Zwarte Piet, the Day After (English)

Demonstranten voor Zwarte Piet.

Demonstranten voor Zwarte Piet.

Maybe I’m naïve, but when I published my article yesterday I really had no idea the kind of response it would generate. There have been about 100 emails per hour and the current tweets and retweets seem endless. Apparently my story has touched a nerve.
But there are also comments and questions. That’s what I can go into here:

Did I witness beating and/or kicking 

No. In my blog I did not write that, but I want to emphasize it here once more.
The man in the picture was the most aggressive, but he was stopped by bystanders.

How many people were involved? It was not all the protesters?

I estimate that about 30 – 40 people were standing around. It was later in the day, and there were quite a few people left. According to estimates, there were a total of about 400 protesters.

In replies I regularly read that it makes me a hero because I ‘intervened.’

People, this is very much exaggerated. The only thing I did was a hand pull away and make a comment along the lines of “Give me a break.” I wrote it to indicate that it is difficult as a photojournalist to determine when to shoot or to choose to intervene. To think as a man or as a photojournalist. And for the record, I’m human first and photojournalist second.

Why should we believe you, are there more sources?

In the beginning I was standing with another person to talk to the woman. When the protesters gathered around, there was a fierce ‘discussion’ between them and the woman. Then came more protesters, and more people from the media .

Your story is not objective.

As a photojournalist I write for my blog occasionally. That’s usually about photography or journalism. In this case I wanted to write about the choice of whether or not to intervene if needed. But I noticed that I wanted to write an account of what happened. I doubted whether I should publish it. But what I write about what happened to that lady, is as it was. Fairly and objectively. I made it no more beautiful or less beautiful.
What you might call less objective is my comment that I think the less important reason for the demonstration for the preservation of Zwarte Piet than the reason for which the lady demonstrated. Sorry, I’m only human.

‘Pietitie’ has nothing to do with this demonstration.

I read that later, yes. However. When the petition was presented, the presenter spoke clearly of a joint action and called for all initiatives, including the ‘Pietitie.’
I spoke to the organizer of ‘Pietitie’ and told him I find it annoying that they are so in the news, but he said he understands that I have a job to do.
And for the record, the other organizations also are not to blame. They are not responsible for a small group of people who can not behave themselves.

The demonstration is now portrayed negatively in the news. 

That’s right, and that I find annoying. Especially for the girl who organized the demonstration. But as a photojournalist I bring reality into focus, even if it may be unflattering. Before this incident, there was nothing controversial. The atmosphere was friendly and cheerful. 

Then another remark by a journalist from De Telegraaf: “De Heus is making things up.”

That journalist was not present and based that opinion on a YouTube video that was recorded 8 minutes after I made my first picture. Journalistic high-mark.

Do you have more photos? Especially showing the large group of people?

Yes, I have posted them on my website.
And while I’m on the subject, let me clearly indicate:


Anyone who publishes a photo without permission will have to pay compensation . Not everyone knows or wants to know , but it’s just the law.
I am not very difficult or expensive, so please contact us if you want to publish photos.
This is not just a financial issue. But I also want to know where a photo is published and in what context.

The photos:

Another update on the woman it is all about: Tilly Kaisiëpo

She just called me and we had a nice conversation. She’s doing well, and she is very happy that there’s attention for West Papua  Tonight she’s telling her story on ‘Hart van Nederland.’

I hope I have answered your questions adequately. Otherwise let me know.


5 Responses to Zwarte Piet, the Day After (English)

  1. Dear mr. De Heus,
    I posted early this afternoon a reaction of the two protests. My English is not to well, but I give it a try. I agree with you how to deal with these kind of things. Of course the reactions vary. Every single individual has the right to protest. Some people see it in there own perspective and don’t have an open mind for others. I’m sure you’ve made it clearly by explaining it in this way.
    Thank you,
    Lianne Bosman

  2. Klaske says:

    Dank je wel hiervoor. Goed onderbouwd. Erg belangrijk dat dit bekend wordt. We lijken een beetje gek geworden te zijn met zijn allen, hopelijk realiseren we ons dat even door deze berichten.

  3. Joey says:

    Aha daar was het al. Het copyright berichtje. Het ging dus echt alleen om het geld….
    Je bent dus echt geen haar beter dan de rest van dit land…………….

    • Niek says:

      @Joey want jij werkt ook gratis? jij geeft werk wat je maakt gratis weg? Beetje vreemd om de copyright discussie hierin te betrekken, en daar direct een negatief moraliserend oordeel aan te koppelen naar Dhr de Heus. Fotografen hebben het al moeilijk genoeg om redelijk betaald te krijgen voor hun werk. naja, laat maar…

  4. Leo Maathuis says:

    Hallo Gerrit de Heus,
    Very well done job, humanly as well as professionally speaking

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