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Catalan Protesters Demand Release of Political Prisoners in Amsterdam

Around 60 people gathered in Amsterdam’s city center on Saturday afternoon to protest against Catalan political prisoners in Spain.

The demonstration took place one day before a massive protest in Barcelona, where around 300’000 people marched against the imprisonment of Catalan separatist leaders and exiled politicians, according to The New York Times. Saturday’s demonstration in Dam Square was organized by the Catalan Assembly (ANC) and the International Socialists (IS). This was one of many small-scaled demonstrations worldwide to demand the release of Catalan political leaders.

Around 60 people, from kids to elders, attended the event which lasted until 3pm. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

At 2PM, both Dutch and Catalan adults and children attended the demonstration for approximately one hour. Protesters sang Els Sagadors, Catalonia’s National Anthem, as they waved the Catalan flag and protest signs that read “Llibertat presos polítics!” (Freedom for political prisoners!), “Free Catalonia,” among others.

A sign reads “Llibertat presos polítics!” (Freedom for political prisoners!). A significant number of the attendees carried Catalonia’s flag wrapped around their torsos, as well as several posters that reinforced the demonstration’s purpose. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

A tourist takes a picture with his smartphone to two protesters at the Dam Square on Saturday afternoon. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

One of the protesters was Teresa Duran, a Catalan tourist in Amsterdam. According to Duran, it is important to protest over Catalan political prisoners outside of Catalonia and Spain because the local news stories about Catalonia are designed to misinform the audience. For this reason, Duran believes international media coverage on the issue is a necessity.

From right: Dutch 48-year-old Walter and his 6-year-old son carry a sign that reads “Free Catalonia” to show support to his Catalan wife’s beliefs. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

Ewout van den Berg has been an active IS member for 8 years. “It’s not about independence, it’s about democracy”, said the Dutch protester on-stage. This was a reference to the referendum for Catalonia’s independence last October 2017 and its aftermath. After the Spanish government deemed the referendum as illegal, the separatist majority of the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27, 2017.  Madrid reacted by using the emergency powers, stated in Article 155 of the Constitution, to dissolve the parliament and imprison separatist leaders.

The protestors gathered in front of the National Monument and listened attentively to the different speakers who talked about the ongoing issue in English, Dutch and Catalan. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

Van den Berg claims that the EU should stand up against the Spanish government and its actions regarding Catalonia’s Independence Movement. Therefore, he demands the Dutch government to speak up against Spain’s anti-separatist measures. “It’s not about ‘we are in the Netherlands saying there should be independence’, it is about people having the right to decide for themselves.”

Ewout van den Berg, active member of the International Socialists, helped to organize the protest and shared his views on the issue by emphasizing that they are not protesting for indepenency, but for democracy. Andrea Rossignoli / Staff Photographer

 

Professional cheese-sample thief and metro reporter in Spring 2018

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An Interview with World Press Photo of the Year Winner Ronaldo Schemidt

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Linh Dinh / Staff Photographer

Friday the 13th of April, the World Press Photo exhibition was officially kicked off in the Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam in Amsterdam with at the center of attention the winner of this year’s World Press Photo of the year, 47-year old Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt. His photo featuring a man named José Victor Salazar Balza, who caught fire because of an exploded motorcycle in the middle of violent clashes between protesters against the ruling President Nicolás Maduro and the police in Caracas, Venezuela. The Amsterdammer got a chance to talk to the man of the hour about his work as a photographer in Venezuela and his opinion on winning this prestigious award. 

First of all, congratulations on winning the award. Was there ever a moment you thought this photo might be a prize-winning photo?

When I was taking this picture at the time, I was not thinking about the possibility of this picture ever ending up in a contest such as this one. It is something you can not think about when taking pictures in these kinds of situations. In those moments, all you should do is focus on your work.

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Linh Dinh / Staff Photographer

The jury took into consideration the fact that the man in this picture is wearing some sort of mask, which, according to them, represents the facelessness of the events in Venezuela. It is not just one man burning, the whole country has been set aflame. Is this something you think of when looking at the picture? 

No, not at all. The impression I have of this photo is still the same. All I feel when looking at this picture again is compassion for the man in the picture. I still feel sorry for the horrible tragedy he suffered and the indescribable pain he must have gone through. The mask in itself does not add much for me, the fire and the unbearable pain it inflicts attracts all my attention every single time I look at this image. Therefore, I am very glad that I have been able to come into contact with the man in this picture a few days after taking the picture to find out if he is still alive.

How is he doing?

Just after the explosion, he was taken care of by some paramedics, who took him to the hospital. As expected, he has suffered quite a bit from the events of that night. He suffered first and second degree burns all over his body but did luckily survive the fire.

The situation at the riots that night was critical and you had to put yourself in danger to take this picture. Would you consider this a regular part of the job?

I acknowledge that I sometimes find myself in dangerous situations, but this only usually happens after the fact when I am reviewing the pictures I took. In the heat of the moment, I just want to do my job as a news photographer as good as possible. I still feel the same way about this and will want to continue to do work as a photographer in Venezuela, I just don’t know if Maduro’s government will let me.

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Linh Dinh / Staff Photographer

 

Metro reporter, Spring 2018