Soualiga Newsday Focus

Soualiga Newsday Focus (1804)

Operations cancelled as hospital workers go on strike for a better pay deal

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Hundreds of operations will be cancelled on Wednesday as nurses and hospital staff take part in the first ever national hospital strike.

Emergency operations will still go ahead but non-urgent procedures and regular appointments have been cancelled all over the country. In total, the strike will affect 83 hospitals, 32-day clinics and four rehabilitation centres, most of which will operate a Sunday service.

Teaching hospitals are not affected because their staff fall under a different pay deal. Unions have called the strike because pay talks with the hospitals have broken down.

They are calling for a 5% basic pay rise and bonuses for staff who are called in to work at short notice, as well as measures to reduce workloads. At the end of September, the Dutch hospitals association NVZ proposed 4% pay raise for all staff in 2020 and 2021 and a bigger bonus for working irregular hours, but unions rejected it as a marginal increase.



Strong support for euthanasia, majority back help for people ‘tired of life’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A narrow majority of the Dutch support the introduction of assisted suicide for people who feel their life is at an end, even though they are physically healthy, according to a representative survey of 3,600 people by national statistics agency CBS.

In total, 55% said they believed people who are tired of life should be able to get help to die, while 33% said this should not be an option. A third of those who backed assisted suicide said they favoured the introduction of a lower age limit, while half said age should not play a role at all.

Euthanasia continues to have widespread support in the Netherlands, with 87% backing the practice in some circumstances. Muslims and strict Protestants are least likely to support any form of euthanasia, but even among them there is a majority support for the principle.

Eight in 10 people also support euthanasia for people with severe dementia, if they had made their wishes plain before they became ill. Some 74% backed euthanasia for people with severe psychiatric problems and 75% for children with terminal illnesses.

The Liberal democratic party is drawing up its own legislation which would make it possible for the over-75s who consider their life is at an end to be helped to die and aims to present the measure to parliament early next year.

Euthanasia was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002 for those over 12 experiencing ‘hopeless and unbearable suffering’, who want to die and have come to the conclusion independently. Two doctors have to agree that the conditions have been met.

Euthanasia currently accounts for around 4% of Dutch deaths, mostly involving cancer patients.



Statia commemorates 30 years Rights of the Child

SINT EUSTATIUS - In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Convention of the Rights of the Child the Public Entity of St. Eustatius has developed a flyer for all parents. The objective of this flyer is to encourage parents to encourage parents to see the rights of the Child in a positive way.

A small token will accompany the flyer that will be distributed via the schools and daycare centers on Wednesday November 20th. To further draw attention to the importance of the International Day of the Rights of the Child several builders in Oranjestad will be highlighted with blue lights to celebrate this day.

Thirty years after its adoption, the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most ratified UN Treaty and has played a central role to improve the lives of children around the world. The 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is a unique opportunity to put children’s rights, the Convention (along with its Optional Protocols) and its relevance for global peaceful development and co-existence high on the international agenda, to assess the status of Child Rights and take measures to strengthen awareness, understanding and the actual realization of Children’s Rights worldwide.

The Rights of the Child are based on the following four principles: children should not be discriminated against, children have a right to survival and development, the best interests of the child must be the primary consideration in all decisions and actions affecting the child and children should be allowed to express their opinions, especially in matters concerning themselves.

The Directorate of Social Affairs is reminding parents on St. Eustatius that the most important persons in the life of a child are their parents/guardians. The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behavior. Be the example you want your child to see and to be proud of.

“We as adults can, every time when somebody speaks about child rights, react with: ‘But what about my rights?” Let us be open-minded and tune into our children here on Statia. You as an adult, can take care of yourself, but what about the children? If we all know that it is important for a child to learn, to develop, to play, to eat healthy, to have access to sports, to form an opinion and to feel protected by the ones who take care of them, why then argue if we want all the same for them”, states Dirkje de Jong, Children Rights Coordinator.

She further elaborates that children learn that if they have these rights, also other children and adults have rights too. They learn to have respect for this as well. Children learn that they have responsibilities too, to treat others well and to be fair. It is all about equality. The Statian community is encouraged to celebrate this day and to continue to let children know we are proud of them.

The Directorate of Social Affairs is encouraging parents to ask their children about the flyer. Parents who did not receive a flyer can collect one at the Office of Social Support on the van Tonningenweg.


Fire Commanders, Saba Government discuss developments

SABA - Interim General Commander of the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department (BKCN) Albert Gieling and Chief of the Fire Department on Saba Julio Every met with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and representatives of the Public Entity Saba on Friday, November 15 to discuss a number of developments.

