Brown shrike in Belgium, first ever


This 25 October 2019 video from Heist in Belgium says about itself:

NEW FOR BELGIUM: Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus

The first Brown Shrike for Belgium ever, a spectacular adult male!

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard today:

The brown shrike was spotted in Heist on Friday, reports Natuurpunt. It is the first time that the bird is seen in Belgium.

On Friday bird watchers discovered a brown shrike in Heist. This brings the number of bird species found in Belgium to 452.

The species is originally from East Asia. In 1985 a specimen was discovered for the first time in Europe, more specifically in Great Britain. Later the bird was also noticed in other European countries, such as Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

In the Netherlands, the species has been spotted four times, the first time in January 2014, the last two times this month. The species was also seen in France and Sweden, and it was this species’ first time in North America this year.

Other species

It is not the first rare bird species that was detected in Belgium last month. On the coast, for example, an isabelline wheatear, a Pallas’s grasshopper warbler, a red-eyed vireo and a Daurian shrike could already be noticed.

Why such species are seen in Belgium is not entirely clear, but according to Natuurpunt it is not surprising that they are discovered in the coastal area. The North Sea forms a natural barrier that most songbirds do not like to fly over, and in the harbour area there is bright light at night that attracts the birds.

Belgian climate strikers-yellow vests together against repression


This 12 October 2019 Voice of America video about Belgium says about itself:

Police Make Mass Arrests in Brussels During Climate Protest

Belgian police arrested large numbers of climate protesters in Brussels, Saturday, October 12, as mass demonstrations by the Extinction Rebellion group entered a sixth day.

Dozens of arrests were made while demonstrators gathered around a pink boat, with at least one climate activist using a bike lock to attach himself to the vessel. Police officers at the scene used heavy-duty cutting tools to remove the lock from around the man’s neck before arresting him.

Earlier in the day activists staged a protest next to the gardens of the Royal Palace calling on the King to declare a climate emergency. (Reuters)

Translated from Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad, 15 October 2019:

Climate truants and Yellow Vests now want to demonstrate together against police violence

By Cedric Lagast

Brussels – The “Students for Climate” and the Yellow Vests want to come together on Monday in Brussels to protest against police violence. The reason is not only the tear gas incident last Saturday, but also the arrest of 350 Yellow Vests on election Sunday.

United Against Police Violence“. Under that name, eight organizations are announcing a rally in the capital on Monday. They want to go to the Brussels Grand Place, where the city council meeting should start at that time.

“We have taken the initiative and have invited a number of other groups,” says Yuni Mertens of Students For Climate. He refers to an incident last Saturday, in which a handcuffed man still got pepper spray in his face during a protest by climate movement Extinction Rebellion.

“After the shocking images, we felt it was necessary to raise this issue,” says Mertens. “We cannot accept this in a democratic constitutional state such as Belgium. This issue is not new. Many groups and minorities do experience this repression. We want to raise the issue of police violence in general. That is why we also let those other groups speak about their experience with the police, which is never mediatised.”

Together with Yellow Vests

Remarkably, one of those other groups is the Yellow Vests. …

On Facebook, reference is made to the arrest of 350 Yellow Vests on 26 May, the day of the elections.

“During an announced and peaceful demonstration, to demand more social justice, the Yellow Vests were preventively arrested.”

“We are organizing a standing, peaceful demonstration as close as possible to the Brussels city hall where the city council is taking place on Monday,” says Mertens. “We ask the mayor to treat non-violent demonstrators also non-violently in the future.”

Mayor must decide

“We have received a request today, Tuesday,” confirms police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere. … It is Mayor Philippe Close who must ultimately decide whether the demonstration can go ahead.”

Belgian right-wingers: ‘Kill pro-climate girls, kill Jews’


This 17 August 2019 Dutch language video shows a reporter of Belgian Knack weekly. She interviews (drunk) far-right visitors of the Pukkelpop music festival. They shout: ‘Leftist rats, fuck off!’

On 15 August 2019, 18-year-old Belgian pro-climate activist Anuna De Wever had been invited to speak at Pukkelpop, one of many music festivals in summer in Belgium, to speak on the 20-27 Sepember global pro-climate strikes.

However, during her speech, a group of far-right men booed and heckled her, made obscene gestures, and threw alcohol at her.

The far-right men had flags depicting the Flemish lion.

