Dutch PM's meeting with BLM protesters a "PR stunt": anti-racism activists
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's meeting today with people involved in the Black Lives Matter protests over the past weeks is more a photo opportunity for the press than it is an effort to fight racism in the Netherlands, anti-racism activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) said in a statement on Facebook. According to KOZP, no one in the Black Lives Matter Netherlands coalition received an invitation to attend the meeting.
Sources told NL Times one person invited was Natacha Harlequin, who appeared this week on television show Veronica Inside to confront football pundit Johan Derksen over a racist joke he made at the expense of musician and poet Akwasi. “My intention was to get people to talk to each other, to get people to think and to start a debate and I think it worked. My mission has been successful, " she said during an interview on NPO Radio 1 on Tuesday. Broadcaster NOS reported that Gideon Everduim, a politician for Denk and also a rap musician, would be at the Wednesday afternoon meeting.
However, KOZP learned about the meeting through the media. The group has been very prominent in the fight against racism and discrimination for years, with its activists also being among the leading organizers of the Black Lives Matter protests held since the start of June. "The Black Lives Matter coalition in the Netherlands is not a formally organized action group, but a coalition of various groups, parties and individuals who fight against racism in the Netherlands. Neither the coalition nor KOZP were invited to the meeting," the group of anti-racism activists said. "We were therefore surprised that various media reported that Rutte is talking to representatives of this coalition."
"The structure of the conversation and the Prime Minister's invitation policy together give the strong impression that this is more about a PR stunt than a sincere conversation to combat institutional ant anti-black racism in concrete terms. The organizers of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations have received no invitation to this conversation," KOZP said.
"We regret that Prime Minister Rutte stated that he wants to talk to 'participants in Black Lives Matter demonstrations' about 'how the conversation about racism in society can be properly conducted', and not how policy can be developed to fight racism," KOZP said. "We see this as a diversion from not talking about the calls from the EU and ECRI, among others, to formulate a national approach to fight against racism."
KOZP pointed out that it published an open letter, along with petitions with over 10 thousand signatures, in November last year calling for a dialogue with the government to discuss anti-black violence against KOZP protesters and to formulate policies around institutional racism. "KOZP never received a response from Prime Minister Rutte. In the meantime, several institutional racism scandals have taken place, such as ethnic profiling by the Tax Authority, the murder of Tomy Holten and the investigation into discrimination on the housing market in Amsterdam."
"This is why many feel that Prime Minister Rutte does not care about the lives of black people. It therefore seems that this conversation will be started as a PR stunt in the run-up to the March 2021 elections," KOZP said. "Our black communities and the struggles of recent years and the generations that have fought for us are too precious to exchange for a press moment for Rutte so that he can tick of one of his responsibilities on his list."