The Netherlands: two ministers resign after Schiphol fire killed refugees

In this cartoon, Balkenende asks Bush, Are you going to tell me another fairytale, Uncle George?

Today, two ministers in the Dutch Rightist government have resigned.

They are Donner of Justice and Dekker of Construction.

They resign because an official report published today on the Schiphol fire which killed eleven refugees, is devastating for the government.

This is months after the whole government collapsed, and then continued as a minority coalition up to the elections of 22 November.

Why the hell is The Netherlands still stuck with those other worthless ministers?

From my Dear Kitty Modblog Google cache, from when that government still existed fully:

9/20/05 at 9:28PM

Mood: Looking Playing: Get up, Stand up, by Bob Marley

Balkenende and Harry PotterDutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is often compared to Harry Potter.

Because of his looks. Certainly not because of his approval rate of only 19%.

Dutch economists say under Balkenende, the Dutch economy is the worst performer of Europe.

Balkenende is also despised for his obsequiousness to George W. Bush.

In the cartoon balloon, Balkenende asks: “Uncle George, are you going to tell me another fairy tale”?

On Saturday 24 September, worldwide day of anti Iraq war demonstrations, in The Hague in The Netherlands, peace demonstrators will be part of a big demonstration against the unpopular Balkenende administration, allies, or rather footmen, of George W. Bush.

Thousands of demonstrators will surround the government buildings.

Start at 1 pm around Binnenhof in The Hague.

Tonight, poetry and music night.

The presenter asked the audience: Who is your favourite minister?

Not one person had a favourite among the Balkenende lot.

The presenter asked: What is the best thing this government has done?

Replies: I can’t think of anything. And: Their best action would be if they’d resign.

Also from my Dear Kitty ModBlog of 24 September 2005, from the Google cache:

On Saturday 24 September, worldwide day of anti Iraq war demonstrations, in The Hague in The Netherlands, peace demonstrators were part of a big demonstration against the unpopular Balkenende administration, allies, or rather footmen, of George W. Bush.

Thousands of demonstrators surrounded the government buildings.

They had come from all over the country.

Here are the pictures of the demonstration.

And here.

Before the demonstration started, I asked the people of Rood, the youth organization of the Socialist Party, what was their main theme at this demonstration.

They (executive member Gijsbert Houtbeckers and another member) said: opposition to the increase in powers of the AIVD, the Dutch secret service.

These include asking libraries which books people borrow.

This way, the government sells out citizens’ privacy rights.

Big brother is watching you, especially if you have an Arab sounding family name.

Or … Ms. B borrowed the Q’uran from the city library … Now she may get on a government “terrorist list ” …

More or less the direction of the US Patriot Act.

Next to Rood was the stand of the Socialist Party itself. What is the main reason why you oppose the Balkenende administration?

One of two women there: because the Balkenende administration is anti solidarity. I live in a neighborhood in Rotterdam with people of various national origins getting along well. I don’t need politicians destroying that.

Her colleague: I am single, at minimum income level. With this government policy I’ll certainly be still 80 Euro a month worse off next year.

SP Senator Anja Meulenbelt walked around with a camera.

Her pictures are here.

At the next stand, I spoke to Huub Crijns from ‘s Hertogenbosch, a pro poor people activist. He said: Balkenende destroys solidarity, especially in health care.

In The Netherlands, we are going in the wrong direction: the direction of New Orleans, where they let poor people drown literally.

You see where Balkenende’s obsequiousness to Bush leads to.

At the next stand was Kroesje, an anti racist organization. One of their posters said: “I just Blair along for the sake of it” (the name Blair sounds similar to the Dutch verb: “blèren”, shouting off without thinking).

I asked the lady behind the counter if this was because of the recent British police measure of racially profiling Blacks and Asians.

She said: it was earlier, about Blair’s obsequiousness to Bush in the Iraq war. But it is still true.

Another Kroesje posters says: “Slavery. Just two senior citizens back in time”.

At the next stand, of trade union militants De Maat is vol, I spoke to Rotterdam dock workers. They had T-shirts with: Balkenende administration: economic terrorists.

Reggae music starts rally

A sign says: the people are fed up. Another slogan: Zalm [finance minister. Name means literally: “salmon”] and Bot [Foreign affairs minister. Literally “flounder”] belong in the water, not in the government.

