2014 Amsterdam Agenda

The following was the agenda for the 2014 Humanity in Action Fellowship for the Netherlands program in Amsterdam.

May 31

Welcome and Introductions, Safe Space and The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights

Welcome to the program! Today will be devoted to welcoming you to The Netherlands, as well as getting to know each other as a group. The first part of the day will be devoted to practical information about the program. Then, everyone will participate in a group activity, in which each person shares a story about an object revealing why they feel strongly about human rights. The chair of the board of Humanity in Action The Netherlands, Harry van den Bergh, will also speak a few welcoming words. 

To prepare you for the program, National Director Nienke Venema will moderate a session outlining a few ground rules for conducting discussions in the upcoming weeks. We would like to emphasize that some issues may be more sensitive to some fellows, and that everyone should speak from their own perspective.

Finally, we will listen to this years’ opening lecture by Kathalijne Buitenweg, who will explain more about the mission of the new Netherlands Institute for Human Rights.

  • Introduction, Harry van de Bergh, Chair, Humanity in Action The Netherlands    
  • Fellow Introductions with an Object that Symbolizes your Passion for Human Rights
  • Creating a Safe Space, Nienke Venema, National Director, Humanity in Action The Netherlands
  • The mission of The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, Kathalijne Buitenweg, member of Institute for Human Rights

June 1

Today fellows will examine the meaning of five basic human rights stipulated in the Dutch Constitution by interviewing people on the streets in different neighborhoods. How do ‘Amsterdammers’ perceive and talk about 1) the prohibition of discrimination 2) freedom of religion 3) freedom of speech 4) the right to privacy and 5) the right to a minimal living standard?

  • Fellows work in groups; interviewing locals on a pre-assigned topic related to human rights & minority rights

June 2

Human Rights, American vs Dutch culture, Human Rights in Practice 

In the morning we will begin our discussion on the basic concepts that we will be using throughout the program. What do we mean when we talk about “human rights”? When did we start talking about human rights as such and which institutions and laws are there to protect them? Lars van Troost’s lecture will be followed by presentations of your findings from yesterday’s group assignment.

After lunch, stand up comedian Greg Shapiro  -The American Netherlander – will (probably) make us laugh and wonder about the cultural differences between both sides of the Atlantic.

The day will come to end with an  ‘old time favorite’ speaker, Jelle Klaas, who exemplifies the practice of combining activism with a professional career. Jelle fights for the social and economic rights of undocumented and irregular migrants as a lawyer on a daily basis.

  • A Foreign Affair -- Human rights in the Netherlands, Lars van Troost, Head of Strategic Studies, Amnesty International
  • Presentations, Group Assignments 
  • The American Netherlander, Greg Shapiro, standup comedian
  • Fighting for Human Rights within a legal framework, Jelle Klaas, lawyer at Fischer Lawyers Haarlem
  • Discussing the Day

June 3

National Shoah Center, Personal stories from WW II, Memory Walk & Prosecutors and Bystanders, Roma Rights and WW II

Today we will focus on the starting point of the Humanity in Action Fellowship: how to learn from the past to safeguard the future? We ask you to keep this question in mind throughout the day. First we will visit the Hollandse Schouwburg, where Amsterdam Jews were forced to gather in the war before being transported to the Dutch concentration camp Westerbork.

Joel Cahen, director of the Jewish Historical museum, will share his views on a new national Shoah Center. David de Levita and Maarten Frankenhuis, both holocaust survivors, will tell you more about their personal experiences and the amazing story of Jewish people hiding in Artis,  the Amsterdam zoo, during WWII.  Guided by Inger Schaap we will also explore the war monuments in this part of town, the Jewish neighborhood. Abram de Swaan will introduce us to a theme dear to HIA: prosecutors and bystanders. In the evening we will discuss Roma rights, again in connection to WW II, with filmmaker and Roma expert Orhan Galjus.

  • Visit the Hollandse Schouwburg
  • Towards a National Shoah Center and Museum, Joel Cahen, General Director Jewish Historical Museum
  • What Determines War Trauma?, David de Levita, holocaust survivor & prhild Psychiatry
  • The Survival of Artis Amsterdam Zoo in WW II, Maarten Frankenhuis, holocaust survivor and former director Artis
  • Memory Walk, Inger Schaap, Anne Frank House
  • Visit monuments and interview people
  • Presentations and wrap up
  • The Killing Compartments: the mentality of mass murder, Abram de Swaan, professor emeritus social science, University of Amsterdam
  • Documentary Broken Silence, Q & A with director Orhan Galjus, chair Roma Task Force Group

June 4

Holocaust Education; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Past, Present and Future

This morning, we will focus on Holocaust education. How does one translate lessons from the past for younger generations? To begin with, we will dive into the history of Anne Frank and examine how her message is presented and spread worldwide by the Anne Frank House. We will hear more about what different projects, like Free2Choose, the AFH are doing to spread their message. Frederick Reicken, an American writer in residence, will share his dilemmas on writing about WW II.

