Freedom of speech in a country in distress.

The Netherlands is a country in distress. A land with a population and a government and parliament who in general do not longer understand the basics of democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of demontration. Liberties that are the very foundation of the international acknowledged human rights and the part of the root of a free democracy.

Why do I make such a judgement?

Well, let’s bring forward two incidents involving Dutch members of parliament to illustrate why I write this.

Geert Wilders
(PVV member of parliament – allowed to initiate a discriminating website and backed by the prime minister)

A couple of weeks ago the right wing political party, Freedom Party or PVV, started an initiative by bringing a website online were anyone is requested to file complaints about specific groups in Dutch society. Focussing on Polish and Eastern Europeans as being the cause of raising criminality figures, stealing jobs from the Dutch and things like that. At least according to the opinion of that party. Of course a large number of decent Dutch and almost the whole European Union reponded in anger. Justly so. But the prime minister (from the Liberal party) simply refused to denounce that PVV initiative. Even when urged to do so by almost all non PVV politicians in the Netherlands and many others in Europe. The effect of that of course is the démasqué of the Netherlands as a tolerant and non discriminating country. Simply because a political party that is supporting the minority Liberal-Christian Democrat government is allowed to discriminate and the prime minister backs that.

Somehow in this case some people lost focus on the value of freedom of speech as they seem to interpret that as the freedom to insult and discriminate. And some other politicians do not even want to stay away from that. Making this incident the ultimate devaluation of the universal right to freedom of speech. Thank you Mr. Wilders for helping to make this disgusting political attitude clear by initiating that flatout discriminating website that is still active to the disgrace of the Netherlands.

Sharon Gesthuizen
(Socialist Party member of parliament – arrested for protesting peaceful while carrying a coffin)

Today there was another incident. A Dutch member of parliament and Socialist Party was arrested during a public protest against the bad ecnomic policy of the Dutch postal service. The arrest was made by the police because she did not adhere to previously ‘agreed’ rules for that protest. Thing is that the police makes rules and simply does not accept that these rules are broken, even non violently. What did happen during that protest? Well, the deal was that it was to be held in a specific location in front of the parliament building and that the protestors were not allowed to bring a coffin with them during that protest. Reason for that being that the police finds carrying a coffin in a protest on the same day as the funeral of the children victims of a terrible bus accident is being held in Belgium, our neighbouring country, indecent.

This is interesting as in this case the police seems to be judging the way protesters (non violently) protest. Not based on the law but on the police’s opinion on what is decent. Something that is most certainly not in the capacity of the police to do. There is no legal basis for that and only in ‘police states‘ where democracy is not the basis the police force does things like that. The arrest was explicitly made for that reason according to the police spokes person. Now, of course it is not very sensitive of the protestors and this member of parliament in regard to the feelings of the victims of that bus accident and their relatives. But on the other hand this protest had absolutely nothing to do with that. The reaon for protesting was something completely different and the location of the protest in our country. So the police doesn’t allow a protest because of a memorial service in another country.
By all means this is a crazy thing. The police actually is limiting the freedom of speech and arresting a member of parliament without a legal basis. Therefore the police is breaching the democratic foundation and rules of this country.

So the simple conclusion is that right wing politicians have the liberty to openly insult and discriminate against groups in the Dutch society and even make an openly call for action to the population to do the same. Left wing politicians on the other hand who protest against an anti-social policy of a large company are arrested because of carrying harmles (though possibly shocking) objects in a peaceful protest are arrested by the police and held in custody for five hours.
Connecting these two incidents is a good example of the current state of democracy and freedom in the Netherlands. That state can be comprised into one four words long sentence:

Gone  – down – the – drain.

The Netherlands is a country in distress. Democracy is translated in the freedom to insult and dicriminate, vulnerable people, the arts, education, health care, public transport and many other important areas of society are being abolished and opposition is being silenced by the police on vague and unlawful grounds. But does anyone in parliament see this reality? Do the people see this? Does anyone get worried? Does anyone do anything against this moral downfall?

Alice © 2012

Advertenties

Badlands Netherlands.

It might be so that in western Europe we have trouble with the economy, but that’s not so special when seen on a global scale. And it might be so that we in western Europe have problems with people from outside our countries who come here to get a better deal than in their own country because there’s it’s worse. And it might very well be so that in my country, the Netherlands, there are thousands of Polish, Rumanian, Bulgarian and other eastern Europeans pushing on employment and by doing so make life more difficult for many Dutch born citizens. And it can also be that in politics people think they should protect their country and society.

But that doesn’t mean that it is anyway halfway humane or decent to set aside groups of people in our society as criminals and outlaws whose only goal is to be a pain in the ass of the ‘better part’ of society. It certainly doesn’t mean that a political party should be allowed to setup a hatred driven website where people can complain anonymously about Polish people and other easter Europeans who live and work in our country. And above all it is a travesty of decency that thesame politcal party does so while hiding behind freedom of speech and opinion. Because when that freedom means limiting the freedom of others it is not about freedom anymore but about discrimination.

