Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The virginity test dispelled

Female virginity and the ability to prove an unmarried woman is a virgin are still vital to a family’s  ‘honour’ in many countries, but the members of the Myth Dispelled campaign group in the Netherlands say it’s actually impossible to prove by medical means whether a woman is still a virgin. They also say that virginity testing - highlighted by recent controversial cases in Egypt and India - is a powerful tool when it comes to oppressing women and actually violates their human rights. 
The whole issue of virginity made headlines recently with the humiliating testing of a number of alleged rape victims in India and 17 Egyptian women who took part in the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo. In the latter case, the aim of the tests appears to have been to ‘protect’ members of the Egyptian army against possible rape accusations.

Writing in a Dutch newspaper, Ineke van Seumeren – a gynaecologist at the UMC teaching hospital in Utrecht - and fellow Myth Dispelled (Mythe Ontkracht) member and chairperson Ines Balkema argue that virginity testing is pointless:  
“In many countries it’s still not known that female virginity cannot be medically proven. Even in the modern Netherlands many people are convinced that you can see or feel whether or not a woman is a virgin. The medical facts are different.”
 
The way such tests are carried out is often extremely primitive – one of the most common being the method of inserting two fingers into the vagina. Two fingers are said to be equal to the width of a penis. If the fingers enter ‘easily’, then the woman in question is assumed to have had sex before.
 
The Myth Dispelled foundation explains that the flexibility or tightness of a vagina and the condition of the hymen – the membrane that ‘closes’ the entrance to the cervix – say and prove nothing about the sexual activity, or lack thereof, of a woman.
 
In the opinion piece, the two women write: “The hymen is not a sealed membrane. In most cases it is a small, flexible lip; sometimes it’s hard and inflexible […].  It varies from woman to woman […]. A vagina is made to allow a baby to pass through; it’s an illusion to think that a vagina will expand because of something small like a penis.”
 
They argue that virginity testing is, in fact, a powerful tool when it comes to the continued oppression of women and they cite what happened in Cairo: “When the female protestors in Egypt underwent the virginity test, completely undressed, military personnel were there taking photographs. The result of practices like this is that women will think twice about demonstrating or filing a rape charge. This is a serious violation of women’s human rights…”
 
On a more positive note, the authors write that the recent cases have sparked debate about abolishing these mediaeval tests in both India and Egypt, adding that it’s now important to keep an eye on whether this actually happens and to keep on stressing that virginity isn’t something that can be proven or disproven by medical means.

Day Opening - June 17

bad, bad boy..))

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turkey PM and Turkish minister of EU affairs make weird accusations

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Dutch media that he is opposed to radical politics. Without mentioning anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, Mr Erdogan said, "Radicalism brings misery over the people and the country."
The Turkish Prime Minister, who usually shuns foreign media, was interviewed by Holland's public broadcaster NOS and daily NRC Handelsblad on the eve of Sunday's general elections in Turkey. Campaigning on a ultra nationalistic militaristic national pride theme, which Mr Erdogan's AK party won with 48.8% of the votes.
European Union
Geert Wilders' Freedom Party is opposed to Turkey's entry into the European Union. With 15 percent of the popular vote, the nationalist Freedom Party is a key supporter of the Netherlands' minority government. Brussels has been considering Ankara's membership application since 1987.
Explaining Turkey's position, Europe Minister Egemen Bagis later told the Dutch press that his government is dealing with the Netherlands' government, not with Geert Wilders' Freedom Party. "We're assuming that the Dutch population is not interested in the anti-Islam position of Mr Wilders," the Turkish minister said, thinking that those 15% of simple 1.5 million can be ignored like he ignored the rights of Kurds. Anyway, Bağis never made a clever statement, always controversial.

Dangerous man
Geert Wilders reacted in characteristic fashion, not mincing his words: "Mr Erdogan is a dangerous Islamist of the worst kind. If he wins the elections, Turkey will definitively turn its back on Europe. As far as we're concerned they will never get into the EU anyway, but in any case normal relations will become complicated when he is involved. A dangerous man, himself an Islamic radical."
A member of the Dutch opposition Socialist Party, Sadet Karabulut, a Turk, said on Twitter, "Turkish premier Erdogan may be concerned about a radicalisation in Dutch politics. I'm concerned about Mr Erdogan's radical politics."
Erdogan and its team face huge economical problems. But their bragging starts to irritate.

