Rutte criticizes XR's blockade of A12, use of water cannons is their own fault
VVD leader and Prime Minister Mark Rutte finds it "absurd" that climate activists blocked the A12 near The Hague on Saturday, even though the mayor had forbidden it. He also thinks they should not complain about the controversial use of a water cannon. "It serves them right," he said on the TV program WNL Op Zondag.
However, Rutte emphasized the importance of the right to demonstrate. That, he said, is part of a democracy. But the protesters should have followed the instructions, he said. "And if the police tell you to leave, then you leave.” Furthermore, Rutte said that “We have standards and values, we have laws and rules, you have to abide by them, " RTL Nieuws reported.
On WNL Op Zondag, the Prime Minister judged harshly against the climate activists' criticism of the police action during the demonstration. "Now they were also angry that the water cannon had been deployed. I would say: own fault."
Het bezetten van snelwegen noemt @markrutte "absurd". Over het ongenoegen van Extinction Rebellion (@NLRebellion) over de inzet van een waterkanon tijdens de demonstratie zaterdag zegt hij: "Eigen schuld, dikke bult." #WNL pic.twitter.com/do6o2BRXpw— WNL Op Zondag (@WNLOpZondag) March 12, 2023
In addition, Rutte thinks it is not a bad idea for the climate activist group to pay for the costs of the police operation if they do not follow the instructions of the police. "I don't know exactly how that works legally, but I would personally be very much in favor of that. If you do not follow the rules as an honorable citizen you will also be fined. Why not them?'', said Rutte on WNL Op Zondag.
On Saturday, more than 3,000 Extinction Rebellion activists blocked the A12 highway to protest fossil fuel subsidies. The police deployed water cannons against several thousand Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists who were blocking the Utrechtsebaan since noon. This happened on the last section of the A12, which ends in The Hague. Around 5:10 p.m., the police began to break up the demonstration. About 700 protestors were arrested, police said.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times