The agenda of the periodic meeting focused on the developments within the BKCN, but other topics were discussed as well, including the two large fires on Saba this year. The BKCN is working on further developing the organization. A management plan for the period 2020-2023 has been drafted. Input was given by the Saba Executive Council for this plan.

With the 2020-2023 management plan, BKCN will further work on its vision, which is to be a modern, exemplary organization in which prevention plays a large role, but which is also strong and well-organized. In the process of creating a more robust organization, the Fire Department will be hiring four new fire fighters to strengthen the Saba team. The intention is to also get professional part-time fire fighters who can assist in case of a fire or other calamity.

“We are the point of making an important step forward in the development of our organization, so it is important to communicate that with the government and also with the Fire Department personnel,” said Gieling, who explained that an important part of his visit to Saba was dedicated to a meeting with the personnel on Saba.

A primary issue for the BKCN as well as the Public Entity Saba is the process to evolve from a response focused organization to prevention focused organization. One of the challenges that Saba faces when there is a fire is the limited availability of water connections in certain areas. A plan of action is in effect to deal with those challenges.

The aspect of raising awareness and what citizens can do to increase safety was also discussed at Friday’s meeting. The Fire Department on Saba organized a Fire Prevention Week earlier this month, and the intention is to do this more often in order to raise awareness in the community.

The BKCN and the Public Entity Saba have joined forces to put a new fire prevention policy for (commercial) buildings and apartment complexes in place as a next step to have fire prevention play a more central role.

As part of the implementation of the 2020-2023 management plan and the new structure, Saba Fire Chief Julio Every per January 1, 2020 will also become responsible for logistics and technical matters for the overall BKCN organization. This additional responsibility means that Every will become in               charge of, for example, the procurement of new equipment, the maintenance of equipment and buildings, as well as items that the firemen need in their job such as uniforms and portable radio telephones. “I look forward to the challenge,” said Every.

Besides Governor Johnson and Commanders Gieling and Every, also present at the meeting on Friday were Island Secretary Tim Muller, Head of the Planning Bureau Bobby Zagers and Disaster Management Advisor Pauline Kauffmann.


Stalker who murdered school girl faces 20 years in jail, psychiatric prison

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The man who murdered a 16-year-old girl in the bike sheds next to her school after stalking her for months should be jailed for 20 years, followed by psychiatric prison, the public prosecution department said on Friday.

Bekir E is on trial for killing the girl just 45 minutes before she was due to meet police to talk about being stalked. In September, an official report into the murder said the police and social services showed ‘serious shortfalls’ in the way they protected Humeyra Ergincanli, after she reported being threatened by her former boyfriend.

Officials showed ‘insufficient care’ for the girl’s protection and failed to share information about how she was being stalked, the report said.

Bekir E, who had been given a suspended jail term and banned from contacting the girl in August last year, has admitted the murder, saying he was under the influence of cocaine at the time and did not intend to kill her.

Humeyra had a short relationship with him, but broke if off after discovering he was 30.



Eindhoven station arrestee is wanted in shooting investigation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The man arrested by heavily-armed police on a train waiting in Eindhoven station on Thursday evening is wanted in connection with a shooting in Dordrecht on October 18, police said on Friday.

The man, who is 24, is the third suspect to be arrested in connection with the incident, in which a 17-year-old youth was shot and seriously injured.

The arrest caused chaos for train travellers, who were kept waiting for almost two hours while police in combat gear combed trains looking for the suspect. Photographs show the young man, surrounded by police on the stairs at the station after his arrest.



Ministers poised to back arming police with electronic stun guns

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Ministers are poised to agree to equip the police with weapons which deliver an electric shock, sources have told broadcaster RTL Nieuws.

The cabinet will spend €30m to ensure that all police officers ‘who need one’ have a taser in their standard equipment and get training in their use. This, RTL said, means front-line officers who may have to defend themselves will be given the weapon.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs in September that he backs arming the police with electronic stun weapons such as tasers, if the introduction is done with caution.

His comments came after Dutch police chief Erik Akerboom called on ministers to include electronic stun guns in the regular police kit immediately. ‘Introduce it,’ Akerboom is quoted as saying in the Telegraaf.

‘Things are taking too long. Politicians must act, especially since the recent spate of violent attacks on officers.’ Last November, police officials told the justice ministry that electric shock weapons such as tasers should become part of the equipment used by police officers on emergency service duty.

They said stun guns should be available to all police teams which are called out on emergencies. It will take five years before the introduction because 17,000 officers need to undergo special training to use the weapons, police said at the time.

In June 2018, a report on a yearlong trial by the police academy found that tasers do have ‘added value’ for the police and that the threat of use was enough to calm the situation down in six out of 10 cases.

