If a curfew violates freedom of movement, so does the visa regime.

The banner “If a curfew violates freedom of movement, so does the visa regime.” placed on the emergency exit of Piet Zwart Institute, is a protest against the silence of European authorities towards the long-lasting curfew so-called the visa regime. This statement is a response to the current events taking place in the Netherlands and beyond, where a male-dominant discourse is critiquing the temporary curfew as a “violation of freedom of movement”.

If violated, what different meanings could “freedom of movement” have depending on whose mobility is affected? This question was the point of departure of this project. In the current Covid-19 pandemic, the government of the Netherlands has taken different measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. One of them is a curfew. When implemented, riots stormed the streets for a few nights. The debate went into court and initially, the Hague District Court called the curfew a “far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy”.

Only a few, mostly right-wing groups in the Netherlands, have addressed their opposition to the curfew as a violation of freedom of movement. Those are the same groups that usually push nationalistic agendas, reinforce strict Schengen visa regulations, and vote against facilitating easy access to migrants and refugees fleeing war and economic hardships.

The double standard of what freedom of movement means, makes us intrigued to ask, what does the European border regime do to freedom of movement when it fortifies its borders and treats newcomers as the “other” who is only welcomed if it serves as a commodity in a capitalistic society?

Diana Al-Halabi and Afrang Nordlöf Malekian
Graphic design: Agga Stage