25-06: Time to talk, Kurds and Turks in Dialogue

Since the war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish PKK broke out again in the summer of 2015, tensions erupted also in The Netherlands. The Hague Peace Projects hosted several group talks between Turks and Kurds in the Netherlands to make in order to promote dialogue among them. On the 25 of June we have our first public dialogue to share our stories and to discuss with the audience what is needed for a peaceful relationship.

According to a Dutch MEP, the Turks, “a remarkable talent for making enemies”. Not everyone agrees with this statement. On this day we explore the possibilities of another skill of Turks and Kurds: making peace with one another.

We start the program by discussing the conflict between Kurds and Turkey in a historical perspective. After this, various representatives of both groups share their story and vision. Thereafter the public continue talks in small groups. These groups are led by representatives of the Turkish-Kurdish peace initiative.

Suna Floret, Ozan Turkdogan, Esra Dede , Tayfun Balcik, Mirko Jouamer, Bedel Bayrak Draft program:

–          Opening 14:00-14:05
–          Short lecture The Turkish Kurdish conflict in historical perspective 14:05-14:20
–         Short speeches and interviews with Turkish and Kurdish representatives (probably Ozan Turkdogan, Bedel Bayrak and Mirko Jouamer) 14.20 -15.00
–          15.00 – 15.45 dialogue in small groups, headed by representatives of the Turkish-Kurdish peace initiative
–          15:45-16:00 break
–          16.00 – 16.45 plenary dialogue
–          16.45 – 17.00 story by Esra Dede
–          17.00 conclusion

Languages: Dutch

Entrance is free, but registration required, reserve your seat here!

The success of The Survivors

DSC_1090From April 15th until May 4th The Hague Peace Projects organized together with sixteen artists the art exhibition “The Survivors” in Atrium City Hall The Hague. The sixteen artists responded each with a unique art piece on the drawings of a Syrian boy, Taim Safar. By means of this chain reaction, the exhibition aimed to build a bridge between the story behind the drawings of Taim and the Dutch Society. Overall, it can be said that it was a very special exhibition that created an interesting dialogue on peace and conflict.

The start to this exhibition were the drawings of the eleven year old Taim Safar. Taim is one of many kids that grew up in a war zone in Syria and were forced to flee. Since Taim reached the age of six he makes remarkable drawings with powerful lines. Metaphorically, his work reflects the war he witnessed with his family and their refuge to Turkey. A pirate ship flies above the city that echo’s helicopters throwing bombs in his hometown Damascus. Arrived in Turkey, Taim’s drawings mirrors houses that are shrinking and… there is a compass. Is he lost or looking for a destination?

Taims drawings came to the Hague Peace Projects by his former art teacher in Damascus, Bassam Alkhouri, who also contributed an art piece to the exhibition. Other artists that collaborated in this project were: Saskia Burggraaf, Eva Murakeözy, Rik Smits, Airco caravan, Albert Zwaan, Wouter Willebrands, Leonard van de Ven, Malou Cohen, Rutger van der Tas, Hanna de Haan, Suzanne Somer, Helen Hintjens, Jakob de Jonge, Robert Roelink and Alexandra Arshanskaya. The artists’ work showed great variety: sculptures reflecting Syria today from different perspectives; a video showing refugees’ new home in the Netherlands; and several paintings, from a ‘Broken Family’ to Bashar al-Assad as the ‘Slaughterer’.

The exhibition started off with an official opening with speeches of the initiators of this project and Anwaar, a member of the Syrian workgroup of The Hague Peace Projects. While having a look at the paintings and having a chat, people could enjoy the music from the AMN band, performing Arabic songs. During their concert, visual artist Alexandra Arshanskaya presented a live performance. By realizing our project we strived to create a dialogue among the Dutch society about the war and about what it means to leave everything behind and leave your country, especially as a kid. We aimed for the audience to think about peace further away and at home.