Day Opening - June 14

waiting for my beer

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hesperado: The Mediterranean Boat People: Black refugees from Arabic racism?

The Hesperado: The Mediterranean Boat People: Black refugees from Arabic racism?

Holland guarantee open and free access to internet: net neutrality

The Netherlands is to be the first European country to guarantee open and free access to the internet. Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen has embraced an opposition bill about ‘net neutrality’. In future, telecom operators will no longer be allowed to charge extra for internet services like Skype and YouTube. The bill has the support of a parliamentary majority.

If the bill is adopted on Tuesday, it would mean telecom providers can't go ahead with their plans to charge users extra for services like Skype and Youtube. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and streaming video on mobile phones would also no longer fall under existing subscription packages. Telecom providers would really prefer to go back to the old system under which their clients paid per MB.
4G
The telecommunications industry says it really has no choice because the widespread use of free services is costing them too much. Data traffic has grown exponentially in the past few years. At the same time, telecom providers have seen revenue from telephony (both via landlines and via mobile phones) and text messaging take a nose-dive. The telecommunications industry says that unless new sources of revenue are found they will have no money to pay for the new hyper-fast 4G mobile network.
Open internet
However, a majority in parliament, which has now been joined by the minister, will not stand for any infringement of net neutrality. Minister Verhagen:
“By enshrining a guaranteed open internet in law, the Netherlands shows how important we feel it is for citizens to have free access to the internet. Without interference, and primarily by deciding for oneself what information one wants to use.”
Minister Verhagen does not have the support of the coalition parties CDA (Christian democrats) and VVD (conservatives). The two parties want to postpone a decision on net neutrality, because other European countries are not yet ready to take a decision.
European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has said she believes European rules to guarantee free access to the internet are not necessary. However, Minister Verhagen believes that introducing net neutrality legislation now will send a clear signal to other countries to follow suit.
Consumers
The Dutch consumers’ interests watchdog De Consumentenbond is pleased with the preservation of an open internet. The organisation fears that additional charges for certain web services would hamper internet innovation. Skype and YouTube are examples of user-developed services.
According to a spokesperson, “Creativity would be seriously hampered if they were to be included in paid subscriptions.” And users would reportedly face a veritable jungle of subscriptions.
The telecom providers have not yet reacted to Minister Verhagen’s statements on a guaranteed open internet, but they will be sure to be following next week’s parliamentary debate intently from the public

Day Opening - June 13

having fun my way

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Don't tell us how to dress, tell men not to rape!

