Thursday, March 20, 2014

[A'dam] Solidarity banners and call out for anti-racist demonstration - 22nd March

Migration is not a crime

No border, no nation, stop deportation!

In Amsterdam several banners appeared at the windows and balconies of squats and autonomous spaces, in solidarity and support of the migrants and refugees struggles, and in protest against racism and the criminalisation of migrants. This action is inscribed in the wide 'European Action Week Against Racism' (15th-23rd March) and as a call out for the upcoming anti-racist demonstration that will take place on Saturday, March the 22nd (1.00 PM), Museumplein, Amsterdam (

Once more it is crucial to express and to expose that European practices and discourses against migration are fundamentally racist, causing bad living conditions for both documented and undocumented migrants, allowing cruel police and state repression, and legitimizing deportations. 

Racist politics are not just operating in the background: in the Netherlands, as in the rest of Europe, they are explicit political tools, visible in the daily operations of the law, of the police, and in the discourses of media and populist politicians. 

The latest example of Dutch racism is a new law, effective since the 1st of March 2014, that creates yet another state of exceptions where state authorities can freely operate and abuse their powers in the name of security ( This law puts an end to the right of domestic privacy: when the police , the IND, the military or other state agencies suspect that so called `illegal aliens` are present, then they are allowed to enter any house, search it, and arrest people without any warrant. The persons present at the address may also be body-searched, including the contents of bags and clothing, personal correspondence  and any other personal data such as those carried in mobile phones. 
Furthermore, the police is allowed to ask for identification of people on the street that arise the 'suspicion of illegality' (by appearance, or speaking a foreign language, for example), and to arrest them. This is not simply a tool to criminalise migrants and supporters: the war on migration is clearly being used as an excuse to suspend any right, to extent police powers, to surveil and to control any part of the population that is questioning and threatening the status quo. 

Recently, Amsterdam's mayor Van der Laan has tried to create a divide between migrants and what he has defined as 'Dutch political activists' ( In each statement he has reinforced racist discourses, implying that migrants are passive objects, victims or criminals, and as such not capable of political action. Van der Laan also stated that while he intends to 'help the migrants within the boundaries of the law', he is standing against so called 'Dutch political activists' whose aim is to change migration laws. 

But such a distinction between migrants and 'political activists' is just his own political construction. All over Europe movements of migrants are organising themselves to protest the structural denial of basic rights, to gain visibility, and to challenge the criminalisation by state and European authorities.  Thus, there is not such a distinction between migrants and political activists. The only existing distinction is the one between documented and undocumented people, a division created by racist laws that include and exclude, and through which privileges and rights circulate.  And of course, Van der Laan understood it right: we do attempt to smash these laws.

In a world where showing a legitimate ID is a basic condition for the exercise of freedom, every aspect of life of an undocumented migrant is considered illegal. Thus, every action of an undocumented migrant is also a political act, questioning the liberal politics of rights and freedoms, the existence of borders and nationalities and thereby shaking the very illusion of Europenness. Migrants, through their presence and their very existence make visible the black holes and the grey areas of the European social, political and economic system, which needs exploitable lives and racist practices for its own survival.

On the other hand the situation of undocumented migrants is not an 'humanitarian emergency', as  some politicians would like to sell it. Rather it is embedded in capitalism: symbolical and physical borders are being reinforced not simply to exclude and reject people, but to create the conditions of precarity and exploitation of migrants lives. Thus, undocumented migrants do not need to be 'helped' through charity. Nor it is necessary to 'find a solution for the migration problem'. Rather, we must struggle for a structural change of the world we live in, in the first place by breaking the culture and politics of racism. Even when that means to break the very laws that legitimise it.

We are well aware that only hanging banners, marching on the streets, squatting houses is not changing the situation. But these are little steps and tactics we can use to make these issues visible, to let our voices being heard, and to open spaces of contestation, autonomy and solidarity where anti-racism can actually happen. 


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