IMPRESSIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS VISITS TO DUTCH CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS

In the afternoon of Monday 7 October 2013, Assembly participants had the opportunity to visit Dutch civil society organisations in Amsterdam, namely Amnesty International Netherlands; Anne Frank House; Pink in Blue, police working on LGBT issues; Milieudefensi, environmental NGO; Indische Buurt, an NGO focused on neighbourhood action. A collection of participants’ impressions on the visits can be read below. More comments and pictures will be soon available.

At the Netherlands office of Amnesty International, the Forum members were presented with information about Amnesty's work on limiting detention of 'illegal' aliens; Russian asylum seeker Alexander Dolmatov died in this detention system at the beginning of the year. Amnesty staff showed some of their campaigning visuals and activities; these are aimed at attracting public and media attention in the Netherlands but could have damaging impact in Russia. An example is the Naked Run for Freedom. The problem that particular human rights issues in Russia receive a lot of campaigning attention in countries such as the Netherlands while the very grave violations in the Northern Caucasus go more or less unmentioned, was also discussed.
Harry Hummel (Netherlands Helsinki Committee) on the visit to Amnesty International Netherlands
On 7 October a small group of General Assembly participants visited the main office of Amsterdam police to learn about the activities of the anti-discrimination group Pink in Blue Police Network Amsterdam - 'Pink in Blue' refers to pink colour as a symbol of LGBT community, while blue symbolises the shape of Dutch police. From the warm welcoming, the visit offered occasions for jokes to some of the guests, who could hardly imagine a similar group to be established in their homelands. The main purpose of the Pink in Blue Police Network Amsterdam is to provide victims of crimes, with specific LGBT- nature, an opportuntiy to directly refer to police, specialized on the peculiarities of LGBT community life, through a support hotline active 24/7. The group carries out an active information campaign and positions itself as part of the LGBT community (representatives of the group are even officially involved in gay parades) to show its proximity to potential victims of crime and further reduce the existing psychological barrier when contacting the police. Pink in Blue Police Network with great willingness shares their experiences and regularly conduct orientation seminars abroad.
Polina Baigarova (EU-Russia Civil Society Forum) on the visit to Amsterdam Police - 'Pink in Blue' project