An exuberant group of people paraded through the streets of Amsterdam this weekend to promote freedom of expression. The first Dutch Slutwalk made a fun statement on why people shouldn’t be judged by their outfit. Later this month it’s India’s turn to show how tolerant they are when Delhi hosts its first Slutwalk.
The Canadian policeman who told college girls to avoid dressing ‘like a slut’ could have never foreseen the effect his words would have. His speech was meant to educate girls on how to protect themselves from rape attacks. Instead women all over the world are now educating men about how they want to be treated in public.
It started in Toronto; women outraged by the remarks took to the streets to show their “slutty” side.  The Slutwalks are now held all over the globe to demonstrate that a skin-revealing dress doesn’t mean ‘yes’.   After Toronto, Melbourne and Amsterdam, Delhi is next on the calendar.
Amsterdam
With the phenomenon spreading worldwide each city has adapted the concept to its own social concerns.  In Amsterdam this weekend, for example, the rally was much more about gender equality.
Organiser Mirjam van Heugten: “Amsterdam is known for its tolerant spirit, but in some ways it’s a false idea of tolerance. When two women holding hands walk down the street it is okay. But when they’re clearly a gay couple, because one dresses more feminine and the other dresses more masculine, they get stared at.”
As a lesbian herself, Ms Van Heugten knows what she is talking about. She has experienced it firsthand, even during the media campaign for the Amsterdam Slutwalk.
“This morning I was interviewed on national radio about the event. This very macho male presenter called me a frustrated dyke for organising it! To me it shows that even in the Netherlands a Slutwalk is still necessary.”
Delhi
Unlike Amsterdam, India is infamously known for not being so tolerant to women. In many assault and harassment cases the motives of the girls are questioned rather than the perpetrators’ actions. Why was she out at night? Why was she wearing a western-style party dress? These are all questions that shouldn’t matter. But they are being asked over and over again, by the media, the public and government officials.
Nisha Susan is the woman behind the very popular Facebook group for ‘Pub-going, loose and forward women’. This initiative, which was set up last year, has a similar angle on the issue of harassment as the Slutwalks have.
“We wanted to reclaim the words that are used to address women in a derogatory way” says Nisha Susan.
Nisha’s group is responsible for the Pink Chaddi campaign. Hundreds of pink panties from women all over India were sent to the headquarters of a Hindu nationalist party, in reaction to an incident in Mangalore. A group of girls were attacked there in a bar by men from the Sri Ram Sena party. The Pink Chaddi campaign was a fun and harmless way to address the issue. It turned out to be an incredible effective tool, because it succeeded in getting a lot of media attention.
This now talk on the popular social network site of organising India’s first Slutwalk in Delhi on the 25th of June.
Nisha Susan: “Women in Delhi are very politically active but I’m not sure how big a success a Slutwalk would be. No matter how many people show up, we have to keep doing this. Because you never know how many women are being influenced.”
Feminism
The reactions in India to the Slutwalks taking place all over the world have been divided. Some say that the walks are too typically western and that Indian women wouldn’t be able to relate to the word ‘slut’. The Hindi language doesn’t seem to have a good translation for subtle promiscuity. Others feel that India needs a SlutWalk even more than western countries do.
Whether there is such a thing as western or eastern feminism, women coming together to fight for a common cause can never be a bad thing.

Day Opening - June 8

Friends

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Turkish Coffee Culture “From the 16th to the 21st Century and Beyond"

Saturday, June 11 · 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Location
New York Turkish House on June 11, 2011 – 7:00 – 9:30 PM
821 United Nations 8th floor
New York, NY

Created By

More Info
Many people have come to rely on their daily coffee, but do they really know coffee’s history and development in the western world and North America? Do we know the Ottoman role in introducing coffee to Europe? Do we know why the first Turkish coffee houses were called ‘the school of the wise?’

Turkey’s International and Digital Coffee House; Turkayfe.org is pleased to invite you for a fun presentation on Turkish Coffee traditions, its history, social culture and its influence on the American society. The event will feature expert lectures and free tasting from Turkey’s oldest coffee ground seller Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, followed by a networking reception.

To RSVP: http://turkishcoffeeculturenewyork.eventbrite.com/

Space is limited. Please RSVP by June 8.

The event schedule will be as follow:

7:00 PM Event start time

7:15 PM Opening remarks

7:30 PM Ercüment Ackman, Capstone Advisor, Georgetown University Real Estate Graduate School – ‘Once Upon a time Turkish Coffee’

7:45 PM Göknur Akçadağ, History Expert, Assistant Professor, Yıldız Techical University, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences – ‘The American Perspective: Turks in the 19th-20th centuries’

8:00 PM Gizem Salcigil White and Efe Sevin, Founders of Turkayfe.org – ‘Digitalizing Coffee Houses - Social Diplomacy Web 2.0 and Turkey’s International Digital Coffee House’

8:30 – 9:30 PM Reception

Day Opening - June 1

India

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crime and alcohol under the youth in the Netherlands

Crime among teenagers and young adults in the Netherlands appears to be decreasing.
The justice ministry’s Research and Documentation Centre reports that in 2008, for the first time in years, fewer community service sentences were imposed on minors (between the age of 12 and 18).
For the first time in years, the Centre also recorded a decrease in young adults (between the age of 18 and 24) engaged in criminal activity.
However, the number of young people admitted to hospital for alcohol poisoning has gone up substantially.
Last year, doctors treated 684 young people who had too much to drink. This was an increase of 37 percent compared to 2009, when 500 young people were admitted in connection with alcohol abuse.
These figures feature in the report Alcoholic intoxication among young people in the Netherlands. The report was published on Tuesday by researchers at the University of Twente and a number of hospitals in the main western conurbation of the Netherlands.

