The struggle against Blackface in the Netherlands

The annual Sinterklaas Festival in the Netherands has become a testing ground for the status of ethnic minorities and their attempts to influence what it means to be Dutch. The festival is based on a legend that every December, St. Nicholas travels to the Netherlands from Spain with an army of helpers or “Black Petes”, clownish and acrobatic figures dressed in Moorish page suits. to reward or punish children. In recent years people of colour have pushed back against the racist, colonial vestige with encouraging results.

In the journal The Long View Sandew Hira made an analysis of the movement against Blackface in The Netherlands. He goes into the history of the Sinterklaas festival with the character of Black Pete, the social forces behind the anti-Black Pete movement and the question of strategy and tactics of the anti-racist movement.

The Long View is a quarterly magazine published by Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in London.

Arzu Merali and Faisal Bodi (eds.): The New Colonialism: the American Model of Human Rights

In February 2018 the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in London held a conference titled: The New Colonialism: The American Model of Human Rights. The nine contributions from scholar-activists looking at how human rights as theory and practice are now published in a book.

As a human rights research, campaign and advocacy organisation NGO working for over 20 years from its base in the UK, IHRC has had to negotiate the dilemma of dealing with not only institutionalised racism in local, national, regional and international organisations and regimes, but a Eurocentric discourse of rights and justice referencing largely the Enlightenment but compounded with the idea that this lingua franca of rights, though deemed universally applicable, is both the sole provenance of the ‘West’ and at the same time is immutable and unquestionable.  The papers presented problematize perceptions of the US as anything other than a violent and rapacious colonial power. Arguably this is the grassroots perception of the US around the world, and even within its own borders there are significant numbers who eschew the self-perception of the country as a leader in freedom and democracy. They speak of the civil rights and indigenous rights movements whose very existence exposes these claims as fictitious.

The book is launched on January 20, 2020 in London. Click here for information about the launch. Click here for order information. ISBN 978-1-909853-04-1

Enrollment fo decolonial summer schools has started

Dialogo Global, member of the Decolonial International Network (DIN), has started the enrollment for her annual decolonial Summer Schools in Granada and Barcelona.

The Summer School on Critical Muslim Studies: Decolonial Struggles and Liberation Theologies is from June 15 – June 19, 2020 in Granada, Spain.

The Summer School on Decolonizing knowledge and power: postcolonial studies, decolonial horizons is from July 13 – July 17 in Barcelona, Spain.

Critical Muslim Studies is inspired by a need for opening up a space for intellectually rigorous and socially committed explorations between decolonial thinking and studies of Muslims, Islam and the Islamicate. Critical Muslim Studies does not take Islam as only a spiritual tradition, or a civilization, but also as a possibility of a decolonial epistemic perspective that suggests contributions and responses to the problems facing humankind today. It offers an opportunity to interpret and understand Muslim phenomena in ways that does not reproduce Eurocentrism, Islamophobia or takfiri exclusivism.

The international Summer School, “Decolonizing Knowledge and Power,” is an undertaking that aims at enlarging the scope of the conversation (analysis and investigation) of the hidden agenda of modernity (that is, coloniality) in the sphere of knowledge and higher education.

See the video on the Granada Summer School

Indigenous Holocaust Memorial: Genocide Memorial Day

Our brothers and sisters of The Decolonial Thought Community in Mexico have taken up the concept of Genocide Memorial Day that is promoted by DIN. On October 12, 1492 Columbus the Criminal opened the doors of hell for the Indigenous people of the America. On October 12 they organize an event to commemorate the Indigenous Holocaust.

The Indigenous Holocaust Memorial is an event that seeks to show a dissent, a disagreement with the narratives of submission that justify colonialism. Almost two centuries after the national liberation struggles and the end of the colonial administrations, these discourses still stand and sometimes, without any dispute. For that reason, it is important for us to disrupt this continuity, not only because of objective rigour but above all because we start from an ethico-critical position.

Already in 1992, when the 500th anniversary of the misnamed “discovery” of America or “encounter” of two worlds was being celebrated, there was an intense intellectual debate about the pertinence of the word “encounter” because it concealed the violence behind the colonization process (which led to the elimination of approximately 60% of the Mesoamerican population during the 16th century) and the asymmetry of power between the components of the supposed hybrid or “mestizo” culture.

