Climate activist arrested after calling for blockade of A12 in The Hague
A 47-year-old climate activist was arrested Thursday for "repeatedly" calling for another blockade of the A12 highway in The Hague next Saturday in protest against climate change. The man from Castricum, Noord-Holland is suspected of incitement of the people, the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) announced on Thursday.
"Such a blockade leads to very dangerous situations, not only for the protesters, but also for other road users," said a spokesperson for the OM. According to the OM, the suspect also called for the closure of the A12 last November, "which even then led to a very dangerous blockade." At a place where motorists are allowed to drive 70 kilometers per hour, they suddenly found themselves confronted with the activists on the roadway. The resident from Castricum also participated in this blockade, which was organized by the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion.
Extinction Rebellion reacted strongly to the announcement of the arrest. "Criminalization and intimidation of non-violent activists does not fit into a democracy," the activist group said.
Willem Jebbink, the attorney for the arrested activist, also stressed the activist’s "peaceful intentions" in a statement. According to Jebbink, the call for the blockade falls under the right to freedom of expression. Precisely because the blockade was announced in advance, there is, according to the lawyer, "enough time to arrange it so that everything goes smoothly." For this reason, the suspect himself had also contacted Rijkswaterstaat in advance, Jebbink said.
The man from Castricum, who is also a member of the climate activist group, was released after questioning by the police. However, he remains a suspect and will likely have to stand trial later.
Regarding the calls for a blockade of the A12 on January 28, the municipality of The Hague said in a statement that this "has already occurred four times and each time has led to [dangerous and life-endangering] situations, great inconvenience for residents and visitors of The Hague and the wider area, and damage." The previous demonstrations were not reported to the municipality, and each time the mayor decided to end the actions.
Previous actions in and around The Hague site resulted in numerous arrests. Just last Friday, four activists from Extinction Rebellion were sentenced to 45 hours of community service for their involvement in an action on October 13, 2021.
With the blockade, the action group wanted to demand the abolition of billions in government subsidies for fossil fuels.
Reporting by ANP