Day Opening - May 31

baby

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day Opening - May 29


Humordernaars by Erik Louisse

Love the movie Pulp Fiction...
Love this improvisation of the Dutch comics 'Bassie and Adriaan'. A duo of a clown and acrobat that make silly jokes for children.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Halal Chicken

Dutch halal meat doesn’t make the grade. Apparently a Malaysian delegation visited the country last year to inspect its slaughterhouses and promptly decided to ban Dutch meat imports. “No certifier who takes his responsibilities as a Muslim seriously would accept that meat as halal,” the head of the Malaysian halal authority told the paper.
Malaysia had been importing Dutch chickens, which are stunned with an electric shock before being slaughtered. This is allowed under halal rules, as long the chicken is stunned but not killed. It has to be alive and healthy when its throat is cut. But a recent study found that 20 to 30 percent of poultry didn’t survive the shock. Are we shocked?.)

Day Opening - May 27


http://www.365dagenkunst.nl/2011/a-new-day-a-new-dawn-a-new-life/
By Maritsa van Luttikhuizen

Good morning!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wouldn't want to keep this from you


From: pienfeith.nl

I once saw Pien Feith in a small living room somewhere in Utrecht during a 'huiskamerconcert' (living room concert). She managed to grab my attention and since that day I've seen her growing into a rising star.

Her first cd - Dance on Time - was released in February this year, she was in one of Holland's most famous daily tv-shows several times and performing as a professional artist is her full time profession.

A few year ago she participated in the project 'In a Cabin With'. An interesting concept with several artists that don't know each other and create a cd together. In this 'In a Cabin With' she's the singer of the group Neonbelle (download is free). The music is a dramatic but touching mixture of Massive Attack, the Postal Service and Roísín Murphy (Moloko). A nice way to get to know Pien Feith a bit better.

An American film director found her music via the internet. Although I'm not a fan of this song, she made the sound track for his film 'Trucker'.

Day Opening - May 26

...)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Amnesty International 50 years

As human rights Group international Amnesty International marks its 50th anniversary later this week, here a brief overview of its remarkable history and achievements.
Over the past 50 years the one-man initiative has grown into an international organization with 2.8 million members, donors and supporters. Numbering 300,000 members, the Dutch branch is the world’s biggest. Currently Amnesty is helping 4,500 individual human rights victims.
Benenson
The group’s origins go back to 28 May 1961, when British lawyer Peter Benenson launched a worldwide campaign, ‘Appeal for Amnesty 1961’, with the publication of an article, ‘The Forgotten Prisoners’, in the British newspaper The Observer. In the article, which was reprinted in papers across the world, he called for the release of two Portuguese students who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their wine glasses in a toast to freedom in a bar in Lisbon.
Mission
Amnesty has three founding principles: protection of freedom, protection against any form of arbitrary violence committed or tolerated by any state and banning discrimination. At first, the group focused on helping release prisoners of conscience and rooting out torturre and executions. At present, the group aims to defend all rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Annual report

Amnesty’s first annual report was published in 1962. Numbering 25 pages, it described the human rights record of 20 countries. Amnesty’s 2010 report is over 400 pages long, contains reports on 159 countries and discusses a wide range of topics, including torture, capital punishment, refugee issues, impunity, police violence and discrimination.
United Nations
In 1964 the United Nations gave Amnesty International consultative status.
The Netherlands
Amnesty opened an office in Holland in 1968.
Torture
In 1972 Amensty launched its first worldwide campaign for the abolition of torture.
The first full Urgent Action was mounted the following year, on behalf of a Brazilian professor, Luiz Basilio Rossi, who had been arrested for political reasons. Luiz himself believed that Amnesty International's appeals were crucial: "I knew that my case had become public, I knew they could no longer kill me. Then the pressure on me decreased and conditions improved." Since then, the number of countries that torture has dropped by 50 percent, from 75 countries in 1972.
Nobel Prize
In 1977 Amnesty was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "having contributed to securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world".
Capital punishment
In 1977 Amnesty launched an international campaign against the death penalty. Only 16 countries had completely abolished capital punishment by then. Now 139 countries have.
International Criminal Tribunal
In 1998, 120 countries adopted the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Day Opening - May 23

right click

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will Gaddafi be prosecuted by the ICC?

