Friday, May 27, 2005

Time to go

When I wake up, it will be time to go.
And I'm awake now.

I can feel the excitement as I get dressed, then drag my heavy suitcase slowly towards the airport. I've gone through these moments many times, but everytime, is a special time. Every goodbye is not just a goodbye. They are times when I often think back at what and who I'm saying goodbye to, and what I'm about to greet. For every goodbye is also a first encounter.

My colleagues at work 'celebrated' my leave with drinks and food yesterday afternoon. The whole day I was dreading to be the centre of attention, wondering what people will say about my time at the institute, and looking at the time as I finished the last few bits and pieces, while wondering how many minutes more till the farewell. And the party fared quite well. I received much praise, for my modesty, efficiency and friendliness. As I heard those words, I felt relieved. I was wondering whether I really did all that. And at the same time also wondering why I did not even notice the many things I have accomplished. Those doubts about whether people liked my presence or contributions slid away. My efforts, inputs and time spent, people saw and felt it. It was definitely a boost of confidence, something I desperately need, and long for. I can be proud that I've managed to touch people, to help them, albeit in a small way, but that's all I wanted.

I told everyone (again) of how grateful I am for all that has been given me the past year. I kept it short, because I've said and written to many already about my appreciation. The opportunities, challenges, encouragements, praises, advice and criticisms. Every moment a moment of learning, about myself, and about others. Truly, my first long-term work experience was successfully completed. I left, leaving the card and letter on my desk. Something I enjoy doing I guess...leaving notes for people to discover. To me, that keeps a part of me there, even when I'm actually not. And that's special. Again, 'writing says more', especially for a timid boy like me!

While going home for the from Leiden, I felt as if I have something to be proud of. The end of an 'era' I was thinking. I wondered when the next time will be when I again walk those steps to and from the law faculty. Not sure when, but I know someday soon again.

So now, a long road ahead.
It's a strange feeling that now I'm typing at home here, while in less than twenty-four hours I'll be in a different place, different time, with different people and in a different culture. It's a beautiful day today.

I can't contain my excitement of being in a plane, that rush of adrenaline when the roar of the engines lift us off the ground. I can see it now...little houses, green pasture, rivers and lakes, flower fields, matchbox cars... I will be looking down, imagining where the places all are. I'll be thinking, I've been there! And most of all, I'll imagine the people down there, busy in their daily routines and their activities.

I'll look out, as the world becomes smaller.
I'll be leaving home.

First, eleven hours to Bangkok. One hour stopover, then the final leg of the journey. When I think about that now, I'm have'kriebels in mijn buik' (that ichy feeling in your stomach when you're faced with something new and exciting.) Especially that final hour approaching Taiwan is always filled with anticipation, sometimes my hands even start to tremble slightly. I remember how amazingly beautiful it was as the plane approached from the south of the island last time.... Kenting Peninsular, Kaoshiung harbour, the lush green rice fields, the soaring mountain ranges, the sea of clouds, and the deep blue of the sea. When I see it, now in my mind, and in a dozens hours past the ice-cold little window, I can imagine why the Portuguese explorers called it Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island). Because it is.

I'll look out, as the world gets bigger.
I'll be home again.

And it is that strange, yet pleasant feeling that drives me.
I'm leaving home to go home.

To end, a wise quote I found sifting through my files

“He who finds his homeland sweet is still voluptuous; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.” (Hughes de Saint-Victor)

Foreign the world is indeed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's almost time...

I know there is no point to concentrate now...I've been trying to force myself to sit down and actually read something about the research work I am going to do, but it's not really effective. I want to read something, I want to know more, but somehow the time just flies by , and I'm not even sure what I've done. Everyday I seem to wake up, go to work, and do some little chores, before you know it, i't's time to have Indonesian lessons with a friend. Then it's home time, then dinner, a bit of tv, and it's almost already time for bed! Before you know it, sitting around, surfing the net, listening to music, drinking some warm water, it's already 1am, like now!

(Today we did have a change, and we ate 'firepot': a boiling pot of soup, and you put vegetables, meat, noodles in it, and cook together with others. Quite filling, fun, and something typically done with friends and family.)

