The Dutch government must take the lead in combating racism, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism and Xenophobia, Tendayi Achiume.
This year Sinterklaas will only be accompanied by so-called Chimney Pieten at his national arrival in Apeldoorn on November 16th. All of Sinterklaas' helpers will have soot marks on their faces, instead of the traditional blackface makeup, NTR announced on Tuesday, NU.nl reports.
The proportion of Dutch who think that Sinterklaas' controversial helper must stay in his traditional blackface form decreased from 65 percent in 2016 to around 50 percent this year, according to a survey by research agency I&O Research among 3,145 Dutch aged 18 or older, NOS reports.
After a weekend that saw anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators attacked by threats, racist epithets, and with eggs and beer cans hurled at them, the activists of Kick Out Zwarte Piet said they are disappointed in city governance in the Netherlands. Protestors were physically and verbally assaulted during the Sinterklaas arrival events in Eindhoven, Groningen, and Leeuwarden, while threats of violence forced the cancellation of a protest in Nijmegen.
Activists angered by the use of blackface around the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition are planning to protest in Dokkum on Saturday. The protestors had previously made arrangements with the municipality to lawfully demonstrate in the Friesland town at the televised Sinterklaas arrival last year, but their buses were stopped by people who created a blockade on the A7 motorway shutting down all traffic on a main road into the province.
The municipality of Zaanstad fears that the Sinterklaas's national arrival on Saturday will have to be canceled if the court rules in favor of the Majority Perspective foundation in summary proceedings the foundation filed. The foundation did not ask for the celebration to be banned outright, as previously reported, but demands that the Zwarte Piet characters be stripped of all stereotypical characteristics and behaviors that they consider racist, NU.nl reports.
The first episode of NTR's kids show Sinterklaasjournaal on Monday featured mainly Chimney Pieten with soot marks on their faces. Only one, played by actor Maarten Wansink, had a completely black face, NU.nl reports.
In the first episode, presenter Dieuwertje Blok made first contact with the steamboat, which has to set course to Zaanstad where Sinterklaas will make his national arrival in the Netherlands on Saturday. The boat hasn't departed yet, because Sinterklaas is not yet on board.
A group of Zwarte Piet opponents filed summary proceedings asking the court to ban the national arrival of Sinterklaas in Zaanstad on Saturday. The Majority Perspective foundation filed this lawsuit against a number of involved parties, including Sinterklaasjournaal broadcaster NTR and the mayor of Zaanstad, NU.nl reports.
No Chimney Pieten will accompany Sinterklaas during celebrations in Noord-Brabant's largest cities. Seven of the eight cities in the province decided to stick to traditional Zwarte Pieten, with the actor's faces colored by brown, dark brown or black makeup, Omroep Brabant reports.
The Zaanstad Sinterklaas committee, the largest in the Zaanstreek, will not participate in the national Sinterklaas arrival in Zaandijk on November 17th. A statement by broadcaster NTR, the organizer of the national arrival, led the committee to the conclusion that no blackface Zwarte Pieten will be allowed to participate in the arrival for the first time. But according to a spokesperson for NTR, this is not the case at all.
One float in the Brabantsedag Heeze theater parade caused a bit of an uproar on Facebook. According to Sun Shain, who posted a video of the float in question on Facebook, it looks like a slave ship, carrying people in blackface makeup.
Some 18 suspects were identified during a criminal investigation into the unauthorized highway shutdown meant to stop protestors from marching against Zwarte Piet last November. Police notified the suspects that they are wanted for questioning, the public prosecutor's office announced on Monday.
Verene Shepherd, a professor at the University of the West Indies and a former UN expert on people of African descent, still gets hate mail from the Netherlands four years after she criticized blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet. At one point she received up to 80 emails per day, riddled with hateful and racist remarks, the Jamaican professor revealed while giving a speech at a human rights conference in Jamaica on Sunday, Afro Magazine reports.
