More than 3,000 Extinction Rebellion climate activists block A12; one arrested
Part of the Utrechtsebaan in The Hague is open again. Only the last section of the A12 motorway between the Malieveld and the Prince Bernhard viaduct is still closed because people are on the road surface, a spokesperson for the municipality of The Hague reported.
According to Extinction Rebellion (XR), more than 3,000 people blocked the A12 motorway at the beginning of the afternoon on Saturday. About 1500 people protest in the vicinity of the highway. This is twice as many demonstrators as at previous demonstrations, according to the action group. Police tried to stop them and warned that action will be taken. From different directions, several thousand activists entered the Utrechtsebaan and sat down at the entrance of the tunnel trench.
The black cloths on the fences surrounding the tunnel trench between the Ministry of Economy and Climate and the Tweede Kamer were cut loose.
With the blockade action on the Utrechtsebaan, the climate activist group opposes fossil fuel subsidies. Furthermore, the group demands high urgence, in line with the severity of the climate and ecological crises, XR’s press release stated.
XR spokesperson and UvA PhD student Anne Kervers said that "This winter, people are sitting in cold houses with unaffordable energy bills, while the fossil industry rakes in exorbitant profits. The earth has already warmed by at least 1.2 degrees. Climate disasters are hitting rock bottom. Especially in the Global South, people are facing extreme floods and storms, prolonged drought and famine, heat waves and loss of land due to sea level rise. Yet our government 'stimulates' the fossil industry with 17.5 billion euros in subsidies every year."
The police and the municipality of The Hague warn around the Utrechtsebaan that blocking the highway is prohibited. The police announced that demonstrating on the nearby Koekamp is allowed and refers the activists there. "If you do enter the Utrechtsebaan, the riot police will act and they can use violence," it was announced.
Also employees of the municipality of The Hague handed out flyers around the Utrechtsebaan, police officers were ready to intervene.
On Twitter, police wrote that “At this point we are requisitioning the activists blocking the Utrechtsebaan A12 to leave. A claim is not an obligation-free request. Anyone who does not comply with the demand commits a criminal offense and is arrested.”
Op dit moment vorderen wij de actievoerders die de #Utrechtsebaan #A12 blokkeren om weg te gaan. Een vordering is geen vrijblijvend verzoek. Wie niet aan de vordering voldoet, pleegt een strafbaar feit en wordt aangehouden. #11maart— Politie Eenheid Den Haag (@POL_DenHaag) March 11, 2023
However, Extinction Rebellion believes that their actions still abide by the law. "With the A12 blockade, Extinction Rebellion acts according to the law. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that protesting is allowed 'within sight and sound' of those against whom the protest is directed. That is why we are protesting at a site that matters, the A12 between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the temporary Parliament. An end to the 17.5 billion annual fossil subsidies is a reasonable and necessary demand supported by science, " said XR spokesperson and law student Hannah Prins.
On Saturday afternoon, the police arrested a climate activist who put a sticker on a police water cannon. The person has been arrested for insult, the police reported on Twitter. The water cannon has not yet been used, but is present at the demonstration.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times