Activists held unlawfully for anti-Shell protest

Peaceful Assembly

Eight activists were arrested on 12th May 2017 following a demonstration by members of the protest group Fossil Free Culture at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum. Their peaceful protest aimed to raise public awareness of Shell oil company's financial support to the museum, and involved seven women drinking a thick black liquid from scallop shells. (The video above depicts the 12th May demonstration at the museum).

Fossil Free Culture strives to put a stop to fossil fuel companies' sponsorship of the arts, including museums. Police were called to the scene of the protest when the performers ignored requests to leave the building. While most protesters were released soon after arrest, three were held in custody for a number of days because they refused to identify themselves. All activists were eventually released. In late June, a judge found that the activists had been wrongfully detained and ordered that they be paid compensation


The producer of a video which portrayed black artist, broadcaster and politician Sylvana Simons as a lynching victim has been convicted and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. Simons, who is a prominent anti-racism activist and who took part in recent anti-Zwarte Piet protests in the Netherlands, has been the victim of a torrent of racially-motivated abuse in the Netherlands, resulting in her being granted police protection. Others involved in the making of the video were sentenced to 60 hours of community service and fined. 

The Netherlands' top police Chief Erik Akerboom said in May 2017 that he would not allow female police officers to wear headscarves. His comments followed earlier remarks by Amsterdam's police Chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg who said he was considering reversing a head scarf ban imposed in 2011. The debate led to strong reactions from both civil society and within the police force itself. Akerboom said that there was "clearly no support for this idea" and that "[t]he discussion polarizes the ranks inside and outside the police". His statement went on to say that the police are looking for other ways to ensure diversity within their ranks.