This report has been sent to us by the Dutch Council for Refugees:

Behind the dark glass there are refugees who are trying to get our attention by waving and jumping around. Suddenly we see a white sheet of paper with “Thank you for your support.” The Umbrella March along the border Detention Centre is also not unnoticed by the people in the complex. 31,650 signatures for our petition, more than a thousand people in our white march, with only one thought: a refugee does not belong in jail!

Path to detention

Stewardesses, vacationers and businessmen around Schiphol Plaza looking curiously at the steadily growing line of people with white umbrellas. Once the drummers start playing their drums, the impressive march heads to the detention centre. We follow the same path as asylum seekers who have applied for asylum at the airport and are then transported to the prison. “I never thought that so many people would be willing to reach out, and do something for refugees!” says Yvonne from Burundi who came along with volunteers of Her eyes shine while she says that she fell under the Children’s Pardon. “After six long years I finally got a residence permit two weeks ago.” “This is not normal.”

“Before my internship at, I thought, that it was logical that asylum seekers should be detained. But now I know better, my opinion has changed. I really do think that this is not normal! These people have lost so much”, Tanju said. He has an internship as a social companion for refugees. Beside him is a Somali client. Tanju asks if he can tell his story. The young man nods shyly. Janu: “His brother has also been in the detention centre and there was no way get in touch with him. Everything was taken from him.

Going crazy being behind bars

A long bridge leads to the grounds of the detention centre. Almost directly we see that applicants are looking for contact through a white sheet of paper with thank you on it, and by waving. Children show themselves as well. A special moment in the procession. We are now being pressed to the facts with our noses: These cells are for the refugees. In front of the entrance at the centre there is a stage built with bars. Director Dorine Manson is there, while she is talking about her visit to the centre: “You can tell by looking at the eyes of the people who are there, how long they have already been locked up.” Indignant is what I heard in the voice of the famous TV presenter Joris Linssen, who was walking in front of the march as well: “The heads of the people in this prison are spinning, therefore we spin our umbrellas around.” The bystanders follow his lead! This creates a swirling sea of white umbrellas.

Petition handed

When the first drops fall on our umbrellas, Joris dramatically observes: “The sky is crying.” Dorine submits a big key with the number of the petition signatories (31,650) to Bram van Ojik, leader of political party ‘Green Left.’ These signatures are collected in recent 3weeks as part of the campaign “No refugee in jail!” managed by He responds: “Next week we have a motion to bring detention to an end.” Joris interviews on stage Yvonne from Jamaica, who spent nine days in jail. “I thought I had fled to a free country, until I was taken to a cell where everyone looked scared out of their minds. Our dignity was taken away from us.” The music of the trio Bl3nder with famous rapper Def P ensures a happy ending to this serious march. He left the whole crowd loudly chanting his rap: NO REFUGEES IN THE CELL! What next?

Greens announced during the Umbrella March to abolish order detention: a proposal we think that multiple parties will support. is expecting a response from Secretary Teeven on our petition.