Last night I dreamt about laws and legislative theory in my sleep actually. Maybe that's because I was so anxious about reading more and more about the topic, that I actually dreamt it happening. Don't know if it's a good sign, at all. I just hope that I will be 'prepared' for what is to come ahead of me. I feel a bit puzzled whether I should be digging myself in books and articles and thirst knowledge, so I'd be better prepared for dealing, analysing and writing about migrant workers....but then a part of me wants to enjoy the last few days here for a long time to come, to go out with friends, to finish unfinished business (laatste loodjes). A part of me also says that it may be alright to face what is to come with a clear, relaxed mind, and to absorb the practical side, before the academic and heavy stuff. A part of me says I am not a PhD student, this is not a thesis-to-be, just experience, just an exploratory fieldwork, which should be filled with fun and relaxation as well as some work.

Still, sometimes a bit uneasy.

Bags and suitcase are packed.
Not sure what else I could prepare for.

Except, for bed now.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A change of seasons

While cycling with a friend today, I was reminded of a simple fact.
Now, the leaves are green, flowers are just awakening from their deep wintry sleep, the wind is calm and soothing and the insects are feeling the first of their flights of nature.

Nature awakening...

But when I return, it will be a different season altogether.
The wind will have grown stronger and bolder, leaves will have fallen to their roots, flowers will have long lost their scent and beauty, while nature will dawn in the slow aging colours of autumn's hazy morn.

Nature aging...

What a change it will be.

What a difference it will make.

UN shame

Absolutely revolting...

Mr Annan, is this your way of spreading freedom around the world?
How much is China's repressive regime paying you to silence press freedom?

UNjust, and UNdignified.


IFJ Condemns United Nations Censorship That Denies Journalists Access to Global Health Debate

he International Federation of Journalists today accused the United Nations of censorship and “political insanity” over the barring of Taiwanese from a crucial world health summit meeting in Geneva.

The World Health Assembly which is being held this week brings together a global community of experts and states to deal with critical health questions, but a group of journalists from Taiwan have been banned for the second year running based on a “perverse interpretation” of a 34-year old UN resolution.

Last week IFJ President Christopher Warren appealed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to lift the ban on the journalists, but by yesterday, the opening day of the Assembly, they were still refused entry to the Assembly at the UN in Switzerland.

“It is political insanity for the United Nations to ban a group of journalists trying to cover a debate about global health policy,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The clear impression is of the UN structure being bullied by Taiwan’s opponents, even though these journalists are independent, professional and not engaged in any political activity.”

The IFJ says that this censorship by the UN has only been applied in the past two years. Previously Taiwanese journalists were able to report freely the activities of the World Health Assembly which is the annual meeting of the World Health Organisation. In his letter to Kofi Annan, IFJ President Warren said that the UN as a global defender of human rights should not be seen to systematically undermine the basic rights of journalists to report on major news events.

All of the journalists affected by the ban are members of the IFJ’s affiliate in Taiwan, the Association of Taiwan Journalists, and all work for recognized media outlets such as the China Times, the Taipei Times, Chinese Satellite TV and the Central News Agency of Taiwan.

“It is not too late, even now, for the UN to give our colleagues free access to the World Health Assembly,” said White. “They should do so and remove immediately the shocking image of the UN engaged in the dirty business of political intimidation and discrimination against professional journalists.”

The IFJ says that the UN policy of banning passport holders from Taiwan to attend UN events is untenable and has no basis in law, given that the UN General Assembly resolution expelling Taiwan from membership in October 1971 only dealt with expulsion of representatives of the Taiwanese state. “This is a perverse interpretation that serves only the political interests of China and is an insult to press freedom,” said White.


United Nations - No press freedom for Taiwanese journalists
ISHR criticises the denial of press passes for journalists
Taipei/Geneva/Frankfurt/M. - 18 May 2005.

The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) protests against the decision of a United Nations body not to issue press passes to Taiwanese journalists. Because Taiwan is not a state which is recognised by the UN General Assembly, Taiwanese journalists are not allowed to report to the 58th World Health Convention which is currently held in Geneva. This is already the second time in a row that journalists from Taiwan were denied access to this convention. In doing so, they are denied the possibility to report directly and independently on important topics of global importance.

