Thursday, May 22, 2014

Belgium students protest child euthanasia during general election

By Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia.
This article was published on the Hope Australia blog on May 23, 2014.

Paul Russell
An anonymous group of what is understood to be mainly Belgian students have rallied against their country's child euthanasia laws by taking political action in the current Federal Election.

Some members of parliament have claimed that the defacing of candidates' election posters with a sticker saying: "He / she voted for the euthanasia of children" and the attendant 'thumbs down' is vandalism. Other more circumspect MPs have simply called it free speech.

Some media outlets have tried to characterize the group as being from the 'Catholic Ultra-Right'; something the group rejects.

The leader of this anonymous group, Olivier, told La Libre that, "We think this is a non-violent way to enter the democratic debate and attract the policy that you would like them to deal with real problems in our country rather than legislate on matters ethics for which we did not ask them."
"(t)his was an issue that was not in any manifesto in previous elections and we feel that there has not really been listening to citizens and experts. I recall that 180 experts sent an open statement against the bill and there had been several interventions of international organizations, notably at the International Congress of Pediatric Palliative Care Mumbai letter."
So far the group has marked nearly 2000 candidate posters across Belgium and also has a strong social media presence.

It was this same group that was responsible for the action that led to the filing of flowers, teddy bears and candles outside the gates of Parliament when the law was under debate.

Olivier claimed that, in debating child euthanasia without raising the matter as a platform at the previous election: 
"It is a matter of life or death of a child here. It is important that it goes through a program for the voter and to agree with it or not. Again, they released a rabbit out of their hat on fundamental ethical questions for which we do not have elected."
Governments are well aware that political storms usually pass. But some issues hold a lasting resonance.

For more pictures and commentary, search twitter for the hashtag #NoChildEuthanasia

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