Posts tagged ‘human rights’

January 8, 2015

I am not. But I am.

I am not a world class journalist.

I am not a world class blogger.

I am not a world class athlete.

I am not a world class writer.

I am not a world class satire author.

I am not a world class musician.

I am not a world class artist.

I am not a world class ideologist.

I am Charlie.

I am Ahmed.

Freedom of Expression, I would be nowhere without it.

Freedom of Expression, I would be nowhere without it.

February 5, 2014

Panem et circenses

When I was younger, say 10 or 11 years old, I would look at the Olympic winter games on television and dream of being one of those gorgeous ice skaters or skiers who were successful, athletic and in general very easy on the eyes. After watching a game, I would fantasize about how it would feel to be at those games, as an athlete, when I was laying awake at night. It must be amazing to live in a world that is all about sports and not about all the sad politics, hatred and violation of human rights, which I knew – maybe a bit too much – about because I was already a volunteer for Amnesty International.

rainbow weightsLater I learned about the ‘bread and games’ politics used in Rome to silence the entire population. If you give people their basic needs and make sure they have got something to amuse themselves, they won’t question decisions and acts by political figures and leaders too much, and if they did, well, there was always room for more gladiators to fight. It was a simple diversion for support and approval of political decisions: marketing.

Again a few years later, I realized that the image of the Dutch that I always learned about, us being tolerant and open minded, has mostly been a good marketing act of a small group of the population, a façade, and it was slowly fading as I grew older. More and more I learned about the violation of human rights in my own country, and the hatred amongst people all around the world, hatred against individuals and groups of people, based on their appearance, their race, their sexual orientation..

I saw how populist politics grew and how television more and more became an excuse to numb down, to get hypnotized by – sometimes plain cruel – amusement. I saw a population that cared about bread and games, a population that did not question why, how and how come. Was it that I was growing older, losing my naivety, or was it that the world actually was changing? Was it that thanks to the internet I learned more and more about the world, or was it that we were actually fighting harder for equality and human rights and that change demands resistance and impasses?

You know? With the Olympics coming up, once again the entire world focuses on the problems, issues and cruelties of one country. A country organizing the Olympics is under a magnifying glass and as soon as the games are over, we move on and forget about all the things that made us so angry in the first place (or the things we ignored because we did not want to care). This could be a reason not to stand up, not to speak out and say: “Hey, country, what you are doing there… I don’t really like that.”  It could. But in all these cases, I think it is important to do speak out, to do stand up and say what bothers you. The Olympics were never only about the games, it has always been about politics, so why be ignorant about that? Have we really become that numb and scared that we won’t protect morality, equality and our basic human rights any more? Did we really fall for the fairytale of the separation of sports and politics?

I am proud of all the athletes that stood op so far, the athletes that used their voice, however silent or loud, to say: “Hey, country, what you are doing there… I really don’t like that.” Athletes like Emma Green-Tregaro and Anastasia Bucsis give me faith that we can still fight. We won’t be ignorant and use things like “we have to respect the rules and culture of a country” or, as we do in the Netherlands, “it was just a joke”, to be racists or fascists, to promote inequality or to be cruel, against humans and animals.

I am ashamed that the Dutch government did not stand up and speak out in favour of the BGLT community, in favour of equality, in favour of human rights. I am disappointed that the Dutch government hides behind “political reasons” and the “fragile relation with Russia”. If that relationship is really that fragile, maybe it is time to question why that is. Maybe it is time to stand up and say: “Hey, Russia, what you are doing there… I really don’t like that!”