Tasers work by firing electric charges of around 50,000 volts at a suspect from a distance, temporarily disabling them. Police say the danger of serious or permanent injury is minimal, but experts disagree on the risk to the heart.



Dutch seaweed-based fuel powers car to 80 kph in Danish trial

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Researchers in Denmark have achieved speeds of up to 80 kph using a car powered by Dutch biofuel made from seaweed.

The seaweed fuel was produced by scientists at the TNO research centre in Petten and at Wageningen University and is part of an EU-funded project to develop new fuels using seaweed and algae.

‘We’ve looked to see if seaweed fuel works in the same way as ordinary fuel and what its effect is on the motor,’ researcher Jaap van Hal told local newspaper Noordhollands Dagblad.

‘This means that this fuel could be used for private cars in the future, but seaweed fuel is also interesting for aviation and shipping.’ Seaweed is quick and easy to grow, making it highly suitable for biofuels, as well as food and bioplastics.



The Hague anti-Piet demonstration can go ahead, councillors say

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Campaigners opposed to the use of blackface in the annual Sinterklaas celebrations can go ahead and demonstrate during Saturday’s parade in The Hague, councillors have agreed.

The Hague is the only one of the four big cities to continue to include blackface Piets in its parade, although there are plans to change that next year. Campaign group Kick Out Zwarte Piet had asked councillors for permission to stage a demonstration after the city’s biggest political party called for a ban.

Acting mayor Johan Remkes said he saw no reason to ban the protest. On Friday, pro blackface Piet activists in The Hague attacked a building where KOZP members were meeting, smashing windows and car windscreens.

Five people were arrested, one of whom remains in custody. KOZP spokesman Jerry Afriyie has criticised Remkes for not denouncing the attack. ‘You should have condemned this, and we have not noticed you doing so,’ he said during the council meeting.

‘The mayor wants to know exactly what happened before commenting,’ Remkes said.


The Sinterklaas season kicks off on Saturday when the ‘arrival’ of St Nicholas takes place in Apeldoorn and is shown live on television.

Apeldoorn too will feature only sooty-faced Piets in its parade, although pro-blackface demonstrators have pledged to hold their own protest. This year anti-blackface demonstrators will protest in Alkmaar, Curaçao, Den Bosch, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Groningen, Hoorn, Leeuwarden and Nijmegen as well as The Hague.

‘Not everyone feels safe to demonstrate because of the aggressiveness of the pro-Piets,’ the campaign group said. ‘It is understandable, but that is what the pro-Piets want.

But KOZP has good contacts with local mayors and the police and will also have its own security.’ Last year pro-blackface Piets attacked anti-Piet demonstrators at a number of locations and dozens were arrested.



Dutch school books stereotype men, women and ethnic minorities: research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch schoolbooks are providing children stereotypical images of men, women and people with different ethnic minority backgrounds, according to Leiden researcher Judi Mesman.

Mesman and her team analysed 16 maths and 17 Dutch textbooks used by pupils in their first year of secondary school and found women and people with a minority background are both underrepresented.

‘If you feel that your textbook is about you, this motivates you. It gives you the idea that you too can do it,’ Mesman said. Previous research has shown, for instance, that girls understand chemistry texts better if these are accompanied by pictures of female scientists rather than only pictures of male ones, she said.

The research team discovered just 28% of the characters with a job were women, while men were over-represented as scientists, athletes or as doing some technical. People with an ethnic minority background were more likely to have a low status job such as truck driver.

In total, the researchers identified nearly 13,000 characters in the 33 books. Mesman also found only 9% of the characters had ‘non-Western names’ even though people with ethnic minority roots make up 13.4% of the population.

In terms of pictures, however, non-westerners accounted for 16% of the characters. ‘It would appear that those providing illustrations for the books are more aware of depicting different ethnic backgrounds,’ says Mesman.

‘Perhaps because a picture says more than a name in a text.’ Interpreting the likely impact of the under-representation and stereotypes is difficult, Mesman says, adding that obvious stereotypes were rare.

Hidden messages

‘But children are very sensitive to subtle, hidden messages,’ she said. ‘Our research shows that stereotypes have also crept into textbooks, albeit unconsciously. Now it is up to the publishers to make a conscious decision about how they want to deal with sex and ethnicity in their books.’

‘The publishers cooperated with this study from the outset because they too are keen to hear the results,’ said Stephan de Valk, director of GEU, the branch organisation for providers of learning resources and tests.

‘The publishers will discuss the results with their authors so that the unconscious stereotyping referred to in the reports can be avoided in future.’


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