“As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.” – Audre Lorde
May 5th (Bevrijdingsdag/Liberation Day) marks the end of Nazi Germany’s occupation of The Netherlands during WWII. It happens every year, one day after the Dutch day of the Remembrance of the Dead. Sixty-four years later, The Netherlands still celebrate Liberation Day, calling forth its remembrance–not only as an historical moment for celebration, but as a deeply activating concept–throughout international communities around the world.
Importantly in these times, Liberation Day parallels its remembrance of The Netherlands’ freedom from war with an even more global vision: to bring awareness, and to amplify the voices that dialogue, heal, and struggle for freedom in the aims to liberate from the subjugation of violence due to international warfare and political and economic corruption. Values for liberation and freedom are taught to grow through the productive roots of local activism, and these roots are necessary for nourishing global connections in times of crisis.
European etymology for the word ‘liberation’ means ‘the act to set or become free from confinement or restraint’. In ancient Mesopotamia–one of the oldest archaeological civilisations–the word meant ‘the return to the Mother,’ hinting at the complex ties between liberation and place. Guided by the profound roots of this beautiful word, we can understand Liberation Day to signify that a moment and a space has been carefully made for re-activating a highly constructive concept. And it ought to be continually re-activated or ritually re-enacted, by necessity of its meaning and its construction. Since this moment must be rooted not only in our free celebrations, here in The Netherlands, but in the emancipatory potential of the diverse ideas and practices that can help others and ourselves to cultivate freedom within.
In the spirit of Liberation Day, The Hague Peace Projects celebrated together in Malieveld park, offering a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Everyone was invited to plant a personal Peace Message in the form of a flower seed, planted in solidarity with a commitment to getting to the roots of Human Rights issues and to the heart of non-violent, peaceful practices. The planted seed served as a symbol for the peaceful message, the soil as the environment in which the message can grow, and the final act of pouring water for taking care of one’s own message and idea. Once the flower will grow, the peaceful message will reach many people and will pass on. After the visitors completed the process of planting the seed they were invited to write their own Peace Message on the flower pot.
It was beautiful to see how many people participated and how each person had their own unique way of looking at Peace. We are excited for each message to grow and flourish. One of our most attractive activities among children was the face and portrait painting by our supporting artists. While the children either slowly turned into colorful doves, butterflies or got the Hague Peace Projects symbol painted on their arms, the parents had time to receive more information about HPP’s activities and projects through a Great Lake Regions Quiz, Flyers and talks with the Hague Peace Projects team members.
We ask members of the HPP workgroups to share their messages, here-below, of what liberation can mean for their regions:
“As the project-coordinator of the Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish workgroup, freedom and liberation day for me and ‘my regions’ (born in The Netherlands, having double nationality, Dutch/Turkish, I have multiple regions) is something complex. Here, even though we live in relative freedom and safety, I feel marginalized as a coincidental member of the Turkish-muslim minority. In Turkish contexts I enjoy Turkish privilege, being part of the Turkish-sunni majority. But still, to be in engagement with sensitive subjects such as the Kurdish question, I have experienced a lot of pressure from multiple sides. And that is also what freedom brings. People have the liberty to exercise free speech. And more than a couple of times, that is being done through the reproduction of nationalistic and monolithic views about their people and past. You don’t have to agree, but freedom means we have to acknowledge that with some people we will never agree.
Turkey is the land where my parents come from. They came for economic reasons. But also in a period where the military junta had abolished all kinds of liberties, like free politics. People were tortured and hanged in jails. 33 years later, things are maybe not as bad as then, but Turkey is going backwards. A one-man rule by Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gaining ground. The diversity, history and energy of Turkey cannot be swallowed by one figure, one ideology or one party. Individual liberties should be protected against the tyranny of the majority, in a democratic non-violent way.”
–Tayfun Balcik, Armenian-Turkish-Kurdish workgroup
“For us, liberation means the right to choose and live our life without discrimination and restriction, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, gender, race or any other identity.”
–Shustesmetta Simonti, Bangladesh workgroup