In our state, Tlaxcala, the issue is even more complex. We are heirs of a people, altepetl, that successfully resisted the expansionism of the triple alliance led by the Mexicas (Aztecs), and that did not miss the opportunity to establish an alliance with the European conquerors to free itself from such domination, which would undoubtedly brought some benefits after the fall of Aztec empire. However, this alliance was neither a peaceful process nor an easy consensus. There were, throughout all the process, tensions, such as the initial confrontations with the Spanish of which the Otomí people can give full faith; but in addition, there were those who disagreed with this alliance, perhaps the most symbolic example is Xīcohténcatl the young captain who was executed because of his dissent.

No one can judge the attempt of liberation of a people. However, afterwards, the Tlaxcala people joined the colonizing project of the Westerners and was a relative complice in the violence that it implied. It would take some time to understand that somehow, our people had participated in the construction of their new chains of oppression and material-cultural destruction, that is, the modern regimes of domination (Patriarchy/Racism/Capitalism) that appear in the context of the colonial encounter and will soon take on a global vocation shaping the modern world system.

For us, this event means the testimony of the presence of a critical ethos of Tlaxcala and an awareness that starts by denouncing the violence of human beings against human beings as well as a commitment to contribute to the destruction of the regimes of modern global domination. We therefore join in solidarity in the series of events called by the Decolonial  International Network(DIN) as: “Genocide Memorial Day”.

The meeting will be attended by Ahmed Uddin from the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a founding memberorganisation of DIN and initiator of the GMD.


The Decolonial Thought Community



Musical documentary The Uprising

Pravini Baboeram is an artist and activist of DIN in The Netherlands. She is creating art to contribute to social change. As an independent artist she has set up her own label Pravini Productions, that has produced 5 albums, 6 singles and 5 international tours. She is co-founder of action committee Holi is not a Houseparty, a campaign against cultural appropriation of the Hindu spring festival Holi, and initiator of the Anti-racism Voting Guide. In addition, she led the campaign Tetary Must Rise, a crowdfunding campaign for the replacement of the statue of colonizer Barnet Lyon by the Hindustani warrior of resistance Janey Tetary. Pravini also set up Indian History Month to celebrate stories and contributions of people from the Indian diaspora.

Now she produced a documentary about the social struggle in Europe.

The documentary is based on the album The Uprising, also written and produced by Pravini. The nine songs from the album act as a common thread in the film. In these songs, Pravini connects the fight against Blackface, the struggle for the recognition of colonial crimes committed by the Netherlands in Indonesia, the liberation movement for Palestine and the struggle in the political field for an inclusive society. The Uprising thus offers a unique view of the fight against racism in Europe through the eyes of people of color.

More info about The Uprising is available at:

View the trailer here:

The Uprising premiered in Pakhuis de Zwijger earlier this year and since then has been screened in various places within the Netherlands and abroad: Filmhuis Den Haag (The Hague, NL), Hiphophuis (Rotterdam, NL), Seminar on Reparations for Slavery and Colonization (Caracas , Venezuela), UCLA (Los Angeles, USA), UC Berkeley (Berkeley, USA), Centro Cultural de la Raza (San Diego, USA), Museum of African Diaspora (Smithsonian Affiliate, San Francisco, USA) and IWPS Convergence (Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, USA).

It has been selected for the international film festival DocuDonna, which takes place from October 25th until October 27th in Massa Marittima, Italy. The film festival focuses on female filmmakers and social justice issues.

In October Pravini will tour the UK, where various educational institutions and social organizations will screen the film. Afterwards she will continue her journey to Italy, where she will participate in the DocuDonna film festival for a screening of The Uprising.

The Uprising can also be seen in various places in the fall:

  • September 13th, 2019 in Studio / K, Amsterdam (NL)
  • September 23rd, 2019 at The Lighthouse Festival (The Hague University of Applied Sciences) in The Hague (NL)
  • October 14th, 2019 at Utrecht University (NL)
  • October 19th, 2019 at Islamic Human Rights Commission in London (UK)
  • October 21th, 2019 at the University of Sussex (UK)
  • October 22nd, 2019 at the University of Sunderland (UK)
  • October 23rd, 2019 at Impact Hub in Birmingham (UK)
  • October 26th, 2019 at DocuDonna film festival in Massa Marittima (Italy)
  • October 28th, 2019 at John Cabot University in Rome (Italy)
  • December 6th, 2019 at Hasselt University (Belgium)

The campaign to free Sheikh Zakzaky

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a founding member of the Decolonial International Network has set up a campaign to free Sheikh Zakzaky in Nigeria. Zakzaky is a leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria who has consistently campaigned for social justice in Nigeria, the Palestinian cause and is a supporter of the Iranian revolution. He was detained after a massacre that the Nigerian army carried out in the city of Zaria in December 2015 in which up to 1000 people were massacred.