The whole afternoon will be devoted to Bosnia and Herzegovina. First, with the help of Satko Mujagic, we will speak about the recent war in Bosnia and it’s impact on Bosnian citizens today. After spending seven months in different concentration camps in Bosnia, Satko came to live in the Netherlands since 1993. Afterwards, we will, together with the Bosnian fellows in our group, discuss the current situation and future of Bosnia and Herzegovina in more detail.

  • Welcome to the Anne Frank House, Garance Reus-Deelder, director Anne Frank House
  • Reluctant learners? European Muslim youth and Holocaust Education, Cihan Tekeli, Anne Frank House
  • Visit the Anne Frank Museum on your own
  • Free2Choose, Boundaries of Freedom, Ivana Gabalova, Anne Frank House
  • Writing About the Holocaust: Treatment of Subject Matter and the Implicit Responsibilities of the Author, Frederick Reiken, author
  • My story, Satko Mujagic, ex-prisoner of a concentration camp Bosnia and human rights activist in The Netherlands
  • Discussion: Present and future of Bosnia and Herzegovina

June 5

Slavery, Institutionalized Racism

On July 1st 2013, the Dutch abolition of slavery reached its 150th anniversary. To commemorate this, many public debates and other events were organized around this otherwise rarely discussed issue in The Netherlands. At the beginning of the day we will go back in history with Gert Oostindie, who will tell us more about Dutch slave trade and colonialism.

Thanks to the ‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion, the Dutch public debate on racism has slowly opened up during the last years. Zihni Ozdil will address the dynamics of institutionalized racism of which many people are still unaware. Quincy Gario is the frontman of ‘Roet in het Eten’, an anti-racism movement, and the one who fueled the ‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion. He will be present to discuss his anti-racist arts and activities with us.

In the afternoon we will embark on a special journey on the canals of Amsterdam, to look for hidden traces of the Dutch history of slavery: The Black Heritage Tour.

  • Slave-trading and Slavery in Dutch colonialism, Gert Oostindie, professor Caribbean History 
  • Race, Racism and Citizenship in The Netherlands, Zihni Özdil, lecturer history Erasmus University
  • Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is racism, Quinsy Gario, initiator campaign, artist, activist
  • Black Heritage Tour, Jeniffer Tosch, owner BHAT tours

June 6

Racism, Activism

Today we will more extensively discuss the meaning of being white or black in Dutch society. No better place to start the day than the ‘Tropenmuseum’ to visit their exhibition ‘Black & White’. 
Back in the Anne Frank House we are thrilled to have the famous blogger and social media activist ‘Mr What’s up Africa!’ After lunch we will meet Anne Ruth Wertheim, who, because of her own experiences in a Japanese prisoncamp, became aware of racism and studied the subject throughout her life.
After listening to Mitchell Esajas, who is fighting prejudices and empowers black youth with his New Urban Collective, we will sit down and talk in groups about our own experiences with racism.
  • Visit to the exhibition Black & White in the Tropenmuseum
  • Online Activism: What’s up Africa, Ikenna Azuike, creator What’s up Africa, founder Strawberry Earth
  • Modern Day Racism, a mixture that calls for some clarification, Anne Ruth Wertheim, survivor Japanish camp and independent researcher
  • NUC: Improving every day to grow roses from the concrete: how we inspire youths to realize their full potential and work to provide equal opportunities, Mitchell Esajas, founder NUC
  • Discussion in small groups on racism   

June 7

Dutch Senior Fellow Network Welcome Party and BBQ in the Westerpark

June 8

Meet Frieda Menco

Frieda Menco is a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp and has been active in the field of Human Rights all her life. She will answer questions about her life story, about which you will find information in the reader. Frieda will talk about WW II, the time after WW II, anti-Semitism, the Jewish community and Dutch society in general.

June 9

Personal Development, Training Betzavta

The day will consist of a Betzavta workshop facilitated by Tali Padan, who is an expert in the field of conflict management. Betzavta is an experimental and practical learning method about democracy that challenges the way we speak and behave in groups. Various democratic principles and concepts, such as equality, freedom, minorities and majorities, are applied in a group context. Tali Padan will moderate the group process. The application of these principles and values in a micro-society, our group,, allows for individual reflection on democratic group dynamics. Lunch will be served at the restaurant.