It bears mention that the exhibition was partially funded by a crowd funding initiative of the Hague Peace Projects, along with a contribution from Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland. From now on, the art pieces of the artists are for sale. The money gathered thereof will be used to develop an art workshop program for young refugees and Dutch children in order to work towards integration through art and communication. If you would be interested in pursuing one of the art pieces, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Do you want to see and read more about the Survivors? Have a look at these external (photo)reports:
The Survivors by chmkoome
The Survivors by Bertus Pieters



Alexandra Arshanskaya, “Tumbleweed” 100 x 100 cm, Oil painting on linen € 2,500.-


Éva Murakeözy, “Battlefield” 102 x 152 cm, Acrylic ink on paper, € 1,400.-


Éva Murakeözy

Éva Murakeözy, “The Survivors” 82 x 102 cm, Acrylic ink on paper, € 1,000.-


Rik Smit

Rik Smit, “Memoria City” 240 x 180 cm, Pencil on paper, € 3,500.-


Hanna de Haan

Hanna de Haan, “tribute to a city”, 386 x 45 cm, Woodcut + cyanotype on fabric, € 775.-


Helen Hintjens

Helen Hintjens, “Fragments Broken Families”, 42 cm x 59,5 cm, € 200.-


Helen Hintjens

Helen Hintjens, “Broken Family” 21 cm x 28 cm € 80.- each


Airco Caravan

Airco Caravan, “12,000 LOST” 33 toys, labeled and numbered 85 x 140 cm Alkyd paint and wire € 3,500.- ———- “250,000 DEATHS AND COUNTING” Oil on canvas 170 x 240 cm, Painted in China, € 4,000.-

Airco Caravan

Airco Caravan, “SLAUGHTERER” Oil on canvas, 170 x 240 cm, Painted in China, € 4,000.-


Malou Cohen

Malou Cohen


Malou Cohen

Malou Cohen


Leonard van de Ven

Leonard van de Ven, “Flags Flying”, Installation of 14 flags, 50 x 50 cm each, Acrylic marker on cotton


Albert Zwaan

Albert Zwaan, “House according to a design by Taim” 40 x 30 cm, Oil on linen, 2016


Albert Zwaan

Albert Zwaan, “Playground 2” 40 x 30 cm, Oil on linen, 2016


Albert Zwaan

Albert Zwaan, “Playground 1 (on the rooftops of Damascus)” 40 x 30 cm, Oil on linen, 2016


Suzanne Somer

Suzanne Somer



Wouter Willebrands

Wouter Willebrands, “the past, the present and the would be could be”, 93 cm x 73 cm, Graphite and ink on paper, € 2,850.-


Rutger van der Tas

Rutger van der Tas, “Promised Land” 30,4 x 40 cm, Oil on wood


Rutger van der Tas

Rutger van der Tas, “Taim De Overlever”, 30,5 x 41 cm, Oil on wood,


Robert Roelink

Robert Roelink, “World Citizenship I t/m VIII”, Drawings A3, Charcoal and tape


Robert Roelink

Robert Roelink


Robert Roelink

Robert Roelink, “World Citizenship”, Sculpture 100 x 100 x 100 cm, Melted plastic


Robert Roelink

Robert Roelink


Robert Roelink

Robert Roelink


Robert Roelink

Robert Roelink


Robert Roelink

Refugee Stories from the Past, Present and Perspectives on the Future

On Friday 13 May, a mix of Syrians, Dutch’ and Internationals gathered to start a dialogue with a focus on the integration process of the Syrian community in the Netherlands. Historian Frerik Kampman started off by visualising Syria pre-war, when Syria was well-known as a peaceful country, very open to foreigners. Salim and Anwaar continued with a different perspective, telling their story of their work for international organisations in both Syria and Egypt. Twice they had to leave everything behind and start all over again. They involved the audience with their own experience: how is it to become a refugee, to integrate in a new culture without speaking the language? The second part of the evening consisted of an interactive Q&A session, followed by the group activity ‘what if…?’ Overall, it can be said that it was a truly engaging evening with multiple dimensions.

S12One of the objectives of the journal was to create a better understanding of both the Dutch and Syrian community and how they interrelate. Why not filling the gap and strive to build a future together? Salim and Anwaar, a brave couple that build a relationship during an ongoing war, explained some of the difficulties they faced when building up their new life. Salim emphasised how painful it was to flee from Egypt to Italy. He was not sure if he would survive in the tiny boat. ‘If I die, please call my wife’ is wat he told multiple times during his trip. When he met a refugee-smuggler in Italy, he was shocked by the driver’s attitude. He did not to help him from a humanity perspective, he just wanted to make money, he saw refugees as a product, worth 500 euro. Salim’s wife, Anwaar, elaborated on this story from the moment she was reunited with her husband in the Netherlands: ‘They only look and stare at us’. She explained that she finds it very difficult to engage with the Dutch society. Whenever she tries to invite people over, they don’t show interest. Sometimes, she feels like an alien on a different planet.

