‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ is still available.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is still available through mailorder directly from the author’s online bookshop. Here you’ll find the first chapter of the novel to get a grip with the story of Laxmi. Click here for Headwind, Laxmi’s Story Sample. You can buy the book here. If any questions arise on orders or shipping, please drop me a line at alice@woordenstorm.nl.


In 2011 and early 2012 I wrote the English language novel ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ about a young Bhutanese woman who was born in a refugee camp in Nepal after her parents were exiled from the supposed to be Shangri-La country Bhutan. Laxmi was resettled by the UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) to the Netherlands. In her story she looks back at het past life in the camp and tells about her struggle to create a new life in a society that is alien to her. And all the time she longs for her true love, the boy she grew up with in the camp and who now lives in the United States as a resettler.

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story is about coming of age in between cultures, about the life as a refugee and a migrant. About having to struggle for a decent life and about a love that seems impossible. It’s about the caste system that is a fundament underneath the Hindu society and the changes that come when people are taken from their home, their country, culture an religion and implanted in a modern society. But above all it’s a story about a young woman with a difficult past who fights her way through life, like most refugees do.

headwind front coverHeadwind, Laxmi’s Story Sample

 

 

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Is UNHCR creating malnutrition in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal?

A few days ago a letter was written by important members of the Bhutanese refugee community in Nepal to the UNHCR in that country. The letter is a request to discuss maltreatment by the UNHCR regarding the refugees they are supposed to take care of.

What is happening?

Since the early 1990’s the UNHCR has managed and maintained a number of refugee camps in the southeast of Nepal (more exact, in the Jhapa and Morang districts). At its height there were over 107.000 refugees listed in those camps. Since 2008 the UNHCR has started the by far largest third country resettlement program ever aiming at completely solving the decades long refugee crisis of the Bhutanese who exiled from their Shangri-La like country in the Himalayas.

unhcr

The UNHCR has done a tremendous job in guarding peace in those camps while at the same time bringing essential humanitarian aid the the inhabitants. Nepal (just like India and Bhutan) never signed the UN refugee treaty so the UNHCR has been working there on a UN mandate. They have been partnering with AMDA (Asian Medical Doctors Association) for health care, Caritas for education, Lutheran World Federation for camp management and monitoring and the WFP World Food Program for food distribution to the camp communities that have no other means of existence.

But things have changed. The aim of the UNHCR in Nepal seems to have shifted in the past few years from caring for the refugees who livin in limbo in the camps to bringing a durable solution to their situation by third country resettlement. According to the international morale of refugees the people should repatriate but that has obviously proven to be an impossible dream as Bhutan, the country of Gross National Happiness, has been frustrating talks and efforts for that ever since the crisis started in 1991. Assimilation in the Nepalese and Indian society is also a no go as Nepal and India do not accept that (the lack the resources to do that on a humanitarian responsible manner), hence the durable solution of the UNHCR: resettling to the west.

This resettlement project is well underway with almost two thirds of the refugees already resettled to mainly the US and countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway Denmark, Netherlands and the UK. But there are fears that not all refugees will resettle. After all it is an opt-in project and not all refugees desire a life in a completely alien western society ultimately losing their history, religion and way of life in due time. Some 10,000 refugees have not opterd for resettlement. Let alone the other more than 4,000* refugees that have not been registered as refugees for a variety of reasons. They do however live in those camps without food, healthcare and proper housing. (* The number is based on a headcount by camp management in 2011 and has decreased to a yet unknown figure.)

So something needs to happen. Recently the UNHCR has announced that they can no longer provide vegetables to the refugees, taking out an important element in their diet which is by no means extensive. The effects of not supplying vegetables as of January 2013 will no doubt be deteriorating health of the camps population in the coming years. The reason the UNHCR has given is that they lack a proper budget for this essential food. Which is very strange as the European Union has provided for a over 3 Million Euro budget for the UNHCR for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, continuing the financing of the UNHCR’s operation in regard to those camps. So what is happening?

According to the Beldangi camp secretary, Dhan Bir Subba, (Beldangi is the largest of the two remaining camps) the UN has informed them that the budget is redistributed by the UNHCR to other refugee crisis areas in the world. Basically stating that they simply do no longer see a priority in maintaining proper support to the Bhutanese refugees still living in the camps in Nepal. Which of course is an extra push to get the refugees to the point that they will opt for resettlement. So is this argument used by the UNHCR just a trick to reach a ‘durable solution’ by increasing pressure on the refugee community to resettle completely? And if so, is that ethical?

According to Subba the UNHCR has declared that they have no other option than to decrease the available budget for the Bhutanese exiles in the camps, a ‘Hopson’s choice’ so to speak. The UNHCR has also declared that they will distribute vegetable seeds as an alternative, but as the remaining camps are heavily populated, the availability of enough land to grow crops is a question that remains. The UNHCR seems to have suggested to use the empty huts of resettlers for that purpose.

The chairman of the Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee, Dr Bhampa Rai, who I have het the privilige to interview a number of times concerning the situation of the refugees, has condemned the UNHCR decision. And by all means, the timeline between announcing and stopping vegetable distribution is just over a month, making it impossible for the refugees to grow enough crops for a healthy nutrition, seems irresponsible.

“The decision has created doubts on UNHCR’s intention towards refugees. How can those who themselves survive on delicious vegetables on daily basis decide to stop the supply of the same items for us,” Dr Rai said according to the Bhutan News Service.

The question that this raises is wether the UNHCR is now going to a stage in promoting resettlement to the refugees by disregarding basic human rights like proper nutrition. And that is not all. The Bhutanese refugees feel that they are pressurized by the UNHCR to resettle, which means that they doubt wether they really have a free choince NOT to resettle but continue hoping for repatriation to their motherland.

Apart from the other issues mentioned in the request written by major community leaders to the UNHCR (see the attached letter), the nutrition issue is a very serious decline in the basic care for the refugees and frustrates the mandate of the UNHCR itself. The monthly supply of (only) 500 grams of season vegetables is ending this month. The diet of refugees in the camps will lack one of its important components and is for health reasons undesireable.

It is worrying that the UNHCR is also forbidding the refugee leaders to bring their complaints to the VIP’s who visit the camps. From personal experience working as a journalist in the camps I do know that some issues (like the large numner of unregistered refugees, the deteriorating education in the camps and the mounting crime like identity fraud and even institutionalized fraud) are being kept under the radar. Freedom of press and freedom of speech are just as much at stake as the basic human rights of the camp population. ‘Thou shalt not report negative’ is an adagium in this unmonitored situation.

LETTER-TO-UNHCR

It seems that the UNHCR is building pressure to end the Bhutanese refugee crisis and is not stepping away from methods that should be doubted and discussed on an international level and especially at the European Union, being the main financier of the UNHCR in Nepal.

