February 2024


Freedom of speech versus freedom of assembly

 The polemic in the media to divide the Eritrean community in the Netherlands into only pro- or opponents of the regime does not help with finding a solution. It is only through dialogue, based on facts, that we can achieve unity. As long as the media portrays opinions as facts and does not clarify this distinction controversy wll not diminish.Below I would like to explain why.

 I have been coming to the Eritrean Dutch community for 15 years and drink the famous coffee according to a beautiful ritual with the symbolism of green as the color of peace. I eat the injara with delicious dishes inside, I like to listen to music and dance at baptisms, children's birthday parties or an even larger rural gathering to experience our own culture together. For years I have been talking to my fellow citizens about Dutch, Eritrean and world political affairs, so I know that the majority does not pay the oft-cited 2% tax and has never been extorted for it. Some do pay it, often because they also have a house, apartments, or land in Eritrea.

 On February 20, the Eritrean Dutch journalist Habtom Yohannes wrote an article in NRC in which he portrayed me and the entire community as supporters of the regime and that on February 17 a political party was held for the first time in 4 years. He expresses his opinion, which is not based on facts because he was not present, but on a narrative that has been circulating for 15 years and which has been meticulously constructed by the Nhamedu Brigade. This violent group is supported in this by the academic Mirjam van Reisen, whose research, demonstrably in the (social) media, actually only supports the statements, opinions and feelings of this, in my view, terrorist movement. This professor has never expanded her research and uncovered facts from this community itself in 40 years. I would like to cordially invite her to do this from now on.

 We completely agree with each other about the two facts that Habtom Yohannes puts forward: that the Nhamedu Brigade is demonstrably an excessively violent movement and that the independence of scientist Mirjam van Reisen should at least be questioned.

 Article 8 of the Constitution gives everyone the right of association and you can determine the purpose of this association yourself. This right has been deprived of the majority of the Eritrean Dutch community over the past 4 years due to the terror of the Brigade Nhamedu and the ignorance and fear of this terror of the authorities.
This constitutional right has been recognized and granted by the mayor of The Hague and with the renewed threats and calls for violence, the mayor has decided to deploy the police and riot police to protect the community. I was present all day, a witness and as an ex-politician I dare to say that I am expert enough to distinguish a political meeting from a social gathering. A gathering in which a shared culture was celebrated with the Eritrean flag as a symbol, in addition to the Dutch flag that hung in the hall.

 Article 7 of the Constitution provides for freedom of expression, but when opinions are presented as facts by the media, I believe this affects the credibility of the journalists concerned. I do not want to detract from Mr. Yohannes. personal experience with the Eritrean regime, but he cannot release his experience and his story to more than 27,000 other Eritrean Dutch people who have indeed fled from their country at various times over the past 40 years.

 And yes, in that sense it is a more complicated community with 3 generations of Eritrean Dutch people, which should therefore not be simplified into the unscientifically substantiated narrative of 'if you are not among supporters of the Brigade Nhamedu or Mr. Yohannes, you are a supporter of the regime'.

 Mr. Yohannes argues that Article 8 of the Constitution should be amended and that freedom of association should not apply to meetings with people whose roots lie in a country with a regime that we do not like. With this he will not only restrict the right of association for the Eritrean community, but also for the Moroccans, Turks, Afghans, Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, Ugandans and many other communities in our country. I believe that with this call without independent scientific evidence we are heading down a very slippery slope towards restricting constitutional freedoms and human rights.

 I want to trust our democratic constitutional state and our political representatives that they will not do this without proper evidence and that they will conduct a thorough independent investigation into not only the possible long arm of Eritrea but also that of Morocco, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and many others countries where it will then become clear what is actually true of the carefully constructed narrative based on opinions.

 We could start by getting to know each other better, receiving these people and listening to them. Kudos to Mayor Jan van Zanen and his team of civil servants who, together with a number of MPs, are the only ones in the whole country who have not only the courage but simply the decency to accept the outreach and listen in advance to the experiences and life of a group of people who have been living in absolute fear for 4 years and for whom even a memorial service of their deceased loved one is being violently disrupted by the Nhamedu Brigade.

I ask all other mayors, MPs and other authorities, whom I have already approached on behalf of the Federation of Eritrean Communities in the Netherlands and whom I will approach in the future, to also accept this outreach of humanity and decency.

These Eritrean-Dutch representatives of the community would rather speak for themselves, but because they do not know whether they will still be alive the next day if they tell the above story in the media, they have asked me, as a professional, to do this.

Portraying me as a supporter of the Eritrean regime and assuming that I am being paid by the Eritrean regime, is an opinion that may be expressed on the basis of Article 7 of the Constitution, but it must be placed in context and one has not been demonstrably proven with facts.
The world is not black or white but has many shades of gray. I want the human rights of all people to be respected, regardless of which regime they may or may not support. Every person deserves to be treated with justice and respect.

