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01/29/2013: "Anti-Racism: Beware of the politicians!"

So we will be demonstrating against racism on March 23. A large demonstration is being organized focusing on a few demands that should encourage left wing politicians to join and mobilize. But what is there to expect from these politicians? What is to be expected from politicians all together?

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The immigration policy of this country is in itself racist. It sets aside a group of people as being 'aliens', 'asylum seekers', 'illegals'. I call them: refugees. The government only calls those people refugees that they believe are refugees, to be more specific: that the IND has granted the status of refugee, and for that the refugee needs to prove every bit of his or her story. The immigration policy is racist, and it calls for xenophobia. It reverses the burden of proof for refugees who ask for asylum, it turns people into 'illegals', and provides the system with entry bans, prisons and deportations. This immigration policy is legal. It is embedded in the laws of this country, it is embedded in the European Returns Directive.

Not only is the immigration policy racist, so is the Identification Act, so are all the powers granted to the (immigration) police, in order to facilitate raids in work places, homes, trams and buses, taking fingerprints out on the streets, so are performance contracts with the police that set an amount of 'illegals' that need to be caught in exchange for an extra bonus, a financial reward.

So what does all this mean for refugees? It means they can be called illegal, controlled at any time because of the color of their skin, chased down because of the color of their skin, arrested because they cannot show any document called 'residence permit'. It means they cannot work. It means they can not have a roof over their head. It means they are depending on the privileged people in this society for food, shelter, medical care, basic needs. It means they are depending on what little rights they are granted within this racist system, rights they fight for, rights that maybe a politician can help them receive. For this they have to plea, or to beg, to pray, and then wait, hoping for better times, hoping for a change.

The immigration policy is racist. Every politician in this government, whether they are the far right or the relatively 'far' left, agrees with this policy. If they did not, they would not be in the government. So this makes me wonder: Why do people want so much for these politicians to take part in a demonstration against racism, xenophobia? Why do people want it so much, that even the organizers of an anti-racist demonstration will not say a word about the institutionalized legal racism that is the basis of the persecution of refugees?

I would say, and I will say it here: let these politicians, that pretend to be so eager to support the refugees, let them make this statement: I renounce legal racism, just as I renounce the racism of the street. I renounce the immigration laws of this country because they are xenophobic by definition. I recognize that these laws criminalize migrants, refugees, hunt them down, and kill them. I recognize that these laws are made to protect the borders of this country, of Europe, made to keep out poor people, desperate people, made to continue to profit from poverty, and that as long as these laws and these principles of capitalism remain the basis of our society, nothing will actually change.

I would suggest, and I suggest it now: let these politicians make a stand, if they really want to support the rights of refugees, the demands of refugees, let them make that statement, loud and clear to all the privileged people of this country, and step out of parliament and be actually true to that struggle and join it. Let them send thát message, during that demonstration. Anything less is only lip service. Then maybe, some people might actually realize how right we are, how right the refugees are. Strong demands are needed, and need to be supported, demands that go further than partial demands that maybe will benefit a few but will never bring about true change.

As long as politicians remain politicians, they are two-faced. True to their party, true to the law, true to the legal order, as they shake hands with and smile to the refugees. It is like spitting them in the face.

Now I realize that this is all easy for me to say. I am, as many, privileged. I have that passport. I have that social security number. I did not do a single thing to deserve it, except being born here. Actually, I have been in the way of this governments' policies so many times, that they would just love to get rid of me, but they can't, because I have the damn papers. So yes, it is easy for me to say, and it is easy for a lot of us to say, but I will at least say this:

To all the Dutch people: true change will have to come from us. This will all truly change if we dare to make a stand and stand next to the refugees, behind their struggle, and between them and the law.
If we stand up during a raid and help people get away. If we actually make it impossible for the police to arrest people. If we turn every raid into a riot. If this means getting arrested, it is by comparison to the fate of refugees only a small price to pay!
If we take direct and preventive action against the means of the racist state that are used to take away freedom and even lives, we will be in the way and send a clear message: we don't take it any longer. Let us make it clear that racism and xenophobia are not to be taken for granted. Let us make it crystal clear that we know that it's politicians that incite this racism and xenophobia. Then this will be the beginning of true change.
True change will have to come from us. We will have to send this message, we will have to say it over and over again and make it happen. Change does not come from politicians, certainly not without the pressure of a resisting population that keeps standing in the way, prepared to give up some of their privileges, which is the very least we can do.

So, back to the demonstration of March 23. If this is an anti-racist demonstration, it should state that it is against all racism, and that includes the racism of the law, the state, the government. Anti-racism means no less than that. Since this is not up to me, consider this at least a contribution to the discussion about this demonstration, about what anti-racism actually practically means.

In solidarity with the refugees struggle!

Joke Kaviaar, January 29, 2013


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