Ricevo dai Giovani del Vlaams Blok (VBJ) e immediatamente inoltro

Brussels, 22 April 2004
Press release Vlaams Blok

On 21 April, the Court of Appeal in Ghent ruled that the Vlaams Blok, the Flemish secessionist party expected to win the regional and European elections on 13 June, is a "racist" party proposing political solutions that are not in line with the European and international human rights treaties. The Court fined three non-profit organisations because they collaborate with the Vlaams Blok.
According to the Court, chaired by Judge Alain Smetrijns, a Francophone from Ghent, the Vlaams Blok is racist because it proposes policies that leave immigrants only two options: "to assimilate or to return home."
The Ghent ruling is the third ruling in this case which was initiated in 2000 by a government agency resorting directly under Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the "Centre for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism."
The Belgian Constitution states that a political party can only be brought before a court with a jury - the so-called "Cour d´Assises." The Belgian regime feared, however, that a popular jury would never convict the Vlaams Blok. Hence, the government wanted a ruling by professional judges. Judges in Belgium are not elected or appointed by lawyers, but are appointed by the governing political parties. By bringing three non-profit organisations of the Vlaams Blok to court, the case could be brought before a non-jury penal court. The charge is that these three organisations "collaborate" with a party, i.e. the Vlaams Blok, that does not respect basic international treaties.
In 2001, a Flemish judge of the Brussels Penal Court refused to issue a verdict in the case, arguing that it is up to the electorate to decide about the fate of political parties. In February 2003, the Flemish section of the Brussels Court of Appeal reaffirmed this ruling. The head of the government agency thereupon declared that he would harass the Vlaams Blok with court cases until he could find a judge willing to convict the party.
After the Belgian Supreme Court, consisting of Flemings as well as Francophones, overruled the Brussels verdict last November, the case was brought before the Court of Appeal in Ghent, which is known to be a stronghold of Socialists and Liberals.
The three organisations (one of them collects the party´s government subsidies, another trains local party officials, another produces campaign videos) were heavily fined (12,400 euros each). The verdict is intended to intimidate the Flemings. Every party official and every party member can now be brought to court as a "collaborator" of the Vlaams Blok and risks a similar fine.
When Guy Verhofstadt and Louis Michel came to power in 1999 with the first Liberal-Socialist coalition in over forty years, they said that their priority would be the elimination of the Vlaams Blok. "The issue I want to be judged upon," Prime Minister Verhofstadt said, "is whether I will be able to stop the Vlaams Blok." The court case against the party was initiated barely a few months after Verhofstadt took office.
The growing electoral appeal of the Vlaams Blok threatens the existence of Belgium. Polls predict that the party is going to win the coming elections and could even become Flanders´ (and Belgium´s) biggest party. Hence, the Vlaams Blok has to be killed. The Ghent verdict has nothing to do with its "racism" but with its aim of Flemish independence. The Vlaams Blok is not racist, and neither are its 800,000 Flemish voters.
Measures to defund the party have already been set in motion. A few years ago, Belgium voted a law restricting the private financing of political parties. This law made it illegal for politicians and parties to accept donations from companies as well as donations by individuals of over 125 euros. From then on, political parties were subsidised by the state in proportion with the number of votes they received in the elections. Five years ago the Parti Socialiste (PS) proposed a bill to stop all state funding of the Vlaams Blok. "It is intolerable that the Belgian State should subsidise its enemies," the PS said. The Ghent ruling allows the governing parties to rob the Vlaams Blok of all its finances. An appeal of the party before the Supreme Court will probably gain the party enough time to allow it to stand in the elections on 13 June. If, however, the Supreme Court reaffirms the Ghent ruling, the coming elections will be the last in which the Vlaams Blok, Flanders´ major opposition party, will be able to participate.