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December 22 2013

The Challenges of Family Healthcare in Apatou, French Guiana

Henri Dumoulin with a child at the PMI center of Apatou, French Guiana (with his permission)

Henri Dumoulin, Global Voices contributor, recalls his stay in Apatou, French Guiana, located in the heart of the Amazon Forest. He explains how, as the physician of Mother and Child Health Protection programme there, he had to rely on the informal colloboration with the Suriname health system and navigate the multilingual setting of the community :

I shall be in the “Apoema tapu gezondheid zentrum” on November 28, 29 to work again with the same team, to vaccinate all people living on both sides of the borders in this franco–Surinamese archipelago. It appears that nobody was aware of our coming [..] So the account of injections was lesser than expected (109 in one day). Amalia [the coordinator]  send a radio call on Thursday morning and people came progressively [..] A little worried about the reaction of my boss regarding my way of managing our local health problems and crossing borders ..

November 22 2013

Racism, the United Nations, and the Dutch Saint Nicholas Tradition

Dibujo infantil que representa a San Nicolás y Zwarte Pete. Imagen de Vera de Kok en Wikimedia Commons con licencia CC by SA 3.0

A child's painting representing Saint Nicholas and Black Pete. Image by Vera de Kok on Wikimedia Commons with license CC by SA 3.0 

The children of Belgium, The Netherlands, and other European countries wait with impatience for the arrival of Saint Nicholas on December 6 because in those countries he is responsible – like Santa Claus or the Three Wise Men – for bringing them gifts if they have behaved well. But this year, the shadow of racism hangs over this beautiful tradition.

Saint Nicholas, according to an old song, arrives from Spain in a boat, and during the entire night he runs from one house to another on his donkey accompanied by his helper, Zwarter Piet (Black Pete, in Dutch) or Père Fouettard (Father lasher, in French). This character is a young black man, represented by white people with painted black faces, wigs, and clothing like the ones used in the 16th century. Zwarte Piet is the “bad guy” that hands out coal to the children who haven't been good. However, as Alix Guillard says on her blog Me in Amsterdam [FR],

Aux Pays-Bas, alors que la sévérité envers les enfants n'est plus de mise, on n'a pas abandonné ce personnage. Mais il s'est transformé en joyeux drille sympatique qui amuse les enfants, beaucoup plus que ce vieil évèque un peu trop rigide.

In The Netherlands, although severity with children is no longer admissible, they have not abandoned the character. But he has transformed into a nice, good natured urchin who amuses the children much more than that old Bishop that is perhaps too rigid.

Diverse groups have protested for years against the way in which the tradition treats Zwarte Piet, calling it racist. The black face of Zwarte Piet, doesn't have a clear origin: there are those who say he is a Moor that arrived from Spain with Saint Nicholas, others maintain that the black face is because he enters houses through the chimney, or that it also could be a reminder of slavery in the colonies, or even the Devil himself.

This year the Dutch government received a letter from the United Nations Working Group on People of African Descent. In the letter, the group requested that the Dutch government respond to accusations of racism.

A member of the group, Verene Shepherd, a Jamaican, actually suggested in a radio interview a radical change for Saint Nicholas, as stated in Le Monde [FR]:

Verene Shepherd, componente del grupo que inició la polémica. Foto del blog de Arjen Wilbers

Verene Shepherd, member of the group that started the polemic. Photo from the blog of Arjen Wilbers. 

si j'habitais aux Pays-Bas, je m'opposerais à la Saint-Nicolas (…) Cela ne devrait pas exister au 21e siècle. C'est offensant et scandaleux. Après tout, quel est le problème avec le père Noël ? Pourquoi devriez-vous avoir deux ‘Santa Claus’ ?”

If I lived in The Netherlands, I would oppose the Saint Nicholas celebration. It should not exist in the 21st century. It is offensive and scandalous. After all, what is the problem with Father Christmas? Why do they have to have two “Santa Claus”?

In Belgium and Holland, these comments were interpreted as an illustration of complete ignorance of the Saint Nicholas tradition, considered the precursor to Santa Claus and a severe lack of respect to a very beloved tradition in those countries. Shepherd's weds provoked an authentic alluvium of reactions across the internet with messages like that of jicé on [FR]:

Bravo Madame Verene Shepherd !!! . . Grace à une idiote comme vous, Marine Le Pen vient encore de prende 10 pts dans les sondages !!!

Bravo, Ms. Verene Shepherd! Thanks to an idiot like yourself, Marine Le Pen ends up winning 10 more points in the polls!

[Marine Le Pen is the french candidate of the Front National political part of the extreme right]

On Facebook, the page Pietitie [Dutch], launched on October 22, 2013 to defend the Zwarte Piet tradition, has about 2,200,000 “likes.” Peter Udo left the following comment [Dutch] on the page:

Berichtje voor de VN: Is er niet ergens een oorlog, hongersnood of genocide gaande waar jullie je beter druk om kunnen maken??

Note to the UN: Isn't there a war, famine, or genocide anywhere where your work is needed more?

San Nicolás, rodeado de sus ayudantes Zwarte Piet, saluda desde el barco que lo trae de España. Foto de 12Danny12 en Wikimedia Commons con licencia copyleft.

Saint Nicholas, surrounded by his helpers Zwarte Piete, waves from the boat that brought him from Spain. Photo by 12Danny12 on Wikimedia Commons with copyleft license. 

