Belgium’s human rights league has not condemned the King for receiving Vlaams Belang leader Tom Van Grieken on Wednesday, the league’s president, Olivia Venet, stressed, adding that the enemies of democracy should not be allowed to pose as victims.
“The King can consult whoever he wished. Not consulting certain parties would give them the opportunity to proclaim themselves the victims of anti-democratic conduct, whereas it’s their ideas that are anti-democratic,” Mrs. Venet explained. “We should not be afraid of anti-freedom and anti-democratic parties, we need to be ready to respond to them, to fight their ideas.”
Belgium’s French- and Dutch-speaking human rights leagues held consultations before coming up with their position on the issue.
“We call on all democratic parties to maintain a health cordon around the anti-freedom and anti-democratic parties,” Venet said. “States adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II. There is no question of forgetting the lessons drawn from the extreme-right experience. More than ever, it’s on the cornerstone of human rights that the society of tomorrow has to be created.”
Human rights advocates have called on political parties to be careful in forming coalitions and to study parties’ programmes.
“They need to examine parties’ programmes well to see if human rights are respected,” said Kati Verstrepen, president of the Liga voor Mensenrechten, the Dutch-speaking human rights league. “If they do so, they will notice that the programme of Vlaams Belang fails to respect these rights on many counts.”
She argues that VB encourages discrimination and racism in many areas, and its attitude after the elections would hardly be more compliant. Mrs Verstrepen sees as an indication of this the fact that two elected women gave up their seats to be replaced by men.
VB is not the only party that has come under the scrutiny of the two human rights leagues. They also point a finger at the Nieuw-Vlaams Alliantie (N-VA).
“Former Secretary of State Theo Francken wondered publicly if it was possible to circumvent Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment),” Mrs. Verstrepen noted.
The Brussels Times