14 fire reports in The Hague in one hour; calm returns to Duindorp

Dutch police officers (Stock Photo: Politie)Dutch police officers (Stock Photo: Politie)

A restless night was expected in The Hague on Tuesday after the municipality announced that it will not grant permits for the New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Duindorp and Scheveningen, because the organizers could not meet the requirements. In Duindorp, where riot police had to intervene for three nights before Tuesday, the atmosphere was relatively calm. But in other areas, there were a striking number of fires, RTL Nieuws reports.

Between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., the fire department in the city responded to no less than 14 reported fires in Scheveningen and other neighborhoods. Underground waste containers and other objects were set alight. 

Police officers were present in large numbers in Duindorp on Tuesday evening. They checked people entering the neighborhood, to make sure they have a legitimate reason to be there. A total of five people were arrested in Duindorp. At around 7:00 p.m. the police arrested a 16-year-old boy from The Hague on Laan van Poot. He had fireworks and flammable liquids on him, the police said. And around 11:00 p.m. four males, aged 15, 16, 21 and 23, were arrested on Pluivierstraat. They refused to follow the police's repeated instructions to leave the area, the police said. 

Between Saturday night and Monday night, at least 25 people were arrested in the neighborhood for vandalism and throwing fireworks at the police, among other things. Many of them were minors. They were angry about the Duindorp bonfire being canceled. The organizers of the Duindorp fire pulled the plug on the event last week, blaming the requirements set by the municipality. 

The municipality not issuing permits means that the Scheveningen bonfire will also not happen this year. The organizers of the Scheveningen bonfire is disappointed, they said on Facebook. "Despite our blood, sweat and tears over the past period, our permit application was rejected by the municipality of The Hague", Vreugdevuur Scheveningen wrote, saying that the municipality set impossible requirements. They called it a "big loss for many people", and also called the bonfire a "way of life" and the "most important period of the year". 

Acting Hague mayor Johan Remkes talked about the unrest surrounding the bonfires on Nieuwsuur on Tuesday evening. "People feel intimidated and no longer dare to take to the streets", he said, after visiting Duindorp earlier in the evening. "The street cannot be allowed to rule in this country", he said, adding that he will "in no way" be blackmailed by rioters. 

Remkes reminded the parents of rioters that their children are their responsibility, and said that the damages caused by the riots should be recovered from the perpetrators.

In the coming weeks running up to New Year's, The Hague will do everything in its power to keep the situation "manageable", Remkes said.