On the Plein, the square facing the Dutch parliament building, the program started at 12:30, with the Channel One Band playing.

They are a reggae band of people of Surinam origin.

The singer, in a colourful dress with Bob Marley portrait printed on it, attacked Rich is getting richer, poor is getting poorer.

She said: I work in health care. It is a shame, the bad circumstances under which we are supposed to help aging people, with those government cutback policies.

At 13:10 there was the first speech by ex Amsterdam local councillor Rene Danen, of Platform Keer het Tij.

He said: polls say 80% of people do not trust this government. They got to resign.

They are bad for refugees. For the environment. For tenants.

Recently, at the commemoration of slavery in Amsterdam, the audience drove away Minister Rita Verdonk, infamous for her anti refugee policies.

They said: Go away! This, Danen said, goes for the whole government.

Then, there were interviews with Femke Bartels (Greenpeace) and Jonathan Mijs (Dutch students union).

Then, a speech by Jan Marijnissen, of the Socialist Party. He called for actions against the government’s health care “reform” plans.

Marion Bloem

After Marijnissen, author Marion Bloem told about her pro refugee activities. She said Minister Rita Verdonk was destructive like her hurricane fellow Rita in the USA.

However, hurricane Rita at least sometimes changes course. While Minister Rita stays the course (like George W. Bush). A disastrous course costing many human lives.

A sign in the audience said: No forced return of refugees to Afghanistan.

Rap and trade unionism

At 13:30 uur, there was rap music by Def Rhymz.

Sometimes, they shot jets of water into the audience, who ran some steps back laughing. The rappers also waved about a sign saying: George W. Bush, wanted for terrorism.

Next was a speech by Niek Stam, of De Maat is Vol (trade union rank and file).

He pointed out that 62% of Dutch voters had voted No to the pro “free market” European Union draft constitution.

According to public opinion polls, the majority of voters would vote for the three parties of the Left: PvdA [Labour], Green Left, and Socialist Party.

They should form a new government coalition to undo Balkenende’s bad policies.

Next was Kees Vendrik, MP for Green Left, who also wanted that new coalition.

Then, Astrid van Koppen, waging action for early elections now.

Then, Mohammed Rabbae, of anti racist organization Genoeg is Genoeg.

He said in the USA, poor black people were suffering from hurricane Rita.

In The Netherlands, we are suffering from Minister Rita Verdonk, who puts refugee children of two or six-year-old in jail.

She discriminates against people from the Antilles, though they have Dutch passports.

The Balkenende administration represents basically just George W. Bush. And terrorists who want to harm trust between various groups in society, Muslims and non-Muslims etc. The government does exactly what those terrorists want.

A sign linked Dutch Defense (war) Minister Kamp to Guantanamo.

Human chain

At 14:00 the human chain around the parliament building started.

It was nearly one kilometer long:

At Korte Vijverberg, near the pond of the parliament building:

1. Amsterdam local political party Amsterdam Anders/Greens

2. Platform Stop Bolkestein’s plan for European Union anti worker policy

3. Turkish organization DHD

4. Philippines solidarity movement

5. Anti nuclear action

6. Senior citizens’ platform of the Socialist Party

7. Socialist Party

At Lange Vijverberg:

8. International Socialists

9. Together against Racism

10. Damokles students’ organization

11. Dutch Palestine Committee

12. Action against minister Verdonk’s xenophobic policies

13. Friends of the Earth The Netherlands

14. Tenants’ organization Amsterdam

15. ROOD (Socialist Party youth organization

16. Maximine: low income women’s organization

17. PvdA (Labour party)

18. Pro refugees organization Wageningen

At 19 were Women for Peace. I spoke to some of them. We are here, they said, to oppose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We also opposing the Dutch government’s policy of recruiting child soldiers for so called “peace missions” abroad.

20. Comittee against mandatory ID cards

At 21. Greenpeace, drumming on “nuclear” oil drums

22. Refugees organization Prime

23. FAVON, Afghan refugees organization

At the Buitenhof:

24. Groenlinks, Green Left political party, and their youth organization DWARS

25. Platform Earth Farmers and Consumers, saying 44% of Dutch farmers’families are now below the official poverty line.

26. Families 4 Justice

27. Stop ill-treatment of prisoners

28. Communist Youth League

29. Platform of small share-owners swindled by Legiolease corporation

30. Platform Stop Xenophobia

31. Band Eigen Hulp

32. Keer het Tij Enschede

33. Party for Animals

34. ASKV, Support refugees

35. “Armoedzaaiers”, poor people’s organization

Back at the Plein

At the Plein stage, there was an impromptu interview with a six-year-old refugee boy.