The debate runs the risk of dividing society and accuses the groups on the extreme left of taking political advantage. However, others have preferred to downplay the issue, and look for judicious reasons to maintain the tradition without offending anyone. The actor Erik van Muiswinkel, who has played the character for years, wrote in [Dutch]:

Zwarte Piet is een vrolijk relikwie uit racistische tijden, dat staat wel vast. (…)Ik vond het altijd wel mooi dat zo’n apert politiek incorrecte traditie, witte mensen die zich zwart schminken (…), in Nederland juist wel kon. (…) hij hoort bij Sint als Sancho Panza bij Don Quichot.

Zwarte Piete is a happy relic of racist times, certainly. (…) I always thought that it was fine that a tradition that is so politically incorrect as a white person with a face painted black (…) was possible in The Netherlands. (…) [Zwarte Piet] is with Saint Nicholas as Sancho Panza was with Don Quijote.

Barbara Woestenburg-Buijnsters left this comment [Dutch] on the Pietitie on Facebook:

Zwarte Piet is een schoorsteenveger en Sinterklaas is een Turk en ze wonen in Spanje en dat vieren wij in Nederland – het is gewoon het beste integratie feestje aller tijden!

Zwarte Piet is a chimney sweeper and San Nicolas is a Turk, living together in Spain, and that is what we celebrate in the Netherlands: The best celebration of integration that exists!

Meanwhile, the UN has settled the debate firmly disavowing the working group that created the controversy. Thus the Belgian representative to UNESCO, Marc Jacobs, expressed:

[Verene Shepherd] is nothing more than a consultant who has abused the UN name for her personal objectives in the media (…). The four signatories of the letter do not belong to a competent body of the UNESCO, they only used the letterhead, namely the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

May 17 2013

Catalonia: Caution about Spain's Hostile Ways

A civic statement on Col·lectiu Emma (@CollectiuEmma)'s blog criticizes the way the Spanish government is dealing with the political situation in the region of Catalonia, where 55 % of the population favors independence [ca] from Spain, according to an official poll. The statement explains the “strategy of fear” and other “hostile” arguments, and claims for “a friendly separation, preferably under international supervision and with external support for both parties.” The post is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Russian, PortugueseItalian and Dutch.

January 29 2013

Spain: Catalonia's “Declaration of Sovereignty” Translated into 36 Languages

On January 23, 2013, amid rising tensions with the Spanish government, the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority vote a Declaration of Sovereignty [ca] — seen widely as a prelude to a referendum on independence, expected to be held by 2014. Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] has been able to publish the document in thirty-six languages.

December 24 2012

Promoting Recycling in Macedonia

The tree makers. Photo by @teksega, used with permission.

Continuing the tradition that started last year (en, mk, nl, es), the Macedonian Twitter community has erected a new Christmas Tree made of plastic bottles (mk, mk, photos 1, 2, 3) in Skopje City Park in order to raise awareness of the importance of recycling. The event was again organized around the hashtag #елкамк (Macedonian for ‘fir tree mk') and open source instructions [mk], announced [mk] three weeks in advance by several bloggers. The tree will be purchased by a local recycling company and the money donated to charity.

October 02 2012

Macedonia: Skopje Zoo Improvements Continue

A bear in Skopje Zoo. Photo by Vasil Buraliev, used with permission.

“Attention! Electric fence” sign and a bear at Skopje Zoo. Photo by Vasil Buraliev, used with permission.

Vasil Buraliev blogged [mk] about further improvements of the Skopje Zoo, noted in 2010 by Global Voices [en, mk, sq, nl, zh, zh, es]. (more…)

August 15 2012

France: Stories of Everyday Sexism

[All links in French unless otherwise stated]

After being harassed and insulted by men in the streets of Brussels, Belgian student Sofie Peeters made a hidden-camera film [nl] to denounce the male chauvinism experienced every day by unaccompanied women in the streets.

Her film and its subject have caused controversy in Belgium and France. Under the hashtag #harcelementderue (street harassment), French women testify to the verbal abuse and sexual harassment that they have been subjected to in the street.

"<em>Délivrez-moi du mâle</em>" (Deliver me from man), wall stencil by French artist MissTic, photo by xtof on Flickr, used under Creative Common license

Délivrez-moi du mâle” (Deliver me from man), wall stencil by French artist MissTic, photo by xtof on Flickr, used under Creative Common license

In her article ‘Machisme ordinaire : non messieurs, dire “t'es bonne” n'est pas un compliment‘ (Everyday Machismo: no, gentlemen, ‘you're hot' is not a compliment), Dom B. thanks Sofie Peeters for the debate she has sparked:

Le documentaire d'une étudiante belge, intitulé “Femme de la rue“, expose via une caméra cachée, le harcèlement sexuel dont elle est victime chaque jour. C'est grâce à elle que le débat a été relancé.

A Belgian student's documentary, titled ‘Femme de la rue‘ [street woman], exposes via hidden camera the sexual harassment she suffers every day. It is thanks to her that the debate has been reopened.

This video by RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge Francophone, the public broadcasting organization of the French Community of Belgium) includes some excerpts from the film [Dutch and French with English subtitles]:

Blogger Sandrine notes that in France too:

Le harcèlement de rue est une réalité quotidienne pour quasiment toutes les femmes.

Street harassment is a daily reality for practically all women.

As evidence, one woman's account posted on the webzine madmoizelle, in which she lists examples of crude comments, propositions, and insults she has received in the streets, has more than 10,000 ‘likes' on Facebook:

Le harcèlement de rue, ou le fait de se faire aborder, voire verbalement agresser par des inconnus, sort enfin de l’ombre.

