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In Memoriam – Ed van Thijn



“Bright, witty and committed until the end.”

To our great sadness, our dear Ed van Thijn passed away on Sunday December 19 at the age of 87. We wish his wife, daughters, family, friends and other relatives all the love and strength they need to cope with this enormous loss. 

Ed van Thijn left a great impact on Dutch politics and society as a result of his relentless struggle against racism and discrimination throughout his life and career. He made his mark as a city councilor, minister, and member of parliament. From 1983 to 1994 he served as mayor of Amsterdam. Ed was a courageous man with an unbridled commitment to justice and our democracy. 

We are very grateful for Ed’s many years of involvement with Humanity in Action The Netherlands. As co-founder of the organization in 1999, it is impossible to imagine our work without him. In his own words, “Humanity in Action was founded on the idea that young people can and should use the lessons of the Holocaust to understand and counteract contemporary forms of exclusion and discrimination.”

In his years as chairman of the board, Ed laid the foundation for the current organization. Especially in times of hardship we could always count on him. Thanks to his efforts, Humanity in Action has a Bosnian sister organization since 2011.

Over the years, we have come to know Ed as an empathetic and witty person, unconditionally committed to the mission and to our Senior Fellow Network; our more than 260 alumni in the Netherlands, who continue to work hard against racism and discrimination from a variety of disciplines, often years after having participated in our programs. With his commitment to Humanity in Action The Netherlands, Ed emphasized the importance of a new generation of engaged leaders to ensure that our core democratic values and the protection of minorities and marginalized groups are never taken for granted: “For me, it’s great to see that the network is still going strong and that we have seen our dream come true because of it.”

We are grateful for the time we had with Ed. Executive Director of Humanity in Action The Netherlands, Laura Lasance: “It is a great honor to work with the board, team and our network to build on Ed’s dream. We will continue to work tirelessly for a resilient, just and inclusive society.” Chairman of the board Fatma Koşer Kaya: “Thanks to the vision of Ed van Thijn, after 20 years we are still an inspiration for young leaders and future generations of human rights advocates.”

It is with pain in our hearts that we say goodbye to Ed, who was so dearly loved in our organization and network.

On behalf of Humanity in Action The Netherlands 

Fatma Koşer Kaya
Chairman of the board


Laura Lasance
Executive Director