The patience of entrepreneurs in Ter Apel has run out. The shopkeepers have had enough of the nuisance caused by asylum seekers in their village. They no longer have an ounce of confidence in the authorities. This is evident from a joint urgent letter to Mayor Velema and The Hague.
In the letter, the complainants explain in emotional terms that they have kept their mouths shut for a long time in order not to unnecessarily damage the image of the village of Ter Apel. But now the entrepreneurs have come to the conclusion that this did not help, reports RTV Noord.
Shopkeepers are sad to see that customers are now doing their shopping elsewhere en masse and are ignoring Ter Apel: ‘We feel boiled, paralyzed, powerless, empty.’
“We’ve gotten to the point where we have nothing left to lose as stores. The image of the village has reached rock bottom,” the letter states.
Shopkeepers have completely lost confidence in politics. From the Hague administrators to the city council, from mayor Jaap Velema to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers: when it comes down to it, everyone chooses their own interests, according to the letter writers.
In their eyes, Mayor Velema shows insufficient decisiveness: ‘The mayor is invisible to us, you are a nice man, but you allow yourself to be pushed around and are unable to fight for us as we need! You do not stand up for your citizens and entrepreneurs as necessary. We need a Leo! Not a Golden Retriever! You allow yourself to be dismissed by COA, IND and national politics. We are stuck! Our village is broken! The image is gone!’
In short, say the shopkeepers, it is high time that the nuisance caused by asylum seekers is finally put under control. This primarily concerns shoplifting, but also other forms of nuisance such as threats and intimidating behavior. As an aside, they note that the 150 to 200 asylum seekers who are causing the problems are wrongly dismissed as a small group, given the (modest) size of the village. The situation is getting further and further out of hand, entrepreneurs warn.
What bothers the letter writers is that, in their view, they are wrongly accused of racism: ‘It’s terrible to have this go to your head knowing what you have to deal with on a daily basis. (…) We are facing people who have nothing to lose or cannot return to their own country because they had a criminal past there, made cutting movements across the throat when they were arrested, were under the influence of narcotics, were traumatized and therefore life-threatening. If people say we are racist, something is going terribly wrong in this country.’
Finally, the entrepreneurs demand that from ‘today’ no more nuisance-causing asylum seekers may be accommodated in Ter Apel. They also want more security guards and police officers in the evenings and weekends, and that from now on damage caused by shoplifting will be fully reimbursed without delay.