Street harassment - being approached or even verbally assaulted by strangers - is finally coming out of the shadows.

Men do not understand, or misunderstand. In fact, the hashtag #harcelementderue was created because of this tweet by French Twitter user @mathieuge who, like many men, was skeptical towards the controversy:

A noter sur la fille belge insultée dans la rue que je n'ai vu aucune fille se plaindre d'avoir eu à subir le même traitement en France…… Ce qui me laisse à croire que ça demeure un cas extrême relativement isolé.

A note about the Belgian girl insulted in the streets, I've never seen a girl complain about the same treatment in France…… Which leads me to believe that this is a relatively isolated, extreme case.

@valerieCG reacted by sending out a call for personal accounts:

@valerieCG : Si vous avez été victime de harcèlement dans la rue merci de le dire via #harcelementderue pour montrer à @mathieuge l'importance du truc.

@valerieCG: If you have been a victim of street harassment, please say so via #harcelementderue to show @mathieuge how prevalent it is.

@Agnesleglise quipped:

@Agnesleglise : @valerieCG @mathieuge que celles qui n'en ont jamais été victime se signalent, ça ira plus vite (si il y en a) #harcelementderue

@Agnesleglise : @valerieCG @mathieuge those who have never been victims of it should declare themselves, it will go faster (if there are any) #harcelementderue

Two hours after its introduction, the hashtag was the fourth most trending topic in the French Twitter community, and one week later, an avalanche of testimonies continue to pour in, along with many articles reflecting on the issue. Note that in France, ever since the DSK Affair [en], women have been speaking out and campaigning, using Twitter hashtags as a driving force, with the press then taking up the story.

Reactions from men make it clear that they are not aware of the problem, as @cha_matou points out:

@cha_matou: Ne vous étonnez pas qu'on ne parle jamais du #harcèlementderue [quand on lit sur Twitter] :

- @El_Mehdiiii: C'est quoi ce hashtag #HarcelementDeRue, certains voit une belle femme, ils tentent leur chance. C'est naturel et propre à chaque espèce. ET

- @LuneHolmes: y a agression et agression. Un gars qui passe à coté de toi et qui lâche un “salope”, c'est pas une agression, désolée.

@cha_matou: Don't be surprised that #harcelementderue is never talked about [when you see tweets like these]:

- @El_Mehdiiii:  What's this #HarcelementDeRue hashtag, some guys see a beautiful woman, they try their luck. It's natural and specific to each species. AND

- @LuneHolmes: Assault is assault. A guy walking by you and letting out a “slut” is not an attack, sorry.

Sexist commentators or those downplaying the issue have been put in their place, for example by @Mel036:

@Mel036: Le débile qui comprend rien au #HarcelementDeRue et croit qu'on est scandalisée par la drague. Non, par les insultes et agressions verbales …Et les mecs, on a le droit de penser que la rue n'est pas un terrain de chasse, fait pour draguer la 1ère nana qui passe?

Wall stencil "<em>Dans la rue"</em> (in the street) - Photo by Yann Seitek on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license

Wall stencil “Dans la rue” (in the street) - Photo by Yann Seitek on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license

@Mel036: The moron who understands nothing about #HarcelementDeRue and thinks we're outraged by flirting. No, it's the insults and verbal attacks. …And guys, aren't we allowed to think that the street isn't a hunting ground, made for hitting on the first chick who walks by?

After the personal experiences, Twitter became a forum for reflection. Why are women always verbally abused and insulted in the streets? One of many responses from @SexismAndTheCT:

@SexismAndTheCT: Le #harcelementderue sert à rappeler aux femmes “seules” qu'elles sont des objets et que leur sécurité est un privilège, non un droit.

#Harcelementderue is used to remind 'single' women that they are objects and their safety is a privilege, not a right.

Bonnequestion suggests:

Mais ce n’est pas de la drague. Les hommes en question n’ont probablement même pas une vraie intention d’avoir une relation (sexuelle ou pas) avec cette jeune femme. C’est de la domination pure, l’idée que les femmes sont disponibles et qu’il n’y a aucun problème à les insulter.

But this is not flirting. The men in question probably do not even have any real intention of having a relationship (sexual or not) with this young woman. It is pure domination, the idea that women are available and there is no problem with insulting them.

To counter remarks blaming immigrants for the majority of insults in the streets, @elodieesc gives a reminder that harassment is as rampant on popular streets as it is in nice neighbourhoods and on public transit:

@elodieesc:”#harcelementderue entre le gars qui te susurre des insanités en plein Neuilly, le tripoteur de genoux du RER et d'autres à oublier …

#harcelementderue between the guy whispering insanities to you right in the middle of Neuilly[-sur-Seine, an upscale suburb of Paris], the knee-groper on the RER [public transit in Paris] and others to forget …

@Oniromanie adds:

@Oniromanie: “Un élément tout bête : ceux qui trainent dans la rue, ce sont les pauvres. Les riches harcèlent dans les salons ou à l'Assemblée [nationale].

Something stupid: the poor are the ones who hang out in the streets. The wealthy harass in lounges or in the [National - en] Assembly.

To which Dom B.  responds:

Aux sociologues, philosophes, politiques, spécialistes d'analyser et expliquer quelle part tient la religion, par le poids des frustrations sexuelles qu'elle impose dans ses interdits, par rapport à un déficit d'éducation, de vivre-ensemble ou de différences culturelles.