Before the interactive part of the evening took place, several statements were made by Syrians in the audience. The statements were honest and touching, some of them included: ‘Losing your family does not mean stop trying’; ‘If we work together we can achieve more and faster’; ‘We are not just refugees, we are also human’; ‘I cannot integrate alone’; ‘First I hated drop, now I like it’. During the Q&A session, the audience was invited to ask question to the Syrian group. The questions reflected a variety of curiosity and concerns. Questions that were raised included: ‘What can the Dutch society do for you?’; ‘What divides the Syrian community?’; and ‘What was your happiest day in the Netherlands?’. The Syrians highlighted that simple things can make life better. A lot of Syrians just want to feel welcome. Therefore, they need a smile, or a friend. For most of the Syrians, peace looks far away now, even though they stay positive. By the same token, Germany was a humanitarian catastrophe a few decades ago, now it is one of the most promising countries with a very tolerant refugee policy.S7

The evening ended with an activity meant to put the audience in the shoes of refugees. Questions were posed to the audience such as: ‘If you left everything behind, what would you miss the most?’ and  ‘What if your land was destroyed, your people displaced and suffering, and you would feel like the wold is ignoring you?’ These questions were very confronting and it was hard to even try to imagine this feeling. However, we would like to invite you, the reader, to think about certain questions as well. May be you can give them the smile they need.

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Join our team!

We are a new and young organisation with many dedicated people working for us. We have a lot of energy to start projects and bring people together, feel free to contact us if you are interested to help with this.

Currently we are looking for:

We’re also always open for new ideas!

Stories from far away… Concert ‘Op Doortocht – Moving cultures’

In April, the student choir JIP gave four concerts called ‘op doortocht’ – Moving Cultures’. They sang music from people all over the world who are traveling, voluntary or forced. The concert was about journeys, new encounters, sharing stories, keeping memories and celebrating diversity.

For the project, the choir worked together with 39 young singers, 3 musicians from Palestine, Turkey and Syria, 1 performing artist from Tunisia, 3 composers from Iceland and the Netherlands, 4 poets from Iraq, Chile and the Netherlands, 8 visual artists from Bosnia, Syria, Lebanon and Canada and 11 engaged organizations, of which The Hague Peace Projects was one. Not only was Lisanne, one of our staff member, singing in the choir, she also helped setting up the art exhibition with art pieces from several refugees living in the Netherlands.

For the four concerts in The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht were refugees invited for free. Because of the positivity of the project all the churches were completely full with visitors, old and new citizens of The Netherlands. Also, they were asked to perform even more concerts. On the 28th of May they were performing during a charity concert, supporting Stichting Bootvluchteling. In total they collected an amount of 660,- euro’s.


Photo’s: Lotte Brugman and Ronald Correljé

Photo’s: Lotte Brugman and Ronald Correljé

Read here the personal stories of the two conductors of the choir: Jonathan and Imre Ploeg.

“The past three months, JIP has been on a fascinating journey. Never before have we had such a tremendously divers program. Never before have we collaborated with so many different artists. Never before have we welcomed so many people in the audience.

Last summer, conductors Jonathan and Imre chose to dive into the theme ‘Op Doortocht – moving cultures’. We were inspired by the power and sound of nomadic tribes and shocked by the terrible news about the refugees from the Middle East and Africa. There are many nomadic tribes that choose to travel and are always on the move. In our modern society, people travel in many different ways and for many different reasons. Jonathan and Imre saw the news and wanted something different. They wanted to create a story of hope. A story of collaboration. A story of welcoming new cultures and meeting each other.

People from all over the world came to our concerts. Parents of choir members were sitting next to people who are new in the Netherlands. People flew over from Sweden, or watched our livestream of the concert in Den Haag from Brazil. All of them heard different stories from all over the world. Inuit pictures, Maasai sounds, Middle Eastern poems and Andalucían gypsy tunes. All of them heard compositions that were composed for this project. The 1.000 people attending our concerts could see visual art from artists from Syria, Bosnia, the Netherlands and other countries and eat nomadic snacks during the break.

So many singers, artists, musicians, composers, poets, choirs, organizations and people in the audience made their contribution to the project, that it is almost impossible to thank everyone separately. But to all of them we say: thank you from the bottom of our heart. Because of you we could create the story of hope, cultural diversity, love, collaboration and appreciation we could not even dream of last summer. We can only conclude that there are many, many people striving for a better world, in which people can peacefully live together, sharing their stories and cultures with each other and playing and singing together.”