He said Minister Verdonk wanted to send his family back to Afghanistan, to their deaths. There are many mines in Afghanistan.

He himself, born in The Netherlands, had never been to Afghanistan.

Conclusion: it would be better if this family could stay, and Verdonk would go away.

Def Rhymz’ show’s second part started. At first they sang with the help of a young girl in Socialist Party coat.

Also, the six-year-old Afghan refugee boy could join Def Rhymz on stage, being lifted high above their heads.

When he showed he could do break dancing, he got big applause.

Then, a speech by Bart Griffioen (IS). He wore a T-shirt saying: Fight poverty, not war.

He said: Balkenende is a follower of George W. Bush. Balkenende, jointly with Bush, you lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as the pretext for war.

We support the demonstrators of today in London against Blair; in Washington, DC, and elsewhere against Bush; and all over the world against the Iraq war!

Next, Diederik Samsom (PvdA MP). He said the Balkenende government should be replaced by a government of the Left parties; and the Christenunie. That Christian party is considered by many people at least somewhat religiously fundamentalist; though not economically market fundamentalist like Balkenende.

Next spoke Henk Kroon, on behalf of poor people in Amsterdam. He said pro capitalist politicians make claims on “less bureaucracy” while giving poor people more bureaucracy.

Next, an Afghan refugee spoke.

He pointed out that the Dutch government recently had decided to send more soldiers to fight in war in Afghanistan.

However, Minister Verdonk claims Afghanistan is a safe country to send refugees back to. Really??

Next, Ahmed Pouri of refugees’ organization PRIME.

The last speech was by Fred Gersteling of the tenants’ organization. He called on people to join the 24 March 2006 demonstration against the anti tenants government policy.

At 15:30, the Channel One Band started playing reggae again, as the finale of the demonstration.

Again, from the Google cache, 9/4/05 :

September 4th, 2005

Antiwar Groups Hope to Pack 100,000 Around White House

By Petula Dvorak / Washington Post

From the Ellipse to Lafayette Square, including the streets and sidewalks in between, the public parks encircling the White House can hold about 100,000 people, according to the National Park Service.

Antiwar groups hope to bring that many people to fill the spaces with their rally Sept. 24, the first time in more than a decade that demonstrators will be allowed to surround the White House.

At a news conference yesterday, two major antiwar coalitions announced a demonstration and march that could be the largest since the Iraq war began, according to Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, one of the groups organizing three days of events.

The Park Service and the groups are negotiating the fine points of a permit, such as electrical cord routes and riser placement, but “in all likelihood,” the permit will be issued to the groups’ specifications, Park Service spokesman Bill Line said.

The rally has been in the works for months, but public sentiment about the war has soured, which has “marked a turning point for the antiwar movement,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, which is partnering with Dobbs’s group.

The response to the disaster in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has fueled antiwar sentiment, because many believe the U.S. military presence in Iraq is “hampering efforts in New Orleans,” said Mounzer Sleiman, an independent political and military analyst working with ANSWER.

And antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan’s camp-out last month as she sought an audience with the president outside his Texas ranch spurred a level of support from military families that similar events have not had, said Leslie Cagan, an organizer with United for Peace and Justice.

U.S. veterans from generations of wars “are now speaking out loud and clear” against the war and are joining the peace movement, Cagan said.

The coalitions are organizing buses, vans and carpools from across the country and said groups are coming from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina.

Saturday 24 September is a world-wide day of protests against the Iraq war (some of them are also on Sunday 25 September).

The actions will be in many countries, including a big demonstration in London in Britain.

In the United States, there will be demonstrations in Washington, DC; San Fransisco; and Los Angeles.

In The Hague in The Netherlands, peace demonstrators on Saturday 24 March will be part of a big demonstration against the unpopular Balkenende administration, allies, or rather footmen, of George W. Bush.

Thousands of demonstrators will surround the government buildings. Start at 1 pm around Binnenhof in The Hague.