It's up to sociologists, philosophers, politicians, and specialists to analyze and explain how much of it has to do with religion [en] - because of the burden of sexual frustration imposed by its taboos - compared with a lack of education, social cohesion or cultural differences.

As for @Hans_Bod, he finally understands why women in France do not like to be approached in the streets:

@Hans_Bod: Merci à #harcelementderue maintenant je sais pourquoi quand je dis bonjour à une inconnue en France j'ai l'impression de la violer.

@Hans_Bod: Thanks to #harcelementderue now I know why when I say hello to a stranger in France I feel like I am violating her.

The controversy comes as the president of the French Republic has ratified a new sexual harassment law [en - full text of law in French here]. On August 3, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women's Rights and Government spokesperson, posted this tweet:

@najatvb#harcèlementderue: la nouvelle loi s’appliquera partout. La libération de la parole des femmes est importante. Restons mobilisé(e)s !

@najatvb#harcèlementderue: the new law will be applied everywhere. Freedom of speech for women is important. Let's stay mobilized!

Mobilized, French women will have to stay: the blog Les Martiennes teaches us that sexists do not take vacations, Crêpe Georgette wonders if antisexist education courses should be taught starting in nursery school, and the site Génération Réactive tries to go further in asking this question:

… et si finalement, les femmes étaient « responsables » de la transmission des inégalités homme-femme par l’éducation différenciée qu’elles donnent  à leurs enfants ? On ne serait plus seulement dans la victimisation et les hommes ne seraient pas entièrement responsables de tous les maux …

… what if, in the end, women were “responsible” for the transmission of gender inequalities through the differentiated instruction they give to their children? We would not just be victims anymore and men would not be entirely responsible for all evil…

April 08 2011

Video: Checking out the BOBs Video Channel Nominees

Written by Juliana Rincón Parra

The Deutsche Welle International Blog Awards, known as The BOBs are one of the most important awards for content producers online. One of their 17 categories is the award for Best Video Channel and today we'll get to know a bit more about the 11 nominees you can vote for.

Yaqoob in Japan is the videoblog of Jacoub Al-Slaise, a Bahraini living in Nagoya, Japan. In his video posts he tells a bit about his cross-cultural experiences: sightseeing and feeding deer in Nara, walking around the city, flower arranging, sumo and even a guide to having babies in Japan. This next video [ar] has Yacoob showing us around his apartment:

From Bangladesh comes Unnayan TV, an online TV channel featuring many documentaries on the topics of development, cultural issues, education and human rights. For example, this short piece speaks about rickshaws, explaining their cultural importance and how new legislation is affecting rickshaw pullers' who now have an even harder time making a decent living. Or this next video, showing how although there are laws and embargoes to products made using child labor, this is still pervasive in Bangladesh:

Stands with a Fist is a nominee from Iran, selected due to the channel's importance during the Green Revolution in Iran. The most watched video of his site is We are all Majid Tavakoli. After the police detained student leader Maji Tavakoli, the media showed pictures of him dressed in female garb, the police said he had put on the hijab to be able to escape arrest. Iranian citizens believed that he had been dressed that way to ridicule and discredit him so to show their support they took pictures and made videos of themselves wearing head scarves as well:

Shawn Ahmed of The Uncultured Project has been featured several times here in Global Voices as well: his humanitarian work in Bangladesh has inspired many. Whether it is doing disaster relief with funds raised through online activism, working to get people clean water or helping build schools, his heart is in the right place and his videos help bring the message home. In this next video, he tackles the important subject of “eve teasing” and how this sexual harassment is, in a girl's own words a terrible psychological torture that makes them weak: [ru] is from Russia, and according to the description on the BOBs' website it is the place where people get together to see and discuss investigative reports, interviews, human rights issues, opinions from opposition politicians and more. In this video, naturalists try to stop the cutting down of some trees in Moscow:

Грани-ТВ: Химки: новые бои

Isla Presidencial (Presidential Island) is a web series by Venezuelan animators of false news outlet, who decided to see what would happen if presidents from different Latin American nations ended up in a deserted island after a presidential summit. The Presidential Island is quite successful not only in Venezuela, but also the rest of Latin America. In the latest episode [es], after fixing a radio they overhear that poverty, debt and other issues in their countries have been eliminated after their disappearance the information gets interrupted by a mayday call from a plane which crashes on the island. They decide to check out the wreckage and later meet with other heads of state who appeared on the island as a time vortex forced them to cross themselves in the past and future… and then we see a mysterious character who may just be the mastermind behind this all.

Lao Hu Miao (Tiger Temple) videoblogs from behind the Firewall of China about life, culture and human rights in China. Citizen journalism, interviews and road trip videos showing the sights around Beijing fill the channel. Like this next video showing the Dongyang Hill Temple:

After the Haiti earthquake lots of media focused on the region, but as the time passed, foreign interest began to wane and advances in the reconstruction of Haiti stopped making the international news. That's where Goudou-Goudou [fr] comes in: with a team of journalists and media specialists they've managed to keep people informed about what is going on in Haiti, and what the situation is like more than 1 year after the Earthquake. For example, this video on Plas Timoun an initiative that is using art to help support the psychological health of kids still living in the tent villages.