June 10

Populism, Amnesty International, Intersectionalism

The Netherlands, like many other Western European countries, has seen the rise of populist parties and politicians who convey a strong and disconcerting anti-immigrant message. A well-known example is Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party and fierce critic of Islam. Many strongly disagree with his rhetoric and policy proposals. Nevertheless he is highly popular with another, large part of the Dutch electorate. Populism is not a new phenomenon, nor is it necessarily linked to the political right or even constrained to politics at all. So what exactly is populism, why is it perceived as a threat to democracy and what are possible strategies to counter it? We have selected some of the best academia, Pieter van Os, Matthijs Rooduijn and Paul Scheffer, to discuss this issue with you.

Today Eduard Nazarski, director of Amnesty International, will welcome our group at the ‘Amnesty House’ at the Keizersgracht where he will touch upon some of Amnesty’s campaigns in The Netherlands. Gloria Wekker will address the ‘interconnectedness’ of both previously discussed and upcoming Humanity in Action themes.

  • How Elites are Becoming Increasingly Populist. Yes, You Too!, Pieter van Os, writing journalist NRC Handelsblad
  • A populist Zeitgeist?, Matthijs Rooduijn, political sociologist, University of Amsterdam
  • HIA Action Plan: ‘Geert doesn’t speak for me!’ , Spencer Heijnen, Senior Fellow 
  • Amnesty Internationals Campaigns in The Netherlands, Eduard Nazarski, Director Amnesty The Netherlands
  • A Multicultural and anti-Racist Gender Theory in The Netherlands, Gloria Wekker, emirata professor Women’s Studies
  • The Hidden Vitality of Europe, Paul Scheffer, professor European Studies

June 11

Migration, Education, Eastern European Workers Rights, Xenofobia, Ethnic profiling

Since the late 1990s, politicians in The Netherlands have started to doubt the “multicultural society.” Ever since, anti-immigrant parties such as Wilders’ Freedom Party have become increasingly popular. In 2000 Scheffer’s provocative essay ‘A Multicultural Drama’ sparked a societal debate on Dutch immigrant integration and discrimination. Discussions on (the failure of) multiculturalism dominated the Dutch political sphere. Today, we will discuss both the history and current state of multiculturalism in the Netherlands with leading experts.

After an introductional lecture on migration delivered by Lucassen, we will explore the relationship between education and multiculturalism in the Netherlands. What’s the situation at the so-called black and white schools in Amsterdam? Sofyan Mbarik works at the Calvijn Jr College, and will share his experiences. Subsequently we will discuss the Dutch attitude towards workers from Poland, and more generally migrants from Eastern Europe, especially after Wilders’ hate campaign in 2012. Together with Hanka Mongard we will reflect upon how they are treated in The Netherlands. Thijl Sunier will discuss how the strained climate around Muslims in The Netherlands has evolved in the past few years. Van de Kamp & Bensellam, a Rabbi and an Islamic youth worker, are fighting against xenophobia together. They are a great match, were recently on Dutch television, and Humanity in Action is proud to have them both present to share their story.

In the evening we will focus on ethnic profiling; the use of racial, ethnic, national, or religious characteristics as a way of singling out people for identity or security checks. Experts from NGO’s, police officers and artists will discuss all the ins and outs of this precarious theme.

  • Myths about Immigration and Polarization, Leo Lucassen, professor Social History, Leiden
  • Identity and Urban Education, Sofyan Mbarki, teammanager Calvijn met Junior College
  • The situation of workers from Central and Eastern Europe in the Netherlands: violation of human rights?, Hanka Mongard, cultural mediator & Fairwork
  • Islamophobia: between secular critique and anti-Islam sentiments, Thijl Sunier, chair Islam in European Societies
  • Ignorance, Prejudice and Imaging Stands between Muslims and Jews, Lody van de Kamp, rabbi and peacebuilder & Said Bensellam, working with moroccan youth – Wrapping up the Day
  • Special Evening on Ethnic Profiling (semi-public) with contributions from: Gerbrig Klos, senior policy officer, Amnesty International; Niels de Groot, The DoeTank Foundation; Gideon Everduim (Gikkels), artist; Michael Zwart, police inspector, Dutch National Police; Hans Schipper, superintendant Dutch National Police

