summer extravaganza: issue nine


Does the Netherlands’ approach to asylum seekers need to be looked into?

by Connor Crout

image credit: GDJ (Pixabay)

Dutch authorities are investigating the death of a three-month-old baby in the country’s main reception centre for asylum seekers in Ter Apel, a village in the north east of the country.

According to the Dutch government’s website, people may seek asylum in the Netherlands if:

  • they face persecution due to their ethnicity or social group, religion, nationality or political beliefs.
  • they are at risk of being tortured or being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • their country isn’t safe enough to live in, for example due to war.
  • their country’s authorities have failed to protect them, for example against beatings from the armed forces.

The centre was overcrowded and the charity Doctors Without Borders described it as “inhuman”. Despite the seemingly comprehensive  nature of the Netherlands’ asylum regulations , the asylum centres definitely need improvement in terms of safety and living standards for those arriving as well as concerning their general efficiency.

Belgian – Iranian prisoner swap triggers relief and anger

by Harvey Young

image credit: Theedi (Wikimedia Commons)

On March 21, Belgian MPs voted in favour of a prisoner swap treaty with Iran which has caused a great deal of controversy. This has resulted in growing fears about further encouraging Iran to use foreign hostages for malicious diplomatic purposes.

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has stated that the idea behind this treaty was to free  innocent Belgians from wrongful imprisonment or execution, notably, humanitarian worker Olivier Vandecasteele and academic Ahmadreza Djalali respectively.

However, exiled Iranian opposition groups and Amnesty International have condemned the treaty, as it would mean the release of Assadollah Assadi who had plotted to bomb a meeting of Iranian opponents. These groups also argue that the prisoner swap treaty could embolden Iran to sponsor more violent acts abroad.


A war of memorials: Belarus accused of destroying Polish resistance fighter graves

 by Neo Allert 

image credit: Robert Wielgórski (Wikimedia Commons)

On 25 August, Poland accused neighboring Belarus, a close ally of Putin’s Russia, of destroying a memorial site containing the graves of anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet Polish Home Army fighters. Following reports of the persecuted Polish minority in Belarus about the destruction of said memorial, Lukasz Jasina, the spokesman for Poland’s Foreign Ministry, aired his disgust and shock on Twitter. Belarus has not yet given any reply.

This renewed action in an ongoing war of memorials, could be a reaction to Poland’s announcement to demolish a monument dedicated to Soviet soldiers in the southeast of the country. Ever since the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine, many former Soviet states have decided to rid themselves of Soviet memorials. The Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia have already gone forward with the removal of Soviet era monuments despite severe resistance from their respective Russian-speaking minorities.

A cold and dark winter for Germany

by Eleanor Austin

image credit: Kartoffel07 (Wikimedia Commons)

In an attempt to further reduce its dependency on Russian gas supplies, the German cabinet approved an energy-saving bylaw on 24 August. This bylaw will be enforced for six months and will see restrictions in the lighting and heating of public buildings. The dimming of lights was already seen at the Brandenburg Gate last month, and will spread to other monuments, shops, and buildings, all of which are lit for solely aesthetic purposes. The government hopes to reduce its gas usage by 2 percent and save 10.8 billion Euros by limiting heating to 19 °C, as well as turning off the lights.

Additionally, the government has also warned rail passengers of delays, as coal and oil cargo will take priority over rail travel. This comes after severe droughts in the Rhine river grounded cargo ships, limiting supply to power plants.

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