Will Gaddafi end up in the dock in The Hague? Yes, if it's up to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to decide. "We are almost ready for trial." said Luis Moreno Ocampo at a press conference, announcing that the court is seeking arrest warrants for the Libyan leader and two others.

The ICC's chief prosecutor says Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the Libyan military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi are responsible for committing crimes against humanity by persecuting and killing protesters during an uprising which began in mid-February. "The office gathered direct evidence about orders issued by Muammar Gaddafi himself, direct evidence about Saif al-Islam organising the recruitment of mercenaries and direct evidence of the participation of al-Senussi in the attacks against demonstrators."
The chief prosecutor added that his office also documented how the three held meetings "to plan the operations" and Gaddafi used his "absolute authority to commit crimes in Libya." Ocampo is confident he has enough evidence."We have such strong evidence, such direct evidence that we're almost ready for trial," he says.

Ocampo's investigators undertook 30 missions to 11 countries. There they collected over 1,200 documents, including videos and pictures and interviewed more than 50 people.
It is the fastest investigation by Ocampo's office in The Hague so far. The UN Security Council sent him to investigate ongoing atrocities against civilians in late February. The prosecutor was quick to act, convinced he can help prevent further crimes.
He already told the council two weeks ago "crimes against humanity have been and continue to be committed in Libya, attacking unarmed civilians including killings and persecutions in many cities across Libya."

Ocampo said he will continue his investigations on "different forms of persecution against civilians, as well as acts of rape and the unlawful arrest, mistreatment and killings of sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries." He added that war crimes charges might also be laid.
In the meantime, it is up to a panel of ICC judges to decide whether or not to issue the warrants. And if they do, Ocampo faces an even bigger struggle: actually getting the Libyans to The Hague. The ICC does not have a police force and Ocampo has already called on states "to prepare for arrests should judges decide to issue arrest warrants. Now is the time to start planning on how to implement possible arrest warrants," he said.
This is not the first time an international war crimes prosecutor has probed Colonel Gaddafi's actions. His name was often mentioned in Freetown, in The Hague and in the courtrooms of the Special Court for Sierra Leone SCSL. With the Sierra Leone tribunal in The Hague wrapping up the case against the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, critics maintain others should also be held accountable for war crimes in West Africa.

The Libyan leader trained Taylor and Sierra Leonean rebels at his World Revolutionary Headquarters camps in the 1980s and allegedly funded the warmongers in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Gaddafi has not been indicted by the court. Its first prosecutor, David Crane, recently hinted that the main sponsors of the tribunal would have cut funding if he had gone after the Libyan leader at the time.
If Ocampo's prosecution bid proves successful Gaddafi might meet Taylor again, but this time in the Scheveningen detention unit.

Day Opening - May 19

purple moon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ajax or Twente

The most exciting finish in the history of the Dutch premier league is at hand. League leaders FC Twente play their final match of the season against second-place Ajax. With the Dutch league title at stake, and only a single point separating the two teams, we looks ahead to see who’ll be celebrating this Sunday.

Last year it was FC Twente who snatched league glory on the final day of play with a one point lead over Ajax. This year’s head-to-head decider is taking the excitement to fever pitch.
But there are three good reasons why Ajax will finally regain the Dutch league title.

