NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam authorities were caught on video during a recent march against the country’s ultra-strict anti-COVID-19 measures viciously beating protestors with batons and mauling them with police dogs.
Due to a spike in COVID-19 infections driven by the new, highly-transmissible Omicron variant, the Netherlands instituted a lockdown on December 19, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte ordering the closure of all public places, entertainment venues, and businesses other than those deemed “essential” until at least January 14. In addition, all public gatherings of more than two people are currently prohibited.
“The Netherlands is again shutting down. That is unavoidable because of the fifth wave that is coming at us with the Omicron variant,” Rutte said at the time of the announcement. “A failure to act now would likely lead to “an unmanageable situation in hospitals”, which have already scaled back regular care to make space for COVID-19 patients.”
At the time that the new lockdown measures were announced, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) reported a total of over 2.9 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 20,420 reported deaths.
However, several thousand people were gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday at the city’s central Museum Square to protest vaccinations and the draconian lockdown mandate, with most participants not wearing masks or observing social distancing measures. They marched through a main thoroughfare, playing music and holding yellow umbrellas, a sign of protest to the Netherlands’ COVID-19 measures.
The protestors were greeted by riot police with batons and shields sent by Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, who broke up the proceedings by beating people with batons and instructing their trained police dogs to bite and maul anyone who refused to leave the scene.
Specifically citing the video of the brutality displayed by police Amsterdam police against COVID-19 protestors on Sunday – as well as similar incidents in other European countries – Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, announced on Twitter that he would be visiting several countries in 2022 – including the Netherlands, Poland and France – and asked victims and witnesses of police violence to submit verifiable evidence that he can act upon.