Environmental rights protests; woman journalist smeared online
The right to protest under threat- Amnesty International Netherlands
According to Dagmar Oudshoorn, the director of Amnesty International Netherlands, protests are "too often considered to be a security risk rather than a human right that should be facilitated as best as possible.” An opinion poll carried out by I&O on behalf of Amnesty International shows that 54 per cent of the general public believe that protest is necessary for social change, and an additional 70 per cent support the idea that everyone should be free to demonstrate about an issue which is important to them. However, the opinion poll was less favourable for protests on issues such as environmental rights. This has come after months of mass protests in the Netherlands, from farmers’ protests to climate activism.
It is especially important now, in times of increasing social tensions, to ensure that everyone who wants to demonstrate peacefully is given ample opportunity, regardless of the content of the protest. Demonstrating is not a favour, but a right - Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International Netherlands
Extinction Rebellion actions
There have been multiple Extinction Rebellion protests which took place throughout the country between the end of August and mid-October 2022.
On 19th August 2022, Extinction Rebellion protesters staged an action at the opening stage of the cycling race La Vuelta de España in Utrecht where they blocked the passage of the cycling team Ineos Grenaders by gluing themselves to the track in front of the starting podium. They demanded that the chemical sector company Ineos, that sponsors the cycling team, cease their activities that cause serious environmental and climate damage. The activists were violently removed from the track by audience members, the police intervened and arrested two activists.
On 3rd September 2022, many climate activists from Extinction Rebellion demonstrated against the Formula 1 competition being held at the Zandvoort circuit. The protesters gathered on a dune along the Burgemeester van Alphenstraat, making noise, some of them lying on the ground pretending to be dead, with signs saying "This is how we portray our future”. They were protesting the circuit being in operation next to the Natura-2000 dune area in Kennemerland-South, and against the noise and pollution this causes to an area of preserved natural heritage.
On 15th October, the A12 motorway was blocked near the Hague, in the direction of Utrecht, by Extinction Rebellion activists. The action involved 50 demonstrators but there were no arrests. However, the municipality of the Hague referred to the protest as "life-threatening" for both the protesters and also for drivers.
Dutch person arrested during the Mahsa Amini protests in Iran, solidarity at home
On 21st September 2022, a Dutch person was detained in Tehran, during protests following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Iranian authorities. Iran's intelligence ministry said in a statement that the identities of the arrested foreigners had not been released, however the Dutch embassy in Tehran has urged the Iranian authorities to grant access to the arrested Dutch person. The Dutch embassy in the Iranian capital said that they want to support the detainee and provide consular assistance, but there is no response from the Iranian authorities. "Of course we will continue to put pressure on Iran to still gain access," the ministry said in a response. "We do that in Iran, and also through the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands." The general public are also supporting the protests in Iran. On 8th October, 1,000 people gathered on the Malieveld in the centre of The Hague to show their support for the protestors in Iran. The Hague demonstration was the biggest in the Netherlands, though there were others in Amsterdam and Eindhoven.
On 23rd October 2022, a video insulting journalist Merel Ek, who works as a political reporter for the national television channel SBS6ś, was placed online by the Dutch extreme right wing political party Forum for Democracy (FvD). In the video Dutch MP Gideon Van Meijeren insults Ek, calling her a “sewage rat” and accusing her of "sewage journalism". This comes after Ek had asked Van Meijeren on camera the day before about the meaning of the word "liquidate". Following the video, the party also accused Ek of spreading propaganda.
In a joint statement with several press freedom groups, the International Press Institute condemned the incident.
Such problematic language creates an intimidating climate for public interest journalism, normalises both online and physical targeting of the press, and can lead to self-censorship amongst the journalistic community. We urge the FvD to put an end to its dangerous smear campaign against independent media. - several press freedom groups.
Civic Space Developments