1. Ajax’s successful new coach: Frank de Boer
Frank de Boer took charge at Ajax last December, replacing Martin Jol, who resigned after the Amsterdam club suffered a humiliating Champions League defeat at the hands of Real Madrid. Frank – twin brother of footballer Ronald de Boer – brought about a miraculous change of fortune. His first match as coach resulted in a 2-0 away victory against AC Milan in the Champions League. Since then Ajax have been back on form with their trademark combination of swagger, flair and strikers down the wing. With past mentors like Louis van Gaal and national coach Bert van Marwijk, and the backing of Ajax’s prodigal legend Johan Cruijff, how can De Boer fail?

2. Huge psychological advantage
Ajax has been playing catch-up all season and has been gathering serious momentum in recent weeks. At home, De Boer’s lads have reigned supreme, winning all six competition duels with a goal difference of 14-0. Ajax and FC Twente have clashed 44 times in Amsterdam, with Ajax winning all but ten of these encounters. True, FC Twente defeated Ajax last week to take the Cup, but that victory has only served to make Ajax even hungrier for premier league glory: Amsterdam’s desire to finally grab its 30th national title is stronger than ever.

3. Rock solid defence
Twente may have more talent on the offensive, but this season the Ajax defence has been in a class of its own. At its heart is Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen, a Franz Beckenbauer in the making. Vertonghen is accompanied by his burly compatriot Toby Alderweireld. The Belgians are flanked by Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel and talented young Dane Nicolai Boilesen. With national goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg out of action with a broken thumb, talented second keeper Kenneth van der Meer has the chance to prove himself on Sunday.
With all this going for them, how could the pride of Amsterdam fail? But let’s not forget: FC Twente are in pole position – not to mention being defending champions and Cup winners – and with good reason.

In other words, it’s time to take a look at three reasons why FC Twente will take home the league title once again.

1. FC Twente only need one point
Their one-point lead over Ajax means that FC Twente only need a draw in Amsterdam. And Twente have a coach who knows exactly how to achieve such a result: Belgium’s former top goalkeeper Michel Preud'homme. At the start of the season, many were surprised when this French-speaking Belgian loner took over the Twente reins from successful Englishman Steve McLaren. But last week’s Cup victory is clear proof that Preud'homme is an outstanding coach.

2. FC Twente has stars
A winning team needs a star, and FC Twente has two. One is Costa Rican striker Bryan Ruiz, a key goal scorer whose mere presence is enough to spur his team on to greater heights. And then there’s the phenomenal Theo Janssen, with his sublime insight and killer long shots. Some say the 29-year-old midfielder could have been snapped up by an English or Italian club long ago, if it hadn’t been for his love of alcohol, tobacco and tattoos.
Ajax is sadly lacking in star quality. They had Uruguay’s Luis Suarez but sold him to Liverpool last winter. Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui acts like a star, but his perceived arrogance has earned him weeks of derision from his own supporters.

3. The better brother
The Netherlands has a rich tradition of football brothers (Van de Kerkhof, Koeman, De Boer, Witschge). Sunday sees a new twist with striker Luuk de Jong playing for FC Twente and his brother Siem on the Ajax front line. But while Luuk is a force to be reckoned with at Twente, midfielder Siem has been moved up front at Ajax for want of better. So the battle of the strikers looks like a clear victory for Luuk... and for Twente.
Will FC Twente hold on to the title or has Ajax’s time finally come again? One thing is sure: one of them will be holding the championship trophy aloft on Sunday afternoon.

Day Opening - May 14

Manorola, Italy, by night

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dutch-Iranian political prisoners in Iran

Dutch-Iranian activist Abdullah al-Mansouri has been in prison in Iran for five years. It is not known how he is or indeed where he is being held. Tensions between Iran and the Netherlands have most likely resulted in the worsening of his situation and the situations of other Dutch citizens who are political prisoners in Iran.

Dutch-Iranian human rights activist Sadegh Nageshkar also fears that the political struggle between Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is bad news for political prisoners.
“The more the power struggle between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad intensifies, the more political prisoners – including al-Mansouri – come under pressure. This is designed to increase the Iranian people’s fears, so that they won’t fight for their rights and freedom.”

