Anarchistische Anti-deportatie Groep Utrecht

De Vries en Verburg construction firm: building a family prison responsibly?

English translation of: De Vries en Verburg: verantwoord een gezinsgevangenis bouwen?

As Aagu published earlier the construction firm De Vries en Verburg from Stolwijk is about to build the new definite family prison within the walls of kamp Zeist. If we take a closer look at the backgrounds of the organization the question rises how they can adhere the building of a prison with the image it is trying to portray. From a predominantly Christian identity the company is involved in several (international) societal and social project. "We want to help the people who need it", so says employee Timo Stuij, who himself in fact is involved in the construction project of the family prison.

Societal responsibly undertaking?

It will be difficult to find a construction firm that portrays itself as being willingly cooperating with repression and exploitation. Almost every substantially sized company fences with initiatives on the plane of 'maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen' (MVO), undertaking business environmentally responsible. Often it barely rises above the level of cheap sales-pitches, focused only on image building.. So is Finmeccanica, a giant weapons manufacturer from Italy proudly emphasizing on the separated waste disposal in it's head office.
With De Vries en Verburg and their partner group, de Burgland Groep, thinks are a bit different though. Sure: it will always remain a company driven by greed, to expand their profits, functioning within the framework provided by the free-market economy in a capitalist system. But sustainability and responsible undertaking are core values within the business philosophy.
"Being meaningfull to those close and abroad", according to Jan Boer executive of de Burgland Groep, is the implementation of the companies MVO. All the time they're emphasizing on their Christian identity. Executive Jan Boer likes to quote from the bible, in particular the commandment "Bear each other burden". 'Sustainable and precarious' is the core phrase of the business plan, because "eventually we all benefit if we handle our planet with reason and care". Bas Stuij, developer member of the board of directors, is authorized to act on behalf of De Vries en Verburg, concerning the application of the environment permits needed for the construction of the prison. Besides this role, he is also the elder of the Baptisten Gemeente Graafstroom, which calls one of it's core values: 'that everybody is equal in the eyes of God'.

Burgland Charitas Foundation: projects in Africa

The Burgland Groep donates a portion of it's profits annually, with which mainly their own foundation The 'Burgland Charitas Foundation' funds project in Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi and Kenya. The cooperation within these projects is solely with other Christian organizations in the respective countries. Besides donating from their own profits, they urge other people to donate as well.
In reality there is around 2 to 3 hundred thousand Euros annually going to different projects, , which range from water wells and providing housing for the elderly through to educational support and teachings in the art of self-reliance. One of the projects for example aims on the sponsorship of orphaned children in Mozambique and is called 'Geef een kind toekomst' (Give a child a future).
At the moment the foundation is also the business ambassador of the development organization Oxfam Novib. Through the Business club 'The green heart' it's involved with the support of a clinic and a school in Colombia.

Partner organizations

One of the consistent partners of the Verburg Charitas Foundation is Impulsis. "The collective desk for Dutch private initiatives in developmental conjunction with Edukans, ICCO en Kerk in actie". All three of these organizations are amongst things putting effort in helping refugees. Kerk in Actie hereby focuses emphatically against the current migration policy. Last June, it brought out a statement in which politicians were called "to focus more on solving the problems of refugees there and here, in place of the staging of repression and the further closing of the borders of 'fortress Europe'."
Kerk in actie is also part of the coalition 'Geen Kind in de Cel' (No child in a jail). In this form it's actively putting effort in the abolishment of detaining refugee children. A campaign which was fruitful, until the former secretary of state 'Teeven' came up with the so called 'child friendly' family prisons, in order to continue the detaining of children.

Building a family prison?

fragment from a construction drawing

AAGU comes from an anti-capitalist and anarchist background and is resisting the construction of a new family prison from those views. This is a totally different viewpoint and basis then the very Christian inspiration that de Burgland groep propagates and which in our eyes is sometimes bordering towards scary. For example because they exclusively support projects with a Christian background. Still their emphatic efforts to help their fellow humans seem extremely incongruous with the construction of a family prison by De Vries en Verburg. Especially for a big cooperation they put a lot of effort and hard work in giving people a better future, in particular children, in a number of poor countries. They constantly talk about taking care of each other. Where does incarceration, with the goal of the deportation, of children, fit in this philosophy? What future are these children, these families, granted?

Anarchistisch Anti-deportation Group Utrecht (AAGU) - August 2015