We have applied for asylum in your country. Our claims have been rejected. Now we are called ‘illegals.’ But we prefer to call ourselves refugees. Wars, international conflicts and systematic violence have devastated our countries. So you understand why we don’t like being called illegals. We are refugees. And now we live on the streets. We barely have rights. We have no means of subsistence.
From November 29 to December 1st representatives of We Are Here worked together with about 25 artists and students to develop a new model for a cooperative between artists, students and refugees, entitled the “We Are Here Cooperative,” which was presented on December 6 2013 in cultural and political center De Balie in Amsterdam.
The plan for the We Are Here Cooperative exists of a vacant building, in which artists, students and refugees would develop a variety of cultural programs in order to gain visibility and economic independence, amongst others in the form of the departments We Are Here Learning (lecture programs developed in collaboration with refugees), We Are Here Open Lobby (a lobby apparatus to advise politicians and inform refugees on their legal rights) and We Are Here Reporting (an independent media channel highlighting the daily struggle of refugee communities).
Here you can read the Collective Struggle of Refugees. Lost. In Between. Together.
Younis was for a long time the spokesperson of We Are Here and the leader of the group from Sudan. Joost van den Broek made a portrait photo and Amnesty International published his story here.
‘Die wakes en demonstraties zijn zo belangrijk. Het is ZO belangrijk om een signaal te krijgen van de buitenwereld dat je niet bent vergeten. Rond Oud en Nieuw was er een demonstratie van wel honderd mensen. Wij stonden massaal voor het raam, hielden de tralies vast en bonkten op de ruiten terwijl ze buiten “Freedom! Freedom!” riepen. Wij riepen het ook: “Freedom! Freedom!” en de tranen stroomden over mijn wangen.’