Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anti-racist protesters arrested at national Dutch celebration


Amsterdam The Netherlands - Int. Desk - Through the main street white men, painted black wearing Afro-wigs, walk and run playfully. Being silly, making jokes and portray the helping hands, servants, of the Dutch Santa. General crowd: white parents drink rosé and watching their children getting excited about the candies given by the Zwarte Pieten. And the presents they will get on the eve of 5th december, Santa’s birthdayparty. 


Almost out of view in a back street six men and women (all of color/African-diaspora) are roughly arrested and moved away out of sight. The wanted to protest against what they find racist about the Dutch Santa Clause celebration.

They were planning to wear t-shirts out of protest with the text ‘Zwarte Piet Is Racisme’ (‘Black Peter Is Racism’). Even before a single t-shirt was out of the backpack and visible to the public, the police arrested them. The where forcefully pushed to the ground and taking into custody. They were kicked and stumped.

A women recording the kicking and beating was arrested to. During time she was held at police station the recording of the beating was deleted from the camera’s memory. The police said that they didn’t delete anything on the camera. The woman later succeeded to un-delete the images. The videos can be found on the internet.

This protest was organized through the means of FaceBook and by activist from the Dutch Hip Hop music scene. It was a reaction of the very brutal arrests of Quinsy Gario, a poet and theater producer, and Kno’Ledge Cesare, a freedom writer, the day before. They where wearing the self-made t-shirts with the text ‘Zwarte Piet Is Racsim’, at a same kind of celebration in the city of Dordrecht, near Rotterdam. See the video of his arrest on You Tube. A Danish scientist who was studying art-protest movement and journalist student got arrested too.

Within the Hip Hop community, activists and artist made an effort to open up the dialogue about the racist content of the Dutch Santa Claus celebration for years. With the art-protest movement ‘Zwarte Piet Is Racism’ Quincy Gario and Kno’Ledge Cesare want to open the dialogue too, this year. They started their movement in the summer, months before the Christmans and Sinterklaas holidays.

With arguments founded on scientific historical research they point out the racist content of the Dutch tradition. They challenge others who disagree to explain why ‘I white man painting him self black, wearing an Afro-wig and act as a servant to a white master’ isn’t racism. The character of ‘Zwarte Piet’ seems to be based on the black Muslims during the Moor era in Spain. The Dutch Santa Claus character, the master, is based on a catholic Bishop.

In Amsterdam, one of the protesters and Hip Hop artists, Redlight Boogie aka Cane, stated: “If the man (meaning the police, ed.) is doing that to Quinsy?! Let the man do the same thing with us. Right here, right now!” He wasn’t arrested. He also stated and dared all others within the Hip Hop community: “Where you at? Not here! You all running your mouth in the studio and on FaceBook about ‘standing up’ and ‘fighting back’. You all ain’t here! At the moment here, there are more women then men. That says something about you all.” The group op protesters at the celebration was about ten men and women strong.
Dutch Santa Clause and his Black Peters (Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet)
Photo source: internet
The modern way of celebrating the Dutch Santa Claus (Santa Claus know worldwide is called the ‘Kerstman’ in The Netherlands) was originated around 1848. Eleven years before slavery became illegal in the Dutch Kingdom. In the Dutch Kingdom, including the former colonies, the end of slavery is know as ‘Keti-Koti. In 1884-’85 the Conference of Berlin was held in Germany. Where all off Africa was divided to the European colonial powers. 30 years later, whole of Arica was occupied by Europe. With one exception Ethiopia.

It was not a time that black people, Africans and the African-Diaspora, where considered equal human beings. But a product and slaves. This is the time the present ‘Zwarte Piet’ was created. A symbol of a black man, slave to a white master.

The police was telling the public that they should stop filming with their smart-phones and camera’s to protect the privacy of the ‘suspects’. The men and women arrested in Amsterdam, stated loudly they give permission to be filmed and photographed.

They resisted passively, to be arrested and moved away. They kept on chanting ‘Zwarte Piet Is Racism!’. One of the men in custody got forcefully blindfolded with his own scarf to silence him by the police.

A police men stated that this is a Dutch tradition and the protesters should keep their mouths shut. Saying also that he wasn’t allowed to say ‘Joden Koeken’ and ‘Moorkoppen’ (Jew's Cookies and Negroheads, a chocolate treat with white cream inside).

While all those in custody where moved away to several police stations nearby, two police officers where discussing if there where any more potential protesters at the square. How to description should be to pick the out between a lot of white people and black painted, Afro-wearing, white children and adults where celebrating Dutch Santa Claus.

Special-report and photo’s by Auke VanderHoek for The Vanguard Cameroon

Check You Tube for the video of Quinsy Gario's arrest:




©2011 The Vanguard Cameroon, Bamenda. A publication of Media World. All rights reserved.  All are welcome to comment. Leave a comment, speak your mind and take part in any discussion. As exchange of ideas and debates between opinions are fundamental for our democracy. And will push Cameroon forward. Comments with racist, homophobic, sexist, hateful, extreme Christian or extreme Islamic content will be removed. Leave the CAPS-LOCK off, no reason to SHOUT.