IHRC has consistently documented the crimes of the Nigerian state against the Islamic Movement and the struggle to free Zakzaky. The court in Nigeria has ordered his release but the state refuses to act. Most recently (5 August) the court ordered his release for medical treatment in India, but he remains in detention.

  1. Campaigners are requested to contact their Minister of Foreign Affairs and demand their government intervenes in this case and demands Nigeria release the Sheikh and his wife, as well as other political detainees immediately. In the case of Sheikh Zakzaky he is currently suffering catastrophic health decline and failure to get the treatment arranged for him may be fatal for him.
  2. If you are able to join a protest in your local area or organize one please contact for more details. Demonstrations are taking place world-wide.



About the Decolonial Thought Community in Latin America

The Decolonial Thought Community is a Latin American collective network of political action and decolonial thought based in Mexico and Ecuador. Born as an idea on June 7, 2017, it was originally conceived as a small online hub to spread the decolonial question and translate some articles and recorded lessons of some Latin American decolonial thinkers who remained invisible in discussions outside Latin America, but we were also interested in contributing to the contact between the different decolonial traditions of the global south. At first, the Ecuadorian anthropologist René Toapanta Mejía (Salesian Polytechnic University) who had a special interest in Latin American colonial history and the Mexican economist Ulises Tamayo Pérez (Polytechnic State University of St. Petersburg) who at that time carried out a critical research on social economy from the decolonial point of view, engaged in that project creating the site Decolonial Thought Community which has currently over 1800 members. In November 2017, following our participation in a forum where the importance of the relationship between feminism and coloniality was discussed, we established bonds of affinity with the Mexican internationalist Milén Aragón Dominguez (Benemerita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla), who came into contact with decolonial critiques while studying the communitary feminism, she soon joined the community. After some meetings and reflections we glimpsed the need for a shift to local action, from then on we tried to open spaces for discussion of the decolonial question. In February 2018 we inaugurated at the Autonomous University of Tlaxcala (Mexico) the first diploma course on Decolonial Studies in the country and probably in the continent, it was a free course that lasted around 6 months and to which around 25 people attended, the course allowed us to establish links with activists and local academics. In April 2018 we took part in the congress “Thinking psychology in the light of our realities”, putting on the discussion table the relationship between gender and coloniality; In January of the following year we organized a seminar on the rebellions in colonial America, a reading from Walter Benjamin’s diachronic-political analysis to which even attendees from nearby cities attended and at the same time we began to organize the second edition of the Diploma in Decolonial Studies inviting notable Latin American decolonial thinkers, this event did not take place due to some administrative requirements within the universities that would host the project, on May 9 of the same year we held a conversation session with Nelson Maldonado about the Coloniality of Being at the Center of Studies for Economic and Social Development of the Autonomous University of Puebla (where Milén Aragón and Ulises Tamayo carry out their Phd studies), between July 15 and 17 we organized a small Introductory Course to Decolonial Thought with around 40 attendees from different cities, also, during the summer, we committed ourselves to lead some study groups of left-wing political activists in some municipalities of our state. During the course of these activities we have been weaving links with activists, collectives and organizations (feminists, students, politicians and cultural) at the local level, for us are both important, articulation and political praxis, of course, we believe in the grass roots activism and autonomies, but we also believe in the intervention and action at the macro institutional level and we are conscious too of the necessity to consider the geopolitical situation in a global level, therefore, we are interested in the intercultural dialogue and the linkage, above all of the Global South.

Statement by Sandew Hira on the attack on freedom of speech

At the beginning of January I received an invitation from the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy (NiNsee) to give the keynote lecture on June 29th, 2019 on black philosophers, spirituality and slavery in the Maritime Museum. I accepted the invitation.

In recent weeks, a group of extremists led by Theo Para has set up an intimidation campaign in the Surinamese community to prevent me from giving the lecture on black philosophers and slavery. The Maritime Museum was put under great pressure to cancel the venue. NiNsee has thus lost its location. The Maritime Museum has made its decision without applying the principle of hearing both sides. I was never asked or given a chance to present my side of the story. The board of NiNsee was subsequently put under enormous pressure to cancel the lecture. On Radio Tamara, hours of broadcasts were devoted to demonizing my person and callers were allowed to make a call upon people to disrupt the lecture. The board of NiNsee collapsed under that pressure and canceled the lecture.

