Thursday, December 9

Netherlands: new clashes after anti-Covid restriction demonstration

Protesters against government sanitation measures march in Breda, the Netherlands on November 20, 2021ROB ENGELAAR

Clashes erupted on Saturday evening in The Hague at the end of a demonstration against the restrictions imposed on the Netherlands in the face of the resumption of the Covid-19 pandemic, the day after an “orgy of violence” in Rotterdam ( southwest) where 51 people were arrested and two gunshot wounds.

In a popular area of ​​the city where the Dutch government is seated, several hundred people threw stones and various objects at the police, and set bicycles on fire. At least one arrest has taken place.

The Netherlands reintroduced partial containment last week to cope with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, with a series of health restrictions affecting in particular the restaurant sector, which is due to close at 8:00 p.m.

The government is now planning to ban certain places for the unvaccinated, including bars and restaurants.

In Amsterdam, the demonstration, however canceled by the organizers of United We Stand after the chaos the day before in Rotterdam, went off without a problem, according to the media, just like in Breda (south) where a thousand people marched wearing signs saying “No to confinement”.

The demonstration in Breda even looked like a party, the participants dancing following floats with DJs, “party buses” bringing up 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 are here,” Joost Eras, one of the organizers, told AFP. But “we are not rioters. Here, we are at peace,” he said, distancing himself from the nocturnal chaos that had erupted the day before in Rotterdam.

Asked by AFP, local authorities were not immediately able to indicate the number of participants.

– ‘Orgy of violence’ –

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called Friday’s incidents an “orgy of violence”.

“Two rioters were injured when they were hit by a bullet. They are still in hospital,” Dutch police said, adding that an investigation would be carried out to determine “whether the wounds were caused by bullets. of the police “.

“Warning shots were fired several times. At one point the situation became so dangerous that officers felt compelled to shoot at targets,” police said.

A police officer was also taken to hospital with leg injuries, as several other officers suffered hearing damage from fireworks fired by rioters.

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

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