13 thoughts on “The Netherlands: two ministers resign after Schiphol fire killed refugees

  1. From my Dear Kitty Modblog, when it still existed, on the Schiphol fire:

    The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire Linking: 30 Comments: 12
    Date: 10/27/05 at 4:18PM (11M4d ago) Modified: 10/28/05 at 8:36AM (11M3d ago)

    Mood: Thinking Playing: Get up, Stand up, by Bob Marley

    In The Netherlands, this night 11 innocent prisoners died in a terrible fire.

    Many other people were wounded.

    The fire was in the jail of Schiphol airport near Amsterdam.

    Responsible (as ministers are, according to Dutch law) for these deaths and wounded is Dutch hardline anti-immigrant Minister Rita Verdonk.

    The witch-hunts by her and other right wingers created a climate in which some people see the human dignity and right to life of immigrants as somehow not really mattering.

    Some points:

    The prisoners in Schiphol jail who died those terrible deaths were NOT murderers, or rapists, nor had they stolen even one Euro cent.

    They were not criminals. They had crossed the Dutch border without legal papers. Not a crime.

    Somewhat like jaywalking, which most people do once or much more often in their lives.

    Yet they were in jail while quite some violent criminals, as Dutch authorities say, cannot go to jail for lack of jail space.

    Authorities did not react to fire alarm

    It is still unknown whether the fire started by short circuit electricity or some other cause.

    Dutch TV reported that when the fire started, prisoners alarmed the authorities.

    These, however, did not take the alarm seriously.

    Meaning the firefighters arrived too late to save the prioners’ lives.

    While when some prisoners escaped the deathly agony, suddenly the authorities very quickly used expensive technical means like helicopters to catch the escapees.

    According to the Dutch fire brigades research institute NIBRA, the jail building, though new, was a fire hazard.

    There had already been not yet so deadly fires there on 30 November 2002 and 16 December 2002.

    Then, NIBRA did research and asked for improvements in fire safety.

    These recommendations were very probably neglected.

    Please protest these human rights violations.

    Send a protest e-mail to Minister Verdonk:

    Tonight protest demonstration at Schiphol airport: look here.

    Trade union ABVAKABO says that most jailers at that jail were unqualified private contracting firm people.

    Blog Comments

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:
    Idle: N/A
    my life in the bush of g>
    ModBlog Groups
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    Date: 10/27/05 at 4:33 PM (11M4d ago)
    innocent or guilty, they are humans……
    Link to Post | Reply to Post | Quote Post

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:

    Dear Kitty
    ModBlog Groups
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    Spec’s World: Blogging e>

    Date: 10/27/05 at 4:39 PM (11M4d ago)
    You are right. Even if the prisoners would have been suspects, or convicts, of serious crimes, they should not be housed in fire hazard buildings and authorities should not react so inhumanely.

    However, the fact that the prisoners committed no crimes makes the authorities’ behaviour yet more scandalous.

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by: dubidubidub (View Website)
    Date: 10/27/05 at 5:07 PM (11M4d ago)
    I’m sorry, but I guess it’s just me. There were also cocaine and herion smugglars in that prison. They do bad things. I don’t care for these ppl. Of course, it’s very bad what has happened. If you wanna talk about bad prisons, look at Africa, Turkey, Asia, South America.

    I’m dutch btw. Nice blog you have.

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:

    Dear Kitty
    ModBlog Groups
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    Spec’s World: Blogging e>

    Date: 10/27/05 at 5:22 PM (11M4d ago)
    There were some very minor cocaine smugglers in that prison, smuggling out of poverty. None of those, according to press reports were among the deadly victims. So what cocaine smugglers do is not relevant to this issue; as the victims are innocent.

    Especially as much bigger people in the cocaine world, including from the Dutch business and military world, are not in jail there.

    The death penalty was rightly abolished in The Netherlands in the 1870s. Even most people claiming it should be reinstated (I am definitely not among them) want it only reinstated for murder; not for cocaine smuggling. Quite some people want to legalize drugs.

    There are very bad prisons in Iraq (do a search with Ghraib in this blog); Afghanistan (search with Bagram) and Guantanamo, US base in Cuba.

    And in the USA, world record holder of number of prisoners in the world.
    Thanks for your compliment on this blog.

