Freedom? Only when convenient

Joanna on Queensday

Davey Meelker

The Netherlands celebrated liberation day yesterday, five days after the crowning of the new king. Amsterdam was the stage of the big celebration during the crowning. Its main square was full of people dressed in orange to say goodbye to queen Beatrix who passed the torch to her son Willem Alexander after 33 years of reign. The country was dazzled in euphoria without realising that on that same day fundamental human rights were violated.

Protester Joanna was at the square around nine a clock in the morning with a piece of cardboard and a pen. She wrote “I’m not a subject” (ik ben geen onderdaan) on her piece of cardboard and not long after she was finished writing ten policemen were standing next to her and she was violently arrested. No one at Dam square objected. The same happened with Hans Maessen with his sign “No monarchy, but democracy.” He was arrested too, and no bystander objected.

Both were released two hours after they were arrested with the apology from the police. Off course, they missed the big moment where the new king entered the balcony at the square which was broadcasted throughout the Netherlands and beyond. The police and the mayor said that this should have never had happened and it was the mistake of a few individual policemen. It sounds a bit silly, on an occasion were they extensively prepared a security protocol months in advance. Joanna’s advocate founds it also hard to believe and even stressed that there are signs that the royal security forces are behind the arrest.

Freedom of speech is something the Netherlands is advocating throughout the world. I hope that people realise that even here freedom of speech is conveniently ignored sometimes. Of course the arrest itself is a shame, but most importantly is that the fundamentals of the state were violated and none of the hundreds of bystander protested against it. Yesterday, we celebrated our freedom and remembered how people fought and died for it. It was the moment to speak up against our current violation of freedom of speech. Unfortunately this voice was not heard, again.

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