On Sunday afternoon, 12 participants from the extreme right wing group Voorpost were fined for taking part in an unannounced protest against the asylum seekers centre in Ter Apel.
RTV Noord reports that the protestors, who held signs reading “illegality = criminality”, “go home hand in hand” and “no asylum centre in our neighbourhood”, demonstrated in front of the entrance to the asylum seekers centre in Ter Apel, The small protest lasted about half an hour and broke up fairly quickly after two police officers arrived and requested that they disperse.
The anti-asylum seeker protestors object to the presence of the Ter Apel centre, which is a processing facility for newly arrived men, women and children seeking asylum in the Netherlands. It is one of 12 so-called AZCs across the north. The Ter Apel centre has room for 2,000 visitors and has several sublocations for minors, new arrivals and a restricted movement area.
Mayor Jaap Velema was reportedly dismayed by the unapproved protest and suggested that the municipality may take stronger action if Voorpost follows through on their threat to hold similar unannounced demonstrations more frequently in the future.
The mayor says that the city is working to fix issues arising from a small group of young men from so-called “safe countries” who are extremely unlikely to receive asylums status, but they are allowed to stay in the country while their cases are being considered. Several bus drivers have expressed their discomfort at the threatening behaviour of the young men, and a separate service has been running for the group since the 15th of May.
Voorpost, which is a Flemish and Dutch ethnic nationalist group, created fake bus stop signs in Ter Apel back in May with similar texts as those written on their protest signs, listing stops in Baghdad and Kabul and claiming it was a “departure only” service.
Asylum seekers are an often discussed but less well understood group of people in The Netherlands. Who are the men, women and children who seek asylum in the Netherlands? How difficult is it for an asylum claim to be recognized? Read our in-depth story on who the asylum seekers are and find out more about what it is like to live in one of the camps.