Photo’s: Lotte Brugman and Ronald Correljé

Photo’s: Lotte Brugman and Ronald Correljé

Nationale en wereldwijde oproep: Overheid Bangladesh: stop moorden, bescherm diversiteit!

See here the full english statement

Op 3 mei, de Internationale Dag voor Persvrijheid, starten organisaties voor mensenrechten, persvrijheid en humanisme, samen met intellectuelen uit de hele wereld een internationale petitie tegen het vrijelijk en bruut vermoorden van andersdenkenden in Bangladesh. Nederlandse organisaties roepen hun overheid op via alle beschikbare kanalen druk uit te oefenen op de overheid in Bangladesh om de aanvallen op andersdenkenden scherp te veroordelen en de moordenaars te vervolgen.

Steeds meer moorden

Met vier brute moorden in drie weken tijd komt het vrije woord in Bangladesh verder onder druk te staan. Sinds februari 2015 zijn vijf seculiere bloggers, schrijvers en uitgevers doodgehakt in Bangladesh. Na de moord, drie weken geleden op rechtenstudent en vrijzinnige blogger Nazimuddin Samad, werd op 23 april hoogleraar Engels Karim Siddique doodgehakt, gevolgd door de brute moord op LGBT-activist Xulhaz Mannan en zijn vriend Tanay Fahim op 25 april.

In 2013 werd er een dodenlijst gepubliceerd van 84 voornamelijk humanistische en atheïstische bloggers. Nu een aantal van hen vermoord is en veel van hen het land ontvlucht zijn, lijkt de aanval op alles wat niet correct islamitisch is in de ogen van de aanslagplegers zich te verbreden naar andere groeperingen, zoals aanhangers van minderheidsreligies en LGBT’s.

Regering Bangladesh neemt geen verantwoordelijkheid

De moorden worden geclaimd door terroristische islamitische groeperingen, waaronder Al Qaeda en Daesh. De regering in Bangladesh ontkent dat deze terroristische groeperingen bestaan en beschuldigt de oppositie. De Bengaalse overheid doet vrijwel niets om de moordenaars op te pakken en te vervolgen en de vrijheid van meningsuiting en levensovertuiging te beschermen.
Ze stelt daarentegen publiekelijk de vraag of de slachtoffers er met hun publicaties en activisme niet ‘zelf om hebben gevraagd’, omdat zij met hun uitspraken de islam beledigen of religieuze gevoelens kwetsen. De straffeloosheid en de publieke distantiëring van de overheid maken andersdenkenden vogelvrij.
Internationale aandacht voor en politieke druk op de regering om vrijdenkers en mensenrechtenactivisten te beschermen zijn tot nu toe gering.


Nastiker Dharmakatha, een naar Nederland gevluchte bedreigde atheïstische blogger, riep samen met andere bloggers, schrijvers, activisten en organisaties wereldwijd op tot gezamenlijke actie. Het Amerikaanse Centre for Inquiry (CFI) stelde een petitietekst op, samen met onder meer The Hague Peace Projects, het Humanistisch Verbond en Free Press Unlimited en medewerking en ondertekening van een groot aantal organisaties en intellectuelen uit Bangladesh en de rest van de wereld. Deze actie wordt gekoppeld aan een online petitie. Een Nederlandse vertaling van de petitietekst is als bijlage toegevoegd.

We vinden de situatie onhoudbaar en roepen de regering in Bangladesh via de petitie op haar verantwoordelijkheid te nemen om de moorden scherp te veroordelen, de daders op te sporen en mensenrechtenactivisten en daarmee de vrijheid in het land te beschermen.

Wij, de Nederlandse ondertekenende organisaties, roepen bovendien de Nederlandse regering op om:

  • De regering in Bangladesh via alle beschikbare politieke en diplomatieke kanalen en ook bij handelsmissies op te roepen de moorden scherp te veroordelen en alles te doen om de vrijheid van levensbeschouwing en expressie te beschermen. En actief de dialoog aan te gaan over hoe die bescherming kan worden gerealiseerd.
  • Zelf verantwoordelijkheid te nemen, overeenkomstig de Europese richtlijnen omtrent de bescherming van mensenrechtenverdedigers, door bescherming te bieden aan degenen die daar, bedreigd vanwege hun levensovertuiging, ideeën geaardheid en expressie daarvan, een beroep op doen.

    Help mee onze oproep kracht bij te zetten door de petitie te tekenen!

    Picture 1_Protest