In my country there’s a rights wing xenophobic and islamophobic political party led by Geert Wilders, a parlementarian from the south of the country, that does all of the above. The Freedom Party (PVV) set aside foreigners by habit. After continuously attacking Islamists they have now found another group to target: eastern Europeans working and living in the Netherlands. The PVV threw a website online where one can anonymously complain about foreigners from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Specifically targeting these groups as the groups that they feel are bringing all kinds of social problems, criminality and upheavel in our society. It’s an openly hostile act against many people in our society who are part of ethnic groups that have migrated to our country out of economic motives.

No matter how much truth there is in the complaints about for instance Moroccan youth or Polish workers and Bulgarian and Rumanians, it is simply unaccetable that such a hostile website is online.

Of course the judicial system has decided that the front man of that PVV party is free to state what he wants to state about specific groups in society. And of course there are problems with specific groups in society, but setting these groups aside and labelling them as troublemakers and criminals is short sighted and an unbelievable act of political indecency. Actually: it’s barbaric. The fact that this PVV party is allowed to play such an important role in Dutch politics is a shame on the Netherlands. It’s disgraceful to see that in my country people are treated the way they are by this PVV party. It’s shameful that politics and laws have no answer to this party of hatred. It’ disgusting to realize that thesame political parties that seem to oppose too much control on the internet doe not act firmly against that one political party that has lost all sense of decency. It’s degrading for the Dutch society as a whole that this party of xenophobic lunatics are even being listened to. It’s absolutely terrible to realize that because of this idiotic politics the Dutch society has transfomed itself in a selfish and xenophobic hostile society that rather allows crazy people to discriminate others than to defend the ones who are being set aside unjustly.

But that’s how it is today. The Netherlands has lost it’s innocence. It is not anymore a country that puts freedom for all at the top and that defendes the rights of any human being equally. Over the past few years this country has changed into a country where many don’t want to part of anymore. Including myself. I am disgusted of the politics and general mood in this society, I am sick of the selfishness and xenophobia and I am tired of the media who jump on every statements or action from crazy politicians. This country makes me somber and sick and has become for me a country to be ashamed of and not a country to be proud to be a citizin of. The Netherlands has become a sad country with a dark shadow hanging over it. A shadow of selfishnes, fear and xenophobia. A country where somehow many voters seem to want that, a country that has lost it’s status as a guiding nation, a safe haven for the vulnarable and a tolerant country and has turned into a place where decent people shouldn’t want to live. I for one do not. I do not see this country as my homeland, because it isn’t anymore. I have not changed but the country around me has changed into a filthy place poisened by hate. Hate brought by crazy politicians and strengthened by media who are only interested in the number of viewers everyday.

My biggest desire has become to leave this country that has become so mindless and short sightened as soon as possible. And if needed for good. I have lost hope that the Netherlands will ever become the beautiful country it once was. Because the people simply do not see nor understand what has become of their country. I for one am deeply ashamed of my country for it has changed into something that I can and will not relate to anymore. A xenophobic country ruled by populistic disturbed people and a prime minister who doesn’t have the decency to stop the nonsense and just says that he is not going to give any comments. How degrading!

Alice © 2012

How ‘Green Left’ sold it’s soul.

Green Left‘ is in the Netherlands the name for a political party that focusses on environmental issues, human rights and honest and social politics. It’s a traditional merger party of leftish political parties who on their own were too small to be significant in Dutch politics.

I like the ideas of that party.

But sometime ago, after years of growth and with a strong and relatively popular political leader (Femke Halsema), things changed. It all started when after the fall of the previous cabinet the party seemed unable to join into a coalition government to at last take government responsibility. Not much later the poitical leader retreated and a new leader was chosen. Jolanda Sap, trained by her predecessor, stepped into the politcal arena. And fell flat on her face quickly.

Three topics made her break down: the continuous upheavel of that strange right wing fascist like party PVV that somehow became stronger and stronger and even got government responsibility as a cabinet ‘supporting’ party, thereby making a minority central/right wing coalition possible. Sap and her party still haven’t found a good answer to that disaster. And the second thing is that it is impossible to buy popularity by using populistic approaches if you’re not build for it. An overacted scene in the parliament made Sap look like a juvenile fool playing out a misplaced and bad acted plug pulling metaphore.

But mayde the most difficult topic was the half hearted support of an armed mission to train police forces in the province of Kunduz in Afghanistan. After all, the Green Left is by all means and purposes an anti militaristic party. If not in policy than at least in it’s membership demography. But political forwardness forced the party in an uneasy support of that policing mission that the Dutch government wanted to see (in support of the US effort on getting control of the Afghan and Iraq crises). The Green Left in 2011 supported a militaristic armed mission in Afghanistan although a lot of their followers are appaled by that.

Today the party committed political suicide.

At the party’s congress today that same Kunduz mission was scrutinized and in the end a vote was taken on prelonging that mission. And although many party members were against it, the elected parliamentarians were in favor of it. For political reasons. And they won, after debates the party members at the congress meeting supported their parliamentarians in their choice not to demand the government to bail out of that supposed to be non violent, non fighting policing mission. Because doing otherwise mide split the party. But in reality that split is already there and some important party members have already left for better grounds.

And the party’s credibility flew right out of the window. It sold it’s soul to the devil (last year), but the devil came back for more so it just did it again. And so, Green Left in the Netherlands is in reality nothing else than a government supporting week opposition party without a backbone. Sometimes straight forward politics is more difficult in the Dutch parliament than in the European Parliament or so it seems.

Alice © 2012