Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned the “criminal violence” of the riots as “the worst in forty years”. The riots which took place last week in some Dutch cities mark a turning point in the country’s efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Following the approval of a night curfew by the Dutch parliament, violent demonstrations shook Amsterdam and Eindhoven before spreading in the following days to Rotterdam, Den Haag, Den Bosch, Gouda, Amersfoort and Haarlem. According to the Dutch public television NOS (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting), 250 people were arrested on Sunday 24 and more than 70 people have been seized on Monday 25 January 2021 at 22h in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and other cities.
Organised via social networks and among other means, young perpetrators vandalised streets in these cities, by looting shops, throwing stones and fireworks at the police and, in some cases, setting cars on fire. Moreover, in the city of Urk, a coronavirus testing centre was set on fire. In Enschede, stones were thrown at a hospital.
Roger Laterr, a DJ Producer in Groningen, took part in the protest on Wednesday 27 February in Grote Markt. “I am very concerned about the violations of our fundamental rights” Roger says. “We have been in lock-down for weeks. Wednesday, during the protest I was with musicians and doctors. But the Prime Minister has called people like us criminals.” But Roger sees it differently. “Since the 17 of January, I have lost my confidence in a constitutional state. In my opinion, the government and the media are holding each other in a suffocating grip. Reality is sacrificed to the story that we have to fight a virus together. In my opinion, the government, together with the media, is destroying this country. Groups of people are opposed to each other. One group is angry at the other because they don’t follow the corona rules. The other group is worried and angry because these rules don’t make sense and are destroying everything we care about”.
However, Yan Brower a young finance worker in Amsterdam is totally against the violence of these recent riots in the country. According to him: “These angry crowds consist of right-wing extremists, hooligans, conspirators claiming that Covid-19 does not exist, and opponents of the government, which seems to have a single motivation in common: violence”.
Finally, Prime Minister Mark Rutte declared: “we’re not taking these measures for fun”. “We’re doing it because we’re fighting the virus and right now it’s the virus that’s taking away our freedom, and it’s because of the virus that we’re taking these rotten measures.” added Rutte, judging that “99%” of Dutch people support the restrictions.