Mariët van Bommel: “Stop the violence in Sudan! Open the borders!”

Protestor in front of parliament.
Protestor in front of parliament.

Yesterday, the Darfur Union and Doorbraak organised a demonstration against the violence in Sudan and the EU policy of migration control. Mariët van Bommel from Doorbraak held the second speech. Here are the video and the text of her talk.

Hello, I am Mariët van Bommel and I work at Doorbraak. Doorbraak is a revolutionary left wing organization and we fight against racism and migration control policies, and we fight for a decent living for everyone and a just society.

Deze tekst in het Nederlands

We stand here at a demonstration against violence in Sudan and Dutch and European migration control policies. We stand here because people are being killed, villages are being plundered, and women and girls are being raped by militias that are supported by Sudan’s president Al-Bashir. Al-Bashir must be brought before the International Criminal Court, and punished for his crimes. The speakers of the Darfur Union will tell more about this. We stand here because refugees from Sudan and from other countries should be able to get a better life. There is also a speaker from We Are Here, he can tell more about the way undocumented refugees are treated in the Netherlands. We stand here because refugees are stopped at the outer borders of Europe. Outer borders that are being militarised more and more. Mark of Stop Wapenhandel (Stop Arms Trade) already told you about this. Outer borders that are moved out of European territory more and more.

The EU moved her borders out to Turkey and several countries in Africa. The EU, so also the Netherlands, makes deals with dictators to stop refugees from even reaching Europe. These dictators use violence on the inhabitants of their own country and violate basic human rights. And these dictators have to stop refugees, according to the EU. All refugees. What one hears often is that “real” refugees are allowed to come here. But what does that even mean, being a “real” refugee? People don’t flee for fun. They flee for war, violence, rape, famine, poverty and oppression. They flee for their life. They flee because of their future. Everyone wants to live safely, everyone wants to have opportunities, everyone wants to grow and to be able to develop. Refugees have rights to this, just as much as people who are born in the Netherlands.

There are still people who manage to reach Europe. The will to go to Europe drives people forward. There will always be people who manage to slip through the holes. But the roads become ever more dangerous, and time and again people die. Smugglers consider it a lucrative business to cram shitty boats so full of people that the boats capsize, and every year thousands of women, man, and children drown. To wait in a refugee camp until you are chosen is a farce. Just a cosmetic measure, which the EU uses to pretend to care about human lives. So refugees enter these shitty boats. And the EU, and the Netherlands, are responsible. The EU that so called finds human rights so important. The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government, the so called city of peace and justice. The Hague, the Netherlands, the EU, they are responsible for disaster and death.

Some right wing voices plead for a total abolishment of the right to asylum in Europe. Then it would only be possible to apply for asylum in another country, at an embassy. If your request is denied, you have never put a foot on European soil, and you don’t have to be deported. Then in Libya, Turkey or Sudan you are stuck, and they can think about what they want to do with you. And they get a lot of money to do this, from the European Union, from the Netherlands. Development funds that are shamelessly being used to bargain. Money for refugees, but not for refugees themselves. And what will dictators do with European money, what will dictators do with the border protection material supplied by European countries? Will that be in the interest of population? Of course not.

The government doesn’t try to stop everyone from applying for a residence permit. Are you a so called “knowledge migrant”, and are you hired by a big company to make tons of money? You’re welcome! But if you’re poor, sick and apply for a residence permit? The fees are increased to no less than 985 euro. How are you going to pay that? The rules are such that if you’re poor, you have less chance of getting a permit, or to get your partner or child to the Netherlands. But how can survive if your request for asylum is denied? If you’re put on the street, broke, and without a place to live? They say: fuck off. But there’s nowhere to go. The state hunts down undocumented people, and locks them up in order to deport them. Even if they didn’t do anything, except being here, except trying to build up a life.

At the same time undocumented people do a lot of work in the Netherlands. Work in the homes of families for example, especially in rich peoples’ homes. Undocumented domestic workers clean, take care of children, take care of pets. Then the home owners can go to their jobs. Their caring tasks are outsourced to people coming from “the third world”. The Dutch economy floats on the work of undocumented people. Just like the economy here floats on resources mined, and products made all over the world by underpaid and exploited workers. These products are welcome, and the money too, but the people should stay out, as far as the government is concerned.

Refugees who do get a residence permit have to do “inburgering”. They say this is integration, but in reality it’s more like assimilation. It’s about learning how fantastic the Dutch “Golden” Age was, that the Netherlands was a superb world power. But there’s no word about slavery, or the plunder of the colonies, because of which the wealth is still so unequally distributed throughout the world. No word about the genocides and the oppression of people in the colonies by the Dutch. Refugees must learn from the Dutch government that the Dutch culture is superior, that racism doesn’t exist, and that every person has to be a self made man or woman. Don’t you have a job? That’s your own fault. Can’t you keep up? Too bad. Diploma’s from universities in different countries are not recognized, but you can do cleaning work. Or work for nothing for a company that makes profit on the backs of free laborers.

Here in the Netherlands, there is no war like in Sudan, and other countries where refugees come from. But a lot is wrong in Europe and the Netherlands. And this can only change through struggle. Struggle from the bottom up, grassroots struggle. By people who suffer from oppression, supported by solidarity people. Yes, there is border control, refugees are being rejected, locked up and sometimes deported. But a lot of people are fighting this. Individual refugees, who keep coming, who go on in spite of state repression. The state can not prevent people from staying here and somehow managing, somehow surviving. And I, and others in my position, we have to show solidarity. We can do this by offering practical help. For example by running a consultation hour as Doorbraak does in Leiden, or by supporting We Are Here, the collective of refugees in Amsterdam. But we must also do this by giving political support. Demonstrations against migration control policies are important, demonstrations against dictators like Al-Bashir are important. The International Criminal Court is in The Hague and that makes the Netherlands, and the Dutch government, play a role in arresting and prosecuting war criminals like Al-Bashir. But we shouldn’t leave that to the government, because the Netherlands and the EU violate human rights themselves, they leave refugees in the cold. We have to stand here, side by side. We must work together. We want to live together. We are human, all of us. We have a right to a better life. We stand for free migration, and against the state controlling migration. We fight for a better life for refugees. We are against racism and oppression. We are against capitalism that reduces people to numbers and costs and profit. We stand for a solidary world. We say: stop violence in Sudan! We say: open the borders! No one is illegal! Everyone has the right to be here!

Mariët van Bommel