On June 6th, the chairman of NiNsee, Linda Nooitmeer, called me in Suriname to make an appointment to talk about the situation. On June 7th I had a Skype conversation with her and NiNsee director Martin Verbeet in which they indicated that they wanted to cancel the lecture. I responded that that would mean that they would no longer respect the freedom of expression. I suggested that NiNsee could organize a conversation between me and the people who criticize me, so that we can uphold the principles of diversity of opinion and freedom of expression in a worthy atmosphere of dialogue. I also told them that this group had previously tried to put pressure on the Pakhuis De Zwijger not to let me speak at their event, but that as a white institution they had kept freedom of expression in high regard and I expected the same from a black organization, and certainly an organization built on the principle of freedom. Nooitmeer and Verbeet agreed with my argument and asked for a delay to make a final decision until Wednesday the 12th of June. They would then tell me about the next steps. I did not get a call on Wednesday. On Saturday afternoon, Nooitmeer called me with the announcement that NiNsee had decided not to organize a dialogue meeting and withdrew the invitation of June 29th.

The NiNsee press release states the following:

The NiNsee board, in close consultation with the National Maritime Museum, has decided to cancel the Keti-Koti lecture 2019.

This decision was prompted by the unrest within the community regarding the planned Keti-Koti lecture with Sandew Hira as keynote speaker. Because of this unrest, the desire of NiNsee to organize a worthy Keti-Koti reading in 2019 – which contributes to harmony and solidarity within and outside the community – does not seem feasible.

NiNsee has the ambition to collaborate with anyone who makes a positive contribution to its mission. However, now that the implementation of this ambition has led to an escalation between supporters and opponents of having Sandew Hira as a speaker, NiNsee cannot help but withdraw.

The extremists have got their way. The group of Theo Para has been calling, emailing and speaking to put pressure on organizers and venues to cancel rooms or cancel lectures in which I am involved. In Suriname, Hugo Essed is their counterpart and is conducting a demonizing campaign against me in the Surinamese media that challenges my integrity.

The same group has previously tried to silence me at the Pakhuis De Zwijger debate center in Amsterdam. On March 18th, I was invited to lead a presentation of a documentary about Frantz Fanon. I was not even a speaker, but a chairman of the session. The management and program leaders have been put under enormous pressure to get me out of the program, but they have kept their back straight and have not succumbed. The theme doesn’t matter to the extremists. Even if I spoke about the weather, they would have a campaign to make it impossible for me to speak.

On Saturday afternoon, June 15th at 12:00, Glenn Codfried from Radio Mart invited me to talk to me about these developments. Radio Mart announced that on Friday. When I arrived at the studio on Saturday at 10.30 am, it appeared that the window had been smashed from the front door and microphones and the broadcasting modem had been stolen, so that the broadcast could not take place.

These are serious developments. In the wake of the violation of freedom of expression, the principle of diversity of opinion is also attacked. The extremists believe that only one vision is possible in social discussions and that diversity of visions is not acceptable and that other visions should not be heard.

The theme of my reading was a decolonial vision of the history of slavery. Dutch historians and people of color trained by them have always described slavery from the point of view of the colonizer. I explain in my writings and lectures that black thinkers during slavery and afterwards have made analyses that are fundamentally different from those of the enslavers and their ideologues. The extremists want to prevent the presentation of decolonial theories.

This is a very disturbing development in the Surinamese community. Freedom of expression is an important achievement that has come about through hard struggles in which many people have sacrificed their lives. The essence of freedom of expression is that everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the person. Even people who do not agree with me must have the right to express their opinion.

Diversity of views is a crucial part of a democratic society. The dominant colonial historiography may be challenged by decolonial and other alternatives. That is part of the process of knowledge production in a multiform society.

Discussion and debate are the foundations of a democratic society. That is why I challenge Theo Para and Hugo Essed to face-to-face debates on issues in which they have a different opinions than me. Such debates are an extension of the freedom of expression. Every Surinamese should be a proponent of this, including Para and Essed.

I call on the Surinamese community in the Netherlands to organize a meeting where I can hold the keti koti lecture as a protest against the violation of freedom of expression.

Sandew Hira

June 15, 2019