The official flag of Flanders depicts a lion with red claws and red tongue. However, the men at the festival had flags with a black lion with black claws and black tongue. Wikipedia writes about that version:

It is not an official symbol. It was, however, used by the Flemish fighting alongside Nazi and SS troops [in World War II], and is as such also known as the collaboration [with Hitler] flag. It is today used by right[-wing] movements.

In this tweet, journalist Jeroen de Preter of Belgian Knack weekly writes about what happened next at Puppelpop. Translated:

About Pukkelpop and Anuna De Wever. Now, my daughter calling on the phone, very upset. After Anuna had been spotted at their tent, young men have stopped them from sleeping with death threats, thrown bottles full of urine at them and destroyed their party tent. Security is protecting them now.

The right-wingers also tore open several other tents as they thought Anuna De Wever might sleep there.

Security later reported they had banned the extreme right version of the Flemish flag at the festival. These flags had been distributed by the racist Vlaams Belang party.

Vlaams Belang youth branch

This photo shows members of the Vlaams Belang youth branch.

Vlaams Belang, like Donald Trump and other right-wingers deny climate change and support Big Oil.

Politicians of Vlaams Belang and also of the ‘moderate Flemish nationalist’ N-VA were very angry that the Pukkelpop organisation had banned the far-right version of the Flemish flag. They talked only about these flags, not what the men of these flags had done to teenage pro-climate girls.

Belgian (‘center-right’) daily De Gazet van Antwerpen, 20 August 2019, interviewed Robert Kaerts about what his 17-year old daughter went through at Pukkelpop. Kaerts is upset that politicians like Peter de Roover (N-VA) do not seem to care about what happened to those 17-year-old girls.

The far-rightists surrounded the girls’ tents all night. They tore open tents to find Anuna de Wever, one of them laid down on top of a girl, they shouted ‘green whores’, ‘kill Anuna’, ‘kill all Jews‘, they threw bottles full of urine, they tore up the party tent.

In spite of security protection, during the next night, there was again an attack on the party tent, and a bucket full of urine was put outside the girls’ tent. Robert Kaerts: ‘I cannot stop racking my brains about what would have happened if they would have succeeded in finding Anuna’.

See also here. And here.

Much Belgian Jehovah’s Witnesses sexual abuse


This video from the USA says about itself:

Did leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child sex abuse?

In San Francisco, a woman is suing the Jehovah’s Witnesses for failing to protect her from a known child abuser when she was a child. The Center for Investigative Reporting has shed light on accusations that religious leaders led a cover-up of child sex abuse. Special correspondent Trey Bundy of the CIR’s Reveal reports on how the organization is using the first amendment to fight these charges.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

More than ninety reports of sexual abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belgium

The Belgian branch of the Reclaimed Voices foundation, which defends the interests of victims of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, received more than ninety reports in six months. That writes the newspaper Le Soir.

The federal public prosecutor conducts research in Belgium into sexual (child) abuse within the religious community. At the end of April, the Belgian headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kraainem were searched. The judiciary was looking for reports on, eg, internal court cases.

Own courts

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own kind of courts, committees of “elders” within the faith. They pass judgment on members’ sins. The maximum punishment is banishment from the community. A spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belgium tells Le Soir that the organization wants to cooperate with the federal public prosecutor.

In the Netherlands, the religious community has so far not cooperated with the police and the judiciary. …

Reclaimed Voices in the Netherlands have received more than 300 reports of sexual abuse since the end of 2017.

See also here.

Belgian army recruiting child soldiers


This 2014 video says about itself:

Britain’s 250,000 boy soldiers in World War I

A quarter of a million boy soldiers, some as young as 14, enlisted in World War One by lying about their age. Around 120,000 of them were killed or injured. One 17-year-old was shot for desertion. The government and military — desperate to boost recruitment — turned a blind eye to the thousands of child soldiers sent to the trenches.

According to Belgian (right-wing) daily De Standaard today, the Belgian government plans to recruit child soldiers among high school students.

Today, already at some Belgian secondary schools, there is ‘security’ education aiming at jobs in the police, private ‘security’ mercenary corporations, and firefighting. I don’t like lumping firefighting, which is about saving lives, with mercenary corporations or police.

Now, Belgian armed forces spokesman colonel Jean-Christophe Delhaie aims at ‘defence and security’ education in at least fifteen schools in Flanders.

He says it is needed because many young recruits joining the armed forces now are resigning soon.