For the third night in a row, cities across the Netherlands were struck by civil unrest as young people took to the streets to protest the country’s coronavirus policy. At least 100 arrests were made throughout the course of the weekend.
Over 100 arrested in violent anti-coronavirus riots
Since the latest COVID-19 restrictions were announced on November 12, Dutch police have faced protests and riots in a number of Dutch cities. The situation took a turn for the worse on Friday night, when rioters took to the streets of Rotterdam. By 9pm, a protest had descended into riots on the Coolsingel, as police cars were set alight and officers were physically attacked. Forces from across the country were brought in to manage the situation.
In an attempt to dispel rioters, police fired warning shots. Three rioters are being treated in hospital after suffering bullet injuries. A further four people are believed to have been injured, including one police officer who is being treated for a broken thigh and a journalist who was attacked by rioters. 49 arrests were made in what Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called “an orgy of violence.”
A further 28 suspects were arrested following another night of unrest on Saturday. Violence broke out across a number of cities, including The Hague, Roermond, and Urk. In The Hague, one rioter threw a stone through the window of an ambulance in which a patient was being treated. There were also protests in various cities, including Amsterdam.
The Netherlands struck by third night of riots
Sunday marked the third night of riots, as groups of young people wreaked havoc, setting off fireworks and destroying public property. In Enschede and Groningen, an emergency order was issued, providing police forces with more power to take action against rioters.
At least five arrests were made in Enschede. In Groningen, the municipality reports that rioters vandalised a shopfront and a bus stop, and set fire to a number of bicycles. At least three people were arrested. Meanwhile, in Roosendaal, at least 15 arrests were made following a night of unrest that saw a local primary school set on fire.
Police were also forced to take action in Tilburg, where an unknown number of youths gathered in a local park to light fireworks, destroying several bins in the process.
Dutch Justice Minister calls riots repulsive and criminal
This marks the second time this year the Netherlands has been struck by severe civil unrest in response to the government’s COVID-19 policy; in January, hundreds were arrested in riots after the national curfew came into effect.
Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus called the Rotterdam riots repulsive: “Demonstration is a great right in our society, but what we saw last night is simply criminal behaviour. It has nothing to do with demonstrating,” he told the press on Saturday.
The ACP police union called the riots completely unacceptable, and turned its criticism on the Dutch government, saying politicians have ignored the union’s warnings that riots were a real possibility: “If there had been more police capacity, we could have coped with the problems.”