Truck protest leaves The Hague without incident; Covid demonstration on Sunday
The mayor of The Hague has canceled the unannounced trucker demonstration by “Convoy for Freedom Netherlands” and gave protesters until 3:30 p.m. to leave. Those who do not comply risk arrest and a fine, according to the municipality. They could also be charged with the costs of towing vehicles.
A municipality spokesperson said earlier that demonstrators were given plenty of time to spread their message: “The municipality wants to make the city easily accessible again for normal traffic, shoppers, entrepreneurs and public transport.”
Many of the drivers who had demonstrated at the intersection Buitenhof-Lange Vijverberg left, honking loudly. The convoy announced on Telegram: "The demonstration is being stopped at the Buitenhof. If you have a truck, camper or caravan, stay close. For today it's over for the time being, tomorrow is another day."
Another demonstration against coronavirus measures is planned for Sunday in The Hague, organized by Nederland in Verzet. It is not clear if this event is what the Telegram message alludes to.
Earlier in the day, the protesters already announced via Telegram that they did not intend to end the demonstration. About 20 trucks and several tractors parked at the entrance to the Binnenhof. Demonstrators carried Dutch and Frisian flags, and banners with slogans such as, “Rutte IV must go, we are not leaving” and “enough is enough.” They also chanted “Rutte, fuck off.”
"We will stay here as long as we have to, even if it is two weeks,” they said. They also called on supporters to bring campers, tents and caravans to join them, but cautioned them not to use force.
In a statement, the protesters said they would continue the demonstration until “all measures introduced in the past two years are completely abolished.” These include, among other things, mandatory masking, Covid vaccinations and the coronavirus admission ticket.
“Never again,” they said. “That’s why ‘Convoy NL’ demands the referendum return with immediate effect.”
“Convoy for Freedom Netherlands” asked The Hague Mayor Jan van Zanen to talk with them, but a spokesperson said the mayor will not respond to this.
“We only facilitate announced demonstrations, and in this case [the demonstration] is an unannounced one,” the spokesperson said. “We will not have a dialogue about the content of their message. At the same time, we really hear what is going on in society.”
Police are asking those who have inadvertently become trapped between vehicles from the demonstration to wait by their cars until they can drive away on their own. "If you can drive away, do so as carefully as possible," the police wrote on Twitter.
This is not the first “Convoy for Freedom Netherlands” protest: in January, a similar convoy kicked off in Leeuwarden. The demonstrations are inspired by a controversial truck blockade in Canada.
Reporting by ANP