In the meanwhile malnutrition is something that the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal should fear. The reality of life in the UNHCR managed refugee camps in Nepal is that things are not at all nice and dandy and in fact seem to become worse. But will the international community respond to that?

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

De wereld veranderd niet.

Als documentair kunstenaar wordt ik soms getroffen door analogiën in oude kunst met mijn eigen werk. Christa Zaat, een facebook kunstverzamelaar die een onvoorstelbaar fraaie verzameling Victoriaanse en Edwardiaanse schilderijen op haar facebook gepubliceerd heeft, verraste me met een schilderij van de Engelse schilder Walter Langley. Zijn schilderij ‘Waiting for the boats’ laat vissersvrouwen zien die wachten op de boten die op haringvangst buitengaats waren. Ze kijken met afwachting, spanning en soms angst naar de zee bij de haven. Komen de mannen terug? Zijn alle boten er? Is mijn geliefde er bij? Of mijn zoontje?

Het schilderij laat het leven zien van de vrouwen in mijn familie een paar generaties terug. Mijn opa was immers een visser. En zijn vader ook. De spanning op de gezichten zijn een voorbode van het leed dat mogelijk op de vrouwen wacht. Want als de mannen niet terugkeerden lag nog zwaardere armoede in het verschiet.

Walter Langley (English painter) 1852 – 1922
Waiting for the Boats, 1885

Maar het schilderij riep bij mij nog iets heel anders op. De treffende gelijkenis in de uitdrukking op de gezichten van de vrouwen die ik fotografeerde in een vluchtelingenkamp in Nepal zes weken nadat een brand hun kamp en alles wat ze bezaten verbrandde. Ik weet overigens bijna zeker dat enkelen van hen inmiddels in Amerika of Australië, Nederland of Nieuw Zeeland of in een ander land wonen, begonnen aan een nieuw en minder uitzichtloos maar zeker ook moeilijk bestaan.

© 2011 Alice Anna Verheij
Vluchtelingen vrouwen en kinderen wachtend op hulp, mei 2011 Goldhap Camp, Nepal

De vrouwen op mijn foto wachten op wat er gebeuren gaat. Er wordt die dag hulp gebracht maar of zij daar wat van krijgen is niet duidelijk. De zwaarte van hun bestaan drukt op ze als een loden last en de ogen stralen niet alleen berusting uit maar soms ook wanhoop. Het beeld van deze foto is er slecht één van de honderden, nee duizenden, die op mijn netvlies staan en die ik in vele foto’s en videobeelden heb. Ze doen pijn. En ze motiveren me om door te gaan met wat ik doe: de beelden delen met een ieder die bereid is de ogen open te houden voor het leed van anderen. Mijn vrouwen zijn geen visservrouwen maar vluchtelingen, gevlucht voor een regime dat niet schroomde om een groot deel van het eigen volk het land uit te jagen. Zoals de visservrouwen de slachtoffers waren van hun armoede in een maatschappij die niet voor ze zorgde.

Er is in pakweg honderdvijfentwintig jaar in werkelijkheid niets veranderd. De ogen van zij die het zwaar hebben laten dat zien. In 1885 en in 2011, dezelfde blik, vergelijkbaar leed:

Hierbij nog wat gegevens over Langley’s schilderij voor de liefhebbers (met dank aan Christa):

Langley’s mastery of watercolour allowed him to capture the clear morning light of Cornwall as the fisherwomen wait on the quayside by the seawall in the last few moments of leisure when they are able to share news, knit and read letters from relatives as they await the arrival of the herring fleet that has been away at sea and is returning with the day’s catch. All is still and peaceful before these women’s strenuous daily work begins and the women have to unload and clean the fish. The youngest of the women appears to be concerned about the arrival of the boats, perhaps nervous that not all of them will return; many men were killed in ocean storms. The anxious expression on her young face is in contrast to the weather-beaten skin of the older women who are used to sitting and waiting for the boats. It is this subtle sentiment that Langley was able to capture so convincingly, because he understood the women and their hopes and fears and knew what it was like to be poor and to work hard.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Dutch Floriade exhibition embraces human rights violator.

Note: today we received an invitation from the organizing committee of the Floriade to discuss our findings with them. Of course we accept that invitation.

On September 22nd this year a Bhutan day was held at the Floriade World Horticultural Expo in Venlo in the Netherlands. The day was centered around making the world a better place and the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness‘. Amongst the people present that day was Mrs. Erica Terpstra, a well known Dutch liberal ex politician who made a television program about beautiful Bhutan, its nature and culture. Next to Mrs. Terpstra, Mr. Dago Tshering was present. He holds a minister seat in the government of the small Himalayan kingdom.

Erica Terpstra returned home with the honor of having a tulip named after the queen of Bhutan presented, presumably unaware of the fact that she had been shaking hands with a notorious human rights violator. Because, who is Dago Tshering for real?

In the early ninetees, after demonstrations against the at that time already longtime ongoing civil rights violations, a process of ethnic/religious/cultural cleansing was started by the Bhutan government. In just a few years the civil rights and citizenship were taken away from over 20% of Bhutan’s population. Changes in marital and citizenship laws were cooked up to do that. Wearing other clothes than the traditional dress from the powerful ruling elite minority was forbidden and the Nepalese language was banned from schools and government organizations.

Through a policy of state terror in which political murder, random arrests, torture and years long incarceration of intellectuals and leaders from the south and east of the country, the population in those regions was oppressed. After violent attacks by the Royal Bhutan Army and the police against village leaders, their families and other local leaders, a total of over 100,000 and possibly 150,000 people fled the country. Many of them at gunpoint after being forced to sign papers stating they were voluntary leaving and abandoning their homes, land and possessions. The by far percentagewise largest exodus in 100 years really started off in the first months of 1991 after an edict written by that same Dago Tshering who came to Venlo in the Netherlands to welcome the visitors to the Bhutan pavillion on the Floriade exhibition.

Because, on August 17, 1990, Dago Tshering, then Deputy Home Minister of Bhutan wrote a ‘NOTIFICATION’. It states literally, and I quote:

You are hereby instructed to immediately inform alls the gups, DYT members and the general public in your dzongkhag that any Bhutanese national leaving the country to assist and help the anti-nationals shall no longer be considered as a Bhutanese citizen. It must also be made very clear that such people’s family members living under the same household will also be held fully responsible and forfeit their citizenship.

With this order to the Dzongkhas’s, Dago Tshering personally kicked off the ethnic cleansing that would in the end lead to the exile of over 1/6th of Bhutan population.

