Esther’s Blog: Standing together against all forms of injustice loud and clearly

16 juni 2020

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences. It is not difference that immobilises, it is silence.”

These words of author and civil rights activist Audre Lorde give us inspiration and support in our fight for a better world. Last month, millions of people from all over the world took to the streets with a clear message: racism hurts, racism is still everywhere and it should stop. I have asked the Dutch government to back this movement of justification and to call the American ambassador to account for the fact that his President threatened to shoot American citizens. We should not sit in silence while groups are subjected to violence, hate and oppression day in, day out.

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Speech of the artist Killer Mike.

I will advise all members of the Lower House to watch this breath-taking speech of the artist Killer Mike. He shows the great pain about the system that allowed George Floyd to be killed thoughtlessly by white police officers - the deep-rooted racism that the black community still has to face E -V-E-R-Y day. It is admirable how he tries to find a way out of this deep pain just like many other incredibly brave black activists did before him.

It is all about the joint fight against all forms of oppression. As Lorde wrote: we must take our differences and make them strengths and together speak up for all vulnerable groups in our society.

Historic victory

Protest against Mercosur Deal.

This month, we helped to achieve a major breakthrough: we blocked the disastrous trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the South American Mercosur countries - the so-called Mercosur Deal! This trade agreement must be ratified by all EU member states, but the Dutch parliament supported the Party for the Animals’ motion against this monster deal. The parliament is now clearly telling the Dutch government: Stop this horrendous plan. We are not going to give a market away that will cause human rights violations, destruction of the Amazon and agricultural practices that are even worse than those in the EU. It is wonderful to see that “Trading Country” the Netherlands is demanding a change of course.

The EU is supposed to take a step towards a sustainable climate and agricultural policy, but continues to enter into trade deals, including with Brazil, where President Bolsonaro said that he wants to sacrifice the rain forest and human rights for cheap beef and cattle feed and where pesticides can be used unlimitedly by everyone.

The neoliberal trade system has broken down, is only beneficial to large multinations and is at the expense of citizens, farmers and nature. It is great that awareness is finally hitting home. We are truly at a turning point in history. Last week, I was interviewed about this by one of the greatest Brazilian journalists. The international press is talking about a true ‘paradigm shift’.

All this is thanks to our worldwide movement for our planet and all its inhabitants. Last year, we protested against the Mercosur Deal in front of the Brazilian consulate in Porto together with sister parties and people from 28 countries. Together we are strong!

Stop torturing animals

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Esther Ouwehand during a protest against mink farming.

The Party for the Animals also continues its fight against abusing and killing millions of animals and keeping them in captivity for ‘fashion’ and consumption. Our political group in the Dutch municipality of Apeldoorn managed to get this strongly agriculture-oriented municipality to say: We need to stop intensive livestock farming. Yes! I am so proud and so happy. The positive change we have been working towards is starting to show.

Another fight we are hoping to win soon is the fight against the immoral fur industry. The Dutch parliament passed a motion against this industry over twenty years ago. The motion expressed that minks are solitary living animals and that breeding and killing minks for their fur is not justified. However, the mink farmers were given the opportunity to phase down their operations until 2024.

After gassing and skinning at least 90 million mink pups already, these practices are still going on even though a broad majority of the public finds them morally unacceptable. Every year, hundreds of thousands of female minks are impregnated to give birth to their pups in their cages in spring. Pups that need to spend their short lives in tight wire cages until they are gassed and skinned at the end of the year. 4.5 to 5 million animals a year. Until 2024. Incredibly cruel.

The Party for the Animals wants to ban mink farming immediately. The coronavirus is breaking out in increasingly more mink farms, making it a source of large-scale and serious animal suffering as well as a threat to public health. All the minks in infected companies are to be killed. Yet the Dutch government allows mink farmers to continue breeding with new animals. This is absurd! The moral obligation is now heavier than ever now that the minks are killed due to corona: no new minks should be used for breeding! The cages must be empty and stay empty.

This week, a vote will be taken on our motion to finally put a stop to mink farming. We hope that our colleague politicians will take their moral responsibility.

Look after each other and until the next time!

Esther Ouwehand
(Party chair of the Party for the Animals)