If they take you in the morning – #1
“If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”- excerpt of ‘An Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Y. Davis’ by James Baldwin
If this was a movie, the terror of secretly drugging political prisoners only to rush them out of their cells, drag them across the airport, force them into a plane and chain them to their seats would be illustrated by loud, orchestral film scores. The sight of their jerking bodies, of skin fighting to not be ripped open by muscles burning with resistance, eyes blurred with desperation… we’d shift in our chairs. Moved by tension, fear, compassion, disbelieve… we’d feel something. Unfortunately this isn’t a movie… this is Holland. This is the nightmare faced by the thousands of undocumented men and women who the Dutch goverment stashed away in the country’s four detention centres designed for those who’re called “illegals”. It’s the reality of people like Mamadou Diallo, Cheik Bah, Issa Koulibaly and A.B. Koné whose bodies are used to polish the God complex of Fred Teeven, Holland’s State Secretary for Security and Justice.
When it comes to undocumented communties in the Netherlands it’s unclear what came first: social anonimity which makes them politically uninteresting or the political irrelevance that continues to peel their names and pictures of the files marked ‘Solved’. But both are equally trained killers. Both create chance after chance for Teeven’s team to get away with a variety of slow deaths. Both offer space to secretly drug and/or manhandle those who are expected to not hop-skip-jump their way towards the planes that will take them back to the unsafeties they tried to escape. A recent attempt to deport Mamadou Diallo to Guinea offers a glance at the unseen. On their website, The Deportation Resistance Group writes:
Not even a month later the DT&V sends out a notification that they’ll deport Diallo again. On January 20 2014 an utterly desperate Diallo tries to commit suicide. His attempt fails.
The day after, January 21 2014, four marshalls take the cuffed Diallo on board of the plane. His belongings have dissappeared and he’s without shoes. In Paris, while having to transfer to a plane to Chonakry, Diallo starts yelling at his fellow passengers that he’s being deported. In attempt to put an end to his hollering, the marshalls strangle him and cover his mouth and nose with their hands. As a reaction to the passengers protesting and filming the event, the marshals jam Diallo on the floor in between the chairs and start kicking against his legs. The opposition of the other passengers is such that the French police takes Diallo and the marshalls out of the plane. Diallo is flown back to Holland.
Diallo is no exception to the rule. On February 19, 2014 The Deportation Resistance Group reports the following about what appears to be the ‘succesful’ deportation of A.B. Koné:
The DT&V gave it their all: Koné – blind in one eye – was guarded by ten marshalls. […] He told us that he, without any clothes, was thrown into an cel designed for solitary confiment and that he was told to wait there until he would be picked up and brought to the airport. During the conversation he sounded extremely dazed. The contact person who has known Koné for a quite some time, presumed that he was heavily sedated.
Together with Bah and Koulibaly, Diallo and Koné prove that when it comes to politics Black blood doesn’t stain. These four men from Guinea have suffered tremendously as a result of Holland’s murderous asylum laws but their names have yet to be mentioned in a debate that’s politically strong enough to shut down the Head of National Xenophobia. If undocumented comrades from countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda are not part of the national narratives about injustice then we must make it so. We, with our privileged positions and passports that can’t be snatched, must put our money where our collections of Mandela/Shakur/Davis/Cabral/Shabazz-quotes are. After holding our own during four months of hyper-violent ‘conversations’ about race and xenophobia in the Netherlands, we must follow through politically.