Amsterdam: Court Case VluchtMarkt, Ten Katestraat 49


‘We Are Here’ protest in court

Today, May 21st, the owner of Ten Katestraat 49 brought the ‘We are here‘ group to court. The company, Batavia B.V, intends to rent the property to another company, W.M. Honselaar Onroerend Goed B.V.. Their plan is to build yet another hotel, that will ‘contribute’ to the massive gentrification project that is taking place in the Kinkerbuurt. The hotel will be a ‘special concept’, so called ‘City Hub’, where tourists can drop their luggage and their dead bodies after one night party.

The space is currently used by undocumented migrants both for housing and as a social, cultural and political centre, where different groups of people can encounter and mobilise for further political action. Undocumented migrants are criminalised everywhere, in each space of European society. Thus opening a social and political centre was a step further in our struggle, as what is needed is not only a roof for surviving, not only basic human rights, but also the possibility of living a decent life, wich includes the possiblity of socialisation, communication, and recreation.

Amsterdam_Ten_Katestraat_Vluchtmarkt_squatted_social_centerHowever, the current legislation give no chance of winning the case. The law is by definition against illegalised people, especially when they need to undertake criminalised actions in order to be able to live. For defending ourselves in court we would have to provide the name of a person, and to pay the legal expenses in case of loss. Both conditions are not fulfillable by undocumented migrants, who cannot provide identification papers, and who cannot afford the costs of a court case.

For these reasons we decided to be present during the court case as ‘We are here’ group, but not to be represented by a lawyer, as to make these paradoxes visible, and to explain that the absence of the lawyer is not due to our unwillingness to defend ourselves, but to the impossiblity of exercising our basic human rights.

To this statements the judge replied that althought we were there, it counted as if we were not there; that although we spoke, our voice could not be considered for the verdict. She repeated that according to the law, in order to speak in court, one has to provide an ID and to pay. ‘This is how justice works’.

We will loose the case, and we will have to leave the space by the end of the month, but we will keep on showing to European society that We Are Here, although they do not want to see us, to hear us, and to let us live.

Refugees welcome, tourists fuck off!!!

The VluchtMarkt