Immigration and Anne Frank: a history lesson for today’s politics

19 May 2012 – 17:21

TER APEL, NETHERLANDS | She is sitting on the cold wet grass. 27 and in the bloom of her life. She is writing in her diary about the hell she has gone through to reach this place. She is a young muslim from Iraq and is hoping for a brighter future. The chairs and beds that were brought by Salvatian Army and the numerous volunteers, were firmly stopped by Dutch police. Helping illegal immigrants and providing the very basic first human needs, is “steering in the wrong direction”, the Secretary of Immigration says.

The refugee camp on Dutch soil is growing every day. First they started with 50 people, as a small protest against the immigration laws they are bound too. “We are sent back to Iran”, a man explains, “even though they know we are facing death when we are sent back”. The unsafety proofs itself with only 4 days since the last public gay hanging in Iran. Everywhere people of this camp have gone in the last years, they were not welcome. Iran does not want them. Europe does not want them. Netherlands does not want them. Here they are now with 350. Hundreds more are expected.

It must be said that some stories will rewrite themselves until they are understood by all. And though official papers seem to be the only proof of human existence to some, others have learned their lessons from the past. It must be remembered how tens of thousands of Jewish, homosexual and other so called ‘unfit’ people were helped by many Dutch citizens in the fourties. Some accepted and hid them in their houses, in their cellars, in their attics, away from an opressive force that had far from humane intentions. A human resistance seemed inevitable in those times.

Today more than 50,000 of illegal immigrants remain unhelped in the Dutch streets. They are rejected basic human rights such as food, water and shelter. Volunteers that come with goods, food, support and medical attention are slowed down or sometimes even blocked by the police. “The intention is to make it very unattractive for people to come here, we only do our jobs,” they state. “We have very clear orders.”

And as some stories of the past rewrite themselves in a very violent way and force themselves through our consciousness, it is the reality on the streets of this self-acclaimed straight-thinking, most multi-cultural and open society of Europe. And while many are still trying night and day to draw attention to what truly is happening and commit to action through collecting goods, foods and tents, many remain in the illusion that we have evolved and have understood the meaning of “Alle Menschen werden Bruder”, the very continental anthem in which the Empire carries so much pride.

Of course, the concentration camps have gone away from within their borders and seem to be replaced with camps of spontaneous united humanity and are sprouting everywhere in the world. “Perhaps we are given another chance,” someone smiles, “perhaps the first, second and third empire were only stages to build this one. We must realize we’re perhaps too eager to save something that already collapsed 62 years ago.” As a human being trying to reflect between the cracks from within and from without the walls, I’d probably choose to not longer want to support these continental divisions. I’d probably choose to try to recognize a human face when I see one, and I’d probably choose to let an empire – which bases it’s foundations on paper work and bank accounts – fall for good and help build a place where the human species can evolve and blossom to it’s deeper possibilites.

For the people who want to know more, you can visit or check the twitterstream #helpterapel.

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