Riot police end Utrecht University protest, Erasmus closes doors

Protesters outside the Utrecht University building. Photo: Freek van den Bergh ANP

Riot police were brought in to end a demonstration by pro-Palestine students at Utrecht University on Wednesday evening after they took over a building on the Janskerkhof and refused to leave.

It took some two hours for the police to remove everyone from the premises and, according to ANP, they used their batons to drive out the protestors. Some 40 people were arrested.

The police said on social media that they had moved in after efforts to end the protest using an independent negotiator had failed. 

Last week a number of Utrecht students staged a protest next to the university library and also joined the organised “walk out” on Monday.  The protestors want the university to break all ties with Israeli institutions which they say profit from suppressing the Palestinian people. 

Erasmus closes doors

Meanwhile, Erasmus University in Rotterdam will be closed on Thursday as a safety precaution because of a planned pro-Palestine protest on the premises by a number of organisations.

The university authorities said the measure had been advised by the police and was necessary to guarantee the safety of staff and students.

University president Ed Brinksma said in a statement that both students and staff wanted to hold a peaceful demonstration to draw attention to the situation in Gaza and the changes they want to see. 

“However, since the nature and size of the demonstration cannot be estimated, we have been advised to take this preventive measure and close all buildings,” he said. “Events at protests elsewhere in the country show that the risks can be significant.” 

This is the second week of protests at Dutch universities over their links to Israeli institutions.

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