It was somewhat amusing to see public officials from Holland coming over to assess the ‘political risks’ involved in this new relationship with BES. Apparently these 3 tiny islands pose a risk? Maybe the God BES (see page 14) is mightier than we thought!
One of the risks registered was that Holland’s responsibility for animal welfare might be tested. Many BES-citizens are indeed not such ardent animal lovers as Dutch citizens. In Holland the ‘Party for Animals’ has 2 out of 150 seats in the national parliament (= ‘Tweede Kamer’).
We sincerely hope that this party will be able to improve animal welfare in Holland and in BES. We’re happy that the responsible Dutch Minister has noted that animal welfare should be improved in BES. We are looking forward to his initiatives in this field (which should be first and foremost in education, we believe).
Our amusement subsided, however, when we discovered that apparently more political risk is calculated to be caused by deficient animal welfare in BES than by deficient human welfare.
Let’s be clear about this. While Holland is on the track of not wanting to recognize equality in basic social rights between Dutch and BES-citizens (we are not writing this special edition for nothing!), it is worrying about animal rights? Hey, wait a second! What’s going on here?
Real political risks
What about the political risks of refusing to recognize the principle of equality? Let us mention a few:
1) The exodus from BES to Holland will pick up new steam.
2) Holland’s international reputation on human rights will be shattered (basic social and economic rights are also human rights, as is the principle of equality).
3) The new deal with BES will be a time-bomb. It will stir social unrest also; you cannot distinguish between first and second-class citizens within one country and believe the latter will quietly accept that.
We know that in the end wages will be generally lower in BES than in Holland and other basic social rights will also never be exactly equal. That’s OK. This is due to the real and unavoidable differences that do exist. Moreover, it is unwise to blindly copy all those social rights which in Holland have caused pro-blems, such as welfare benefit (‘bijstand’) to people who can work. But we cannot deviate from the principle of equality.
It’s not about risks. It is about what’s right for the BES-people!