June 12

Sexuality, Gender, Homonationalism

The Netherlands is famous for the supposed freedom and safety gays and lesbians enjoy in Dutch society. In the past few years however, a counter movement seems to have evolved; people from the LGBTQI community are less likely to show their affection in public as violent acts against them increasingly occur. 
How does the educational group of the COC, an NGO that advocates the rights of LGBTQI community, deal with increasing homophobia in their workshops about sexual orientation on high schools? The chair of the COC will share his experiences. What follows is the story of Döne Fil, who initiated a ‘Turkish Boat’ at the canal parade during Gay Pride and is highly involved in the emancipation of Dutch Turkish LGBTI’s. 
Rachel Spronk, who’s research revolves around anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, will take a closer look at Dutch NGO’s involved in research concerning sexuality. 
Evelien Snel and Petra van Dijk represent The Transgender Foundation The Netherlands and will talk about the position of transgenders in Dutch society. Lastly, Murat Aydemir discusses how people with a nationalist ideology often misuse LGBTQI rights and will introduce the concept of homonationalism.
  • Documentary ‘Help, we’ve got a gay in class!’
  • Documentary showing the dedicated and complex work of the COC Educational Group visiting high schools to talk about homosexuality
  • Q&A with Kzrystof Dobrowolski, Chair, COC Educational Group
  • Fighting for LGBTI rights in The Netherlands, Döne Fil, LGBTI activist
  • Making up people. Race, ethnicity and sexuality in Dutch research, Rachel Spronk, anthropologist and former director MA Program ‘Gender, Sexuality and Society’
  • Gender Diversity in The Netherlands (and beyond), Evelien Snel en Petra van Dijk, Transgender Foundation
  • Dutch Homonationalism: The Sex Culture War, Murat Aydemir, Associate Professor Comparative Literature and Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam

June 13

Womens Rights, Special Needs, Refugees

We start off with Kinga Jelinska, who advocates individual abortion rights, and believes in a world-wide approach to the matter. After her contribution we will meet another passionate and globally oriented woman: Shirin Musa. Musa is the founder and initiator of Femmes for Freedom, an organization that fights against forced marriage, marital captivity, polygamy and honor killings. After lunch Gijs Bruggeman, a blind deaf young man, who fights for recognition of this minority group in The Netherlands will share his life story with us.

In the afternoon we will focus on the question how human rights (do not) differ from civil rights. What does being ‘illegal’ mean in a European country?  The detention of undocumented migrants and the discussion around criminalization of irregular stay is a topic that is much criticized on by international NGO’s. Humanity in Action will devote this entire day to refugees and the current situation in The Netherlands. We will start with a brief overview of the current situation concerning irregular migrants in The Netherlands. Two refugees from Somalia will  be present to share their personal experience with the Dutch asylum procedure..

We will end the day with a lot of buzz in the room, as you will all be ‘speeddating’ on possible topics for your reports, to be written next week.

  • Everything you always wanted to know about abortion (but were afraid to ask), Kinga Jelinska, activist health and reproductive rights movement
  • Femmes for Freedom: the Birth of an NGO, Shirin Musa, director Femmes for Freedom
  • Development and Obstacles: a personal view of a Deaf-Blind Person, Gijs Bruggeman, SWDA, Foundation for the Welfare of Deaf People  
  • Human Rights and Irregular Migration, Jonneke van Wierst, journalist working for Amnesty Int.
  • Experiencing the Dutch Asylum Procedure, Bashir Abdulkadir & Ibrahim Sidow, refugees
  • "Speed Dating" on Report Ropics

June 14 & 15

  • Day off

June 16

Diplomacy, Internet Freedom, ICTY

Today, you will travel to the European capital of International Justice: Den Haag (The Hague). Firstly, we will dive into the diplomatic world of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have assembled a range of speakers that will introduce and explain the pursuits of the human rights department of Foreign Affairs. We are happy to announce that Renee Jones Bos herself, director-general of the ministry, will be welcoming you. Alexandra Valkenburg will follow up by focusing on human rights and Simone Halink (Senior Fellow) will inform you about Internet privacy and freedom.
In the afternoon we will visit the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the criminal court prosecuting human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia. We will also be present at some trials and get more information on the tribunal. 
In the early evening we are invited by the American Embassy in The Hague to have a special Humanity in Action reception. Humanity in Action’s founder and executive director, Judy Goldstein, will be present, as well as representatives of several NGO’s, speakers, sponsors, host families and Senior Fellows.
  • Train to The Hague
  • Check in and security at Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meline Arakelian, Senior Fellow, welcomes us
  • Welcome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Renée Jones Bos, director-general Ministry Foreign Affairs
  • Human Rights & Foreign Affairs, Alexandra Valkenburg, Head Human Rights and Political and Legal Affairs Division, Multilateral Organisations and Human Rights Department, MFA
  • Internet Freedom, Simone Halink, Senior policy officer internet freedom, MFA
  • Trans Atlantic relations and working in Cairo, Meline Arakelian, Senior policy officer North America and Kingdom Affairs, MFA
  • Travel to ICTY
  • Attend trials and information session on the ICTY
  • Travel back to city centre. Some time for yourself to look around, eat and enjoy The Hague.
  • Humanity in Action Reception at the Embassy of the United States of America