Following the execution of Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami last January, the Dutch government came under fire for not having done enough for her. MPs are pushing the government to take Iran to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for not allowing Ms Bahrami Dutch consular support.
Mr al-Mansouri’s situation is looking even worse since the regime in Tehran recently started coming down hard on fellow activists from the predominantly Arabic Khuzestan region. Mr Nageshkar says five Arabs from Khuzestan were publically hanged last week.

Besides Mr al-Mansouri, another three Dutch-Iranians are thought to be political prisoners in Iran. The Tehran regime releases very little information about prisoners and the Dutch authorities also decline to give numbers, in order not to interfere with ongoing ‘quiet diplomacy’.
Mr Nageshkar names one of the Dutch prisoners as Saeed Shah Ghale and says he is serving a long sentence. The last of the few reports about Mr Ghale was from 2009. He is being held in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison.

Another Dutch-Iranian prisoner is the Christian, Vahik Abrahamian. He was arrested on 4 September with his wife and ten others during a religious meeting in his house in Hamadan, 350 kilometres west of Tehran. He has not officially been charged but, on television, the group was accused of "attempts to destroy the Islamic state". Last week, it surfaced that his wife, Sonia Keshish Avanessian and two others were freed at the end of April. Kiri Kankhwende from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says one of the reasons Mr Abrahamian has not been released could be his Dutch nationality.
The Iranian authorities are reported to have attempted to obtain the equivalent of 135,000 euros each for the release of the three Dutch-Iranians. CSW contacts in Iran report that Mr Abrahamian may be being used in a further attempt to raise money, but this is by no means certain.
Questions about the fate of Mr Abrahamian have been raised in the Dutch parliament, but the government says it can do little for him at the moment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How cruel was the Slavery

While calls for an apology for the slave trade are growing louder in the Netherlands, a Dutch historian has drawn an unpopular conclusion: overseas slavery was less cruel than people think. Dutch Professor Henk den Heijer believes the cruel image of slavery that has developed over the centuries is too moralistic.
Slaves spent weeks at sea, shoulder to shoulder chained up in the ship’s hold without fresh air. They were beaten and fed poorly. Women were sexually abused and there was no medical care.
“This cruel image formed in around 1800,” says Professor Den Heijer, “during the debate to abolish slavery. You mainly see interviews, books and pamphlets written by people who supported the abolition of slavery and emphasised the bad side of the trade. Those sources have become the standard for its history.”
Doctor at hand
Professor Den Heijer has uncovered a different image by looking in the archive of a shipping company, the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC). It was the largest shipping company to transport slaves in the Netherlands in the 18th century with 113 ships. The archive is unique, painting a picture of life on board the ships which took slaves from Africa to America.
The ships’ logs in the archive reveal a different story: on board the ships slaves were treated as well as the crew. A doctor was at hand for both the crew and the slaves and they were fed well. It was logical from a commercial point of view to treat slaves well.
“They were considered to be valuable. A good trader tried to get his slaves to the other side of the ocean in good condition to sell for a good price. Slavery is still morally objectionable, but that does not mean they were abused.”
Slave revolts
Abuse was the exception and officers would be punished by losing pay or being dismissed according to the ships’ logs.
Nevertheless there were slaves who revolted on board. But out of a total of 1500 trips by the MCC, this only happened 53 times. And the situation was probably the same for other counties involved in slavery like Great Britain.
Heated debate
The professor hasn’t had many reactions from his colleagues, but there are heated discussions on internet forums. On a Surinamese site one blogger wrote:
"If people are made into slaves and transported to a foreign continent, if you rob them of their language, culture, family and belief and then you say we have to see it in the light of the time, then there is something wrong with you.”
However, Surinamese sociologist at the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy Aspha Bijnaar says she is open to Professor Den Heijer’ s conclusions.
“It is too easy to say ‘he is trivalising the matter’. I am not able to check his sources myself, but he is a historian and I assume he has good arguments.”
Mr Den Heijer was recently appointed professor at the University of Leiden and is working on a television series on slavery to be broadcast in the Netherlands from September.
(About the slave trade of the Artabs - which went hand-in-hand with Jihad...another article)

Day Opening - May 10

spring...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sex in Pakistan

No sex education at your school in Pakistan? Can’t talk to your parents about it? See a doctor or get a book to learn about sex, says Dr Syed Mubin Akhtar.

