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About Dutch and Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness

The Prime Minister of the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan seems to be so scared of actual and perceived threats that he invested more than 3 million of the local Ngultrum currency in security arrangements for his new penthouse. This was revealed by the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay himself, during a press conference on 12 February. He reacted to a press release by opposition leader Pema Gyamtsho, agitatedly released a week earlier. Gyamtsho demanded a thorough investigation into the alleged misuse of public resources by the PM for the development of his private residence in the outskirts of capital city Thimphu. 'The

Becoming citizens for the first time

Met plezier gelezen? Doneer via Blendle! As a Syrian refugee in the Netherlands, I had to experience the unexperienced. The journey from a dictatorship to a democracy grants me the chance to taste the flavour of citizenship. Something refugees like me probably had never experienced in their lives before. However, by becoming a citizen, you get rights, and with rights come of course responsibilities. Besides developing my biking skills on a rainy day, wearing a poncho, and avoiding the cranky bikers in Amsterdam, I believe that becoming an Amsterdammer also means experiencing a variety of things that Dutch society and

On my way from Syria

Mohannad Sharrouf vluchtte uit Syrië. In een serie artikelen beschrijft hij hoe zijn tocht naar Nederland verliep. I just came out of the airport and I felt tired after the flight of more than four hours, from Beirut to Algeria. Four hours ago I was in Lebanon, three hours away from my home in Syria. Now I am at the African continent, in the capital of Algeria, to be exactly. Now I am far away from home. The first Algerian face I met was that of an officer who wanted to take a look at my passport. He asked me

Lessons from Bhutan about Myanmar reconciliation

As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has been doing little to prevent the ethnic cleansing in Burma. On the other hand, an eminent Bhutanese minister, Om Pradhan, did much more to prevent a similar cataclysm in Bhutan. The Buddhist states of Myanmar and Bhutan are both ruled by parsimonious authoritarians. Both populations have two distinctive religious ethnic groups. Buddhists form the majority elites. Bhutan has a Hindu minority and Burma a Muslim minority. The Buddhist regimes in both these nations have been taking strategical ethnic cleansing measures. Neither the world powers nor the United

Longread: “Either get married, or go to Europe.”

Dit artikel is een hoofdstuk uit het boek "A Refugee - From Erbil to Amsterdam'' van Taleb Ibrahim dat uit het Arabisch naar het Engels is vertaald door Amal Abdulmawla & Abdulla Fadel. My name is Sabah Khalil. I’m from Kurdistan. After I finished my studies at Erbil University, Faculty of English Literature, my father gave me fifteen thousand dollars and said: “Either get married, or go to Europe.” The word ‘Europe’ rapidly slipped out of my father’s mouth, but my sensitive ears picked it up and gave it legs. Oh, father! Europe, just like that?! Europe had already entered my

How a little girl kept me in Libya

I’m standing on the shore outside Zuwarah city in Libya. The salty smell of the sand mixed with seawater is strong. I hear the sloshing of the waves. It’s July 2014. I am on my way to Italy and I wait, looking out at the huge anchored ship a few hundred meters off the coast. I wonder if it’s waiting for us? It´s big -- bigger than anything I´ve ever seen. I take a deep breath – after two weeks of waiting, it is almost time . I look at the ship and forget all my pain, hunger, sadness, and broken

Rutte discussed human rights with Modi. But he forgot to mention the Bhutanese refugees

A discussion with the Dutch over trade and commerce is the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's priority, but in the minds of Dutch politicians, the visit of Mr. Modi to The Netherlands gave ways to question about human rights and religious freedom, rather than to issues like trade co-operation or commercial entrepreneurship. This has a lot to do with the Mr. Modi's political party, the BJP – under the cliché of ‘radical Hinduism’. After about 13 years the prime minister of India is visiting The Netherlands. This time, on the 27th June, Mr. Narendra Modi met the Dutch royal family,

When you read Hemingway and think of Srebrenica, you cannot unsee the connection

Then he rested as easily as he could with his two elbows in the pine needles and the muzzle of the submachine gun resting against the trunk of the pine tree.’ Ernest Hemmingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls Somewhere in the seventies, when everything was still young and fresh Holland and Amsterdam looked like a promised land where all our hippie dreams would have been fulfilled. A place where freedom really existed, a kind of Woodstock-city covered with clouds of marijuana smoke and decibels of music - the real John and Yoko honeymoon place (Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam

South Sudan is destroying its free press, one journalist at a time

I’ve experienced firsthand the way the new state of South Sudan treats its journalists. Since it became independent in 2011, the government has come to see us as a national security threat, doing everything in its power to stop us from investigating corruption and human rights violations. I’ve been beaten up, threatened, detained and followed. I’ve returned from a day’s reporting with bruised ribs and split lips. But I’m lucky: many of my colleagues haven’t lived to tell their stories. In the past five years, eight journalists have been killed for doing their jobs. South Sudan is now ranked 140th in the World Press

Special ‘UN communication channel’ for safety of journalists

The office of Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres has decided to establish a privileged channel of communication with various organisations concerned with the issue of the safety of journalists. The decision, made in a period of time in which risks and threats to journalists are increasing, was announced following a February meeting with Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers about the issue of journalist safety. Emergency information collection The coalition of organizations is engaged in discussions with various representatives of the Secretary-General in order to