June 14, 2015
There are phantoms crossing daily the streets of Amsterdam. And Geklinkerden is the slang word for them: refugees that saw their request for asylum rejected, but whose deportation is impossible due to the conditions of their homelands. Some 200 of them are currently living in a sort of legislative limbo at the margin of the Dutch society. A draconian Linkage Act (1998) excludes these people from medical insurance, education, benefits, possibility of movement and prohibits, at the same time, any type of legal work within the borders of the country.
Scenes of the demonstration of April 2015 in Amsterdam - members of the Wij Zijn Hier collective met with students and marched towards Amsterdam's centre.
As a de facto political collective, the group has been subjected to several governmental efforts aimed to repress any forms of dissent exceeding the institutional arena. In the Netherlands, the “political” outside the borders of the institutional is rather unpopular, so for years the situation has remained paradoxically unsolved: The Netherlands has been unwilling to negotiate with the collective, refusing to make any significant exception to the law.
On April 13th, Wij Zijn Hier's struggle for recognition gained momentum during a long protest following their latest eviction. The national media finally decided to address on a broad scale the issue of the Amsterdam refused refugees: their problems were broadcasted during one of the most followed national TV shows and some popular Dutch newspapers began to report regularly on the subject.
When Europe turned its (none the less distant) interest towards the situation of the refugees in the country, the government almost collapsed. And it is somehow ironic that the coalition ruling one of the richest countries in the world fell into a crisis for the survival of two hundred people.
Politics is first of all a procrastinating machine: the liberals (VVD) and the supposedly center-leftist (PvdA) preferred to secure the coalition and, after days of secret discussions, the House of the Representatives made the absurd decision to do virtually nothing. The refused refugees, at that time protesting in The Hague, were shocked. The government, confirming a previous procedure, bounded the basic assistance measures (called Bed, Bath and Bread) to the acceptance of repatriation by the refugees.
The refused refugees or Amsterdam are thus among the new wretched of the earth. Pushed by an inescapable postcolonial heritage at the walls of Fortress Europe, the Geklinkerden have started to refuse segregation and abandonment at fringes of the capital city. Even though they are legally unable to claim rights, their bodies constitute political presences, that are questioning, in the Netherlands, the very concept of citizenship.
Photos taken by Paolo Rosi, all rights reserved
Paolo Rosi has studied History in Bologna and African Studies at the DUCAS (Sweden), focusing on Italian colonialism and the global history of racism. Later he moved the Amsterdam to work for 31Mag, a magazine about The Netherlands in Italian. He also contributes to the project Melting Pot Europa by writing articles about the European detention camps of migrants and institutional racism.