June 17

  • Day for interviews and writing your reports

June 18

Gender Discrimination, Health inequality and Ethnic Discrimination, Prostitution in The Netherlands, Personal Development: Workshop Science of Happiness

Unfortunately, equality between men and women isn’t a given fact in the Netherlands. There are still certain areas that are sensitive to gender discrimination. Titia Loenen, professor Human Rights and Diversity, gives us an overview. Senior Fellow and researcher Umar Ikram studied medicine, and currently investigates the relation between ethnic discrimination and health inequalities in The Netherlands. Senior Fellow Swaan van Iterson produced a documentary on extreme right sentiments among the youth in Hungary as her Action Plan. Hopefully she will inspire you to do something equally impressive.
The Red Light District in the city center of Amsterdam is highly popular among tourists. Many of them don’t know about the hidden reality behind the windows. The municipality continually interferes in order to prevent criminal acts and abuse. Alexandra van Dijk will introduce us to the topic of prostitution in The Netherlands. Marjan Wijers will share her struggle to defend the rights of sexworkers and victims of human trafficking. In the late afternoon we’ll give the floor to Spencer Heijnen, a Senior Fellow, who is thrilled to introduce you to the ‘Science of Happiness’. Find out who you are and how you can be most succesful in human rights activism during his workshop.
  • Gender Discrimination in The Netherlands: a Persisting Issue, Titia Loenen, professor Human Rights and Diversity
  • Ethnic Health Inequalities in the Netherlands: The Role of Ethnic Discrimination, Umar Ikram, Senior Fellow and PhD public health
  • HIA Action Plan: Documentary All for Hungary: on Youth and the Far Right in Hungary, Swaan van Iterson, Senior Fellow
  • Prostitution in The Netherlands: a Moral Debate, Alexandra van Dijk, Bureau Brycx, ex-director The Red Thread 
  • Sex Work and Trafficking from a Human Rights Perspective, Marjan Wijers, Human Rights Research & Consultancy
  • Workshop: Science of Happiness, Spencer Heijnen, trainer & Senior Fellow

June 19

  • Day for interviews and writing your reports

June 20

Human Rights and Businesses, CSR, Action Plan: Redmond Radio

Some fellows don’t aspire careers in the corporate world. Some even believe that human rights and business are inherently contradicting. When considering the importance of the relationship between politics and money however, ignoring the corporate world at large does not seem an effective approach to the matter.  Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming increasingly popular, and many companies seek to include themes such as human rights in their corporate strategy. To find out more about these evolving dynamics between human rights and business we have invited Michelle Westermann-Behaylo. Furthermore we will meet Michel Scholte, co-founder of True Price, a social enterprise that helps front-running organizations uncover social and ecological costs.  

After an example of another great Action Plan, the intersectional radio station Redmond Radio, (no, nothing to do with the business theme of today ;-) we will travel to UTZ, to hear Noura Hanna speak about their mission to certify products to ensure sustainable farming and better lives for the farmers and their families. We’ll return to Amnesty/HIA to have a drink with our network in Amsterdam.

  • Human Rights and Businesses, Michelle Westermann-Behaylo, researcher faculty Economics and Business, UvA
  • The Business Case for True Pricing, Michel Scholte, co-founder of True Price
  • HIA Action Plan: Redmond Radio, Hodan Warsame and Ruud Tevreden, Senior Fellows
  • Travel to UTZ, either by bike or by travelling to Central Station and walk from there.
  • UTZ Certified and sustainability: Challenges and opportunities for a better future, Noura Hanna, M&E officer UTZ
  • Humanity in Action Reception

June 21 & 22

  • Report Writing

June 23

  • Report Deadline
  • Preparation of Report Presentations

June 24

Presentation Day

  • Group Presentations of Reports
  • Farewell Drinks with Host Families and Fellows

June 25

  • Day Off

June 26

  • Fellows depart for the Humanity in Action International Conference in Denmark