During the first week of October 2022, a comprehensive media, political, and social campaign was ongoing in the Netherlands to bring the government, politicians, unions, organizations, and civil groups’ attention to the urgent situation of widespread repression of the protestors in the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement in Iran.
A distinctive aspect of this extensive campaign was that it was initiated by Iranian-Dutch women, including Farah Karimi, representative of the Dutch Senate from the Green-Left Party, Mardjan Seighali, head of the Humanistisch Verbond, and Halleh Ghorashi, head of the department and professor of sociology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and a member of the Economic and Social Council. This solidarity continued with the joining of former Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and Leader of the Labour Party, Lilianne Ploumen.
The campaign started with the design of a website and the announcement of a wide gathering on Saturday, October 8th. This solidarity continued with the preparation of an open letter addressed to the Dutch government by its initiators, which was signed by more than 200 Dutch political, artistic, and scientific personalities. It was then published in the “Trouw” newspaper on Wednesday and the “Volkskrant” on Thursday. After that, it was put up as a petition for the signatures of others on the campaign website, where more than 4,000 residents of the Netherlands signed (up to the date of publication of this report).
Next, on Friday, October 7th, during an official meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the petition and signatures were presented to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Mr. Wopke Bastiaan Hoekstra. During the conversation with Hoekstra, the necessity to implement the demands raised in the letter was emphasized.
In part of this letter, the following is stated:
“We want our government to urgently call on the European Union and the United Nations to condemn the violence, and to impose sanctions against those in power in Iran…” (Read the entire letter in Dutch)
During the first week of October, three Dutch television talk shows–Jinek, Op1, and Khalid & Sophie–discussed Iran in depth, in response to the events in Iran and the movement that this letter sparked in the Netherlands.
Finally, on Saturday, October 8th, a large gathering was held at Malieveld (a big event venue in the city of The Hague). This gathering, planned for an estimated 1,000 people, was exceeded by several thousand because of the extensive acceptance of the Iranian and Dutch communities.
The event, moderated by Bahram Sadeghi, an independent Iranian-Dutch filmmaker, was supported by 12 national and international organizations, including:
- FNV Federation of Dutch Trade Unions
- CNV Internationaal
- Free Press Unlimited
- Women’s March
- Wo=men, Dutch Gender Platform
- ActionAid International
- Humanistisch Verbond
During this event, ten Dutch MPs and Senators, representing ten Dutch parties, expressed their support for the demands of this rally and the Iranian people.
Among the speakers were the following:
- Sophie Hermans (Chairperson of VVD at Dutch Parliament)
- Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (Member of Dutch Parliament, D66)
- Agnes Mulder (Member of Dutch Parliament, CDA)
- Lilian Marijnissen (Chairperson of SP at Dutch Parliament)
- Mei Li Vos (Chairperson of PvdA at Dutch Senate)
- Susanne Kröger (Member of Dutch Parliament, GroenLinks)
- Christine Teunissen (Member of Dutch Parliament, PvdD)
- Tineke Huizinga (Chairperson of CU at Dutch Senate)
- Tunahan Kuzu (Member of Dutch Parliament, Denk)
- Sylvana Simons (Chairperson of Bij1 at Dutch Parliament)
In addition, a number of other speakers delivered their speeches, including:
- Arash Ghajarjazi (Researcher, Humanities, P.hD in Philosophy, and Religious Studies)
- Soran Mansournia (A member of the victims’ family)
- Mansoureh Shojaee, (Leading Iranian women’s rights activist)
- Sahar Shirzad (Afghan Dutch human rights activist)
- Beri Shalmashi (Iranian Kurdish filmmaker)
- Kitty Jong (Vice-chairperson FNV, Federation of Dutch Trade Unions)
- Mariëlle Vavier (Alderman for International Affairs The Hague)
In this glorious gathering, Mansoureh Shojaee, a well-known Iranian women’s rights activist, sang two iconic songs of the Iranian women’s movement accompanied by a band of ISS (The International Institute for Social Studies) musicians, and the audience sang along.
Farah Karimi, Lilianne Ploumen, Mardjan Seighali, and Halleh Ghorashi, along with Mansoureh Shojaee, walked on stage at the end of the rally and cut their hair in solidarity with the courageous Iranian women.
Asharq AL-awsat: Dutch Rally to Support Iranian Protests | Asharq AL-awsat