L’art, une réponse au cauchemar des enfants… por AsianProjekt

Engage Media focuses on the Asian Pacific region, and curates video content submitted by people in the region who try to bring attention to their issues, concerns and causes. Like this documentary done by an artistic group which is painting murals around Yogyakarta in Indonesia, for example:

Project Germany follows two filmmakers as they travel around Germany and interview people they meet along the way until they reach the 50 interview mark. So far there are 9 interviews on the site, and this is the latest one:

Rodrigo Leitão from Brazil has previous experience as a cultural reporter, and he uses it to his advantage in his YouTube channel where he showcases the lives of Brazilians. In this video [pt] he visits Sebastião Martins Vieira, a pen salesman who has been in business 53 years and who obviously is passionate about what he does as he shares his fountain pen collection and his thoughts:

These are all 11 nominees for the Best of Blogs Video Channel Award: did you like one in particular? Let them know your appreciation by voting for them and getting them closer to winning the audience award. Voting closes on April 11th, and you can cast one vote each 24 hours.

[disclosure: Jacoub Al-Slaise is a Global Voices contributor who has been very active in reporting the recent developments in Bahrain]

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

March 14 2011

Japan: Earthquake, “how to protect yourself” in 30 languages

Written by Scilla Alecci

TUFS students launched a website with advices on risk management translated in more than 30 languages.
The website provides “a basic guide in several languages to what to do when you have to evacuate because of the earthquake.”

January 29 2011

Netherlands: Dutch-Iranian woman executed in Iran

Written by Percy Balemans

Zahra Bahrami

Zahra Bahrami

According to Dutch and international news media, Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami has been executed in Iran after having been found guilty of drug-related crimes and sentenced to death on 2 January. She was arrested on 27 December 2009 when she reportedly attended an anti-government demonstration during a visit to Tehran.

The Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran wrote a letter to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs [en] in September 2010 urging them to make demands to Iran for her release. Amnesty International's Dutch section also took up Bahrami's cause [nl] under strong suspicion that Bahrami never received a fair trial. This morning, they reported the news of her execution on Twitter:

Nederlands-Iraanse Zahra Bahrami in Iran geëxecuteerd door ophanging (via @nrc) #doodstraf #bahrami…

Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami executed in Iran by hanging (via [Dutch newspaper] @nrc) #deathpenalty #bahrami

Dutch Twitter users reacted to the news.

@voetvaeg writes [nl]:

SCHOKKEND: ondertussen heeft Iran de Nederlandse Zahra #Bahrami geëxecuteerd door ophanging!

SHOCKING: meanwhile Iran has executed Dutch Zahra #Bahrami by hanging!

Some people, like @VrolijkRechts, wanted to do more than just tweet [nl] about it:

Beste mensen. Hoe laat zijn jullie bij de Iraanse ambassade om jullie te laten horen? Of blijven wij boos twitteren? #Zahra #Bahrami

Come on everyone, what time shall we meet at the Iranian embassy to raise our voices? Or will we just post angry tweets about it? #Zahra #Bahrami

Others, such as @bobbraak, called on the Dutch government to take action [nl]:

vanmiddag om 17:00 uur gaat er vlucht naar tehran. Uri, die kan de iraanse ambassadeur mooi nog halen! #bahrami

There's a flight to Tehran at 5pm today. Uri [first name of Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs], the Iranian ambassador still has plenty of time to catch it! #bahrami

@Leon_Bosma puts things into perspective [nl]:

Veel verontwaardiging over #Bahrami. Zonder af te willen doen, wat maakt één staatsmoord zo belangrijk versus bv. de ruim 30 in #Egypte?

A lot of indignation about #Bahrami. Without taking anything away from this case, what makes one state murder this important compared to more than 30 in #Egypt?

@BartNijman is skeptical [nl] about the case:

Als op drugsdelicten in Iran de doodstraf staat, waarom zou voor een Iraans-Nederlandse dan wat anders moeten gelden? #bahrami #iran

If drugs-related crimes are a capital offence in Iran, then why shouldn't this apply to an Iranian-Dutch woman? #bahrami #iran

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran posted a reaction from Bahrami's lawyer [en]:

I am shocked. I was absolutely not informed about this. They should have informed her lawyer of the execution, but I had no idea. I don’t know what to say. Just that I am shocked.

On Saturday afternoon, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reported [nl] that the Iranian ambassador in the Netherlands has confirmed that Bahrami has indeed been executed, upon which the Netherlands immediately froze all ties with Iran. The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uri Rosenthal, calls the case “a scandal, committed by a barbarian regime”.

Twitter hashtag: #bahrami

October 27 2010

Ecuador: Seeking Those Responsible for September 30 Uprising

By Milton Ramirez

After almost one month since the September 30 police strike, things in Ecuador have calmed down. The police uprising ultimately worked for the troops because they got what they wanted: Leaders of the National Assembly, including those from the same political party of President Correa, didn’t take into consideration the reforms sent by Correa that would reduce benefits, and the project became law in a process that many called “automatic [es],” without further discussion.

Even though the cause for discontent from members of the Ecuadorian police and some members of the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE by its initials in Spanish) was solved, investigations to determine who is responsible for the September 30 uprising have continued. So far, 14 members of the police are being processed by the Attorney General.

President Correa, on his Saturday broadcast from Ichimbia in the capital, Quito, said the main actor of the strike has been identified as former police sergeant Luis Aníbal Martínez Vilañez [es]. Spanish Readers Blog [es] writes that the former sergeant didn’t show up to a court audience he was to attend for alleged human rights violations. Presumably, Martinez has already left Ecuador.

