This week, several things have come my way that have shaped my thoughts for what I want to and can say here at this vigil. I take you through this in the hope that you can follow my associations and leaps of the imagination.

Roxanne van Iperen Het Hooge Nest (I read this as the last person in the Netherlands) a few facts I did not know:

15-9-1914 Queen Wilhelmina welcomes refugees from Belgium with open arms like an early Angela Merkel. After the fall of Antwerp 10-10-1914 almost 1 million refugees come from Belgium. The Netherlands is overwhelmed and cannot cope with the influx; people are accommodated in miserable conditions in camps. The Germans set up a 2000-volt Death Wire along the border. Hundreds of people die while desperately trying to cross the border.

June 1933 With the rise of fascism in Germany, a steady stream from the east tries to find shelter in the Netherlands. For Minister Van Schaik of Justice under the Colijn cabinet, the limit is reached in June 1933. The position of the Jews in Germany may be deplorable, but more is needed to qualify for the right of asylum. The borders are closed. A small number remain temporarily welcome and their stay must not cost anything.

A comparison with the opinions and actions of countries at the moment may be clear. There seems to be nothing new under the sun.

Last Thursday in my local PKN congregation, Martien Brinkman held a lecture on his latest book ‘With or without’ on the borders of religion and culture. What was discussed, among other things:

The ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (1948) speaks in the preamble of the “inherent dignity” of every human being.

By speaking of man as the image of God in the Christian/Jewish tradition, a lower and an upper limit is placed on that dignity.

The upper limit is about equality. No human being can imagine himself to be God and elevate himself above another human being. All people are non-God in the same way. They are equal to each other.

The feeling of superiority of one human being over another is an obstacle to acknowledging the dignity of another human being.

The stories from the SKIN-Rotterdam supporters are legion. From subtle to outright discrimination and racism. What I hear in these stories is the denial of one’s own dignity. To be allowed to be there from your own culture and background, regardless of your skin colour and your habits. One person is not better than another. One human being is different from another. Fortunately, because that is what makes us human. Be curious about what is strange in the other person and realise that you yourself are strange to someone else.

The lower limit is the protection of every life. This is about justice.

A pastor of an international church apprised me about an undocumented woman who was arrested, held in detention and sent back to her country of origin. In the country of origin it turned out that what she thought she was entitled to was not given. How can I help?

In my newspaper of Saturday, Rikko Voorberg says. ‘Justice only takes place when injustice is denounced’.

This vigil is a complaint against injustice every first Sunday of the month. Until the walls are allowed to fall and we finally start seeing each other as equals, with or without papers.

6 june 2021

Karin de Schipper

Director SKIN-Rotterdam.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)