The Netherlands is, together with the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the European Parliament, financing the UNHCR refugee camps in Nepal and the resettlement of the larger part of the population of these camps to these fore mentioned countries. By doing so the West is taking the rap for the effects of the Bhutanese ethnic cleansing that was initiated and excuted since 1990 by Dago Tshering and the current prime minister of Bhutan, Mr. Jigme Thinley. The international community has until now spend tens of millions of dollars on this issue and will continue to do so on request by the United Nations. The European Union itself has sourced the UNHCR at the end of 2011 with over 3 million euros for upholding the refugee camps in Nepal and taking care of the after effects after these camps will be emptied by the ‘durable solution’ as the mass resettlement is euphemistically named by the UNHCR.

Bhutan has since 1991 systematically refused to take a serious effort in repatriation of its own people to their villages and homes. The victims live in diaspora without expectations for return to their motherland.

In 2012 however, Dago Tshering is received and honored by the Floriade. There were no Bhutanese refugees present in Venlo. They were not invited by the organization and Mrs. Terpstra probably again had no idea what she was dealing with.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Floriade omhelst mensenrechten schender.

Opmerking: vandaag ontvingen we een uitnodiging van de organisatoren van de Bhutan dag op de Floriade om met hun te spreken over onze constateringen. Uiteraard nemen we die uitnodiging aan. 

Op 22 september dit jaar werd op de Floriade wereld tentoonstelling in Venlo een Bhutandag gehouden. De dag stond in het teken van een betere wereld en het begrip ‘Bruto Nationaal Geluk’. Aanwezig was onder andere ex politica Erica Terpstra, die eerder een tv programma wijdde aan het o zo mooie Bhutan. Naast mw. Terpstra was ook dhr. Dago Tshering aanwezig. De man is minister in het kleine Himalaya koninkrijk.

Erica Terpstra ging naar huis met de eer een naar de koningin van Bhutan genoemde tulp te hebben onthuld, wellicht volledig onbekend met het feit dat ze uitgebreid de hand heeft geschut van een mensenrechten schender. Want wie is die Dago Tshering werkelijk?

Begin negentiger jaren startte in Bhutan, na demonstraties tegen de al jarenlang voortdurende inperking van de burgerrechten van een groot deel van de bevolking, een proces van etnisch/religieuze/culturele zuivering. In enkele jaren tijds werden de burgerrechten van meer dan 20% van de bevolking afgenomen. Er werd een verbod op het dragen van andere dan de etnische kleding van de machtige minderheid afgekondigd. Het Nepalees werd als officiële taal afgeschaft en uit het onderwijs verwijderd. En de huwelijks- en burgerschapswetten werden zodanig gewijzigd dat velen het staatsburgerschap afgenomen werd.

Via een politiek van staatsterreur waarbij politieke moord, willekeurige arrestaties, martelingen en jarenlange opsluiting van intellectueren en leiders uit het zuiden en oosten van het land, werd de bevolking onder druk gezet. Nadat er gewelddadige invallen van het leger bij dorpsoudsten en andere lokale leiders plaatsvonden vluchtten in totaal ruim 100.000 en mogelijk tegen de 150.000 inwoners in het land uit. Deze exodus kwam pas echt op gang begin 1991 na een edict van dezelfde Dago Tschering die in Venlo een lintje kwam doorknippen.

Want op 17 augustus 1990 schreef Dago Tshering, toen staatssecreatris van Binnenlandse Zaken in Bhutan een ‘NOTIFICATION’. Daarin staat letterlijk dat zij die het land verlieten om ‘anti-nationals’ te helpen hun staatsburgerschap verliezen. Ook hun inwonende familieleden zouden als gevolg van het vertrek van onwillekeurig welk gezinslid hun staatsburgerschap verliezen.

Met deze order aan de Dzongdag’s geeft Dago persoonlijk opdracht tot etnische zuivering.

Nederland financiert samen met de Verenigde Staten, Canada, Australië, Nieuw Zeeland, Noorwegen, Denemarken, het Vereningd Koninkrijk en het Europees Parlement het opvangen van de vluchtelingen die sinds 1990 in UNHCR vluchtelingenkampen in Nepal leven en waarvan een groot deel ten lange leste worden geresettled naar de genoemde landen. Daarmee draait het westen op voor de Bhutanese etnische zuivering zoals die door Dago Tshering èn ook de huidige premier Thinley in gang is gezet en is uitgevoerd sinds eind 1990. De wereldgemeenschap heeft inmiddels tientallen mijoenen dollars besteed aan dit probleem en zal dat in de komende jaren nog blijven doen. De Europese Unie heeft eind 2011 nog een budget van ruim 3 miljoen euro beschikbaar gesteld aan de UNHCR voor het managen van de gevolgen van het wegvallen van de vluchtelingenkampen nadat resettlement van de daar wonende vluchtelingen.

Bhutan heeft sinds 1991 systematisch geweigerd serieus moeite te doen de eigen bevolking terug te laten keren naar hun huizen. De slachtoffers leven in diaspora zonder uitzicht op terugkeer naar hun moederland.

In 2012 wordt Dago Tschering echter met alle egards door de Floriade ontvangen. Er waren in Venlo geen vluchtelingen uit Bhutan aanwezig. Ze waren niet uitgenodigd door de organisatie.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

The Bhutan lie exhibited on the Dutch floriade

Today was Bhutan day at the Floriade 2012 floral exhibition in Venlo, the Netherlands. A day underlining the message of Gross National Happiness as advocated by the king of Bhutan and his vasals like Jigme Thinley, the prime minister who are both responsible for the ethnic cleansing in the early ninetees in Bhutan.

Image

Early April our queen Beatrix visited the Bhutan pavillion on the floriade to consume the lie. No mention then and no mention today about the continuous human rights violations by the Bhutanese government. No mention about political prisoners, violence against the Bhutanese citizens, the abuse of civil and human rights.

Of course not.

Because like Mrs. Happiness Netherlands, Erica Terpstra (ex sporter, ex politician and derailed public figure), the local Rotary club, the many companies involved in trade with Bhutan, the Floriade organization and the royal family, do not want to know or hear about what happened in the early ninetees of the past century and what is still happening regarding the fate of the Bhutanese people living in the south and east of that country.

The Floriade is a money (greed) driven event where companies promote themselves in a socially acceptable manner. And so, all the people passing through the Bhutan pavillion and all the companies involved, prefer positive-only information. The receivers are switched off, the ears closed and the eyes blinded. Be positive, be the change, be this and be that, be positive and be happy, that is what it is all about in this positiveness show.

In another place on the globe tens of thousands of Bhutanese still suffer hardship in camps. With too littje food, a lack of adequate healthcare, hostility from the surrounding community, without rights, without citizenship, be stateless, poor and driven away from their motherland over twenty years ago. By force, at gunpoint and as a result of threats, abuse, torture and even murder.

