A judge in Amsterdam has upheld the mayor’s ban on a ‘noisy demonstration’ which had been timed to take place at 8pm on Friday, when the Netherlands holds two minutes silence to remember its war dead.
A compromise proposal, involving sounding an air-raid siren just prior to the period of silence is equally unacceptable, the court ruled.
The judge said he was banning the protest because of the risk to public order. In addition, protest organizer Rogier Meijerink may not enter the capital’s inner city between 6pm and 10pm on Friday.
Amsterdam mayor Jozias van Aartsen had earlier banned the protest – describing the May 4 two minutes silence as a ‘sacrosanct moment’.
‘Disrupting that would be unacceptable, disrespectful and above all, a criminal offence,’ the mayor said.
The Nationaal Comite 4 en 5 Mei, which organises both the Remembrance Day event on May 4 and Liberation Day celebrations on May 5, shares the mayor’s view.
The two minutes silence is to ‘remember Dutch victims of war, whether citizens or soldiers… who died or were murdered in World War II, and in war situations and peacekeeping operations since then,’ the committee said in a statement.
The protesters say the ceremony is selective in who it remembers and ignores the victims of the Indonesian war of independence. ‘One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s war criminal,’ Meijerink told the RTL Nieuws.
Jeffry Pondaag, chairman of a foundation campaigning for the recognition of Indonesians who died during the war told the broadcaster he understands the idea behind the noisy protest.
‘Sometimes you have to do extreme things to have an impact,’ he said. ‘The Netherlands itself did extreme things at the time.’
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