The organisers of the Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 Capital of Culture year have issued a statement following an uproar on Monday.
UPDATE: Tuesday, 12:39 p.m., 1 May
According to NRC, the LF2018’s organisers will not be sending any representatives to Malta until their fellow Capital of Culture organisers distance themselves from offensive remarks made about Daphne Caruana Galizia.
UPDATE: Wednesday, 8:47 a.m., 18 April
LF2018 director Tjeerd van Bekkum told the Leeuwarder Courant that he was surprised by the reaction to his comment about Malta. “We do not make any political statements [as an organisation]. That is up to alderperson Sjoerd Feitsma and provincial executive Sietske Poepjes. They are the politicians and they can say more about it.”
Van Bekkum says that he sees LF18’s role as facilitating public debate rather than directly taking part themselves. “That may not always sit well, but it is what it is. If I make a statement, that could influence the creative team and the ongoing debate.”
Original story below:
In response to the outcry to comments made by LF2018 director Tjeerd van Bekkum about Valletta 2018’s director, LF2018 released a statement reaffirming their belief that “artistic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of the press all serve the greater good and no topic should be considered too taboo to discuss. LF2018 upholds these values and opposes all forms of violence that threaten these freedoms.”
The LF18 statement followed a critical tweet from Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of Malta journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was murdered six months ago. The director of the Leeuwarden-Friesland Capital of Culture year was approached earlier this week by the international writer’s organisation PEN, calling for an investigation into Valletta 2018 organiser Jason Michallef’s conduct. Micallef has made disparaging remarks about the late investigative journalist and opposes creating a monument in her memory.
On Monday, Van Bekkum told the Leeuwarder Courant, “This is old news in Malta. It’s super politicised and we would prefer not to get involved.” Matthew Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist himself, responded to Van Bekkum’s comments on Twitter: “A disgraceful statement from Tjeerd van Bekkum, CEO of the Leeuwarden Cultural Capital 2018. My mother was not run over by a tram. She was blown up for writing. In Europe.”
Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt (CDA) was also disappointed by Van Bekkum’s remarks. Omtzigt and more than 100 other MPs submitted a motion calling for the international community to focus on prosecuting and revealing the corrupt powers that played a role in Daphne’s death.