Amsterdam — Protestors and refugees scuffled with police in Amsterdam in the Netherlands on Friday, when Dutch police forcibly evicted 90 migrants, including 17 Sudanese nationals, from an empty office building in Diemen to south east of the city.
A group of about 100 activists gathered at the scene carrying banners in sympathy with the refugees. One person was arrested for 'active resistance' to the eviction and police pushed-back crowds of refugees, but no injuries were reported.
A Sudanese man who asked not to be named told Radio Dabanga that regular Dutch police, mounted police, as well as vehicles from the anti-riot squad, surrounded the building at midday on Friday and demanded via loudhailers that the occupants evacuate the building, where they have been living for eight months. The eviction was carried out after an application by the owner of the building.
Police use a power grinder to open the gate (Video: Tessa Neijland AT5 Nieuws)
"The police cut the chains holding the gate to the building before entering and forcing all occupants to leave. It is especially inhumane to turn us out onto the street now, just as the European winter is setting-in," he said. "We are now living in the open without shelter or food in a very cold atmosphere."
He appealed to human rights organisations to intervene to address their cause which he described as a humanitarian catastrophe.
Mounted police hold protestors back (Video: Tessa Neijland AT5 Nieuws)
The refugees are part of a group called Wij Zijn Hier (We Are Here). The group, whose applications for official refugee status have been denied, have been squatting in various empty buildings around Amsterdam for several years as they have no legal status and no access to social housing. Changes in Dutch law have made squatting illegal since 2010, and public attitudes towards immigration have hardened over the last decade.
A human rights activist told Radio Dabanga that the Dutch immigration authority has closed the files of 17 Sudanese nationals in the Netherlands including Darfuris, as they do not believe they come from Darfur. The refugees said they had proved it, but the immigration authorities doubted their arguments.