike. We talked to them on Wednesday April 12th and we want to share their story, demands, and our report of the visit. Please listen to the recorded audio and share it across as many platforms as possible. The hunger strike is a part of a big wave of demonstrations in asylums across the Netherlands.

The time is now to show support in whichever way possible. Solidarity in the form of demonstrations is greatly appreciated, according to the demonstrators in Purmerend. Some links to ongoing protests are added to this article. Their demands:

"As protesters in this camp, and as the majority of people here, our main demand is to have the IND interview. We've already gone on strike and demonstrated because we want this to happen.

But it's been 9 or 10 months for some of us, while others who arrived later have already had their interviews after only 2 or 3 months. We have a right by law to have our interview within 6 months of our arrival, so we're upset that this hasn't happened yet.

We feel like we're being denied our proper procedures, and we're so determined to get what we want that we're willing to continue our hunger strike even if it means dying. All 20 of us who are protesting are in agreement about this."

On a stretch of barren land outside of Purmerend, a large, white-tented structure stands stark on the horizon. Inside, a human rights crisis unfolds. Over 450 refugees have found themselves detained in this camp – some for several months – in living conditions not fit for long-term stays. Separated by only partitions, beds are crammed together in very small quarters. The scene is shocking, with detainees being fed poor quality food with no option to cook for themselves, and a security force that monitors their every move. A few days ago, a group of those housed within the camp decided to take a stance against these deplorable conditions and went on a hunger strike.

Though mainstream media touched on the story, it hasn't yet gained the traction it needs in order for real change to happen. A small group of activists decided to visit the camp to try and get the stories of these people and offer solidarity. Upon arriving, small children could be seen playing on the concrete outside, with a group of security officers standing between them and the gate. Security immediately bristled at the arrival of the activists, demanding to know what they were doing and at one point physically trying to push them away. Fortunately, several of the men on hunger strike were able to come outside the gate to share their stories with the help of a translator. It was clear they were eager to talk as the translator did his best to keep up with the clamor of voices.

What they have experienced is something no human should ever have to go through. Aside from the unfit living space, the men described being punished by security guards without warning – one man was attacked for trying to film the situation inside and was set to be transferred to another camp in Ter Apel. The transfer ultimately did not go through but the warning was clear: filming and photographs are strictly forbidden. Why would security go through with such brutality to stop filming and photographs if not to hide the unacceptable abuse of humanity happening inside?

The men went on to tell of another incident in which they were promised passes to Amsterdam to protest their conditions if they cleaned the camp. They cleaned the camp but the passes never materialized. They talked of their desperation at being stuck inside such a place for so long, about people inside the camp feeling so hopeless they're suicidal. "As protesters in this camp, and as the majority of people here, our main demand is to have the IND (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst) interview,” states one of the men. “We've gone on strike and held demonstrations because we want this to happen. Some of us have been waiting nine or ten months for our interviews while others only had to wait two or three months. It is our right by law to have our interview within six months of arrival and we’re upset this hasn’t happened yet. We feel like we're being denied the proper procedure. There are 20 of us on a hunger strike over the situation and we're all in agreement that we will continue until we get what we want or die trying.”

Inspectie Gezondheidszorg en Jeugd (IGJ) has already released a report stating that the situation at the camp is dire. That it is not safe, hygienic, or humane. Yet nothing has been and many have turned to a hunger strike as a last attempt to change their situation. It is clear these human rights abuses cannot go on – the Netherlands and the IND should be held accountable for allowing these situations to occur. Currently, demonstrations are being planned in Purmerend to show solidarity and draw attention to the story.

Show solidarity and support! Join or organize demonstrations, visit people on strike and make sure their story spreads far and wide!

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