Dutch party clothing retailer Feestkleding 365 decided to drop all signs of blackface from its Zwarte Piet costumes, the company announced in a press release on Tuesday. The decision was made based on racist comments the retailer received on an opinion poll about whether or not to keep the costume in its current form. Feestkleding 365 also decided to donate the revenue made by selling these costumes to charity.
Gert-Jaap van Ulzen, board member of the VVD in Leeuwarden, resigned from the party following posts he made on Twitter calling anti-Zwarte Piet activists "negro fascists". Faction secretary Joel Heiner confirmed to Omrp Fryslan that Van Ulzen decided to withdraw from the VVD Leeuwarden board after "good consultation" with the other board members.
The teachers at four out of five primary schools in the Netherlands do not talk about the color of Zwarte Piet and do not ask themselves whether appearance of the controversial character may be hurtful to some children, according a study by DUO Onderwijsonderzoek & Advies, ANP reports.
A primary school in the Utrecht district of Zuilen called the police after a group of activists protesting for the preservation of Zwarte Piet in his traditional blackface appearance, stormed into the school on Thursday, ANP reports.
Around 10 protesters dressed up as Zwarte Piet charged into the primary school De Cirkel's schoolyard and classrooms and started handing out perpernoten and stickers shortly before the end of the school day.
Dutch newspaper AD and a number of Dutch celebrities are calling for a 'Sinterklaas truce'. The newspaper wants to make a deal - no debating about the form of the Sinterklaas party or the appearance of Zwarte Piet as long as Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands - and a number of well known Dutch expressed similar sentiments in the newspaper.
People protesting for keeping Zwarte Piet in blackface makeup, also have to comply with the law, State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations said in WNL on Sunday. He was referring to a group of people blocking anti-Zwarte Piet protesters from reaching the Sinterklaas parade in Dokkum on Saturday, where they had permission to protest against racism.
"I understand the emotions on this subject, but I cannot approve of people stopping everything on a highway," Knops said. "Everyone must abide by the law, including these people."
Buses filled with Zwarte Piet protestors were stopped by a group of about 35 white people stationed on the A7 highway outside Heerenveen, Friesland on Saturday. The protesters were on their way to the official Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum about 50 kilometers away, where they had approval from city officials to march against the character.
Dokkum is getting ready for Sinterklaas' national arrival on Saturday, including putting up decorations and preparing for an anti-Zwarte Piet protest. The municipality of Dongeradeel, which includes Dokkum, gave Kick Out Zwarte Piet permission to protest, but is still working out the exact conditions and arrangements, a spokesperson said to Het Parool.
Kick Out Zwarte Piet announced their protest on Facebook. The protest will be preceded by a "March for Civilization", according to the group.
Blackface Zwarte Piet will disappear from Rotterdam's Sinterklaas celebrations. Snic, the organization of the Sinterklaas Parade in the city, discussed the controversial character and how to modernize the children's party with Platform Rutu, which represents various African communities in Rotterdam. They decided to remove any reference to black or other possibly offensive stereotypes, including the word 'Zwarte' from Piet's name, RTV Rijnmond reports.
The roughly 400 Pieten helping Sinterklaas in Amsterdam's celebration this year, will be decked out in brand new, specially designed suits, the foundation responsible for the Amsterdam Sinterklaas celebration, SSIA, announced on Monday night. The new costumes were specifically designed to remove all references to slavery from the controversial character, discovered in examinations of the history behind the Zwarte Piet costume.
As the Netherlands' Sinterklaas celebrations approaches, municipalities are starting to reveal their plans on how they're dealing with controversial character Zwarte Piet. Most of the municipalities are sticking to blackface or dark brown makeup, according to AD's Piet Atlas. Amsterdam and The Hague will have no blackface Piets, with Amsterdam also designing a completely new costume. Utrecht plans mostly Chimney Piets - with faces covered in soot marks - and a few traditional blackface Piets. Rotterdam is keeping its plans secret until the day before the celebration.