Groningen, 10 December
In observance of International Human Rights Day, the Groningen police forcibly rendered a refugee family homeless.
This morning, a group of a hundred people, including refugees and sympathizers, formed a human shield to protest the eviction by the City of Groningen of the Mahamad family, who are refugees from the Sudan. This family, consisting of a woman, man and children aged 8, 5 and 2, have been wards of the City of Groningen under VVTV (conditional permission to stay) regulations.
With a great display of power and violence on the part of the police, people were dragged through the stairwell, beaten and driven outside. One woman suffered a broken arm which had to be put in a cast at the hospital. Others were bruised.
After the eviction, the family and their supporters marched to the Groningen City Hall to ask to meet with the Council of mayor and aldermen. Contrary to agreements made there, only the family and their interpreter were allowed inside, where the family were pressured by Mayor Wallage and two policemen to choose between two non-options: One would have been to accept an all-expenses-paid, one-way trip back to the Sudan, including pre-departure hotel accommodations in the Netherlands compliments of the City. This would be an impossible choice because Mr. Mahamad would face a 14-year prison sentence in the Sudan for declining to participate in the massacre of his own people (desertion). The other non-option would have been to agree to be taken immediately to the Ter Apel Reporting Center, where the family (according to Mayor Wallage) would be able to stay until a newly initiated proceeding had been completed. This does not tally with the fact that people there are turned out into the street after three days pending judicial findings. The family had already been given an appointment to appear at the Ter Apel Center in January.
Obviously the City, in the person of Mayor Wallage, have made two impossible proposals to refugees, whom they themselves have evicted, so that they could shirk their responsibility to these people without losing face politically. The Council are attempting by means of a statement and a press conference held today to carry out dutifully the inhumane policy of [Immigration and Naturalization] Minister [Hilbrand] Nawijn, neglecting in the process to consult their own hearts. Within the margins of the law, this family ought not to have been evicted.
After the trauma of the day's events, the family are being put up temporarily by friends until their appointment at the Ter Apel Reporting Center in January.
Werkgroep Vluchtelingen Vrij
(translation by W. Jansen)