Written by: Monica Yelinyan
On 20 August 2020 in the Netherlands, the House of Representatives will discuss a bill, the Emergency Act, which sets aside the fundamental freedoms of citizens in order to keep them safe from the virus. The minister will have a lot of power to set rules and the parliament will be pushed aside. Minister of Public Health, Hugo De Jonge, will then get an enormous position of power, if the law is passed. Is Emergency Law really so necessary for public health now that it is clear that the COVID-19 is not a great threat? How much are the freedoms of citizens worth?
A large group wanted to be heard on 20 August in front of the House of Representatives building to make it clear that the Netherlands should not become a dictatorship. People are very afraid, because the law can drastically change their freedoms and even take them away forever. That is why they have gathered together. In the beginning it was quite quiet in front of the building. Then another group gathered in Buitenhof came to the building . Police had previously asked the people to move to the Vijver, but they were not satisfied with this. They did not feel heard and wanted to announce their opinion where it mattered. Quickly the policemen came on horseback, on bicycles or in cars. Demonstrators immediately showed that they were not happy with the police. An important reason for the dissatisfaction was police brutality against unarmed civilians during a demonstration at Malieveld which, according to the mayor, was not allowed to go ahead, but thousands showed up and were dealt with very harshly by the police.
The demonstrators finally decided to walk through the centre of The Hague and thus not to be enclosed by the police who arrived on horseback. The demonstrators tried to talk to people and tell them why they were demonstrating here. "We stand here for your freedom" was shouted everywhere against people in the centre. When asked why one of the demonstrators was here, she answered the following: "To tell my grandchildren later that grandma fought for their freedom."
Later the demonstration ended violently. The demonstrators were constantly followed by the police. One of the police wanted to talk to the spokesperson of the demonstration to make sure that people would move elsewhere. In the meantime, a whole row of policemen stood next to each other on bicycles and the demonstrators watched. Suddenly a van arrived and the police officers stepped aside. The doors of the van opened and men with face coverings and bats ran towards the demonstrators! Everyone ran away and tried to take cover. These men did not take into account the age or gender of the people they beat. The people who got out of the van were not demonstrators. The police didn't seem to do much against these violent men, but let them do their thing. It took a short time but it frightened the protesters and made the demonstration end.
Some demonstrators indicated that they saw that the men were not hooligans but from the ME (Mobile Unit).
This was certainly not the last demonstration in The Hague by civilians who are worried about the future of their country. The next demonstration for freedom will take place on 23 August 2020 at the Malieveld, The Hague.