This is an obvious restriction of the freedom of the press vis-à-vis Taiwan and, as such, it is intolerable. It leaves the question whether the United Nations do not act upon double standards considering that in the past the UN has granted observer status for example to the PLO and SWAPO. In view of this, it makes little sense to deny journalists from Taiwan press accreditation; after all, Taiwan has a democratically elected government and pluralist structures. An accreditation should even be possible without diverting from the "One-China Policy".

Beijing continues to pursue its One-China-Policy. By passing the anti-secession law in March of this year China has confirmed that it is prepared to use even military force against Taiwan, if Taiwan changes its constitution in any way not acceptable to China. ISHR believes that the Taiwanese population must be allowed to decide over the status of their country themselves.

The UN administration in Geneva should reconsider its decision and act in the sense of the principles of human rights, in particular press freedom, by accrediting journalists and allowing them to access events which are hosted by the United National. This is important especially with respect to the fact that the presence of Taiwanese journalist does not in principle question the acknowledgement of the People's Republic nor the One-China-Policy. The United Nation must not founder under the pressure of the People's Republic of China, but must remain loyal to its own principles.


Taiwanese journalists refused accreditation for WHO annual conference
Reporters Without Borders, May 10, 2005

Reporters Without Borders has challenged the UN's decision to refuse accreditation to Taiwanese journalists to cover the World Health Organisation (WHO) conference being held in Geneva from 16-25 May.

The UN has justified its decision by pointing out that Taiwan is not a member state recognised by the UN General Assembly.
The worldwide press freedom organisation said that this step, taken chiefly for political reasons, constituted an obstacle to the right to information and press freedom. It called on the UN to change its mind.

It is the second successive year that journalists from Taiwan have been refused accreditation for the conference.


SPJ protests UN barring journalists

WHA MEETING: The US group said the UN's new accreditation regulations violate the world body's own rights declaration
Taipei Times, Sunday, May 22, 2005,Page 1

Advertising The US journalists' group the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) on Friday protested the UN Geneva Office's recent decision to deny Taiwanese reporters access to cover the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) being held in Geneva this week.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the group's president, Irwin Gratz, said the UN's new requirement that reporters must be passport holders of UN member states in order to be issued passes to cover UN activities violates Article 19 of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right of everyone to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.

The SPJ urged the UN to restore its original policy of issuing press passes to any organization or reporter regardless of their country of origin.
The SPJ, founded in 1909 in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the US' most broad-based organization of journalists and is dedicated to promoting freedom of the press.

The letter was the latest protests by an international press group in support of Taiwanese journalists' right to cover the WHA meeting. The International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the International Society for Human Rights have voiced similar protests.
Taiwanese reporters flocked to Geneva to cover the country's bid to join the WHA as an observer but were turned away by the UN Geneva Office on the grounds that Taiwan is not a UN member.

A dirge to childhood

The poem I wrote some years ago has been placed online at Hulpagina Seksueel Geweld

A dirge to childhood

It is that time to write like mad.
I should be sleeping
But I do not feel like it,
As if I fear the next time
I am awake, I open my eyes
Will be a world of trouble,
A place of sudden sorrow.
There's no turning back,
Not at this moment,
Not at this time.

Where the sun slowly sets,
Darkness looms and lives
In the forever green forest.
What an exciting journey it be!
Onwards, forwards, towards
The days of hope, the nights of peace.
Memories wave across the sacred land
With the blue tide and ebb
Of dried eyes and coloured dreams.
Bitter, bright, sour and sweet,
So taste the branches of tree of life,
So sounds the grassy breath,
So smells the flowery song.
But behind the very veil of time,
Hide the shadows of deep secrets,
Prowls the greying, echoing winds
Of change and coldness.

It is a mask I wear,
So solid and so safe
Like an armour and a sword;
For I am invincible,
I am fearless and I am brave.
But inside, somewhere
You know deep inside,
A face is clouding,
Howling, thundering, moaning,
A child is crying.