May 24th, 2007

The asylum seekers

One of the motivators to write these entries is to challenge prejudice between countries (read: people), next to expressing critical citizenship. Negative prejudice about my country is that Amsterdam is modern world Sodom & Ghomorra (sex [preferably gay], drugs, lawless child-euthanesia – I won’t go into these today), but also that we are a broad minded open tolerant society. Today, I challenge that positive prejudice.

The country has been a haven for people from other countries, especially asylum seekers from dictatorial or war-engulfed states. About 5-7 years ago, that has changed dramatically. Fueled by the 9/11 events and fear spinning wanna-be politicians, asylum seekers were suddenly earmarked as a problem and had to make an extremely good case for themselves, usually within 48 hours, were they not to be expelled. I wrote about an incident how that could go very wrong earlier. Laws and procedures were quickly and without protest changed to reflect the “new sternness”. It seems though that every rope has it’s end, or, as I was tought “the quay WILL turn the ship”.

The European court upheld a verdict, that was challenged by our administration, to change national asylum law. The verdict critisizes the judicial handling by the highest court (standard outcome of asylum cases), condemned extreme formalism, torture and inhumane punishment (!).

A few examples:

  • Appeal cases are not judged against the current state of affairs in the home country, but against the state at the moment the appeal was made. Read: “We are sure you wouldn’t be tortured when you appealed our decision to send you back” – “But you know they will arrest and torture me when you send me there now!” – “Yes. So?”.
  • Asylum seekers need to prove they are being discriminated or will be prosecuted on an ultra-individual level. Being in a discriminated GROUP is no argument (you know, like Jews in ’40). Read: “My people are being tortured because they are muslim” – “Yes, I see, and I know you are a muslim, but why would they torture YOU? Can you PROVE that?” – “Huh?”.
  • The assessment of what’s going on in the home country is exclusively based on reports made by the foreign affairs ministry. Read: “This is the slaughter going on in my hometown” – “That is not stated in this report made 3 months ago by the ambassdor, from a city 700 miles away” – “Huh?”.

The verdict itself and yesterdays refusal of the European court for a rehearing is considered a major disgrace to the reputation, or positive prejudice if you will, of our country, and I have to say, I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was that bad.

Added: example “conversations”.

May 24th, 2007

The Dame Evelyn Glennie (again)

Today, I got the DVD “Touch the Sound”, which is a documentary if that is the proper word of the world of Evelyn Glennie, about who I wrote before. It is an absolutely amazing DVD and if you are even remotely interested in only one of music, rythm, deafness, breathing, heartbeat, culture or sound, I urge you to get it or lend it. Although maybe sort of observing instead of storytelling, and thus for some considered “dull”, I can say I am awed by it. A Japanese drumplayer explained “Life is breath, and if we need to live, we need to breath. We lost that, now we only run”. Very yogic.

Thomas Riedelsheimer, the movie maker writes in the introduction (only a snippet and my translation from German)

The first impressions a human being receives must be vibrations, rhythms and tones, long before the eye awakens. Our own heart connects us with the world – it is our individual metronome. It’s beating tells us about our us and our illnesses, our fears, our desires. It’s beatings is the most important measure in music. The relationship between pulse and music is multifaceted and always changing. Music can healt, depress, unchain and “speak from the heart”. Our heart sows down or speeds up to the rythm of the music we hear. The body seems to synchronize itself with the swinging of our environment. We are embedded in a universe of cycles and rythms.

Technical ps: I got the European PAL version that has Dolby 5.1, normal stereo and DTS on it. I cannot vow for the US version here, but mine is top quality, both sound and imagery.