In Ecuador, with or without the police, the thieves carry out their business; but Ecuafriki’s blogger [es] explains that on that September 30, the thieves were the ones who benefited the most:

Así es, mientras la policía estuvo en todo el movimiento para reclamar sus derechos, un grupo (bastante grande) de ladrones y vándalos salieron a las calles a hacer de las suyas. Cuando el gato duerme, los ratones se pasean (como dijo alguien por ahí, se enteraron que no había policía, cogieron sus mejores gorras planas, sus pantalones bajos, sus mejores cuchillos y salieron a disfrutar de la libertad…)

So while police members were present throughout the entire movement to demand their rights, one group (quite large) of thieves and vandals took to the streets to make them theirs. When the cat's away the mice will walk (as someone said out there, they learned that there were no police, took their best flat hats, their fat pullovers, their best knives and went out to enjoy the freedom …)

Latin America has been receiving a lot of attention from international media this past month: Mario Vargas Llosa and his Nobel Prize in Literature, the rescue of 33 miners in Chile and of course the police strike in Ecuador. Hoy y Ahora’s blogger [es] doubts Ecuadorians could repeat the words by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera after the rescue of the 33 miners: “We did it the Chilean way”

No podemos basar la situación de un país en un solo hecho, en un solo triunfo o fracaso. Pero en esta ocasión, estos sucesos parecerían revelar mucho de nuestra realidad. En el caso ecuatoriano, una triste y decepcionante realidad.

We can not base the status of a country on a single event, on a single success or failure. But this time, these events might seem to reveal much of our reality. In the case of Ecuador, a sad and disappointing reality.

Politica y Sociedad [es] is another blog who tries to explain the irrationality of the troop's salary claims. Blogger Luis Alberto Mendieta blames right-wing Ecuadorians for the events of September 30:

Bastó mencionarles que les quitarían el biberón para que sus intereses egoístas pisoteen la racionalidad y el patriotismo… Intento de golpe de estado porque les quitaron un BONO… Y de yapa, como animales, querían matar al que, con toda razón, propone quitarles la teta. Si eso es ‘pueblo’, el concepto de sociedad HUMANA vale un carajo, porque bien podría mañana matar a mi vecino por un plato de fritada, y sería un excelente ejemplar de ‘pueblo’, porque no me convidó un poquito…

It was enough to mention that they would be removed from the [baby] bottle for their selfish interests to trample rationality and patriotism … A coup attempt because a BONUS was taken away … And for good measure, like animals, they wanted to kill the one who rightly proposes to take the baby bottle away from them. If that is the ‘people', the human concept of society is worth nothing [expletive], because tomorrow I might kill my neighbor for a plate of fried pork, and I would be an excellent example of the ‘people', because he did not share a little with me…

President Correa has pointed out that the brain behind “30S” — a hashtag created on Twitter to follow the outcomes– was former President Lucio Gutierrez, but that the only person who should be incarcerated for now is Anibal Martinez. Nobody else is paying for the incident that left Ecuadorians deeply divided and suspecting one another, while going through a rising economic crisis. There is no agreement on whether this was an attempt to take Correa’s presidency or whether it was only a police protest.

If you ask a member of Correa’s opposition they will say that it was self-kidnapping and a coup d’etat created by Correa himself [es]. But if you ask a sympathizer, they will agree that in effect if was a bloody intent to overthrow the president [es].

Yet others, like Cristian Espinosa from Cobertura Digital [es], try to find the words that will best describe September 30, 2010 in Ecuador: “Attempted murder? Kindapping, coup d'etat, self-overthrow, rebellion, conspiracy …?” Almost a month later, Ecuadorians are still trying to figure out what exactly happened that day, as this video (in Spanish with Dutch subtitles) from shows:

Thumbnail image by flickr user Simon Schultz, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.

October 14 2010

Netherlands: Latin American Diaspora Women Unite

By Juliana Rincón Parra

The European foundation organized a summit for migrant Latin American and Caribbean women in Amsterdam, where they discussed issues such as their rights, the changing nature of families and remittances. LA Ruta brings us a short video recording some of their experiences.

During the event, the women participated in different workshops. In the first one they discussed gender, migration and development, and how their rights have transformed or changed according to their new migratory status. In the second workshop, they explored remittances and agreed on the need to raise awareness on the role of women in sending money to their home countries. In the last workshop, they discussed the new family structures that have been created due to migrations, and the importance of Latin America as it has given rise to a new family structure called “transnational family”, and how family law and family rights should change or adapt to this new context.

Women who went to the encounter had diverse reasons. As they are interviewed in the video they list a few, such as the need to inform themselves, to socialize, to learn and also to discover new ways in which to adapt to a new culture without forgetting their previous one.

Another meeting of migrant Latin American Women was organized in Spain, inspired in the successful experience of the one in Netherlands.  Diaspora Solidaria describes the inspiring results:

La agradable sorpresa la constituyó el ver a tantas mujeres comprometidas seriamente con el desarrollo de un movimiento de mujeres que traspase regiones y naciones

The pleasant surprise was in seeing so many women seriously committed to the development of a movement of women transcending regions and nations.

June 17 2010

Netherlands: Two women arrested at World Cup for promoting wrong beer

By Percy Balemans

Two Dutch women working for Netherlands beer company Bavaria were arrested during the World Cup Netherlands-Denmark match in South Africa on Monday for promoting a beer that is not an official World Cup sponsor. The women formed part of a group of about 30 models wearing orange dresses, the so-called “Dutch Dress”, which are also sold as part of a gift pack by the Dutch beer brand (you can see many photos on the Bavaria flickr page).

