Protect the rights of antiracism activists in the Netherlands

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Sinterklaas

Every year the Netherlands televises a national parade to welcome the Dutch version of St. Nicholas - Sinterklaas. In various other cities, in smaller celebrations, a Sinterklaas is welcomed, too. Sinterklaas is accompanied by Black Pete - a racist caricature.

Antiracism activists have been trying to get rid of the racist caricature for decades. Last year, while on their way to the national parade to protest, counterprotestors in cars breaked infront of the busses and blocked the highway. The police eventually let the counterprotestors drive off and the antiracism activists were escorted away from the city.

Protests

This year antiracism activists organised 15 protests throughout the country. This was the result:

1. The protest at the national parade at De Zaanse Schans went well.

2. The protest in Amstelveen went well.

3. The protest in Zwolle went well.

4. The protest in Apeldoorn was cancelled because the police could not guarantee their safety.

5. During the protest in Leeuwarden police had to protect activists against hooligans.

6. During the protest in Groningen the police had to protect activists against hooligans.

7. The protest in Scheveningen was eventually suspended after police could no longer guarantee their safety from hooligans

8. The protest in Nijmegen was cancelled because the police could not guarantee the activists' safety because of aggressive hooligans.

9. The protest in Apeldoorn was suspended because they were forced to demonstrate on an open field without barricades and the police could no longer guarantee their safety.

10. The protest in Hilversum was suspended because activists were bombarded with eggs and apples. The police could no longer guarantee their safety.

11. The protest in Den Helder was cancelled. On their way to the protest the bus with activists was stopped by the police. The mayor changed the rules of the protest at 10pm the night before and the activists did not have enough time to adapt to these new terms.

12. Protestors in Hoorn clashed with counterprotestors. Their banner was taken from them and ripped. The police eventually took their second banner. Their freedom of speech was restricted.

13. The protest in Tilburg was cancelled because the location was too far away. The police arrested 40 people who were planning to stop the protest.

14. The protest in Eindhoven was suspended after the group of 15 activists was bombarded with racist songs, eggs and beer by 200 hooligans. They also used 'Sieg Heil' handgestures. Activists had to hide in the policestation.

 15. The protest in Rotterdam went well until activists walked back over the bridge. Hooligans got out of their cars, threw fireworks, eggs and beer into the crowd and physically attacked activists. The police let them drive away while activists were detained.

The aftermath

In the following days Dutch politicians Mark Rutte and Klaas Dijkhoff declared that there were extremists on both sides and they even suggested that the right of demonstration should be taken away from the activists.

Why this petition?

Freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate are fundamental rights. Throughout the Netherlands the safety of activists could not be guaranteed and they were restricted in their freedom of speech. Some protestors were physically attacked and the police let their assailants go. Other protestors were bombarded with fireworks, apples, eggs and beer as the police stood by and watched. 

The Dutch House Representatives refuses to collectively acknowledge the racism of the counterprotestors, denounce their actions and actively make sure activists can safely practise their freedom of speech and right to demonstrate. Please sign this petition if you believe that they should!



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