Day of Peace in the Netherlands

The UPF-Netherlands support for the UN's International Day of Peace started one week previously, when Secretary General Wim Koetsier spoke at a special gathering of Afghanis to commemorate the life of their national hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated on September 9, 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attacks, probably not coincidentally.

Massoud's great friend, Massoud Khalili, was a surprise guest at the conclusion of the speeches before the end of the Ramadan fast. After a lengthy, almost brotherly talk from Khalili, Mr. Koetsier spoke in praise of Massoud and introduced UPF. He presented Ambassador for Peace certificates to Massoud (posthumously), Khalili, and a prominent woman journalist now living in Sweden.

On the weekend of September 19-21, UPF-NL hosted a European Leadership Conference in its conference center, Huize Glory, in North Holland. On September 19, elder statesman and Ambassador for Peace Dr. Willem van Eekelen, accompanied by his wife, addressed the conference, together with a group from the Palestinian Olive Tree Project. Of special note was Dr. Van Eekelen's proposal to set up an organization to impartially examine Palestinian complaints of Israeli human rights abuses. The Saturday program featured a comprehensive examination of China's emergence onto the world stage. As the conference reached its conclusion on Sunday, the UPF Peace Declaration was read to all assembled, who also received copies.

Afterwards, Wim Koetsier, accompanied by UPF-Europe Vice Chairman Tim Miller, the principal lecturer at the European Leadership Conference, and Hans Campman, UPF-Netherlands chairman, traveled to The Hague to participate in a "Day of Peace" meeting organized by "het Turkse Platform Den Haag," with prominent Hindu, Muslim, and Christian speakers discussing "Living Together in Peace." They discussed what constitutes a peaceful society and how diverse people can live in harmony.

At the meeting in The Hague, there was much discussion about "cultural identity" and whether a Turkish person who settles in the Netherlands should be considered "Turkish" or "Dutch." Wim Koetsier suggested that when Turks and other foreigners received Dutch naturalization they might be asked to affirm the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If people adhere to these 30 statements, cultural identity would not be a source of conflict but could be a celebration of diversity. Indeed, Dutch children might be asked to make a similar affirmation when they receive official Dutch citizenship papers at 14.

Wim Koetsier had prepared a suggested Closing Declaration for the meeting, based on UPF's Declaration of Peace, which the chairman had earlier adopted and then requested Koetsier's help in drafting his own opening speech.

Hans Campman later expressed amazement at how enthusiastically everyone received the sentiments of UPF's Peace Declaration as read by Mr. Koetsier. Indeed, with him speaking at the end of the program, the concluding Peace Declaration and toast to world peace was a welcome lead-in to the Iftar, the meal after sunset each day during the month of Ramadan fasting.

To read UPF's Peace Declaration and reports of observances in other nations, click here.

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