Free the Babes Twitter Homepage

A screen shot of a Twitter account to 'Free the Babes'

All the women were ejected from the stadium during the match on Monday. The two Dutch women, who were considered the “leaders” of the campaign, were arrested early Wednesday morning and charged with merchandising offenses. They were released on a 10,000 Rand (around 1000 Euro) bail on Wednesday afternoon; and their case will be heard on 22 June. According to several news reports, they risk a six-month prison sentence for violating a law that prohibits the unauthorised marketing activities in or near the World Cup stadiums.

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, commented on the case [nl] on his Twitter feed in reply to questions by Dutch Twitter users:

NL ambassade heeft Z-A om opheldering gevraagd, celstraf vanwege het dragen van oranje jurkjes is onzinnig @willemboele

The Dutch embassy has demanded an explanation from SA, a prison sentence for wearing an orange dress is absurd @willemboele

He also suggested that FIFA battle it out in court [nl]:

Als FIFA een probleem heeft met oranje jurkjes kunnen ze dat juridisch uitvechten met het bedrijf, arrestatie is buiten proportie @edwinv73

If FIFA has a problem with orange dresses, they can battle it out in court with the company, arresting people is out of proportion @edwinv73

Twitter user @edwinv73 replied [nl]:

@MaximeVerhagen het is wel goed voor de economie. Bavaria gaat wel nu wereld veroveren. Succes met het vrij krijgen

@MaximeVerhagen on the other hand, it's good for the economy. Bavaria will now conquer the world. Good luck with getting them out

Some Twitter users, such as @SportKnowhowXL, ridiculed [nl] the whole situation:

Op verzoek van hoofdsponsor Hyundai heeft de #fifa besloten dat de Japanse ster Keisuke Honda niet meer aan het #wk2010 mag meedoen #bavaria

At the request of main sponsor Hyundai #fifa has decided that Japanese star Keisuke Honda is no longer allowed to participate in the #worldcup2010 #bavaria

A special Twitter account has been set up to support the women and to post the latest news about their case: @freethebabes [nl].

May 14 2010

Netherlands: Twitter campaign against violation of privacy

By Percy Balemans

Dutch internet users have started a campaign on Twitter (@telegraafboycot) to boycott the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf [nl] after it violated the privacy of the sole survivor of the plane crash in Tripoli by interviewing the little boy by phone. The hashtag is #telegraafboycot.

March 19 2010

Netherlands: Reaction to US general's gay theory of Srebrenica

Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen tweeted [nl] in reaction to a claim by a retired US general that gay soldiers contributed to a “Bosnian massacre” in 1995: “Extremely weird statement about Srebrenica. I fear this has more to do with the discussion in the US about homosexuality in the army.”

February 15 2010

Netherlands: Sven Kramer's golden race on Twitter

svenkramerFor the Dutch, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver started with a very important race: the men's 5000 kilometres speed skating. The whole country (and the rest of the speed skating world) expected Dutch favourite Sven Kramer [nl] to win the gold, but the question was: would Kramer be able to deal with this immense pressure?

Dutch celebrities and fellow (Olympic) speed skaters tweeted before, during and after the race.

Dutch speed skater Erben Wennemars, Sven's friend and team mate, was confident in the afternoon:

Vandaag wordt het GOUD!!

Today we're going to win the GOLD!!

And he assured everyone that Sven was ready:

met sven ontbeten. hij is er helemaal klaar voor.

just had breakfast with sven. he's all ready for it.

Even American speed skater Shani Davis, Kramer's opponent in this race, found time to tweet:

Just finished pre-race warmup. I feel really good…crowd is totally energized…this is going to be some FUN (even if Sven kicks my butt).

Dutch actor Antonie Kamerling shared his excitement about the race, keeping people updated. Before the race, he tweeted:

wat een druk voor Kramer. favoriet en als 1e rijden van de favorieten. word toch een beetje zenuwachtig. gelukkig vallen bijna nooit bij 5 k

the pressure on Kramer is enormous. he's the favourite and the first to race of all the favourites. I'm getting a bit nervous now. fortunately, nobody hardly ever falls during the 5k

He wondered what was going through Sven's head:

kon je nu maar in de hoofden kijken van Kramer, Fabris en de Jong. over een paar jaar kan dat gewoon

I wish you could see into the heads of Kramer, Fabris and De Jong. in another few years that will certainly be possible

After Sven's race he wrote:

djeezus wat spannend…. hij ging echt wel kapot leek het.

Jezus, that was exciting…. looks like he really gave everything.

Then the waiting started. First, Korean speed skater Lee was racing Dutch skater De Jong:

shit dacht nog heel even dat die Koreaan eroverheen sprintte. eikel. dat kunnen we niet hebben

shit, for a moment there I thought this Korean was going to beat him. idiot. we can't have that

Would Italian Fabris be able to beat his time:

shit ik word gek, die Fabris zal toch niet…????

shit I'm going mad, this Fabris is not going to…????

And then finally, the relief:

ja hoor het is gelukt!!!!!!!!!

yes he did it!!!!!!!!!

Dutch actress Halina Reijn had to perform in a play during the evening and logged on afterwards, trying to find out what had happened:

Wie heeft er gewonnen met schaatsen?

Who won in speed skating?

