The Blok is dead. Long live the Vlaams Belang?
The people of Flanders are, this evening, contemplating the decision of The Court of Cassation, the final court of appeal in Belgium. In a case of historic proportions Flanders’ largest political party has been criminalised on charges of racism and, to all intents and purposes, politically assassinated. It is the most legalistic of convictions obtained on the most specious of grounds. But the means will be seen by the victors as justifying the end, and the end was to preserve the political status quo and, therefore, the existence of Belgium itself.
The stakes could not have been higher.
The case was brought by the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism – the thought police of the Belgian state, essentially. This body, a privately-owned public prosecutors office, was armed with anti-racism legislation that makes even the mention of human differentiation a crime. Their tax-paid lawyers have persecuted Vlaams Blok for years. Any impartial observer would conclude that the crime here has been perpetrated in the other direction, upon the conservative Flemish.
In any case, the Blok will be reborn. It draws its strength from the Flemish working man. It will not capitulate under this or any other stress. How it will operate, how it will be true to itself and to the Flemish people we must wait to see. But Flanders will not be held back indefinitely from its independence. The Establishment cannot be other than it is, and offers Flanders only the gift of oppression. That, however, is the gift most likely to harden the Flemish resolve for freedom.
I had intended to post a history of the Blok’s conflict with the Thought Police. That job has been done for me. Here follows the statement issued this evening by the Blok’s leader, Frank Vanhecke MEP.Today we were executed. But we will rise.
A message from Frank Vanhecke MEP, Vlaams Blok Party Leader
9 November 2004
Today, our party, the Vlaams Blok, has been condemned to death. This afternoon, the Belgian Supreme Court upheld the verdict, issued by the Court of Appeal in Ghent on 21 April, which declared the Vlaams Blok a criminal organisation. In order to preserve our party members from prosecution, we are now forced to disband. What happened in Brussels today is unique in the Western world: never has a so-called democratic regime outlawed the country’s largest political party.
The Vlaams Blok was supported by almost 1 million voters in last June’s elections. We got 24.1% of the vote in Flanders, where 60% of the Belgian population lives. Voting is compulsory in Belgium and no other party was supported by more people. Our party has grown continuously for two decades. Since 1987, it has won twelve consecutive elections in a row. Belgium, established in 1830 by French revolutionaries, is an artificial construct dominated by the Socialist Francophone minority in Wallonia. Our party’s main objective is the secession of Flanders from Belgium. Flanders is the free-market oriented Dutch-speaking and politically minoritised northern part of the country.
Despite the fact that a political party should be fought in the voting booth, the Belgian regime has been harassing the Vlaams Blok with criminal prosecutions for over a decade. The Belgian Parliament, where Francophones are overrepresented, changed the Constitution in 1999 in order to limit freedom of expression. It also voted a series of new laws with the sole purpose of criminalising and defunding our party, including an Anti-Racism Act and an Anti-Discrimination Act which define “discrimination” so broadly that every individual can be prosecuted on the basis of them. (The text of these infamous bills can be found on our null).
Moreover, according to Belgium’s draconian new laws, every member and collaborator of an organisation that propagates “discrimination,” can be punished with fines or imprisonment. Furthermore, the onus of proof has been reversed, so that the complainant does not need to prove that the accused “discriminates” or propagates “discrimination,” but the latter has to prove that he does not.
Since 1993 the power to prosecute for discrimination and racism was transferred to a government quango, resorting directly under the Prime Minister, the so-called Centre for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism(CEOFR). This quango has now been vindicated by the Supreme Court, an institution composed of political appointees, half of them Francophones.
Have we ever condoned discrimination on the basis of race? No, but that did not matter to the Belgian establishment and its political courts. We were condemned on the basis of a selection of excerpts from texts provided by the CEOFR. These excerpts were taken from an anthology of no more than 16 texts published by local Vlaams Blok chapters between 1996 and 2000. According to the court what we wrote was not necessarily untrue, but our “intentions” were of a criminal nature. The Ghent ruling, today reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, stated that our texts (though some were mere quotes of official statistics on crime rates and social welfare expenditure and another was an article written by a female Turkish-born Vlaams Blok member about the position of women in fundamentalist muslim societies) were published with “an intention to contribute to a campaign of hatred.” Such a procès d’intention (a conviction based on speculation about our supposed motives) is a real disgrace, and the fact that the Belgian judiciary had to resort to this proves that no other reasons for convicting us could be found. We have never propagated, advocated or practised any discrimination. Never.
The consequences of the conviction are, however, serious. According to the law, every member of our party or everyone who has ever cooperated with it, even if he has not committed any crimes himself, becomes a criminal by the mere fact of his membership of or his cooperation with our party. The Ghent verdict literally stated: “Rendering punishable every person who belongs to or cooperates with a group or society [...] serves as an efficient means to suppress such groups or societies, as the lawmaker intended. Rendering punishable the members or collaborators of the group or society inherently jeopardizes the continued existence or functioning of the group or society [...].
Indeed, the reaffirmation of the Ghent verdict by the Supreme Court forces us to disband our party in order not to endanger its members and collaborators. Therefore, a party congress next Sunday will convene to officially disband the party. We will, however, put to the congress the establishment of a new party to defend the political priorities that the Vlaams Blok has always fought for: an independent and democratic Republic of Flanders; the traditional moral values of Western civilisation; and the right of the Flemings to protect their national identity and their Dutch language and culture.
I thank those who founded our party in 1977 and all who have supported it in the past 27 years. They have fought the good fight. I thank our one million voters. They deserve a democracy. Belgium does not want to grant them one; we will. Today, our party has been killed, not by the electorate but by the judges. We will establish a new party. This one Belgium will not be able to bury; it will bury Belgium.
Frank Vanhecke, MEP
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