In yet another place on the globe (actually many other places of the globe) people live who have been resettled and who have suffered the exile, the camp life and the hardship. And who have been enabled to start a new life elsewhere. Away from their country and region, their culture and their friends and even their families. Living in diaspora. They are the ones who are not seen at the commercialized Floriade event. They are the ones who are not seen by our queen or our crown prince who prefers to shoot bows and arrows with his Bhutanese counterpart. They are the ones without the voices and without the faces, without the power to stand up.

And it is them who we care about. The fact that their situation is largely unknown in the misinformed western world is the reason why we do our work. Why we make our film, have published our books and exhibit our photos. To advocate their rights to be like we are, human beings with their own place under the sun and the same rights as anyone else.

Come visit our exhibition in the Domchurch and buy our books. Help us to tell their story and capture their history, help us to not forget them and help us to delete the myth of gross national happiness!

UNFORGOTTEN photo exhibition
Domchurch Utrecht
September 15 to Oktober 26, 2012

 

 

Still no news from Jeetan

I think I have a friend in prison.

At least, he was imprisoned a couple of months ago and until today I’ve not been able to get new information regarding his safety and well being.

My friend Jeetan training refugee kids in a Journalism Training, summer 2011

I am convinced of his innocence to the charges against him. I worked with him for a while and I’ve seen his passion for his people and the youth that he supported and trained. He is a special guy.

I suspect that his arrest has a lot to do with his continuous efforts for the youth in the camps and his work as a writer / poet involved in community work and refugee journalism.

Currently most contacts in Nepal seem more or less frozen or have at least weakened. Partly because some of my friends were resettled to other places on the globe and mostly to the United States. Partly because some of them have been threatened. The effect is that the story of Jeetan (an alias for his real name Jit) is still unclear.

And I find that worrying.

Therefore I repeat the appeal made by the AHRC (Asian Human Rights Council) on his behalf. Here is the story. If you want to support and apeal his case, and I urge you to do so, go to the AHRC website and sign the petition. This is the link.

This is the story of a desperate guy who was arrested unjustly only days before he was supposed to resettle and get a better life elsewhere:

14 May 2012

———————————————————————
NEPAL: Bhutanese refugee tortured and threatened with false charges in Kathmandu

ISSUES: Torture, Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers, Police violence, Arbitrary arrest and detention
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a 29-year-old Bhutanese refugee, Jit Bahadur Subba, having applied for third country resettlement was arrested from the office of the International organization for Migrant on 27 April 2012. After his arrest, he was kept in illegal detention for two days without receiving any arrest warrant or detention letter in the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), Maharajganj, Kathmandu. He was severely tortured under interrogation and threatened that false charges of drug smuggling would be filed against him. He is now detained at Hanumandhoka Police Station and needs immediate medical treatment. He was not allowed to meet with his lawyer without the presence of the police. 

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information we have received, 29-year-old Jit Bahadur Subba lives in the Bhutanese refugee camp, Beldangi II. He belongs to one of the thousands Nepali-speaking families who, after having lived for several generations in Bhutan, were expelled from the country to refugee camps in Nepal twenty years ago. Mr. Subba had applied for resettlement to the USA and was kept in the transit office of the International organization for Migrant (IOM) in Baluwatar, Kathmandu for investigation of his identification documents from 12th to 27th April 2012.

On 27 April 2012 at around 2.30 pm he was arrested from the IOM office by 4 to 5 police officers in civilian clothes. He was not given any reason for his arrest nor was any arrest warrant produced by the police. He was then brought to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), Maharajganj, Kathmandu. He was kept there for two days, without being provided with a detention letter or an arrest warrant. He was brought before a judicial authority on 29 April 2012, exceeding the 24-hour delay set up by the constitution for every person who is arrested to be produced before a judicial authority. This amounts to illegal detention.

He was kept in the CIB for two days, reportedly without being provided with any food or water. His family was not informed of his arrest. There he was interrogated regarding his alleged involvement in the forging of a fake passport and of having purchased Nepali citizenship. The first day he was tortured under interrogation by two policemen, wearing civilian clothes. He was slapped across the face a dozen times, the soles of his feet were beaten and the policemen beat him all over his body. Due to the pain he almost lost consciousness. The policemen then interrogated him on other the involvement of other persons in the same charges and, as he could not provide information, the policemen put a packet of drugs in his pocket and threatened to charge him with drug smuggling. As the policemen were wearing civilian clothes, he could not identify their ranks.

On 29th April, he was sent to Metropolitan Police Range, Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu, and was provided with warrant papers. He was produced before Kathmandu District Court on the same day. The court remanded him into custody for five days the first time, and for six days a second time. According to the police his case is under investigation under charges of forgery of citizenship documents and passports.

At no point during his detention was Mr. Subba informed of his legal rights. His lawyer visited him twice: once on 3 May in the office of the District Attorney, Kathmandu, and the second time on 8 May at the MPR Hanumandhoka. In both cases the police refused to allow the lawyer to meet with his client without the police presence. This is in spite of the Interim Constitution of Nepal guaranteeing the right of every person who was arrested to consult a legal practitioner and that the consultation should remain confidential.

The police was also present during the medical check-up of the victim when they sent him to Bir hospital on 7 May. Due to the presence of the police, the victim did not dare mentioning the torture to the doctor and the doctor did not ask about it either. Therefore the presence of the police during the medical examination prevented the victim from getting proper treatment and he was just provided with some anti-allergic medicines.

The victim’s health condition has deteriorated due to lack of proper treatment and the poor conditions in Hanumandhoka detention center. His body is covered with scars of worms and insects and he suffers from sleeplessness.

The victim is very afraid that he may receive further torture and measures must be taken for his protection immediately.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please join us in writing to the authorities listed below to express concern upon learning of the torture inflicted to Mr. Subba and urge the authorities to guarantee his physical and psychological safety. Please demand that an investigation should be launched into the allegations of torture and that the perpetrators should be held accountable. Please further urge the authorities to ensure that no confession extracted under torture could be used in court proceedings against the accused.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment calling for his intervention into this matter.

Alice Anna Verheij
writer, filmmaker, journalist, human rights worker

Twee onvergetelijke tentoonstellingen op komst.

Vanaf half september tot na sinterklaas worden er twee onvergetelijke tentoonstellingen gehouden door mij en mijn collega Eveline van de Putte.

Deze slideshow heeft JavaScript nodig.

Van 15 september tot en met 26 oktober is UNFORGOTTEN te zien in de Domkerk in Utrecht. Daarna zal deze tentoonstelling van 10 november tot 7 december te zien zijn in Café & gallerie Quirky in Den Haag.
UNFORGOTTEN is een tentoonstelling met de beste foto’s uit ons bestand van 18.000 foto’s die we in het kader van het Headwind project gemaakt hebben in Nepal, Sikkim (India) en Nederland. De foto’s laten het leven van de vluchtelingen uit Bhutan zien in de kampen in Nepal en gaat in op de resettlement van hun waardoor zij in enkele jaren in diaspora worden gebracht.

