Dear Rector Magnificus Prof.dr.ir. Tim Verhagen,
As a former student of TU Delft, I am very disappointed that the university wants to award an honorary doctorate to Mr Frans Timmermans, member of the European Commission (EC), on the occasion of her 180th Dies Natalis on 14 January.
I would ask you to reconsider this decision for the following reasons.
Firstly, because of his policy on European climate policy. Many recognized but dissenting scientists, among of them prof.dr.ir. Guus Berkhout and prof.dr. Salomon Kroonenberg, are ignored in their call for a more critical position on the influence of human actions on the climate. Timmermans closes himself off from an uninhibited open vision and relegates the climate debate to a political dogma. His honorary doctorate is therefore unworthy of any self-respecting university. Moreover, given his position, this irresponsible behaviour might have far-reaching and negative social consequences.
However, this is not the main reason why I protest against the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Timmermans.
As vice-president of the former European Commission (EC), he protects EU member state Spain from violating the fundamental human rights of European citizens in Catalonia after they held a referendum on their independence from this member state on 1 October 2017. The images of the disproportionate police violence by the Policia Nacional and the Guardia Civil (a military unit) against the Catalan citizens who wanted to vote then went all over the world. According to the European Treaty of Lisbon, this attack on peaceful civilians by, among others, soldiers should have led directly to the suspension of Spain as an EU member state on the basis of Article 7. However, the EC did not take any action.
Holding a referendum on self-determination is not illegal, as Spain and the media there would usually have you believe, but is protected internationally by the fundamental right to expression and demonstration. As you may know, as a result of the Spanish prosecutions, two social leaders, the President of the Catalan Parliament and nine ministers of the Catalan government of President Carles Puigdemont, are sentenced to between nine years and twelve and a half years in prison. President Puigdemont and three of his ministers fled to Belgium to prevent bloodshed, as he himself claimed and was later confirmed by other politicians in his vicinity. Both Germany and Italy refuse to hand Puigdemont over to the Spainish justice because they believe he did not commit a crime.
Despite the legal prosecutions and the lawfare of the Spanish judiciary against the Catalan leaders and the now more than 3500 (!) legal prosecutions against politicians and citizens, the EC, by means of Timmermans, maintains that this is an ‘internal matter of the sovereign State of Spain’.
It was recently confirmed that on 2 October 2017, the day after the referendum, the Spanish government asked Timmermans not to mediate in the Spanish – Catalan conflict. In his speech to the European Parliament on 4 October 2017, the passage on this subject was therefore deleted. This explains why Timmermans maintains to this day that the EC cannot do anything about this political conflict.
The fact that TU Delft intends to award an honorary doctorate to someone who acts for political reasons and against scientific criteria is entirely for its own account and reputation. But it seems to me inappropriate to award an honorary doctorate to someone who knowingly protects an EU Member State in its wrongful actions and thereby allows violations of human rights.
Dr.ir. Gerber van der Graaf
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