The Rotterdam protest followed outcries in Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and The Hague. The death of Sanda Dia, a would-be member of the former KU Leuven student association Reuzegom, was preceded by multiple initiation activities imposed by the eighteen members of the association. Sanda Dia had to eat a blended mouse, swallow a live goldfish, drink excessive amounts of fish oil. He also had to sit in a pit filled with ice cold water for a prolonged period of time.

Among the demonstrators were also EUR employees and students. “It is important that we raise awareness about the injustices that we have in our society”, said Jasmin Seijbel, a 31-year-old PhD candidate at the ESHCC. “The case happened in Belgium, but it still very much relates to our own society.”

Dressing up as KKK members

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The protest started around the new statue Moments Contained at Centraal Station. Image credit: Samir Abdullayev

Reuzegom members were reportedly involved in different acts of racism. Aki Negate, a 25-year-old psychology student at EUR, also believes that Sanda Dia’s treatment by Reuzegom members was racially motivated. “They [Reuzegom members] called him the n-word, they would dress up in KKK outfits, and they recorded themselves humiliating a homeless black person”, he says. “The racism of the association is not even up to question and the way they treated Sanda Dia based on his race is also evident.”

To the discontent of the demonstrators, the eighteen members of the fraternity received a 400 euros fine and were sentenced to 200-300 hours of community service. “I think that the punishment for killing someone is normally heavier than that”, claims Neilabh Sinha (30, PhD candidate at Leiden University). “Everyone else would get, I don’t know, four, five years in jail?” According to the court, the eighteen members were guilty of the ‘unintentional killing’ of Sanda Dia.

Different treatment

Kanea Indigo, a 24-year-old film director who organised the protest in Rotterdam and in The Hague, also expressed his displeasure with the treatment of the case itself. “I think it would be very different if it were eighteen guys of colour who committed the crime. The media also always blurs the photos of the association members and that never happens when a black person commits even the smallest crime.”

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