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Belgium

Wednesday, 09 June 2010
Stilts

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The costumes are apparently all made by hand, but one assumes that some minor exceptions are made for health and safety reasons.

Posted by bigblue on 09/06/2010 at 08:32 AM
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Tuesday, 08 June 2010
The drummers

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Here’s another simple and yet effective home-made musical instrument from the Zenneke parade in Brussels. Ladles make good drumsticks!

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Posted by bigblue on 08/06/2010 at 08:18 AM
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Monday, 07 June 2010
Musical instrument

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A feature of the Zinneke parade are the home made instruments and costumes. As the official website states:

Over a two-year period, Zinneke builds intense collaborations between residents, organisations, collectives, schools and artists from different neighbourhoods of Brussels and beyond. It’s a social and artistic project where people develop their creativity and explore imagination with others.

Zinneke is a participatory creation, an open space for everyone to experiment with cooperative living in the 21st century city, a city inhabited by Zinnekes proud of their mixed roots. Above all, it’s a fantastic celebration in the city, unique and 100% human - without amplification or motors.

Would it be nit-picking to point out that the tin at the end of the stick is amplifying the sound of the string?

Posted by bigblue on 07/06/2010 at 08:01 AM
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Sunday, 06 June 2010
Explosives, Broken Glass, Rain?

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This pole is from the Zinneke parade and was carried around by persons who appeared to be marshals.  The official website informs us that:

Zinneke is the name Brussels people give to the small Senne/Zenne river that circles Brussels, protecting it against flooding. Zinneke is also used to refer to a stray dog or mutt… some of which end up in the river. And so we get Zinneke: meaning one of multiple origin and symbol of the cosmopolitan and multicultural nature of Brussels.

Posted by bigblue on 06/06/2010 at 08:43 AM
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Saturday, 05 June 2010
Brussels spires

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The “spire” in the foreground is from the recent Zinneke parade (held two weeks ago yesterday and) which I will post some photographs of in the coming days. I took the photograph in Place Sainte Catherine.

Posted by bigblue on 05/06/2010 at 08:33 AM
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Friday, 04 June 2010
Keeping streets clean

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In Brussels they seem to use the same technology as every other European city.

Posted by bigblue on 04/06/2010 at 08:30 AM
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Thursday, 03 June 2010
Four photos

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Of cycling in Brussels. The photographs on the top right and bottom left concern Villo, the bike hire scheme in Brussels.

Posted by bigblue on 03/06/2010 at 09:43 AM
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Wednesday, 02 June 2010
Human rights - refugees in Belgium

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Yesterday I posted a photo showing a celebration of (children’s) rights in Belgium, so I thought it would be appropriate to mention today where Belgium is failing in this area. The European Socialwatch report states:

Since the end of the nineties, detention has been broadly used by Belgian authorities to prevent illegal entry or to implement orders of removal. Several categories of foreigners may be subject to detention: those who are turned back at (air)ports, apply for asylum in transit zones or are staying illegally in Belgium. Some asylum seekers also risk being locked up, namely, applicants that Belgium wants to transfer to another European country or whose application is considered ‘abusive’.

In 2007, 7,506 foreigners were detained in 5 detention centres, less than in previous years when the number rose above 8,000. This fall may be due to a rise in the average duration of detention: from 26.9 days in 2006 to 29.4 in 2007…

Detention of minors

Since the introduction of strict limitations on the detention of unaccompanied minors in 2007, the detention of families with children has changed drastically. In 2007, 188 families with 398 children were detained; in 2008, these figures dropped to 137 families with 270 children. The main reason for this was the launch in October 2008 of an alternative scheme run by the Federal Immigration Service. Under this scheme, families that Belgium intends to remove due to their irregular stay or their transfer to another ‘Dublin country’ are not detained in the first instance, but are placed in ‘return houses’ where they retain (conditional) freedom of movement. Such families are assigned a coach whose job is to motivate them to abide by the removal order and to facilitate their removal. It is too early to assess the operation of this new model, although NGOs fear that it may fail due to lack of trust between the family and the coach, because the coach is not independent and as the only option is ‘removal’. However, this scheme is a significant improvement on detention, which has a strong negative impact on the mental health of children. Unfortunately, families who apply for asylum at Brussels airport do not fall within the scheme and remain in detention.

There are a number of reports of demonstrations against the “closed detention” of migrants in Belgium, as the graffiti in the photograph above (”torch the detention centres), as well as this YouTube video shut down fortress europe: refugees in belgium show.  A couple of years ago there was the much-publicised occupation of cranes and hunger strikes by illegal immigrants in Belgium.

The Christian church in Belgium has been involved in supporting migrants and ministering to them, but I was interested to see that some so-called Christians objected to this in the Brussels Journal. One commenter to the article even quoted disapprovingly of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Murphy-O’Connor, who said:

In welcoming the stranger we should not distinguish between “legal” and “illegal” migrants.

Posted by bigblue on 02/06/2010 at 05:06 PM
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