Knapen presents 25th Geuzen Medal

At a ceremony in the Grote Kerk in Vlaardingen this afternoon, Minister for European Affairs and Development Cooperation Ben Knapen presented the Geuzen Medal to Afghan human rights activist Sima Samar and the Dutch armed forces. The medal honours individuals or institutions that make an exceptional effort for democracy or against dictatorship, discrimination and racism.

'Both have worked for many years towards a humane society in Afghanistan and respect for human rights in general,’ said Mr Knapen in presenting the award.

Dr Sima Samar was born in 1957. She served as Deputy President of Afghanistan and Minister for Women’s Affairs. She resigned after receiving death threats for her criticism of Islamic law. She founded the Shuhada Organisation, which provides health care, medical training and education for Afghan women. She also established a hospital and a clinic in Pakistan.

‘All your life, you have fought for the rights and needs of women and children,’ said Mr Knapen, in praising Dr Samar’s work. ‘Your struggle is directed not only against injustice, but against its root cause: ignorance.’

The Dutch armed forces were awarded the Medal for their contribution to security and stability in the world through their participation in international crisis control operations and peacekeeping missions, for example in Afghanistan. In their work, they combine defence with diplomacy and development (3D approach). Chief of Staff General Peter van Uhm received the award on behalf of his troops.

Mr Knapen praised the armed forces for their use of the typically Dutch 3D approach. ‘The Geuzen Medal honours the commitment and courage of the Dutch armed forces. Most of the time, their important work in distant outposts is given scant attention. Through the award of this Medal, the Geuzen Resistance Foundation gives our troops the recognition they deserve.’