Waalwijk city council falls over racism report
Following the resignation of councillor Elly Baggerman, Labour Party councillor Peter van Dongen may step down too, reports news agency.18 April 2008
WAALWIJK - The city council in the Dutch town of Waalwijk has fallen after the resignation of Green Left councillor Elly Baggerman.
The councillor, who was in charge of youth employment and immigration policy, stood down following the publication of a critical report by the Forum multicultural institute.
The Dutch news agency ANP reports that Labour Party councillor Peter van Dongen might step down as well.
The report, which led to a nationwide scandal, described how a Liberian mother and her five children were terrorised by more than 20 youths for nearly a year and a half in the Waalwijk district of Waspik.
The youths harassed the family with racist epithets, threw eggs and firecrackers at their house and would ride into them with scooters. The Liberian woman, Ophelia Hayes, says she and her family were afraid to leave the house.
Last week, the media reported that city officials were fully aware of the situation and held a total of 153 meetings about the harassment; however, no action was taken.
In the course of the investigation it was discovered that three other African families also left Waspik after being continuously pestered.
Two single Ethiopian women left in 1996. A Somali refugee and her baby fled in 1998 and in 2003 a Congolese woman and her three children left the village. An Iraqi family which moved to Waspik in July 2007 reports being insulted by a group of youths who threw beer bottles at them. And a family from Kosovo which lives in the village is also being harassed.
Last week, Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar visited Waspik, where she received a report about the incidents. She said everyone involved did "a botched-up job".
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]