  • 15 september – 26 oktober
    Domkerk Utrecht
    Project presentatie en vernissage met live muziek op zondag 23 september om 12.30u.
  • 10 november – 7 december
    Café & galerie Quirky, Tasmanstraat 128 Den Haag
    Vernissage en fundraising dinner (traditioneel Nepalees-Bhutaanse schotel) met live muziek op zaterdag 10 november om 18.00u.
    Reserveren gewenst. Prijs: €20 waarvan €5 gedoneerd wordt aan de Empowerment Foundation voor het Headwind project.


Reserveren is gewenst en kan op 070 3808502 of info@cafequirky.com

* In English *

From September 15 until October 26 UNFORGOTTEN, the photo exhibition, can be seen at the Domchurch in Utrecht. UNFORGOTTEN will be brought there in co-operation with the Domchurch Citypastoraat.
Special presentation of Headwind and UNFORGOTTEN is on Sunday September 23rd at 1 PM.

From November 10 until December 7 UNFORGOTTEN will travel to Cafe & gallery Quirky in the Tasmanstraat 128 in The Hague. The vernissage on Saturday November 10 will be followed by a fundraising dinner at 6 PM. Cost €20 of which €5 is donated to the Empowerment Foundation’s Headwind project. Reervations needed and can be made at 070 3808502 or info@cafequirky.com.

Belofte

foto: © 2011 Alice Anna Verheij – Damak, Jhapa, Nepal

Mijzelf beloven
zo onwerkelijk
zo nodig
als kolen
op verterend vuur
van diep verlangen

Ik beloof
lieve mij
terug te keren
naar andere grond
andere kleur
andere geur
ongeacht
drempels
en beren op wegen

De moesson zal
mijn huid strelen
en daar bij de rivier
klinken tempelbellen
en zachte stemmen
die fluisteren
in onbekende taal
doch door mijn hart
wel gehoord
verstaan
gevoeld

Sta mij de geur toe
van versgeplukte thee
geef het blauw
van bergen in de verte
en laat mij dansen
met jullie
en niets mij tegenhouden
geen band sterk genoeg zijn
mijn voeten te binden
want ik ga met ze mee
ik kan niet anders
immers
dan ademen
en leven

(c) 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

In één zin.

Soms is één zin genoeg om te zeggen wat ik wil zeggen.

foto: Sangam Chowk bij Damak, Jhapa, Nepal © 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

De geluksbeleving om bij het vallen van de avond langs de rand van een rijstveld op een aarden walletje te zitten, de vuurvliegjes te zien dansen onder een smetteloze hemel terwijl op de achtergrond in de verte de heldere bel van de mandir onregelmatig een klingeltje geeft en de geur van vers klaargemaakt eten je in de neus dringt, ergens anders een paar vrouwen zingen en de bergen zich in steeds dieper wordend mysterieus blauw tegen de hemel lijken te hebben laten plakken, is dusdanig intens dat het verlangen wat daaruit voortkomt alleen vervuld kan worden door de herhaling van die beleving.

Alice Anna © 2012

Headwind, Laxmi’s Story. Pre-publication of the novel.

Dear readers,

today I give you a free sample as a pre publication of my latest novel ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’ that is currently in its final stage before publishing. I hope you enjoy it and will get even more curious and interested in this book that I wrote straight from the heart in the summer of 2011 while staying in Nepal for the Headwind project.

This pre publication contains an explanation of the novel, the prologue and the first chapter. Right click on DOWNLOAD to get the PDF file.


As of today I accept pre-orders for the novel. The book price for non Bhutanese will be €17,95 / 1900 NPR / US$ 22, for Bhutanese this will be €9,00 / 990 NPR / US$11 excl. postage and packing.

For preordering please send an email to alice.writes@xs4all.nl and I wil answer with information regarding payment options.

Alice Anna Verheij
author of Headwind, Laxmi’s Story 

No new constitution in Nepal but elections instead.

A couple of days ago the Constituent Assembly of Nepal dissolved after another extended term went without the outcome of an agreed concept constitution. Wether that is bad news or good news remains to be seen.

Seat of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, Kathmandu

After the overturning of the monarchy almost a decade ago and the ending in 2006 of the ten year long civil war that devastated the countries economy and homogenity there have been elections only once. The outcome of those events was the installation of a Constituent Assembly and the dawn of the provisional Federal Republic of Nepal. Elections were held and a government was formed. And that government fell. A new one was formed. Which fell also. And another one and another one. Nepal became politically unstable with none of the major parties (including the Maoists who started the revolt against the former king) being large enough to stay in power for long. The core problem of Nepal turned out to be the many divisions in politics.

The country became paralized but because of the intentions of becoming a democratic nation it also became one of the countries with the largest support from international organizations, NGO’s and governments. The country became dependent on aid as the successive governments proved unable to bring the country from revolt to stability, to improve the economy and to improve the many infrastructural and social challenges that were present. In the meanwhile many Nepalese had hopes of the effects of a new constitution that was in the making. But that constitution never materialized. Terms for the 2008 elected Constituent Assembly (with its ludicrous large number of 575 seats) were extended several times. The 60% ballot turnout proved the high hopes of the people of Nepal. But these hopes deteriorated quickly due to the continuous inability of the assembly to come up with a draft constitution on time and agreed by a majority.

Still, that draft that didn’t materialize did have some very specific topics handled in a revolutionary manner in the last Hindu ex Kingdom and the results have been brought to a provisionary implementation by the government recently. The caste system became politically undesired which potentially freed millions of people from hardship and lack of opportunities and there was even a third or other gender introduced as a concept in gender identification releasing the gay and transgender communities from social pressure based on discriminatory laws.

But it all ended on May 27 of this year at midnight.

The Constituent Assembly outlived its term and its mandate and the government decided to dissolve the non working body. At the same time announcing general elections on November 22nd this year. The second general elections and the first one after four years of disappointment since the fall of King Gyanendra. At this moment in time the conditions for Nepal to come back to a stabile political solution are far from ideal. The political spectrum dominated by the Maoists, Marxist-Leninists and the conservative Congress Party is more divided than ever. No one is big enough, politicians are not trusted by the people any more because of the many broken promises and the country is in economically dire straits. The infrastructure of the country in areas like energy, transportation, education and health care are all in a very bad state. The international monetary crisis is devaluating the Nepali Rupee at an alarming rate and impovering the country faster and faster. The political squeeze from India and China is becoming more vivd in daily life because of the dependencies on those neighbours for basic resources like food and energy. There is an energy crisis in the country that is lasting for years now and becoming worse. India pretty much owns Nepal’s oil consumption which effects the economy.

