Tens of thousands of protesters in Vienna and Brussels, riots in the Netherlands and scenes of looting and vandalism in the French Antilles: protests against anti-covid-19 measures implemented by governments to contain the contagion of the coronavirus are intensifying and hardening around the world.
Amid the numerous outbreaks of Covid-19 in Europe that brought the re-imposition of sanitary restrictions, several demonstrations were organized in different countries of the continent, with some ending in clashes and arrests.
This Sunday (21), Dutch police reported that 19 people were detained, after a second night of violent protests against the latest sanitary measures implemented by the government to contain the covid-19 pandemic.
Netherlands has 2nd night of violent protests against lockdown amid high Covid
In The Hague, several riot police officers attacked groups of demonstrators who were throwing stones and other objects at agents in a popular neighborhood. According to a statement released by the capital’s police, a water cannon was used to put out a bicycle fire at a busy street intersection.
During the clashes, police from the Shock Battalion took a woman out of a car, whose occupants had shouted insults at the police, and took her to a pickup truck, noted an AFP journalist.
Protests against health restrictions caused by the covid-19 pandemic again ended in riots on Saturday night (20), in the Netherlands, in The Hague in particular, where five police officers were wounded.
A day earlier, violence in the port city of Rotterdam had resulted in 51 detainees and three people shot.
The Netherlands re-enforced the confinement order last week, as well as a series of sanitary restrictions that affect, in particular, the sector of bars and restaurants. Now, these establishments must close at 20:00 local time.
In Brussels, about 35,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday to protest against restrictions imposed by the government. There were some clashes between protesters and police, with protesters throwing smoke bombs and fireworks. Police used water cannon to disperse protesters at the end of the protest.
Belgium tightened restrictions on fighting coronaviruses on Wednesday, requiring more extensive use of masks and forcing homework.
In Austria, the government announced that it will confine the population again as of Monday (22) and that anti-covid-19 vaccination will become mandatory in February.
Thousands take to the streets of Vienna, Austria, to protest against a new lockdown — Photo: Lisa Leutner/AP
In Vienna, 35,000 people took to the streets on Saturday (20), according to police, summoned by the far-right party FPO. The leader of the acronym, Herbert Kickl, did not attend the act, because he tested positive for the coronavirus.
With banners denouncing “the corona dictatorship” and slogans such as “no to the division of society”, the crowd gathered in the heart of the Austrian capital, near the Chancellery.
The protest took place under a strong police scheme, as security forces feared the arrival of violent groups, vandals, neo-Nazi militants and the far-right identity movement.
Also yesterday, thousands of people marched for the same reason in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.
In France, government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned on Sunday that the fifth wave of covid-19 is “sharp”, while seeking to soften the picture. “There are elements that are worrying, but others that give us confidence,” he declared.
Protest against restriction and lockdown measures in Rotterdam, Netherlands, left injured and imprisoned — Photo: Media TV Rotterdam via AP
Protests in Australia and the French Antilles
Across the world, 10,000 people demonstrated in Sydney, also against anti-covid-19 vaccination, according to police. Mandatory vaccination is only required in certain states and territories and for certain professional groups. About 85% of Australians over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated.
Thousands of people also protested in Melbourne, and around 2,000 people attended a counter-demonstration, one of the first of its kind since the beginning of the pandemic.
In the French Antilles, mobilization against the health pass and mandatory vaccination of health personnel, supported by a collective of unions and civil society organizations, turned violent in Guadeloupe, one of the two main islands in the archipelago.
Despite the curfew imposed by authorities, pharmacies and cellphone stores were targeted by protesters.
“The night was very restless,” a police source told AFP, reporting that “a police vehicle was shot with live bullets” in the town of Gosier. The same happened against “the mobile gendarmerie” in Pointe-à-Pitre.
According to the prosecutor’s office in Pointe-à-Pitre, on Saturday night, 16 people were detained and interrogated, and five of them remain in prison: one of them, for “intentional violence with a weapon against a person representing the government”.
WHO warns of another 500,000 Covid deaths in Europe by March