We Are Here Occupying the Border

‘We Are Here Occupying the Border’ will be a three-day forum in May 2017 set at the tri-point in Vaals, where the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet.

This Forum will be a political arena where 100 representatives of different refugee collectives who are fighting for their rights in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium will meet. Among them will be representatives of the Refugees from Oranienplatz in Berlin, the refugees from ‘Lampedusa in Hamburg’, the sans papiers collectives from Brussels, ‘We Are Here’ from Amsterdam and ‘Right to Exist’ from The Hague.

These refugee collectives are actively protesting the asylum policies in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Separately yet simultaneously, they started to visualize the problems they are confronted with in those respective states. Their fight for rights reveal fundamental inequalities within European democracies that change our perception of European policies, and moreover, urges us to take action, right here, right now.

The forum will allow the different collectives to develop common strategies. It aims to strengthen the participating collectives by visualizing their precarious situation within Western-European societies. The symbolic setting of the forum at the tri-point exposes the constrictive reality of Europe’s inner borders for refugees in limbo. In a time where people celebrate freedom of movement and where the perception of national borders is almost nostalgic, for refugees in limbo these borders still restrict and confine them. Furthermore, the location of the forum allows the different collectives to meet without crossing borders.

The forum will create a parallel political arena especially for those whose voices are not being heard, who do not have access to our societies, but who are here and are strongly affected by European policies. In order to invoke legislative changes, these collectives should be able to join forces and create common strategies to start influencing European politics and decision making.

The ‘We Are Here Occupying the Border’ forum in Vaals should be seen as a kick-start of the creation of sustainable collaboration between the refugee collectives, that should eventually lead to a strong and empowering lobby directed at the European Council.