Liberal leader under fire over reaction to child's deportation

Klaas Dijkhoff (Photo: Commons)Klaas Dijkhoff (Photo: Commons)

VVD party leader Klaas Dijkhoff is facing furious reactions on the way he responded to a 9-year-old boy telling him how afraid he was to be deported to Iraq. When the child told him that he thinks death waits in Iraq, the Liberal parliamentarian said: "Yes, well", RTL Nieuws reports.

Program maker Tim Hofman took the boy to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, to speak to parliamentarians for his documentary Terug naar je eige land. For the documentary Hofman followed five children who were deported, or about to be deported, to see how these children deal with it. 

The conversation with Dijkhoff, translated from Dutch, went as follows:

Hofman: What do you think will happen when you go to Iraq?

Boy: Death

Dijkhoff: Yes...

Hofman: Yes...

Dijkhoff: Yes, well.

Hofman: Yes, I think... I'm just explaining to you what's happening in the head of such a child.

Dijkhoff: The consideration of judges and of us is that it is not so unsafe.

Many viewers found Dijkhoff's response to the boy disgusting, according to the broadcaster. "I really hope this 'yes, well' haunts Dijkhoff into the fucking hell", one Twitter user wrote. Another: "What a disgusting reaction. In my view you can never be a credible politician again."

After premiering the documentary, Hofman organized a citizen's initiative for a better children's pardon. The petition received over 40 thousand signatures within a few hours, which means that the topic can be put on the Tweede Kamer's agenda.