UPDATE 7/12/12: see our new website: www.devluchtkerk.nl -> we’re working on an english translation!
On Friday, 30 November a group of approximately 100 asylum seekers was ejected from their tent camp in Amsterdam Osdorp. With nowhere to go, the refugees took to the streets. In the following days, they were received by various Amsterdam citizens from all walks of life in a spontaneous act of hospitality. Meanwhile, a team of activists looked for a new home for the asylum-seekers. This new home has been found.
On behalf of the asylum-seekers, on Sunday, December 2nd the student faction of The Amsterdam Squatters Movement (Studenten Kraak Spreekuur) occupied the St. Joseph Church in the Bos en Lommer area of Amsterdam West.
The church – dedicated to Joseph, Patron Saint of Families – is empty. Previously it had been used as a climbing club, with showers and sanitary facilities. The refugees chose to accept this location so that they could stay together and continue to draw attention to their cause. Namely: a dignified process for asylum-seekers and a solution for receiving them in civilized society.
In the evening of 2 December, the owner of the church – an Amsterdam real estate developer – arrived on the scene. He decided not to press charges with the police or to pursue legal proceedings. Instead, he committed himself to preparing the facility as a refugee shelter for the winter months.
A coalition of churches, individuals and aid organizations decided that evening – in session – to stand with the refugee group on a provisional basis. The goal: to help them secure a safe base from which to organize themselves in a plea to Dutch policy makers.
Along the way, this website will distribute press releases, updates and videos. We also offer practical suggestions to help the asylum-seekers. There is a broad group of Amsterdammers who support the refugees in their struggle to remain visible. But this group can always be broader. DeVluchtKerk is open to anyone of good will who shares our goal: collective action so the refugees’ protest can continue. You can register at the entrance (Erik de Roodestraat 14-16), or via firstname.lastname@example.org.