But steer clear of quacks, porn sites and prostitutes, he warns.
Sex education can save you from sexual problems and “a life of sin and disease”, according Dr Syed Mubin Akhtar, Pakistani psychiatrist and sex ed author. The problem is that teachers and parents in his country are often too embarrassed to talk about sex.

Books are the best way to fill the information gap, says Dr Akhtar’s. Not surprisingly he’s quick to plug his own book, Sex education for Muslims - one of the few published on the topic in Pakistan.
You can also ask a doctor for advice, says Dr Akhtar. But you’ll need to look for one who’ll respect you’re privacy, he warns – not all doctors in Pakistan will keep your confidential queries to themselves.
Some may also feel too embarrassed to talk about sex. To keep embarrassment to a minimum, girls should go to female doctors and boys to male doctors, he suggests.


Many people in Pakistan think that hakims – traditional herbalists – are a better option for help with sexual problems than doctors, says Dr Akhtar. Even doctors sometimes refer their patients to them, and they’re easy to find.
But hakims have some muddled ideas about sexual matters, according to Dr Akhtar.
“They say that drops of semen coming out is a very serious disease that saps your bones and body strength,” he says. Only when he went to medical school did the doctor find out that such stories were myths.
Some people go to hakims because they think modern medicine is Western and unethical, says Dr Akhtar. “Hakims follow an old type of medicine,” he argues. “What type of houses would we have if we still built them like people did a thousand years ago?”

Friends and parents aren’t usually great sources of information on sex in Pakistan, says Dr Akhtar. “Friends are often not educated themselves, and parents would be shocked if you brought it up with them.”
You won’t learn much about normal sex from porn movies either, he reckons. “They show abnormal sex most of the time.”
You might be tempted to go to a prostitute to experiment with sex and get in some practice, the doctor says, but it’s not something he would recommend. “You may catch diseases and get feelings of guilt and fear. And of course it’s a sin in Islam.”
Porn is the most google word in Pakistan and Day Opening November 21 2009 is the most 'read article' here on Internations...

Day Opening - May 9

An aurora

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day Opening - May 6

View from the Montserrat (church) in Bogota, Columbia. Many pilgrims walk all the way up...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Columbia

Yesterday, Wednesday we flew to Panama City with Copa Airlines Columbia. Fantastic flight and Panama an interesting city, one skyscraper after the other. We stayed in a nice comfortable 5 star hotel but due the time not able to visit the Panama Canal. Today we flew with Copa Airlines Columbia to Bogota. And again a full service flight. Copa Airlines is not a huge airlines but one of the best I ever flew with, and that are many...
Even with and 1 1/2 flight you get food, drinks and water. Do you want a whiskey sir?.)
Anyway, we are in Bogota Columbia. Safe and well and enjoy a very nice hotel in the centre.
Both the people in Panama and Columbia, so far, are incredible helpful and nice. And Columbia changed with 10 years ago. It's safe!

Day Opening - May 5

Brickell, Miami (here I lived from 2000-2002

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From Miami to Panama and to Bogota, Columbia

Today we will fly to Panama and leave 5 beautiful days in Miami behind us. A short stay (1 night) in Panama City to visit the Panama Canal and tomorrow allready on our way to Bogota, Columbia for the last part of our trip. Next posting is from there.

Day Opening - May 4

44

Hair in Avanos

HAIR MUSEUM OF AVANOS

The Hair Museum of Avanos is a bizarre installation crafted by Turkish potter Chez Galip. The way the idea of this museum came to be is truly a unique story. 30 years ago, Chez Galip had a close friend who had to leave the town Avanos, and this made him very upset. To leave him something to remember her by, the woman left Galip with a piece of her hair.
Today the Hair Museum of Avanos features the hair of over 16,000 woman who have visited this one-of-a-kind hair haven. Each piece of hair a woman leaves behind also features an address to identify the piece.
Entrance to the Hair Museum of Avanos is free, and if you happen to be traveling to Turkey, it’s a site you can’t miss.