Violent riots in Belgium and the Netherlands against pandemic restrictions | Society

Several thousand people have taken to the streets this Sunday in Brussels to protest against the measures adopted to stop the new wave of covid-19, which is hitting several Central European countries this fall, adding to the wave of protests that took place this fall. Saturday in other European cities like Vienna or Rotterdam. As has happened in other parts of Europe, especially in Holland – where there were around thirty detainees last night – the demonstration, which was attended by some 35,000 people, has ended with violence.

The Brussels police have resorted to water cannons – as can be seen in images broadcast on social networks – and tear gas to disperse the concentration and they would have done it, says the AFP news agency, after some assistants threw objects at them. The attempt by some protesters to leave the route authorized by the Brussels city hall has also caused altercations. The march started around 1:00 p.m. and dispersed before 6:00 p.m.

In principle, it had been called against the measures that the Belgian Government has adopted in recent weeks, especially against the covid passport, which since last October must be used to enter all public places (restaurants, cafes, Administration buildings, Business…). However, he has also planned on the shadow of mandatory vaccination. In fact, you could read a sign that said “No mandatory vaccination [No a la vacunación obligatoria]”.

At the end of the call, the Brussels police have warned that I was going to start arresting those who had caused the riots, which have come to burning containers and throwing blunt objects. The incidence in Belgium has risen a lot in recent weeks despite the fact that 88% of those over 18 years of age are vaccinated with at least one dose. According to the latest official figures, the incidence of positives detected has reached 1,300 per 100,000 inhabitants. With these numbers, the Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo, has defended the efficacy of the vaccine against covid -19 by declaring: “If it were not because we have 90% of adults vaccinated, we would be confined for several weeks.”

The World Health Organization again expressed this Saturday its great concern about the rise in cases of covid-19 in Europe. The regional director of the organization, Hans Kluge, warned on the BBC that it is possible that half a million people will die between now and March 2022 if there are no urgent measures, such as the mandatory nature of masks, something that remains in force in the interiors in Spain, but that has already been eliminated in many neighboring countries.

On Saturday tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Vienna (Austria), Zagreb (Croatia), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Rotterdam (Netherlands) to protest against the measures imposed by governments in the face of the wave of covid that is passing through Europe. In the Austrian capital, they demonstrated for the confinement decreed by the Government as of Monday before the impact of the fourth wave and the announcement that a law is being prepared that will make vaccination against covid-19 mandatory next February. A thousand Danes protested against the reinstatement of the covid certificate to go to places of leisure. And, in the Dutch city, the protest turned into an outbreak of unusual violence at dawn on Saturday. At least seven people were injured – including police officers, protesters and a journalist who was covering the events and was attacked by the latter – and there were fifty arrests. The incidence in 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants of Austria exceeds 2,000 cases and that of the Netherlands and Croatia, 1,500 and Denmark, 900; Spain is at 111.

Violence in seven Dutch cities

At least six cities, spread over several provinces, have experienced another morning of violence this Sunday in the Netherlands. Police detained 19 people in The Hague after a group of youths set fire to a garbage container and threw cobblestones and firecrackers at officers. One of those gathered threw a stone at an ambulance that was taking a patient to the hospital, and five uniformed men ended up with bruises and ear problems. Similar scenes were recorded in four other towns – including Roermond (located to the south) where there were a dozen detainees. Most of the protesters carried heavy fireworks that can cause serious injuries. In addition to the anti-riot forces, horse, car and bicycle units were deployed, and police dogs were brought in. The public is not admitted to football matches to avoid contagion of covid-19, but the fans managed to enter two stadiums interrupting the game.

Police officers face protesters on a street in Rotterdam on Saturday night.
Police officers face protesters on a street in Rotterdam on Saturday night.

Jan Struijs, president of the Police Association, has publicly expressed his fear about what happened in the rallies against the restrictions of the pandemic. “This is a long-term issue. I fear months of clashes with the government and the police, and this will delay other urgent investigations. In the end, the victim is the citizens themselves, ”he told Dutch public radio.

The riots began this Friday in Rotterdam, although there was calm there on Sunday. Ferd Grapperhaus, Minister of Justice, has declared that he already has an idea of ​​who is behind the riots in the port city. He says that “there are protesters who throw objects at the police, and groups close to soccer fans who tend to have ties to other forms of organized crime.” He added that the rejection of the measures imposed by the Government to curb the coronavirus was used on Friday in Rotterdam, “as a cover to exercise violence. The police are seen as an extension of the Executive and that is why they are attacked ”. On Friday, the agents fired several shots when they were cornered by a large group of violent men, and three people were wounded by gunshots. It is the first time this has happened in a decade and an investigation has already been opened. Originally, the demonstration was against the possible imposition of a covid pass valid only for those vaccinated and those who have had the disease. Law enforcement estimated that there would be a hundred people, but more than 1,000, according to Fred Westerbeke, the Rotterdam police chief. The troops remained alert throughout the country throughout the night.

Austria, before the fourth confinement

In Austria, which this Monday enters the fourth confinement due to the pandemic given the seriousness of the wave of infections, the Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehammer, has taken advantage of the previous hours to take stock of the massive protest on Saturday against this measure and the announcement of a law that will make vaccination mandatory next February. Nehammer has affirmed that the demonstrations that went through Vienna, the capital, with the extreme right as the main convener, showed an image of “radicalization” driven by the presence of known neo-Nazis and violent extremists who clashed with the police at various times. They were a minority, the minister said, but with a violent spirit. The protesters also included Holocaust deniers wearing yellow stars of David with the word “not vaccinated”, threats against the Minister of Health, Wolfgang Mückstein, and the Chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, who was also compared to the Nazi doctor concentration camps Josef Mengele. All this is “unacceptable”, stressed the head of the Interior, reports Sara Velert.

The march, in which the posters against compulsory vaccination abounded and with accusations to the Government of pretending a “dictatorship”, around 40,000 people attended, according to the police, and 100,000, according to the ultra FPÖ party, which carries all the pandemic encouraging the movement of skeptics of the coronavirus and immunization.

The police filed 400 complaints, including 36 criminal complaints, and 12 for the use of Nazi symbols, which is a crime in Austria. In addition, according to Austrian media, this Sunday several thousand people have peacefully demonstrated in Linz, capital of Upper Austria, against the restrictions due to covid-19 and the mandatory vaccination called by the People, Freedom and Fundamental Rights party ( MFG, in its initials in German), which brings together the skeptical movement with immunization in that part of the country and last September managed to enter the regional Parliament with 6.2% of the votes. Upper Austria is the region with the most infections and the lowest vaccination rate, with 61.2% compared to 65.9% in the country.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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