Dutch child advocate threatened after anti-blackface report; pressing charges

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Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer received "dozens of threats" following a report she released on Zwarte Piet on Friday. She reported the threats to the police and is pressing charges, her spokesperson said to NU.nl.

The threats included a number of serious death threats, though it was mainly name calling. "It happens quite often that the Children's Ombudsman receives an angry mail, but it's never been as intense as it is now." Kalverboer said on Friday.

In the report the Ombudsman stated that blackface Zwarte Piet is in violation of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. According to her, the figure provokes exclusion, bullying and discrimination. While the Convention clearly states that children have the right to equal treatment and protection against discrimination.

Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice called the threats "unacceptable", according to the news site. "Turning to threats and intimidation against someone doing his or her job, whether or not you agree with them, is unacceptable." the minister said on Friday.

The opinion on the Ombudsman's report varies among other politicians. "The fact that kids are being bullied more stresses that the Sinterklaas festival needs to move with the time", Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) said, though he added: "That change must come from society, it is not up to the government to come up with a Piet law."

GroenLinks parliamentarian Linda Voortman is happy with the Ombudsman's report. "Thanks to the Children's Ombudsman, the voice of children is heard in the debate on Piet. I think it a win. It's very sad that children feel discriminated against by something that should be a children's party. This is a very important extra reason that it is time for a new Piet."

Michiel van Veen of VVD was furious about the report. "This makes me sad. The Children's Ombudsman is consciously throwing fuel on the fire at this time. Shouting folks at the Sinterklaas parade causes more fear in children than in the Zwarte Pieten."

"Stop whining", PVV leader Geert Wilders said on Twitter. "Fuck off Children's Ombudsman with your Zwarte Piet nonsense. As if there are no real problems in the Netherlands.

A recent poll by Maurice de Hond shows that an increasing number of Dutch think its time to get rid of Zwarte Piet's black face makeup. Though a massive 70 percent of voters are still in favor of keeping the controversial character as he is.

In the Children's Ombudsman report, the kids that participated in the study also said that adults are unpleasantly dominating the Zwarte Piet discussion.