Covid-19 in the Netherlands: new clashes between police and protesters against sanitary measures

Published on: 11/21/2021 – 09:59

In several cities in the Netherlands, violence broke out on Saturday on the sidelines of demonstrations against health measures, injuring several people. The day before, the city of Rotterdam had already been the scene of clashes between protesters and police during a demonstration against sanitary restrictions.

Demonstrations against sanitary restrictions turned into riots again on the night of Saturday 20 November in the Netherlands. Several policemen were injured in The Hague in clashes with protesters, the day after an “orgy of violence” in Rotterdam, in the southwest.

In The Hague, the city where the Dutch government is based, police officers in riot gear charged groups of protesters who threw stones and various objects at them in a popular neighborhood. They used a water cannon to put out burning bicycles at a busy intersection. Five policemen were injured and at least seven people arrested.

Violence also broke out in Urk, a small Protestant town in the center of the country, and in various towns in the Limburg province in the south. Two football matches were also interrupted for several minutes in Alkmaar, in the west and Almelo, in the east, by fans frustrated by the closed door imposed as part of the fight against Covid, according to local media.

Three protesters injured the day before

By Friday night, a demonstration had already turned into chaos in central Rotterdam, with three protesters injured by police fire and 51 people arrested.

The Netherlands reintroduced partial containment last week to cope with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, with a series of sanitary restrictions affecting in particular the restaurant sector, which will close at 8 p.m.

The government now plans to ban certain places for the unvaccinated, including bars and restaurants, in a bid to stem the tide of contamination. More than 21,000 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in the Netherlands on Friday.

>> Read also: Covid-19: the fourth wave in Germany, a warning for the rest of Europe?

“Les gens protestent contre le confinement et la 2G” which authorizes les seuls vaccinés (“geimpft”) and guéris (“genesene”) à accéder à certains lieux publics, a déclaré à l’AFP Ferdi Yilmaz, propriétaire d’une pizzeria à Hague.

“They are angry,” he added, accusing the police of taking several people out of his store, breaking the glass on the front door and hitting him on the hand “for no reason.”

Police arrested several people in the popular Schilderswijk district of The Hague, where AFP journalists saw plainclothes officers drag a woman out of a car.

Five policemen were injured, one of whom was taken to hospital with a concussion and two suffered hearing damage from the noise of fireworks, The Hague police said in a statement. An ambulance transporting a patient had its window broken by a stone’s throw, police added.

“No to the confinement”

However, at the beginning of the day on Saturday, the demonstrations had started calmly in several cities of the country, such as Amsterdam or Breda, in the south, where a thousand people marched carrying signs that said “No to confinement.”

The demonstration in Breda even looked like a party, the participants danced following floats with DJs, “party buses” in the rear, noted an AFP journalist. Smoke bombs were used and some fireworks were fired as the last participants dispersed.

“People want to live … that’s why we’re here,” Joost Eras, one of the organizers, told AFP. But “we are not troublemakers. Here we are in peace,” he said, distancing himself from the nightly chaos that had erupted the day before in Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called Friday’s incidents an “orgy of violence.” “Three rioters were injured when they were hit by a bullet. They are still in the hospital,” Dutch police said, adding that an investigation will be carried out to determine “whether the injuries were caused by police bullets.”

A total of seven people, including police officers, were injured in the violence in Rotterdam. Of the roughly 50 people arrested, half were minors and the rioters came from different parts of the country, said police, who were still looking for other suspects.

Earlier today, Dutch police said they fired “warning shots on several occasions”, but “at one point the situation became so dangerous that officers felt compelled to fire at targets,” he said.

“The police and the prosecution are doing everything possible to track down, prosecute and punish these rioters,” Ferd Grapperhaus, Minister of Security and Justice, said in a statement, lamenting the “considerable” destruction.

With AFP


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