Journalists arrested at environmental rights protest; News outlet limits coverage of football games
Police open fire at riot turned violent
On 19th November 2021 a protest against COVID measures turned violent in Rotterdam. The episode, which followed the announcement of new measures to tackle the surge in infections, marked the highest point of tensions between protesters and police in the country. Three people were hospitalised after they were seriously injured when police fired shots during the demonstration. The protest was defined by the city's mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, as an “orgy of violence”. Hundreds of protesters set cars and scooters on fire, threw rocks at the police and looted the shopping areas of the city. Police responded with a water cannon and warning shots. On Twitter, police said that 51 people had been arrested, about half of whom were under 18.
Other demonstrations against COVID-19 measures turned violent in other parts of the Netherlands on that weekend. Five police officers were injured and at least seven people arrested in the Hague on the same day of the violent episodes in Rotterdam.
Three journalists arrested at Extinction Rebellion protest in the Hague
From 11th to 15th October 2021 climate activists from the group Extinction Rebellion (XR) organised a protest in the Hague to urge the Dutch government to achieve climate neutrality by 2025 and declare a climate emergency. More than 60 people have been arrested throughout the city on accusations of direct traffic disruption.
On 11th October 2021 journalist Mac van Dinther of the daily newspaper de Volkskrant was arrested by police at the XR demonstration. He was detained on suspicion of obstructing officers and insulting them. The newspaper reported his arrest and filed a complaint to the police. The Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) also contacted the police to ask for clarification.
The journalist reported that the police pushed him aside during the protest while some people were being arrested and when the journalist was filming. Since he wanted to get a better view of what was happening, he tried to get closer to the group of demonstrators. At that point some officers accused the reporter – who was wearing his press card visibly around his neck – of hindering the police actions and when van Dinther defined their behaviour as “childish”, the officers pushed him into the police van and arrested him, even though he pointed out that he was a journalist. The journalist remained in custody for four hours. Editor-in-chief of de Volkskrant, Pieter Klok, expressed his concern for the “brutality” of the treatment of van Dinther by the police.
Ik word nu gearresteerd door de politie omdat ik te dichtbij stond. Met geweld in een politiebusje gesleept.— Mac van Dinther (@MacvanDinther) October 11, 2021
On 13th October 2021, on the third day of protests by Extinction Rebellion, two other journalists were detained in custody. Climate journalist Hans Nijenhuis and photojournalist Marco de Swart were arrested together with a group of activists who intended to block the Utrechtsebaan in The Hague with stationary vehicles. Reportedly, they were brought to the station to verify their identity as journalists. The two have pointed out that this practice is not regular, as journalists should be able to prove their identity on the spot by showing their ID card and press card. The two were released after about an hour. De Swart is considering filing a complaint,as he was unable to carry out his job.
News outlet stops coverage of football games after reporters attacked
On 17th October 2021, a reporter from Omroep Gelderland – the regional public broadcaster of the Dutch province of Gelderland – was attacked by football hooligans and hit by a scooter after a match which ended with NEC Nijmegen’s 1-0 loss. The aggression took place amidst clashes between police and NEC Nijmegen hooligans outside the Goffert Stadium. While the journalist managed to reach the car with his colleagues in time, he was hit by some violent supporters.
Due to this incident, the regional broadcaster decided to reduce the coverage of football matches, limiting the work to coverage from inside the stadium and online, as reported by Omroep Gelderland’s editor-in-chief Sandrina Hadderingh. The Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) said that it was the first time that a Dutch media outlet had not sent reporters to an event for security reasons.
“Our people should be able to do their work safely and we cannot assure that anymore. We experienced several events at protests and football matches and we will no longer expose our people to this.”
Photographer attacked while covering funeral
On 5th November 2021, photographer Caspar Huurdeman was physically attacked and obstructed whilst reporting at a funeral in Bunschoten. The reporting was assigned by his local newspaper, Gooi- en Eemlander. The director of the funeral – who saw the photographer taking pictures of the mourning crowd – approached him and demanded that Huurdeman delete all the pictures. When the photographer refused to do so, the man pulled the strap of the camera over his head and squeezed his throat with it, the photographer reported. He also specified that he could not breathe for a limited time, and was in shock after the aggression. The suspect was arrested right after the episode. He was eventually released but remains a suspect in the case.