PHILIPSBURG–A petition sent by St. Maarten’s Parliament to the United Nations (UN) requesting that it “investigate systemic discrimination and racism perpetrated against the people of St. Maarten” has been met with strong resistance from three opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and from Dutch parliamentarians.
To this, United People’s (UP) party faction leader MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten said, “The sudden outbursts of threats and rhetoric by some politicians suggest that we should just shut up and accept anything for money, including abuse – money which can’t reach the people yet since 2017.”
The petition specifically requests that the UN investigate the “violation of St. Maarten’s UN-mandated right to a full measure of self-government based on absolute equality with the Netherlands.” UP said on Wednesday that the petition stems from a motion passed by 12 of the 15 MPs on November 5, 2020.
Heyliger-Marten said on Sunday that she anticipated the objections by MPs Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson of Party for Progress (PFP) and Sarah Wescot-Williams of United Democrats (UD), all of whom have strongly rejected the petition.
“They forget that in accordance with Article 44 [of St. Maarten’s Constitution – Ed.], their role as Members of Parliament is to represent the general interest of the entire populace of St. Maarten,” she said.
Heyliger-Marten dismissed this opposition as merely coming from “victims of abuse.”
“The idea that local politicians would rather grandstand to avoid upsetting ‘The Dutch’ is a textbook reaction of a victim of abuse. Unfortunately, most abused victims blame themselves and have a hard time putting an end to the abuse. We are not suggesting that we do not want the relationship. We are merely saying it needs fixing. What is good for you has to be good for my people too.
“I am very surprised by the strong reaction coming from Holland, considering the Dutch government’s well-documented recent history of systemic racism, gross incompetence and widespread corruption,” she said.
Heyliger-Marten also fired shots at Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Sunday, recalling his 2007 conviction when a Haarlem Court found that the now-VVD leader had incited discrimination during his tenure as State Secretary of Social Affairs.
At the beginning of 2003, Rutte requested Dutch municipalities to place extra checks for fraud on residents of Somali descent. The Court ruled that this request was discriminatory and against the Dutch Constitution.
Heyliger-Marten cited other perceived examples of Dutch state-sponsored racism and discrimination, including UN-issued reports against the black-faced Zwarte Piet and a European Union (UN) report which found that Dutch hate-crime and anti-discrimination legislation do not offer sufficiently dissuasive sanctions.
However, in her statements on Sunday, Heyliger-Marten did not offer an in-depth explanation about how current Dutch-St. Maarten relations constitute systemic racism.
“Last December, the Dutch coalition government fell based on the results of a parliamentary investigation exposing years of covered-up systemic racism, corruption and government incompetence regarding child allowances. Yet, these same people believe that they can run the justice system and prison in St. Maarten. …
“These are just some of the many examples. So, looking at all these developments in the Netherlands in the 21st century alone, the Dutch government does not need a petition from St. Maarten to point out the racism-based lawlessness that they perpetrate against their own citizens, including us here in the Caribbean. The petition merely confirms these facts and requests the UN to call Holland to order,” said Heyliger-Marten.
She also dismissed the opposition claim that the petition will “offend the Dutch” and cause them to stop providing aid.
However, this is exactly what one Dutch parliamentarian has questioned (see related story).
Dutch MP Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) submitted five written questions to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops on Friday in response to the petition.
“Are you prepared to suspend the liquidity support and to first enter into talks with the St. Maarten Parliament to see whether the plans for support in the current situation can still be executed?” Van Raak asked.
“The only way to stop a bully is to confront them,” said Heyliger-Marten. “If they stop the funding, especially considering the harsh conditions they set for us to get it, and threaten to withhold support from us if we do not [give up] our autonomy, [then] that will be equal to pleading guilty to the charges in the petition.
“The motion and petition do not suggest that we do not want a relationship with the Netherlands. On the contrary, both documents point out that the relationship needs fixing based on the international laws that the Netherlands themselves signed on to and always claim to uphold. What is good for Dutch citizens [must] be good for the people of St. Maarten too.
“I have always supported our prime minister with her negotiations. But I have always made it clear that these agreements must not be in violation of any laws, be they on a local, kingdom, or international level. The petition is in line with this standpoint.”
Bron: Daily Herald