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'Anti-racism meeting not about Cohen'

18 August 2008 - Critics call for a boycott of Wednesday's anti-racism meeting because of the presence of Mayor Job Cohen, who is held responsible for 'racist' policies and razzias. But anti-fascist organisations say the meeting is not about Cohen, and that everybody should attend.

On 20 August 1983, a right-wing skinhead stabbed Antillean-born Kerwin Duinmeijer to death at the Damstraat. The murder has become an important symbol for anti-racism organisations, which organise a yearly remembrance.

At the 25th remembrance next Wednesday, Mayor Cohen will be among the speakers. On the Indymedia website, anonymous critics say that progressive organisations like Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) and de Fabel van de Illegaal should boycott the meeting.

Some see Cohen, who has been a State Secretary before he became mayor, as the architect of the strict immigration policies carried out by former Minister Rita Verdonk.

"I'm critical of Cohen and personally I wouldn't have invited him", says Gerrit de Wit of de Fabel, an organisation that opposes migration control. "But then, the meeting is about Kerwin. People who are against Cohen can still attend and hand out pamphlets or boo when Cohen is speaking".

Tim Vlaarbeek of AFA agrees that the meeting should be about Duinmeijer, not Cohen. "Personally, I think Cohen is a nasty bloke. Take the raid of a Nigerian party in Amsterdam Zuidoost last year. The police claimed they were after criminals, but it turned out to be a mass arrest of illegal residents".

"Cohen is responsible for policies that stigmatise and criminalise foreigners", Vlaarbeek says. "But we shouldn't let this spoil the Kerwin remembrance". He calls for a meeting 'worthy of Kerwin'.

Peter van de Wijngaart of the Friends of Kerwin Foundation, which organises the remembrance, says that it is important that the Mayor of Amsterdam attends the meeting. "By being there and delivering a speech, he's making an important statement".

Image: 2007 remembrance (photo Fotomaker / Indymedia)


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