The ‘Kick Out Zwarte Piet’ initiative has published an open letter to Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister after he remained silent on the subject of an anti-Zwarte Piet meeting being attacked.
‘Kick Out Zwarte Piet’ (KOZP) has been organising meetings and peaceful protests since 2014, for a visible change in the Sinterklaas festivities and to make racism in Dutch society a topic of discussion.
Several violent incidents surrounded an anti-Zwarte Piet meeting organised by KOZP in the Netherlands recently. Pro-Zwarte Piet demonstrators stormed the building, windows were thrown in, and launched fireworks at the meeting place.
However, what bothers the people from KOZP most about the incident is the lack of response from the Dutch Prime Minister. Five members of the initiative wrote an open letter, originally published in Dutch on NRC, to start the conversation.
The writers denounce Rutte’s “deafening silence concerning the violence against anti-Black Pete demonstrators” and his “failure to respond to KOZP’s invitation to discuss institutional racism in this country.”
In the letter, they say that it is “irresponsible and unworthy of a prime-minister to keep silent on this issue,” adding that “if an organisation with a different opinion cannot hold a meeting in safety anymore, what good is the constitution?”
Zwarte Piet is a character in the festivities of Sinterklaas, who brings presents and treats to children who have been good over the year in the Netherlands on 5 December, and in Belgium on 6 December.
Both adults and children dress up as him, donning blackface and black curly wigs, painting large red lips, and often large golden earrings to complete the look. For decades, the depiction has been criticised for being racist and inappropriate, but proponents do not want to modify the tradition.
With the letter, the initiative invites the Prime Minister to find a solution together, and urges him “not to support intolerance” but “to give the right example.”
The Brussels Times