I met Fried van Hoof fifteen years ago. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was around September 2000.
There was an informal drink organised by the School of Law of Utrecht University to welcome LLM students specialising on human rights. I remember he was telling a story about his childhood dream to become a professional soccer player, about his family, about his wife who is also Indonesian like me and jokingly said that he was the only white person in the house. I followed his class on International Human Rights Law and he was my supervisor for both my master and doctoral theses.
He was one of the best teachers I have ever had. Apart from his clarity and understandable explanation, one thing I recall from his style of teaching is that before answering questions posed by students, he often said, “if I understood your question correctly, you were asking….” Being an international student in a new environment, sometimes I got lost in words, so him repeating the question was very helpful for me. That does not mean that his class was easy though. He set high standards for his students. Moreover, Fried was not only my teacher, he also played a major role in my intellectual development. Without a doubt, if it was not because of his endless support I would not have been able to start or finish my doctoral degree. His thorough comments trained me to think critically over my work and to develop original ideas about human rights, development, and Indonesia.
He died on May 18, 2014.
When I attended the Human Rights Integration Conference at Ghent last week, I learned about a new human rights movie award named after him. I was of course excited to hear about this initiative. And it is also very nice that the organiser of the conference made some time to screen it.
This year’s winner is a movie called ‘9999’. It is about mentally ill criminals in Belgium, who are not held responsible for their actions but become separated from society. Their criminal acts range from murder to stabbing fire of a bike. Due to the lack of places in psychiatric hospitals they end up in prison without any possibility for therapy nor end date. Their files mention as date of release: 31/12/9999.
The award is a powerful way to remember Fried’s legacy.