No excuse: Justice Min. on attack on anti-blackface protesters; Amnesty pressing charges
Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius is “shocked by how counter-demonstrators harassed Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) protestors,” she said on Twitter. Rioters bombarded KOZP demonstrators at the Sinterklaas entry in Staphorst. Amnesty International filed charges of threats and vandalism.
“Demonstrating is a great right; stand for what you want,” Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said. “But you must never silence the other side with violence or intimidation.” There is “no excuse for that.” The police are “obviously” investigating,” the Minister reported. “I await that with confidence.”
Amnesty International also condemned the actions. The human rights organization pressed charges of threat and vandalism.
Amnesty International observers were present at the Sinterklaas arrival party due to the KOZP protest. Counter-demonstrators attacked the human rights organization’s car. “The damage to the car affects us the least. We are concerned with the threat and the deliberate prevention of exercising a human right,” said a spokeswoman for Amnesty International. “The observers go to all kinds of demonstrations all year round, but we have never been threatened and intimidated in this way before.”
Zwarte Piet supporters tried to stop the KOZP demonstration even before it started, with men in blackface makeup also attacking members of KOZP. According to Amnesty International, the car containing its observers was shaken, had eggs pelted at it, and had its tires slashed. The police let the observers sit in the car for a long time. According to a police spokesperson, this was “to prevent further escalation.”
Amnesty International demanded an investigation. It’s essential to have all the facts on the table, the organization said less than a week after it published a report stating that the right to demonstrate is under pressure in the Netherlands. “We have penetrating questions. That is why Amnesty calls for a thorough evaluation of government actions in Staphorst, [Saturday] and the days leading up to that.”
The police already announced on Sunday that they were investigating the obstruction of the demonstration, which the mayor of Staphorst eventually banned.
GroenLinks leader Jesse Kalver responded on Twitter: “What happened in Staphorst is excessive and racist. The police should not have stopped KOZP, but those who obstructed their right to a peaceful protest with aggression, intimidation, and violence.”
Several other people also filed charges. The police arrested no one on Saturday but said they were studying images for criminal offenses.
Reporting by ANP