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by: Tom Verstappen
    Date: 10/27/05 at 7:41 PM (11M4d ago)
    In most asian countries you´ll get the death-penalty for smuggling even marihuana, in a lot of muslim-countries you´ll get the death-penalty for being gay? These are only a few examples of REAL bad justice!
    I’m sure you’re not dutch and your dutch source(s) are/is (a) lier(s); Mrs. Verdonk made a live television-statement and told she was shocked by the death of the eleven illegal immigrants; her feelings went to their relatives.
    And by the way; Mrs. Verdonk was chosen by the dutch for being the most popular Minister nowadays? Are you telling me that a majority of the dutch people are rascists? NO, AND SO ISN’T MRS. VERDONK! How can a minister be (in)directly responsible for the death of 11 prisoners? We live in a civilized country and our legal-justice has international fame for its perfection.
    At last a wordt of advice: Learn dutch or get new, trustable sources!

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:

    Dear Kitty
    ModBlog Groups
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    View Profile

    Date: 10/27/05 at 9:09 PM (11M4d ago)
    Hi Tom, so you “know” my nationality, and that it is not Dutch. So, “Ton Verstappen” is extremely probably a pseudonym for medium Jomanda, isn’t it, that you know so much 🙂

    So my Dutch sources are “liars” (not “liers”; as you should have known before posting on an English language site)? Dutch daily NRC are liars? The fire brigade research institute NIBRA are liars? Trade union ABVAKABO, saying a jail, a public institution, is guarded by know nothing private sector uneducated ignoramuses, are liars as well? Dutch TV are all part of a big conspiracy of communists and anarchists, bla bla bla?

    Yes, indeed, Mrs Verdonk made a typical career politician’s crocodile tears statement on the victims. She feels their pain: yeah right. Like Bush feels the pain of the Hurricane Katrina victims. Yeah right. The hypocrisy of people like Bush and Verdonk deceives only naive people.

    By whom was Verdonk chosen as most popular politician? By Elsevier readers? By her own party members? Or only compared to her extremely unpopular government colleagues? Yeah right, pretty representative. Most *national* polls say for instance Jan Marijnissen for most popular politician.

    Most Dutch people racists? Dependent on definition of racism (as in other countries). If in 1932, you would have asked Germans whether six million Jews should be gassed, a big majority would have uttered a horrified NO. Still, next year, at elections, Hitlers party became the biggest …

    You ask: “How can a minister be (in)directly responsible for the death of 11 prisoners?” Please, read some Dutch constitutional law. Under that law, ministers are not just indirectly, but, to Parliament, *directly responsible* for whatever their public servants do, or fail to do. “Perfection”? I think that exists in heaven if you believe in that; not on planet earth.

    Then, you write: “At last”. That is English for “eindelijk”. While what you probably meant was “tenslotte”. You should have used “Finally” for that.

    Learn Dutch? Probably I learned it a lot better than politicians like Verdonk, Wilders (with his Rhineland German sounding accent), Mussert, or Janmaat.
    Link to Post | Reply to Post | Quote Post
    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:

    Date: 10/28/05 at 7:15 AM (11M4d ago)

    victims were refused asylumseekers
    Posted by: Joke Kaviaar (View Website)
    Date: 10/28/05 at 10:08 AM (11M3d ago)
    All victims were refugees that were refused asylum in The Netherlands.
    Prisons for immigrants are built as cheap as possible in the Netherlands.
    The Dutch authorities want to scare off refugees to come and ask for asylum in the Netherlands.
    They must be doing a hell of a job right now.
    It’s an outrage!
    Joke Kaviaar (dutch protestpoet against deporationpolicy and the fortress of Europe)

    RE: victims were refused asylumseekers
    Posted by:

    Date: 10/28/05 at 3:38 PM (11M3d ago)
    Thank you, Joke, for this entry. Thank you for the good human rights work which you and others do for refugees rights in general, and now especially around the Schiphol fire scandal.

    It made the front page photograph of not especially politically conscious daily Metro today; let’s hope that is a beginning.

    RE: The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire. Photos of commemoration vigil
    Posted by:

    Date: 10/28/05 at 4:17 PM (11M3d ago)

    The Netherlands: 11 innocent prisoners die in fire
    Posted by:
    Idle: 3M1w
    Loopy Lair
    View Profile

    Date: 10/28/05 at 4:46 PM (11M3d ago)
    so sad in an otherwise intelligent nation s-)


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