Never have so many people been arrested on the sidelines of a climate demonstration in the Netherlands. Dutch police announced on Saturday evening that they had made more than 1,500 arrests during an action by the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion in The Hague to protest against fossil fuel subsidies.
It was the seventh action of the movement on the Utrechtsebaan section of the A12 motorway in the center of The Hague, located a stone’s throw from the Parliament and the main ministries. According to a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion, the demonstration gathered some 7,000 people on this sunny Saturday afternoon.
The majority of those arrested already released
Targeted by a police water cannon to force them to leave the scene, several activists had provided a swimsuit and danced under the drops. Hundreds of police were deployed to ensure public order during the demonstration, which began around noon.
Police said in a statement that they “immediately and repeatedly asked the activists to end their action and leave”, adding that those “who did not have been arrested”. “In total, 1,579 people were arrested”, the vast majority of whom were quickly released, and “40 will be prosecuted” in particular for vandalism and contempt, the police said, adding that one of the activists had bitten a policeman.
On Saturday, actress Carice Van Houten, 46, particularly known for her role as Melisandre in the series Game Of Thrones, was part of the militant group. She was arrested but according to her agent, she was able to return to her home in the evening, reported the ANP. In a video she posted on Instagram, the actress is seen wearing a red poncho, getting wet from the water cannon.
“We come back every month, or every two months, and each time the number of demonstrators doubles,” said Aaron Pereira, 31, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion. “There is broad popular support for real climate action and people are realizing that the government is actively opposing it by subsidizing the fossil fuel industry,” he told AFP. “Blocking a road like this has been recognized by the European Court of Human Rights as a legitimate form of protest,” he added.