Myra Koomen
Dutch citizen and defender of the democratic constitutional state

December 2023


November 2023


More affordable housing and shelter possible with political courage!
Let's 'crumble' for another year to get transfer locations off the ground more quickly.

Solving the lack of affordable housing for students, starters, economically homeless, couch surfers, migrant workers, status holders and various other groups of people is a top priority for the majority of voters on November 22nd. Completely understandable since having your own, safe place to stay, eat and sleep and 'be' is a basic condition for living and realizing a future perspective. 
It is the basis of your existence and provides security of existence because without your own front door there is no registration in the municipal basic registration and therefore no right to a BSN, benefits or a bank account to deposit your salary.

Figures from housing platform Pararius in mid-October show that the number of available private sector rental properties has fallen by almost 32 percent compared to a year earlier. At the same time, real estate investor CBRE report that investments in new-build homes are declining by as much as 73 percent,
Housing associations have not been able to match supply and demand for some time, which is why the outgoing Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Hugo de Jonge has come up with numerous, not always feasible, proposals such as “Let every municipality just build an additional street.”

Need for shelter locations
In the meantime, on September 22, COA sent a desperate letter on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Security to municipalities stating that more beds are urgently needed because asylum reception is extremely worrying. We also know from Nidos that many (extra) homes and group accommodations are needed for the so-called AMVs, unaccompanied minors who often have a large number of parents, brothers and sisters who will also have to be housed.
And refugees continue to come our way from Ukraine and another 5,000 beds must be created before January 1, according State Secretary for Asylum Eric van der Burg.

With a desire to build an additional 900,000 homes by 2030 and legislation in the field of nitrogen, Pfas, polluted water, badgers, stone martens, bats, little owls and other protected animals and plants, this will of course not happen. The new Environmental Act that will come into effect on January 1, 2024 does offer possibilities, but at the same time it will lead to many delays due to its new nature and lack of case law. The NRC newspaper wrote a very clear, but also frightening, article on October 23 that discusses the digital aspect of the environmental law, which will most likely reveal itself in a subsequent IT drama. On October 31, the majority of the Senate made an urgent appeal to the minister to postpone the Environment Act once more because it fears "that major risks could arise for the legal protection and legal certainty of citizens and companies in the Netherlands."

Kruimelen als oplossing

Veel gemeenten hebben inmiddels ervaring opgedaan met ‘kruimelen’ onder het nog geldende omgevingsrecht. Vastgoed of gronden kunnen voor een bepaalde maar substantiële periode van 10 of 15 jaar (met opties tot verlenging) de bestemming ’wonen’ krijgen zodat het interessant is voor juist private vastgoedeigenaren om hun vastgoed te (laten) transformeren tot zelfstandige woonunits of opvanglocaties om verschillende groepen mensen te huisvesten. Of hun gronden te bebouwen met flexwoningen waarvan de eerdergenoemde Hugo de Jonge er nog een aantal in de opslag heeft staan.

Eigenaren kunnen nu eigenlijk weinig kanten op met hun (leegstaande) panden en gronden omdat er geen permanente bestemmingswijzigingen (kunnen) worden verleend maar niemand wordt vrolijk van leegstand en risico op verpaupering terwijl er zo’n grote behoefte aan huisvesting is.


Traditionele leegstandsbeheerders hebben zichzelf getransformeerd tot serieuze bedrijven die de verbouw, inrichting en het beheer op zich kunnen nemen van dit aangeboden vastgoed. Daarnaast is voor dergelijke locaties goede sociaal-maatschappelijke begeleiding nodig. Een landelijke partij als de Thuisgevers zet zich inmiddels met succes al een jaar in om maatschappelijk vastgoed aan te dragen voor in dit geval statushouders maar voorziet ook in een buddy om de betreffende nieuwe bewoner te begeleiden naar een echte toekomst in ons land. Onder meer in Rotterdam wordt in een publiek-private samenwerking hier nu op een positieve wijze ervaring mee opgedaan.


Laten we nog een jaar ‘kruimelen’ zodat we enerzijds op een rustige wijze ervaring op kunnen doen met de nieuwe Omgevingswet maar tegelijkertijd ons allemaal in 2024 de tijd gunnen om effectief en snel, maar ook gedegen en betrouwbaar betaalbare huisvesting en opvang te realiseren voor al die jongeren, starters, studenten, bankslapers, statushouders, arbeidsmigranten, economisch daklozen, vluchtelingen en nog vele anderen, die hier met smart op zitten te wachten.


Myra Koomen, adviseur huisvesting doelgroepen en voormalig Tweede Kamerlid


Bron cijfers Parasius: Huizenmarkt nieuws: alles over marktcijfers en ontwikkelingen op de huurwoningmarkt (pararius.nl)


Bron cijfers CBRE: News | CBRE Netherlands


Brandbrief COA: COA - Staatssecretaris stuurt brandbrief aan gemeenten | www.coa.nl


Bron 5000 bedden Oekraïners: Opnieuw dringend verzoek om extra opvangplekken Oekraïners - Gemeente.nu