Have you ever passed through the non-Schengen gate in Schiphol airport?
Ok, let me re-phrase the question:
Have you ever passed the non-Schengen gate in Schiphol airport, holding in your hand, let’s say: a Sudanese, Kenyan, Indian or Cuban passport?
Schiphol airport – which is the main entry point for most people visiting the Netherlands – is imposing a policy, similar to third world dictatorships on its non-Schengen gate.
When you pass through the passport control, what is supposed to be a routine check becomes a nightmare if you don’t have the “right” nationality.
I’ve arrived to the Netherlands last January, thinking that the 45 days I had to spend to get the “Holy” Schengen Visa were the end of my troubles. But in the passport control, the officer – while routinely checking the others – asked me to go back to what I call now “The Unwanted Zone”.
In the “Unwanted Zone”, you will be joined by your compatriots from all around the Unwanted World. At that time, I thought it is mainly Africans or Middle-Easterns, but I figured out that the notorious Zone includes also many Asians and Latin Americans.
First of all, I’d like to emphasize that this act is not individual, it is clearly a policy imposed by the authorities controling Schiphol airport and it is not a general trend around the EU as my friends and me, came through several other airports around Europe (Frankfurt, Vienna etc …) without encountering the same kind of problems.
Second, I recognize that the balance between Europe and the rest of the world (and specifially Africa) is totally unequivalent to the extent that Europeans are developing some kind of a Phobia against these countries. But I am not trying to discuss an act of illegal immigration here, this is the situation of people who spend months to get the Visa legitimately, their papers are checked thoroughly by all Schengen countries and they are granted the Visa after having to overlook several acts of arrogance by the reprenstatives of EU embassies, and after getting the Visa, they are still considered as “Criminals/Illegal immigrants” by such authorities.
The most irritating part of this experience, is that Dutch officers who are generally very respectful seem to have a “Carte Blanche” to act like Third World officers, at least with Third World citizens.
My 19 year old sister went through the Schiphol hell few months ago. Arriving to Amsterdam, presenting her passport – needless to say – she was escorted to the “Unwanted Zone”. Four different officers kept asking her of her intentions after the expiry of her Visa, she replied to each one of them that she is a student and she will return back in a month. The funny part was that – after a while – they shifted to a new matter, they thought that the look of the Renewal Stamp on the passport was weird for their taste. So they kept checking the Stamp for half an hour, assuming that the Dutch embassy and 23 other Schengen countries granted a Visa for an expired passport. The stamp was not even in a language they understood.
An unlucky Iranian who was also brought to the “Zone”, claimed that he is there to visit his brother, so the officer asked for the phone number of that brother and called him asking if he is supposed to bring someone from the airport that day!
But what had driven me to write about this issue again, is what the father of my colleague went through in Schiphol airport. The man is above 65 years old from Cuba. He had to go through the same “silliness” in his first trip to Europe. At the end, a police officer escorted him to meet his son, and asked him if this is his father as he claims, then he let the old man go. Imagine the impression this respectful man had about the Netherlands and its people after this experience!
But that’s also not the issue. Can anyone tell me what is the criteria that joins a Sudanese, Kenyan, Cuban, Indian and an Iranian. It’s not the color, definitely not the religion or ethnicity. For me, I say it is the fact – that according to Schiphol and subsequently the government of the Netherlands – they are worthless countries (and worthless citizens) that don’t deserve the same degree of respect granted to other nationalities.
Needless to say that Equality between Human Beings is just a myth in today’s world. There ARE differences. But it is not the absence of Equality that surprised me, it is the absence or other values that I – mistakenly – thought that Europeans care for. Rule of Law is one of them.
Once I am granted a Visa – whether am American, Japanese, Sudanese or Cuban – then the only authority these officers should have, is to check whether that Visa is forged or not, and this can be done electronically as far as I know.
In an ideal world, I would ask for equal treatment, but let’s be serious for a moment here.All I ask for is the right to be treated as “Innocent until proven Guilty”, not the other way around. I think we deserve that even if we come from the poorest most problematic countries of the world. It’s a pity that I have to ask for such a basic right in the 21st century in a country like the Netherlands. But no one claimed that life is just, at least not us!