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A Horrific Attack on a Journalist and on Journalistic Freedom in the Netherlands – Where Commissioner Timmermans Is From

On Tuesday night, the Netherlands was shocked by a horrific attack on a journalist. Sixty-four-year-old investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries was shot several times, including in the head, in the middle of the street. Vries is still fighting for his life. The attack came after his appearance on an RTL television show, but he is also one of the most famous Dutch journalists, who has reported on several high-profile stories in his long career. What has happened is a severe attack on media freedom in the Netherlands, and it is unacceptable that there seems to be a trend arising in democratic countries, where journalists should be afraid to walk the streets when revealing scandals and crimes.  We have not experienced such a severe attack in a long time in Slovenia (thank God), despite the fact that various representatives, including the Dutch ones, accused us of “suppressing the media and journalists.”

Journalist Peter R. de Vries is in critical condition. Three people were arrested, including the alleged shooter; however, no detailed information about them or the motives for the attack is available yet. Witnesses described the suspect as a light-skinned, slender man who was wearing a dark green camouflage jacket and a black hat. “We are looking for witnesses and people who have photos or footage of the event of the potential suspect on the run. Do not share these photos on social media,” the police wrote on Twitter.

There has been a lot of talk about media freedom lately, especially by the left-wing media outlets and the current opposition, because the media are no longer the tool for only one opinion to be heard – their opinion and their voice. Now, we also have other media outlets that show the other side as well. There was a lot of talk about this in the European Parliament on Tuesday as well. Apparently, Tanja Fajon’s efforts to spread lies about Slovenia were successful, as at least some of her colleagues from Brussels fell for the lies. One of them is also the Vice-President of the European Commission, the Dutch representative Frans Timmermans, from the ranks of the Social Democrats.

During a visit to Slovenia at the beginning of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, he boycotted a joint photo shoot, saying that he does not want to take a picture with Janez Janša. Why did he refuse to take photos with him? It is obvious that the reason for this (just like with the others) is that Fajon has been slandering our Prime Minister and Slovenia for a while now, in an organised and manipulative way – she has lied about repression, dictatorship, oppression of the media, the rule of law. However, when Janša showed a picture with which he proved that the judiciary in Slovenia is not independent, as the judges in the photo were parading alongside Fajon, this was obviously too much for Timmermans.

Slovenia currently has no problems with media freedom, as Janez Janša made it clear, regarding these allegations that were made in the European Parliament on Tuesday, “the last journalist who was imprisoned for his writing in Slovenia, is standing in front of you,” and the facts show that media freedom is much more endangered in the Netherlands, which is also where Timmermans is from – who is accusing us of just that. Although the journalists in Slovenia also receive threats on a daily basis, we will continue to hope that nothing ever actually comes true.
And to our journalistic colleague in the Netherlands, we sincerely wish for him to recover and continue his fight for media freedom.

Anita Gužvič

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