Gideon van Meijeren (FvD) tijdens Kamerdebat over Van Dissel. Foto: screenshot Kamerdebat

MPs receive slap on the wrist from scientists

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Some Members of Parliament abuse their parliamentary immunity to cast suspicion on scientists; this has been alleged by over three hundred scientists plus the rectors of the fourteen Dutch universities.

Read in Dutch

The letter (links in Dutch, ed.) which was published in the Volkskrant, was authored by UMC Utrecht microbiologist Marc Bonten and virologist Marion Koopmans. The list of signatories can be found on the university medical centres’ websites.

The letter was prompted by comments made by Forum voor Democratie in a Parliamentary debate on the Ministry’s interference in the OMT’s recommendations. MP Gideon van Meijeren accused OMT chair Jaap van Dissel of lying and corruption, and demanded his resignation.

Egregious
“This was not an isolated incident, but the latest egregious insult cast at scientists by a certain segment of Parliament”, the letter states, while warning that such accusations undermine public trust in science and threaten the personal safety of scientists. Moreover, casting suspicions of this kind is responsible for some people refusing to get vaccinated for the wrong reasons, with a portion of them dying from Covid-19.

It must be said that Van Meijeren faced strong criticism from VVD, CDA, D66, Omtzigt, SP and DENK. “As if the guy had received a bribe from the Ministry or something”, DENK MP Tunahan Kuzu said. “I wouldn’t get near this kind of nonsense with a barge pole.”

Deputy Speaker of the House Martin Bosma (PVV) also tried to reign in Van Meijeren: “You keep using very harsh, insulting words that are totally unnecessary, and against someone who isn’t even here to defend himself. I find it completely inappropriate.” Eventually he postponed the session.

Take a stand
Bonten and Koopmans think that MPs and the media have to take an “even stronger” stand. “Don’t stand by and let parliamentary immunity be abused in order to cast suspicions and unfounded accusations.”

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