And quickly switched on the TV when she realised the race wasn't finished yet:

Ok sorry voor mijn domme vraag…zit voor de tv nu! Sven…

Ok sorry about my stupid question…am watching TV now! Sven…

Dutch sports journalist Wilfried de Jong [nl] had just arrived at the airport in New York and had to resort to the internet:

hier in aankomsthal luisteren naar radio 1. Nederlanders met oren bij mijn laptop.

here in arrivals hall, listening to radio 1. Other Dutch people are eagerly listening to my laptop.

When Sven Kramer finally did win the gold, there was lots of praise. Erben Wennemars wrote:

ben intens blij voor Sven Kramer… gefeliciteerd!

am over the moon for Sven Kramer… congratulations!

His opponent, Shani Davis, wrote:

I'm really happy for Sven. That crowd, it's still going thru me…very exciting feeling. Time to switch gears, get ready for the sprint.

American speed skater Chad Hedrick, who unsuccesfully tried to defend his Olympic title on the 5k in the last race, wrote:

Congrats to Sven today- great race! You are very deserving!

Dutch speed skater and team mate Mark Tuitert [nl], who will be participating in the men's 1000 and 1500 metres, wrote:

Repect voor Sven, hij flikt het en dat is absoluut niet altijd vanzelfsprekend!

Respect for Sven, he did it and that is something you absolutely cannot take for granted!

Team mate Ronald Mulder [nl], who will be participating in the men's 500 and 100 metres, wrote:

Supermooie 5km gezien! Sven met 16miljoen NL'ers op zijn rug de dikverdiende gouden plak! Respect

Watched a super great 5k! Sven won his well-earned gold medal with 16 million Dutch people on his back! Respect

Team mate Annette Gerritsen [nl], who will be participating in the ladies' 500, 1000 and 1500 metres, wrote:

Wat een prachtige 1e dag. Wat onzettend knap van Sven.

What a beautiful first day. An incredible achievement by Sven.

Dutch coach Ingrid Paul [nl], currently coaching the Canadian speed skating team, stressed how incredible Sven's performance was:

Ik zei net verdiende winnaar,maar dit is meer dan verdiend,de superfavoriet en super hard geknokt en gereden,niets laten liggen! Super Sven!

I just said he deserved to win, but this is more than deserved, the super favourite and he put up a super fight and a super race, he gave it his all! Super Sven!

Norwegian speed skater Øystein Grødum had even learned Dutch to congratulate Sven and expressed his disappointment over fellow countryman Håvard Bøkko's fourth place:

felicitaties SVEN…. GOUD.. sorry with 4th for @havardbokko

congratulations SVEN…. GOLD.. sorry with 4th for @havardbokko

Sven Kramer himself hasn't been spotted on Twitter yet. He'd better concentrate on speed skating, since he has a few more medal chances.

Picture and thumbnail taken from Sven Kramer's website

January 12 2010

Netherlands: Miep Gies, Woman Who Helped Anne Frank, Dies at 100

Miep and Jan Gies

Miep Gies and husband Jan next to the bookcase that hid the Secret Annex, around 1988

Miep Gies, the last surviving member of a group that helped Anne Frank and her Jewish family evade capture in the Netherlands during WWII, passed away on January 12 at the age of 100, reports the BBC.

Anne Frank's Diary remains one of the most famous personal records of the Holocaust. It was Gies who saved Anne Frank's diary when their secret hiding place was betrayed and the family was deported to concentration camps.

The BBC cited Miep Gies' website as its source:

Miep Gies deceased
On Monday evening, January 11, Miep Gies deceased after a short illness. She has become 100 years.

Dutch media also reported the news, but slower. The broadcaster NOS [nl] cited the BBC as its source for the story more than an hour later.

On Twitter, people were confused. Jetteke69 [nl] posted:

Op Wikipedia wordt gezegd dat Miep Gies is overleden. Heeft iemand daar al een bron voor? #miepgies

On Wikipedia, it says that Miep Gies has died. Does anyone have a source for this yet? #miepgies

hood1409 [nl] says:

waarom weten ze het in t buitenland eerder dan hier #miepgies

why did they hear about it abroad before we did #miepgies

Not everyone in the Netherlands seems to know who Miep Gies is. RicksRommelhok [nl] writes:

..Miep Gies….nooooit van gehoord… #gemistefeiten

..Miep Gies….never heard of her… #missedfacts

But Miep Gies has definitely gained international fame and respect, as this series of tweets by NathanWurtzel from the US shows:

Tweet 1: I'm trying to find words worthy of Miep Gies. I don't know if I can do it.

Tweet 2: I can't possibly imagine what Occupied Europe was like. I can't possibly imagine what living in constant fear of capture is like.

Tweet 3: Miep Gies didn't have to do anything. She was a clerk at Otto Frank's spice company, but could have simply gone along to get along.

Tweet 4: The penalty for helping hide Jews was anything from 6 months in a labor camp to being shot on the spot. No one got away “unpunished.”

Tweet 5: Gies already was threatened with deportation by Nazis for refusing to join a Nazi women's association,

Tweet 6: In addition to running food to the Franks and the other refugees at incredible personal risk, Miep Gies also saved Anne's diary.

Tweet 7: When asked about her heroic efforts, she said she merely stood in a long line of Dutch people who did what she did…or more.

Tweet 8: How do you say thank you to Miep Gies?

Tweet 9: It seems so inadequate.

Tweet 10: I think the only way to thank Miep Gies is to take our own place in the line she spoke of; each of us doing what we can.

Photo and thumbnail from Miep Gies' website

Reposted by02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa
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