AAGU: Report from wall Kamp Zeist: "At six o'clock, when we were still sleeping, the police came to get us."
English translation of: Verslag vanaf muur Kamp Zeist: "Toen het zes uur was, we lagen te slapen, toen kwam de politie ons halen."
Saturday morning, November 22, 2014: We have climbed on the wall of Kamp
Zeist, also known as detention center Soesterberg. Purpose: contact with detained refugees. Reason: the commissioning of
what Fred Teeven calls the "Closed Family Facility".
Inside of the wall on which we sit, we see the family prison immediately: it's right next to us on the inside of the wall,
recognizable by the images of the ministry itself, in which this families prison is commanded as 'child friendly' and 'humane'.
Screenshot van de livestream
The prison is located in the north-east corner of the walled part of Kamp Zeist. What we see and hear, as we expected, is anything but humane and child-friendly. Six wooden buildings, a sort of houses with a flat roof and two yellow buildings. One yellow building (the lowest on the images) turns out to be the building for former AMAs (unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who are rejected and have to leave the country), the other is the building of the security. In the middle: a small synthetic grass pitch and two playsets. The entire prison has been put down on concrete slabs and is enclosed by a penitentiary fence. Six meters high, with live wire on top. Yellow signs warn for the electricity. Cameras on the fence record what happens on the orderly barren terrain.
As we look at the ground, we see a shift in a cottage curtain. We wave. No response from the guards yet. In the three hours that follow, we make contact with two families from Afghanistan. Both are Sikhs, so it seems. They have fled from the Taliban. One family actually consists of two brothers, one of whom with wife and two children. Of the other family we see a man and a woman and two children. The man seems clearly confused and gestures that he is taking a lot of pills. He gets them to stay calm. Every now and them he lets himself be translated. His wife says nothing. When we see her, she cries. Her daughter of 12 tells us she is in the Netherlands for four years and was still in high school when last week at 6 o'clock in the morning the police came and took them to the prison. Duddenly snatched from life and imprisoned, just like that.
At six o'clock, when we were still sleeping, the police came to get us. The classmates know of nothing. They lived in Gilze. She went to high school in Tilburg and was in the first grade.
Now she has to return to Afghanistan, a country that she has seen in her very early childhood. She speaks Dutch without an accent. Her brother also went to school. At one point he says that he has poems written by classmates. They have sent them to him. Shy he stands there, daring not to say anything, but finally he is going to look for the poems. He comes back with seven sheets of paper in his hands, but is afraid to read them out loud.
The two men from the other family tell about the reason for their flight to the Netherlands. They had no more work, the children could not go to school, they had no home anymore. They are not Muslims so it was said that it was not their land. They are discriminated against. They tell of abuses by the Taliban. Not all at once. The heaviest things they tell us when they hear from us that the police is about to take us away. They say that their hair and beard were plucked, they were cut with knives on their arms and in their faces. From behind the fence the one man shows us the scar of a knife wound in his stomach. They were doused with boiling oil. Because they are Sikhs. They've been in the Netherlands for two years. They thought here they would find 'humanity'.
"What does the IND say?" We ask. The IND says that if they convert to Christianity, they have a chance to get asylum. A family that was taken from the family prison to a AZC earlier this week proves that this is true. "They were Christians," says the man, "They are not here anymore. But we are Sikhs and we must return to Afghanistan. "The IND does not really give a clear reason. "But we are looking for a safe haven," she repeated. And "we're not criminals, why should we be imprisoned? Lets people search the Internet for the history of Sikhs in Afghanistan, they can see it for themselves. "
I ask the man what he expects will happen when they arrive in Kabul when they are deported.
"We will be killed," he says without hesitation.
Twice already, the DT&V has tried to deport the two brothers and the family. The first time was last Monday. One of the brothers, the father in the family, had a heart attack and the deportation was canceled. They brought him to the hospital. There it was decided that he was alright again. Wednesday they were brought to the family prison.
A second deportation attempt was Friday, the day before we went up on the wall. "Yesterday," he says, "but our lawyer has been able to avoid it with an emergency procedure." Otherwise they would have been deported to Kabul with KLM flight 871 already. They don't have family anymore in Afghanistan. What are they going to do there? Where should they go? They have been told that if the father of the family suffers a heart attack during deportation, the family will already be deported. They will deport him later then...
At one point, his brother says that they both are on hunger strike for four days at them moment. At first they drank neither, but they they decided to drink again. I have asked him whether the guards know about it. "Yes," he said, "but they say it's not their problem." The lawyer is also informed. But will it make a difference, I wonder. Last year, Bah was still declared 'fit to fly' and deported after a hunger strike of more than a month.
In this family, there is also a little boy of five years old. The father says that he cries every day and says he wants to go to school. Every day. We sit there on that wall and feel powerless. We film, listen, ask, tell them why we are there. They need help, they say. But what can we do besides showing this to the world by streaming it live on the internet. We ask people to write down the phone number on the banner and make a call. They tell us that their phones have been confiscated. Calling is difficult. It turns out that they need to call in the building of the security. One man says that this building is closed on weekends. It is therefore not possible to make a call while we sit on the wall.
They are grateful that we are there, that we're doing this. We would rather prefer to break through the wall and the fence and get them out, to be able to liberate them. Jeroen, who sits on the wall with me, remembers that he has chocolate in his bag. He decides to throw it over the fence, for the little boy who is crying that he wants to go to school. There goes than the first bar, and then the second. The man picks it up. But as soon as we can throw it, so quickly surveillance comes rushing in. To take it away. "That is not allowed” we hear someone say. One of the guards calling us "Keep your stuff with you!" The guard wears, like Fred Teeven announced, no uniform. But he acts like any other guard. He takes away candy from the child. How much more proof do you need?: it is a prison, and like any other prison, nothing is allowed in or out of it.
We asked the girl from the other family what she would say to Fred Teeven if he looks at the images we broadcast live. She says: "Get us out of here." And if Fred Teeven does not? "I find that strange." How is it possible that Malala receives awards because she's been shot in the head by the Taliban because she fought for the right to education for girls in Afghanistan, but at the same time a girl that has been in the Netherlands for a large part of her childhood and went to school here, is being sent back to that country without hesitation.Explain that.
While we sit on that wall for hours, a lot of time passes that we see the refugees, and they can see us too, but none of us knows what else to say. Women with children go inside because it is cold. A few men sit silently. What can we say? Uplifting words we do not have. We tell them that refugees held a march last week. We tell them how you can try to prevent your deportation on the plane by requesting assistance from passengers. Meanwhile, we can see that near building 52, the part of the detention center which viewed from where we sit on the wall is behind the family prison, IBT is walking around, the Internal Break-up Team , the riot police of the prison, with white helmets. There seems to be something going on there. Is there a riot? Noise? We can not perceive it.
If shortly after ten o'clock the Bratra (police unit to cut away blockades and barricades) comes to take us off the wall and we ask again to the refugees if there are last things that they want to tell us, the man with whom we talked the most repeats that they need help. "We need help. Help us ". One last time I wave my arm above the wall while I get arrested. I know that I will soon be free again. But these people, these refugees? What will become of them?
Joke Kaviaar, November 23, 2014