50 protesters arrested at OPWC building “storming” in The Hague: Police
This story was updated at 13:55 and 14:35.
The police arrested about 50 protesters on Friday at the building of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. Police said the protestors stormed the building during a demonstration of Kurdish people organized by DemNed, the Council of Communities from Kurdistan.
They were protesting against Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Kurdish villages. "The world is watching and doing nothing. That is simply not possible," said DemNed. Flags were also displayed calling for the release of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been in a Turkish prison since 1999.
Many police officers arrived at the scene shortly after the alleged storming of the OPCW building at about noon. At least three ambulances and a trauma team traveling in a helicopter were dispatched to the scene just after 12:10 p.m.
There were no injuries disclosed by authorities within two hours of the incident. The Johan de Wittlaan, where the organization is located, was closed. About twenty people demonstrated nearby at Catshuis for the same reason.
One protestor across the street from the OPCW in The Hague held a sign reading, "Is the use of chemical weapons against Kurds permitted?" Banners there also specifically linked Turkey to the use of poison gas in conflicted regions and accused Turkey of violating a ban on chemical weapons. Photos from the scene show some protesters carrying flags of the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK. It is not yet clear how many demonstrators were involved.
The OPCW oversees the implementation of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention which was signed by 193 countries. Its aim is to permanently eliminate chemical weapons by destroying existing stockpiles and preventing the reappearance of such weapons. Member States are required to declare their stockpiles of chemical weapons to the OPCW, which then oversees their destruction.
The organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its major efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times