The Nepalese are demotivated by the politics in the country. Young peoples main desire is to leave the country and indeed there’s a brain drain going on of enormous proportions. The number of refugees and stateless people in the country push an extra burden on the economy and mental stretch of the people. As the politicians are unable to bring salvation many groups in the country (political, ethnic and otherwise) are increasingly grabbing the only instrument they have to force the government to give them what they want: they strike. The destabilizing bandhas (strikes) have become a daily routine in many parts of the country and especially in the Terai, the southern part of the country which is of key importance for food production and the little industry the country has. These strikes slowly kill what’s left of the economy and by their nature prove the worst possible ‘solution’ to the many problems.

It remains to be seen wether the failure of the Constituent Assembly is a bad thing for Nepal. If on November 22nd elections turn out to be clear on which political parties should rule the country then a faster solution to the constitutional crisis is in sight. But that would be a miracle to be honest. Looking at the current political situation, the bad economy, the institutionalized fraud and corruption, the instability of the armed forces (the integration of Maoists in the Nepal Army is still very shaky) and the hunger for individual power of the politicians, it is impossible to be optimistic on the outcome. If it doesn’t work out later this year it will only mean that the largest of the former Himalayan Kingdoms will remain without a formalized constitution and with less hope of overcoming the many crisises the country is facing.

Hopefully the international community will be fully aware of Nepal’s problems and not turn it’s back on the country with it’s almost thirty million inhabitants. Nepal needs solid international backing and attention now more than ever.

Alice Anna Verheij © 2012

Verrassing

Life is full of surprises.

Inderdaad. Waar begin dit jaar het er nadrukkelijk naar uit zag dat ik voor jaren in Nepal zou gaan wonen blijkt de werkelijkheid enkele maanden later volledig anders uit te pakken. Tegenslagen in de liefde en in mijn mogelijkheden op een normaal leven maken dat – zoals wel vaker in mijn rare leven – de vlag er na een paar maanden bepaald anders voor staat.

Financieel dusdanig aan de grond gezet dat er zonder een mirakel geen kans is om terug naar Nepal te gaan leek het er de laatste maanden op dat dit jaar een jaar om over te slaan zou worden. Tenminste als het om het reizen gaat. Natuurlijk, er wordt naarstig gewerkt aan de film die toch echt deze zomer uit komt, de publicatie van maar liefst drie boeken in de komende maanden en een grote tentoonstelling in de Domkerk in Utrecht in september en oktober. En dan ben ik ook nog begonnen aan een nieuwe roman. 2012 blijkt dus vooral een creatief explosief jaar en om dat mogelijk te maken moet ik nu eenmaal in Nederland zijn.

Daar komt bij dat ik van mezelf weet dat als ik in de gemoedstoestand waarin ik verkeer binnen enkele maanden naar Nepal zou gaan ik er zeker van ben niet meer terug te komen. Zo sterk is mijn afkeer van dit land geworden. En niet zonder redenen.

Maar, het lot beschikt weer eens anders en karma plaatst me zoals zo vaak voor verrassingen.

Om te beginnen ben ik even een paar weken flink ziek geweest en dat is een prima manier om weer met beide benen op de grond te belanden. En keuzes voor de korte termijn te maken. En dan zijn er vrienden en vriendinnen die het eigenlijk niet leuk vinden als ik lang weg ben. Wat natuurlijk geweldig lief is en me doet beseffen dat zij ook voor mij te belangrijk zijn om afscheid te nemen van het westen.

En dus wordt de zomer besteed aan het werk rond film en publicaties. Om het nog een beetje leuk te maken buiten het werk heb ik besloten de Literaire Salon terug te laten komen maar dan wel in de buurt waar ik nu woon en die ik met de dag leuker ga vinden. Daarover volgt later ongetwijfeld meer. Verder werk ik dus inmiddels op de momenten dat daar wat ruimte voor is aan mijn nieuwe boek, ‘De engel van Kensington’ waarbij ik weer het plezier van het roman schrijven terug heb gekregen na bijna een jaar afwezigheid.

Maar het land uit anders dan voor een kort onderzoeksreisje naar Londen ergens in de komende maanden was van de planning verdwenen. En dat is lastig voor iemand die eigenlijk vooral een reizigster is met de lusteloosheid van een bohémienne.

En dan belt een vriendin die me naar Lesbos meeneemt in september. Twee weken vakantie (met een beetje werken) op een mooi eiland in een mooie zee met leuk gezelschap. En dus wordt er toch nog gereist dit jaar. Onverwacht, zoals het hoort met verrassingen. De camera’s gaan mee wat daarvoor is er werk aan de winkel en dat is eigenlijk ook wel weer leuk want gefilmd en gefotografeerd moet er natuurlijk wel worden dit jaar.

Sommige pareltjes zijn het mooist in het roze. Voor degenen die ook zin hebben in een september avontuur (en het vrouwenfestival op Lesbos), er is nog plek… en voor goed gezelschap schenk ik met alle plezier een lekker glas wijn bij zonsondergang.
http://pinkpearlsamsterdam.com/nl/reizen/Fantasy-Island-holiday

Ik kijk er nu al naar uit.

Alice © 2012

Is Nepal police killing a friend?

On April 27 a friend of mine who I value as a respectable journalist and community worker for the Bhutanese refugees in the camps in the Jhapa and Morang districts in Nepal was arrested in the IOM office in Kathmandu while waiting for his resettlement to the US to start a new life just like many other exiles through the UNHCR third country resettlement program. Jeet Bahadur Subba (who I know by a different name which is common practice for many Nepali youth) is a Bhutanese exile, writer, poet, community and youth worker who lived in a Bhutanese refugee camp for many, many years. But in stead of many other youth he worked hard for the benefit of the people, especially youth, in the camps. He did that by co-organizing social events, support actions for fire victims and trainings to empower youth and vulnerable groups in the camps.

We traveled together to the fire struck Goldhap an Sanischare camp and on invitation of Caritas gave journalism training to youth in the Beldangi camp last summer. The way he motivated the youth in that training and his passion in doing so was impressive.

Hanuman Dhoka Police Station, Kathmandu

Jeet Subba (I know him as Jeetan) is quite a character, not to be disregarded. We shared passionate conversations and joined effort for the benefit of his people in the camps. He is now detained at the the Hanuman Dhoka police station on charges of document falsification for Nepalis to be resettled to the US and Canada and having a false Nepali passport himself. An accusation of crimes that are threatening honest and justified third country resettlement. If that is true they are a serious accusation and he should be brought to trial.

