Also so mad about #TerApel? This is how you act

Low point after low point follows one another in the asylum drama in Ter Apel, where asylum seekers in the Netherlands have to register for their asylum application. Hundreds of people sleep outside every night, sanitary facilities are missing or seriously deficient. Last Thursday it even turned out that MSF (for the first time in its history) is taking action in the Netherlands.

It can discourage you, so what? Want to send another tweet about #TerAppeal? It’s a relief for a while, but it can also feel very pointless. Therefore: 4 tips to turn your indignation into action.

1 Join a demo (or host your own)

Your anger can’t go anywhere online, it’s frustrating. It can be nice to meet with like-minded people and express your outrage. Several demonstrations have been organized recently, such as by Platform Stop Racism (PSR) on 23 August in The Hague and on Friday evening 26 August at 19.00 on the Dam Square in Amsterdam.1.

The PSR has two demands, as can be read in the announcement of the demo on August 26: on the one hand, they want a ‘humane shelter for all’, i.e. a roof over their heads and access to basic needs such as food, medical care and education . On the other hand, they want the ‘racist treatment of refugees’ to stop. PSR sees that refugees from, for example, Ukraine are treated very differently than from, for example, Syria or Yemen.

You don’t need much to organize a small demo

On Tuesday 13 September, the African Refugee Collective wants to organize a ‘national demonstration’ under the slogan ‘All Refugees Deserve Protection’. The demo must take place in several Dutch cities at the same time. In any case, there is a demonstration in Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam and Zaandam. You can see if seats are being added on the event page for the demonstration. If there isn’t one in your area, consider organizing a demonstration yourself.

Why one protester is arrested and the other is allowed to run a protest round

What rights and obligations do you have as a protester?

Organizing a demonstration yourself sounds exciting, but you don’t need much for a small demo. Furthermore, you are within your rights: organizing a demonstration is a fundamental right. And protesters have many other rights. Did you know, for example, that you do not need to ask permission for a demonstration? However, you must register your demonstration with the municipality in advance. It differs from municipality to municipality, how long in advance you have to do this. In Amsterdam, for example, it is at least 24 hours in advance, in Eindhoven 72 hours. But an unannounced demonstration might not just be broken up by the police.

On the site of most major municipalities you can find what a demonstration must fulfill and how to announce it. After registration, the mayor may not simply ban your demonstration, only if there are clear indications that the demonstration will seriously disturb public order or, for example, for health reasons. A small amount of disruption, such as stopping traffic for a short time, is allowed.

When organizing a demonstration, it can’t hurt to think about accessibility. For example, provide wheelchair access and a Dutch sign language interpreter, and ask your visitors to wear a face mask. Not sure what to look for? Contact advocacy groups, such as the volunteer Feminists Against Ableism.

Jeanette Chedda

‘I would have preferred to be invisible, now I’m addressing feminists about validity’

“You can’t be invisible if you’re constantly being stared at.”

2 Approach politicians (this is surprisingly easy)

Did you know that there are several ways you can express your concerns, sometimes even directly, to a politician? You can contact a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives or a local politician from the municipality where you live. The site for ProDemos, an organization that explains to citizens what their democratic rights are and how they can exercise influence, explains how to do this. For example, visit a walk-in conversation with a councillor, attend a meeting or make an appointment with a councillor. If you don’t dare, you can also send a letter or an e-mail to a politician.

Politics sometimes seem far away, but it is good to realize that the dramas of the Dutch asylum system are the result of politics at national and local level. It therefore does no harm to read up on the different political positions on the reception of asylum seekers. The Refugee Foundation has listed for you how the parties in the House of Representatives ‘score’ on the protection of refugees. National elections for the House of Representatives will probably not be held again until 2025, but the provincial council elections are already in March 2023.

3 Donate money (or time)

There are a few organizations in the Netherlands that stand up for (the rights of) refugees to which you can donate money or where you can do volunteer work. For several months, the Red Cross has assisted the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) in the application center in Ter Apel with emergency aid facilities. The Dutch Refugee Council has brought summary proceedings against the Dutch State and COA. The organization demands that the reception of asylum seekers again meets the legal requirements per 1 October this year. The hearing will take place in The Hague on 15 September. You can donate to both organizations.

MiGreat distributes food in Ter Apel, 23 August 2022

MiGreat volunteers hand out food at the registration center in Ter Apel, 23 August 2022.


Picture of:
MiGreat

In addition to organizations such as the Red Cross and the Dutch Refugee Council, citizen initiatives have also emerged in response to the crisis in Ter Apel in recent months. The volunteer collective MiGreat is determined to cook and distribute food twice a week at the registration center in Ter Apel. You can indicate to them that you want to roll up your sleeves as a volunteer, or donate money directly.

4 You can also be heard online

Walking the streets is not possible or equally easy for everyone. Fortunately, you live in digital times. Although it may seem like a no-brainer, signing a petition can make a world of difference. The constitution guarantees the ‘right to petition’, which means, among other things, that anyone who organizes a petition can present the signatures under it to someone from a representative committee or to the chairman of the representative committee. At the moment there is a petition from De Goede Zaak calling on State Secretary Eric van der Burg (VVD, Asylum) to open a new reception centre.

You are probably reading this article because you are tired of just expressing your outrage online about the drama of the asylum system. It can be a relief to know that your tweets and Instagram posts are not in vain. Many politicians are on social media these days and see your messages. And what about asylum seekers in Ter Apel itself? It can be comforting for them to see that others care about their situation.

ANP-453201745 2

How the cabinet caused the ‘asylum post’

The number of asylum applications in the Netherlands has been more or less stable for years.

CMS FORMAT safelanders

Asylum lawyer: ‘Nonsense that ‘safelanders’ can alleviate the crisis’

Local VVD groups want to return ‘failed’ asylum seekers faster.

  1. Depending on when you’re reading this and where you live, you can still hop on your bike and join in. It promises to stay dry.

Leave a Comment