VHL student Henno van Hossen helped Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to prepare for the 5th May lecture. Twelve students spoke to the ex-politician and former secretary general of the NAVO about freedom.
About whether freedom still prevails. The topic turned very quickly to the Arabian spring. When the discussion took place at the beginning of this year, the protests in Egypt were taking place. It was interesting that De Hoop Scheffer approached the meaning of freedom from an international perspective. We also spoke about the West being blamed for wanting to impose democracy on other soils. In the Netherlands, women did not have general voting rights eighty years ago. Change has to come from within and grow.'
'The main issue was whether freedom for one person would become constraint for another. For example, how much freedom is being experienced by illegal immigrants and refugees in the Netherlands? Or take the call to ban headscarves. The proponents want to forbid something under the guise of freedom, without respecting the cultural background and freedom of someone else.'
What did you say?
'That a government should not fear its own citizens. That would indicate suppression. You see this happening now in Libya and Syria, where a country arms itself against its citizens. But the government in the Netherlands also wants to control its citizens more and more. The obligation to carry identity documents is a form of constraint.'
Did you talk about the Second World War?
'Yes, there was a solid discussion. Some found that the war took place too long ago. Meanwhile, 4 th and 5 th May have taken on a wider meaning. But the Second World War is still the most recent event in our history when we encountered real oppression. It is important to realize that freedom cannot be taken for granted.'
Did you attend the May 5 th lecture?
'No, I did not receive an invitation. Moreover, I was very busy with my internship and final year studies. I was at the memorial service in Utrecht yesterday. This evening, I will go to listen to the band 'Triggerfinger' at the Liberation Festival in Wageningen.'
Henno van Horssen was the president of the Dutch Intercity Student Organization (ISO) last year.