However, after his arrest Jeet Subba has been severely tortured by Nepal police during the days before he was formally accused. During that time between April 27 and at least May 2 he was the victim of police brutality and threats. The torture methods included hooding, beatings with batons, falanga and the threats of pushing fabricated accusations of drugs smuggling onto him. Jit Subba admitted the accusations after being heavily tortured and will be brought to court as a result af that. During those first days in detention he was not given food or water while being in solitary confinement , not being read his legal rights, not being handed an arrest warrant or detention letter and not being allowed to talk with a lawyer without police presence. After those first days a visiting lawyer from a Nepal based human rights organization found Jit Subba with scars on his body, not being able to stand or walk and scared for his life. A second visit by a lawyer on May 8 after Jit Subba was transferred from the Central Investigation Bureau in Maharajganj, Kathmandu to Hanuman Dhoka police station was again not allowed without police presence. Current information is that Jeet Subba still needs urgent medical treatment as the result of severe torture.

Yesterday the Asian Human Rights Commission requested the prime minister of Nepal to intervene, just like other organizations had done in the past week.

Obviously Nepal police is, if the accusations of torture are true (and they are confirmed by multiple sources), way out of line on many grounds. From illegal arrest to illegal confinement, torture, threats of framing a citizen, not allowing legal support and not adhering to the Nepal interim constitution in regard to human rights. This is a very serious matter because with everything that is now known the question rises why they do that.

Fact is that journalists working for the Bhutanese exiles in Nepal have continuously experienced trouble ranging from threats and abuse to extremely slow processing of their files for their resettlement resulting in unnecessary prolonged life in the refugee camps. This seems not only to be the case for active journalists but also for community workers.

From a personal angle I have to state that I have witnessed incidents and heard experiences from people I got to know while filming the situation concerning Bhutanese exiles in Nepal. Those incidents and experiences strengthen me in my conviction that also in this case the truth lies far from what Jit Subba is being accused of. For me it is obvious that human rights of Bhutanese exiles are structurally abused by the authorities. This concerns community workers, unregistered refugees and others who are left in limbo on their position and the way the third country resettlement project of the UNHCR is executed in some cases. The claim that Jit Subba was having a Nepali passport on him is something that is for me not surprising knowing the despair of youth who are actively supporting their own people with the side effect of seeing their own third country resettlement not happening. Eighteen years in a refugee camps can drive people crazy up to the point that out of despair they’ll do anything to escape to a better and more human life.

Jit Bahadur Subba seems to be the victim of this and might very well be proven innocent after a transparent and honest police inquiry. The fact that he has been severely tortured by police is by now undeniable, which is a disgrace for a country that is in the process of finalizing a new constitution aimed at bringing peace and order.

If nothing happens I will have to fear for the life of someone I regard a friend.

Alice Verheij © 2012

Uitersten

Foto: © 2011 Alice Verheij – een vriend die nu gevangen zit en gemarteld is

De laatste maanden, weken en dagen is het alsof de ingewikkeldheid van het leven me influisterd dat er iets is veranderd. Het lukt mij ondanks alle pogingen niet los te komen van een wereld zo ver van de mijne maar zo diep in mijn hart gedrongen. Terwijl ik worstel om in deze rijke wereld te overleven aan de ondergrens van het bestaan is het me onmogelijk niet de taal te laten stromen. Maar de taal doet soms pijn.

Ze vertelt me de verhalen van een vriend die in een cel gemarteld wordt en het leven niet zeker is en het kind dat met haar moeder en zusjes uit het krot is gezet bij een rivier in een stad waar andere regels gelden dan in mijn wereld. Ik hoor de verhalen van mensen zonder licht die ondanks hun verlies in staat zijn verder te leven en eigenlijk vooral mooier zijn geworden en ik geniet met een vriend van wat we ervaren. De volgende morgen wordt ik overspoeld door beelden van ver weg en ik voel de verhalen van het leed van diegenen die verjaagd zijn van wat hun ‘huis’ was, ze galmen door mijn hoofd. De hele dag voel ik me wankel en machteloos. Dan komt het bericht dat die vriend niet meer gemarteld wordt en ik besef dat hij desondanks een mens zonder toekomst is geworden.

Natuurlijk vertaald het zich in teksten want dat is nu eenmaal mijn ademtocht. Waar het leven naar mij lacht kan ik niet voorkomen dat die teksten over pijn gaan. Niet zozeer mijn pijn als de pijn van de wereld. De pijn die niet geweten wordt van mensen die niet gezien worden. Voor deze mensen is dit lied.

‘Kepen in mijn hart’

Terwijl de niet zienden zien
en ik slechts observeer
Wanneer de wereld sluimert
en ik me niet verweer
Gaan tijdens het zingen van het lied
mijn gedachten alweer
naar de man in pijn en zijn verdriet
in zijn cel doet alles zeer

Beelden kerven kepen in mijn hart
Geluiden echoën ongezegde pijn
Geuren herinneren aan smart
En toch zal er altijd nog liefde zijn

Wanneer ik dan alsnog ontwaak
uit mijn ongedroomde droom
Beelden zie van mensen verjaagd
wijzigt mijn hart opnieuw van toon
Het kind zonder een dak vandaag
zegt: ik weet niet waar ik woon
ik hoor haar o zo stille vraag
en toch hou ik mijn hart in toom

Beelden kerven kepen in mijn hart
Geluiden echoën ongezegde pijn
Geuren herinneren aan smart
En toch zal er altijd nog liefde zijn

Terwijl de niet zienden zien
heb ik een licht verloren
Wanneer de wereld sluimert
en niemand haar wil horen
Gaan tijdens het zingen van het lied
mijn gedachten steeds weer
naar dat kind met haar verdriet
en de man valt in zijn cel neer

Beelden kerven kepen in mijn hart
Geluiden echoën ongezegde pijn
Geuren herinneren aan smart
En toch zal er altijd nog liefde zijn
Toch zal er altijd nog liefde zijn

Alice © 2012

Skies over Chitwan.

Last year around this time (well almost) I was in Chitwan in Nepal. When I was there I did the usual and the unusual. The usual being the elephant ride, the unusual was falling in love with a wonderful Nepali women with whom I traveled. It didn’t last in spite of our mutual equal feelings, I suppose culture and personal change where in the way. Now, I am past the hurt and only cherish the memory.

The elephant ride however brought me some photos that are truly special. Because of the weather, the environment, the specific moment of the day and the company I was with. One photo in particular is cherished by me because of its composition and the amazing sky that brought a touch of mystery to the photo. As if the Chitwan Nature Reserve isn’t mystifying enough in itself. Here I share that photo with you showing the workers carrying their load past the impressive but unimpressed elephants close by under an exciting sky. Nothing was manipulated in this picture concerning composition and color. It is just like it was at that moment.

It was July 16, 2011 with my then love at my side on top of an elephant in the late afternoon.

photo: Alice Verheij © 2011  – ‘Chitwan Elephants’

Although there are a lot of wonderful things in my life right now, I do miss my days in Nepal and will keep my friends there in my heart. It has become my second home for as far as I am concerned and I will praise the day I can set foot on Nepal soil again. For sure I will return to Chitwan then.

Alice © 2012

‘Echte meisjes’ schofferen een samenleving.

