Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

Millions of people have died, and millions more will.

Children, men, women of every race, in every place around the world are falling victim to this terrible disease.

Today, on World AIDS Day, it is a chance for us to show that we care, and show that we can break through the predjudice and embrace people for who they are.

Parliament approves amnesty for asylum seekers

There will be a general amnesty for asylum seekers!!!

The new parliament just voted a couple of hours ago in favour of the motion, by a very, very slim majority of 75 for and 74 against. It was the first issue on the table by the newly elected parliament which started work today. The Labour Party (PvdA), Socialist Party (SP), GreenLeft (GroenLinks), and Party for Animals (Partij van de Dieren) formed the majority for the motion, whereas the incumbent governing parties Christian Democrats (CDA), Liberals (VVD), as well as right-wing Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) and orthodox-Poretestant Political Reformed Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP) were against. The PvdA says that this is evidence that a majority of people in the country are for a general amnesty. Even though the new cabinet has yet to be formed, the leader of the PvdA called the motion a necessary step to show that the new parliament speaks out of principal for the amnesty.

If the motion were implemented, then a total of around 31,000 asylum seekers who came to the Netherlands before 2001, before the new and restrictive Immigration Law (Vreemdlingenwet) came into force, would have a right to stay. Of these asylum seekers, some have spent many, many years awaiting pending decisions from the Immigration Service about their status and right to remain in the country. Many have all this time been living in fear, and in intolerable conditions and prisons, and been confronted with the uncertainty of forced deportation.

Minister Verdonk of Immigration Affairs was, and still is, totally against the general amnesty, and “severely discourage[d]” [ten zeerste ontraden] the debate on the issue. Before the elections, she accused the left parties of giving asylum seekers who came into the Netherlands before 2001 “false hope” on the issue. Today, she called the vote for a general amnesty “unusual and undesirable” [ongebruikelijk en ongewenst], lamenting that the new parliament forced an outgoing cabinet is still trying to finish its last affairs to deal with such a thorny issue. She herself of course voted against the motion and called the measure “playing with fire”.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deportation suspended...for now

Imagine two girls, 16 and 14, who have lived in this country for 11 years. Imagine them threatened to be deported because they had not been living with their father of Dutch nationality when he was naturalised. No need to imagine, because it is true.

For now, they can stay, because parliamentary questions directed at the Minister of Immigration on this very matter are pending. The father and stepmother are the two girls only close relatives, and both parents are in the Netherlands, and both are Dutch citizens...and depsite this the Immigration Service wants to deport them because the two girls are have no legal documents to remain in the country. The argument by the Immigration Service is that the girls can go back to Turkey (where they originally came from) and apply for residence there.

HELLO?! What kind of twisted arguement is this? The parents are here! The girls have practically grown up all their lives here! And they can't stay here because they don't have the proper papers! Once again this underlines the government's prioritising of rules above human rights. Dispicable.

In related news, the opposition Labour Party (PvdA) was a debate Thursday on the issue of granting a general amnesty to some 26000 illegal immigrants who are facing deportation, despite having stayed in the country for years (some even born here). In the run up to the elections, this was one of the issues that the government opposes firmly, whereas all the parties on the left have called for. It would be interesting if the new composition of parliament after the elections would produce a majority for the motion to grant general amnesty.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tibetan shooting

Around two months ago news hit the headlines that China shot Tibetan refugees trying to flee into Nepal through the Nanga Pass in the Himalayas. The shooting was captured on tape by Romanian journalists, and several mountaineers witnessed the incident from a camp. After the incident, around a dozen Tibetans disappeared, some children as young as 8.

Students for a Free Tibet started an online campaign called "China would you shoot me too?", calling people to submit their photos with that caption.

Such acts by this hideous regime cannot simply go away. The international community seriously needs to take a stand on the human rights issue in China and cannot delude themselves that there will be any progress without outside pressure.

"Before, I heard that the human rights problem is very serious in China. But in Western society, many people are saying China is becoming better. This time I witnessed how the Chinese communist regime treats Tibetan refugees. I was very shocked. I realized that the situation in China has in fact not improved." - Pierre Maina, Danish Mountaineer