Police and MPs have called on justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz to intervene in the escalating farmers’ protests on Dutch motorways.
Four police unions issued a statement accusing politicians of “looking away and not coming up with solutions” to the blockades on the A15 and at the Belgian border.
Farmers in several European countries, including Germany, France and Belgium, staged protests in the last week against the EU’s agriculture and conservation policies, to coincide with a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
In the Netherlands protests have been staged by the militant group Farmers’ Defence Force, whose leader, Mark van den Oever, was accused of posting threats to agriculture minister Piet Adema on social media at the weekend.
On Monday two people were injured in a crash on the A15 in Gelderland, where visibility was impaired by smoke from bonfires lit beside the road. Several vehicles were also involved in a collision in Veenendaal, close to the site of a protest on the A12 that blocked the slip roads.
Nine Kooiman, spokeswoman for the NPB police union, said: “This is complete madness! We recognise the right to demonstrate, but putting citizens and police personnel in danger is inexcusable.
“The police should be able to do their work safely. This goes beyond all boundaries.”
MPs from the outgoing coalition parties also called for Yesilgöz to take action. Jan Paternotte, D66 group leader in parliament, said: “Far too many idiots think this is normal. Lighting fires and dumping cancer-inducing asbestos. Motorists wounded and ending up in hospital with severe injuries.”
Brandstichtingen. Kankerverwekkende asbest dumpen. Weggebruikers bekneld en het ziekenhuis in met zwaar letsel.
Hier ligt een grote taak voor de minister van justitie om heel snel het overheidsgezag te herstellen. Want veel te veel malloten denken dat dit normaal is. pic.twitter.com/YdSvwzlCR8
— Jan Paternotte (@jpaternotte) February 6, 2024
Christian Democrat (CDA) MP Derk Boswijk also challenged the justice minister to guarantee that “troublemakers” would be prosecuted “for this unacceptable and life-threatening behaviour” and made to pay for the damage. “Freedom to demonstrate is a great asset, but this is just anarchy,” he wrote.
Ik neem aan minister @DilanYesilgoz dat deze raddraaiers worden opgepakt en worden vervolgd voor dit onacceptabele en inmiddels levensgevaarlijke gedrag en dat alle gemaakte schade op hun verhaald gaat worden?
Demonstreren is een groot goed, maar dit is gewoon anarchie. https://t.co/J2l8bLAHZa
— Derk Boswijk (@DerkBoswijk) February 6, 2024
Police said they would be investigating whether the protesters should be charged with criminal offences. “Dumping waste and setting it on fire is a serious danger to health and the environment. There have also been dangerous situations on the roadway.”
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