Ik heb me lang ingehouden. Vooral omdat het nu eenmaal in Nederland niet populair is om een commerciële televisiezender aan te pakken op cultureel racisme. Omdat dat ook grote woorden zijn. Maar ik houdt het niet vol merk ik.

Sind enige tijd teistert RTL de buis met een programma over een groepje leeghoofdige meisjes die een soort competitie in stupiditeit met elkaar houden onder begeleiding van zweefcoach Ad Visser. Ad, de “spirituele” ex presentator van Top Pop die na allerlei zweverige omzwervingen sinds kort weer omarmt lijkt te zijn door een Nederlandse televisiezender. RTL in dit geval.

De ‘spirituele’ Ad Visser, het recent door RTL opgedoken presentator-fossiel.

De jongedames zijn naar Nepal afgereisd om op hun hakjes dwars door de Nepalese Hindu en Boeddhistische cultuur te stappen alsof ze een horde op hol geslagen olifanten zijn op weg naar de afdeling porcelein van het Rijksmuseum. In de verschillende afleveringen van het programma worden werkelijk alle aspecten van de Nepalese cultuur bij de kop gepakt, geridiculiseerd en geschoffeerd. En dat gebeurt op een wijze die werkelijk te erg is om aan te zien. Van enig respect voor Nepal, de Nepalezen en de Hindu cultuur die daar dominant is, blijkt geen sprake. Bij Pashupatinath waar de doden gecremeerd worden volgens Hindu gebruik wordt dat afgedaan als ranzig en vies. Tempels worden ontheiligd, mensen belachelijk gemaakt en er wordt zelfs midden op een dorpsplein door één van de dellen een ‘douche’ in bikini genomen waarbij ze zich vervolgens verbaasd dat de bevolking haar aanstaart alsof ze van Mars komt. Niet beseffend dat ze inderdaad van Mars komt.

Ad Visser treft natuurlijk de nodige blaam. Net als de producent overigens. Iemand die zogenaamd spiritueel is kan onmogelijk een complete sterk religieuze cultuur als de Nepalese betreden op de wijze die deze man doet. De schofferingen zijn niet van de lucht en alles wordt gereduceerd tot een spelletje waarin hij de ‘dames’ alle ruimte geeft om de Nepalese samenleving belachelijk te maken en af te schilderen als achterlijk en idioot. De ‘echte meisjes’ vinden alles wat ze tegenkomen ‘vies’, ‘ranzig’, ‘achterlijk’ en ‘gestoord’ en van enige redactie op hun uitspraken is geen sprake.

Voor een indruk van het RTL wanproduct surf naar: http://www.rtl.nl/reality/echtemeisjesopzoeknaarzichzelf/home/

Als op deze manier de Nederlandse samenleving zou worden aangepakt door een televisieproducent uit het buitenland zou de wereld te klein zijn en zouden er binnen de kortste keren kamervragen liggen en de verontwaardiging in de samenleving groot zijn.

Zoniet in Nepal. Mij ontgaat het waarom deze gekken van RTL, Ad Visser en zijn ‘echte meisjes’ niet bij kop en kont gepakt zijn en op de eerste de beste Arkefly vluchte retour Schiphol gestuurd zijn. Het zou volkomen terecht zijn als zij verwijderd waren uit het land want hoeveel beledigingen en schofferingen kan een bevolking hebben? Maar zo gaat het niet in Nepal dat de handen vol heeft aan een multitude van problemen waar Ad Visser en zijn crew geen oog voor hebben. De camera beperkt zich tot de kleurrijke kant van het land, de cliches, de folklore en die elementen in de plaatselijke cultuur die een westerling vreemd voorkomen. Want dat maakt immers lekkere televisie. Er wordt niet gekeken naar de kinder en vrouwenhandel, de abominabele staat van de infrastructuur en de dagelijkse struggle for life die de bevolking in het land voert.

De bevolking zelf komt vooral in beeld als primitieve halve wilden met allerlei gekke gebruiken.

RTL bedrijft met dit programma in mijn overtuiging regelrecht racisme. En dat kan tegenwoordig als het gaat om een beeld van de Hindu cultuur in het westen. Een dergelijke benadering zou onmogelijk zijn in Islamitische landen, Ad Visser zou binnen een paar uur (terecht) in de bajes belanden. Een dergelijke benadering is onmogelijk in Israel of in een Christelijk land. Maar als het om de zo ver van de gemiddelde Nederlander / RTL kijker afstaande Hindu cultuur is denkt men zich blijkbaar dit te kunnen veroorloven. En inderdaad, RTL komt er mee weg. Ad Visser ook.

Voor diegenen die het land en de cultuur een warm hart toedragen doen deze uitzending pijn. Ik voel me persoonlijk geraakt wanneer ik zie hoe er met Hollandse polderpoten door Nepal gebanjerd wordt zonder enig respect voor het land, de bevolking, de cultuur en de religie. Het toont mij hoe lelijk televisie in Nederland kan zijn wanneer die in handen is van bedrijven als RTL en mensen als Ad Visser. Walging is nog een veel te mild woord daarvoor. Het geld dat in deze productie gestoken is had veel beter gebruikt kunnen worden, bijvoorbeeld ter ondersteuning van de Nepalese samenleving.

Alice © 2012

Six women.


Video courtesy of Bhutan News Service, filmed at Beldangi 2 on April 29, 2012

Six Women

Six women who do not exist
Waiting till death hard fist
Self chosen fate

Because their life is no life
No joy, not even for a while
Too often betrayed

Eyes directed the other way
Don’t see their loss, hear their say
They are not there

No one stands in front and stays
Or takes away their pains
In defence

When police throws them in a car
Resistance broken, no help so far
In their despair

Treated as if without rights
Because politics always decides
To force them to live

Alice © 2012

I feel powerless in support of these women I’ve met and respect deeply for their perseverence.
It’s always the women that pay the price in international conflicts and international disregard. 

More information on how these women are treated, lied at and cheated can be found elsewhere on this website and on www.bhutannewsservice.com

Zes vrouwen

foto genomen op 29 april in het Beldangi 2 kamp: © 2012 Bhutan News Service

Zes vrouwen

Zes vrouwen die niet bestaan

Wachten tot zij sterven gaan

Zelfverkozen lot

Want het leven is geen leven

Geen vreugde, zelfs niet even

Te vaak belogen

Ogen de andere kant op gericht

Zien niet hun gebrek aan gewicht

Zij zijn er niet

Niemand stelt zich voor hun op

Geen ontneemt hun de strop

Ter verdediging

Als politie ze de wagen in drijft

Verzet verstart, de moed verstijft

In hun wanhoop

Worden zij behandeld als rechteloos

Omdat de politiek ten leste verkoos

Hun dwongen te leven

Alice (c) 2012