Thousands of farmers and other anti-establishment demonstrators protested Saturday in a park in The Hague against Dutch government plans to reduce nitrate emissions, while elsewhere in the city climate activists angry at what they call state support for the fossil fuel industry broke through police lines to block a major road. The simultaneous demonstrations — a few kilometers (miles) from one another — come days before Dutch voters go to the polls in provincial elections Wednesday that indirectly also elect the national parliament’s upper house and could have an effect on proposals for reducing nitrate pollution. Police said they stopped an unknown number of tractors that were headed for the farmers' demonstration. The municipality banned all but two “symbolic” tractors from participating, citing safety concerns. As thousands of people, many carrying the upside-down Dutch flags that have become synonymous with farmers' protests and balloons emblazoned with the logo of the far-right Forum for Democracy party, gathered peacefully in front of a stage for the demonstration, the two permitted tractors drove slowly across the park. Earlier, Rotterdam broadcaster Rijnmond showed video of a convoy of tractors crossing the city’s Erasmus Bridge early Saturday, apparently on their way to The Hague. One of the tractors was emblazoned with a banner saying in Dutch “#proudofthefarmer.” As the farmers were gathering in a park in the south of the city, Mayor Jan van Zanen gave police permission to use a water cannon on Extinction Rebellion protesters who blocked a major highway in the downtown area near where it runs past the temporary home of the Dutch parliament. Police said demonstrators who refuse to leave the road would be detained. The highway was blocked in both directions, but police did not immediately use the water cannon. The twin demonstrations prompted authorities to place army trucks near some crossroads ready to block the streets if tractors or other protest vehicles tried to drive into the city center. Anger at moves to cut nitrate emissions have spread from the Netherlands to other European nations. Just over a week ago, farmers drove hundreds of tractors into the heart of the Belgian capital, Brussels, snarling traffic. At protests in recent years, farmers have driven hundreds of tractors into the center of The Hague and also used them to blockade supermarket warehouses. The government has said that nitrate emissions, which are produced by livestock, transport and industry, must be drastically reduced close to nature areas that are part of a network of protected habitats for endangered plants and wildlife stretching across the 27-nation European Union. The coalition wants to cut emissions of pollutants, predominantly nitrates, by 50% nationwide by 2030. Ministers call the proposal an “unavoidable transition” that aims to improve air, land and water quality, and have warned that it will mean "that not all farmers can continue their business.”
Ontario’s Conservative premier called Friday for demonstrators to end the “occupation” of Ottawa, while police moved 150 officers to the parts of the capital most affected by the protest against vaccine mandates.. Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly gave no indication when the days-old protest would end, saying police expected it to ramp up again this weekend, when protests are also planned in Toronto and Quebec City. “It’s not a protest anymore. It’s become an occupation,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said. “It’s time for this to come to an end.” Ford said the province is very close to getting back to normal in the pandemic and protests are a constitutional right, but he said an occupation is unacceptable. Sloly acknowledged “trust has been impacted” as Ottawa residents are furious with the blaring horns, traffic gridlock and harassment they have faced. Many complain police have done little and they call it an occupation. Also read: Canada PM tests positive for Covid, rips anti vaccine demo “If we knew that it was going to seep into the neighborhoods we would have deployed more resources into those neighborhoods,” deputy police chief Steve Bell said. “We’ve listened to our community. They are upset, they are fearful.” Thousands of protesters railing against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions descended on the capital last weekend, deliberately blocking traffic around Parliament Hill. Police estimate about 250 remained, but Bell said they expected 300 to 400 more trucks this weekend and more than 1,000 protesters on foot. He said up to 1,000 counter-protesters were expected as well. The “freedom truck convoy” has attracted support from former U.S. President Donald Trump and the opposition federal Conservative party in Canada, but two federal Conservative party lawmakers broke with the party and said the protest needed to end. “I spent the week undergoing the Siege of Ottawa,” Conservative lawmaker Pierre Paul-Hus tweeted. “I ask that we clear the streets and that we stop this occupation controlled by radicals and anarchist groups.” “I wholeheartedly and unreservedly deplore and denounce what is happening in Ottawa with the so-called Freedom Convoy right now. Let me be clear: If you wrap yourself in or go about waving a Nazi or Confederate flag, you are declaring yourself a person who embraces hate, bigotry, and racism,” Patterson said in a statement. The Conservative party ousted its moderate party leader this week and the interim leader has voiced support for the protesters. Also read: 6 provinces in Canada report new daily highs for coronavirus Many Canadians were outraged after some protesters urinated and parked on the National War Memorial. One danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A number carried signs and flags with swastikas. Protesters have said they won’t leave until all mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are gone. They are also calling for the removal of Trudeau’s government, though it is responsible for few of the measures, most of which were put in place by provincial governments. Late Thursday, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had approved the mayor’s request for the national police force to support city police. Organizers, including ones who have espoused racist and white supremacist views, had raised millions for the cross-country “freedom truck convoy” against vaccine mandates and other restrictions. Protests are planned for Toronto and Quebec City as well. Toronto police closed a street in front of the provincial legislature where major five hospitals are located. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a federation representing truckers across the country, has estimated that 85% of truckers in Canada are vaccinated. It opposes the protest. Some of the demonstrators are protesting a rule that took effect Jan. 15 requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immunized against the coronavirus. The U.S. has the same rule for truckers entering the U.S. So if the Canadian government removed it, it would make no difference.
Security forces in Myanmar on Saturday again met protests against last month’s military takeover with lethal force, killing at least four people by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators.
Demonstrators in Myanmar’s biggest city came out Monday night for their first mass protests in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew, seeking to show support for an estimated 200 students trapped by security forces in a small area of one neighborhood.
Security forces in Myanmar again used force Saturday to disperse anti-coup protesters, a day after a U.N. special envoy urged the Security Council to take action to quell junta violence that this past week left more than 50 peaceful demonstrators dead and scores injured.
Demonstrators in Myanmar protesting last month's military coup returned to the streets Thursday, undaunted by the killing of at least 38 people the previous day by security forces.
A woman who was participating in a demonstration against the Feb. 1 coup was shot dead Saturday in Monywa in the central part of the country, local media reported.
Police in Myanmar on Saturday escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month’s military takeover, deploying early and in force as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities.
Demonstrators in Berlin called for more environment-friendly agriculture practices at a protest Saturday in Berlin that included farmers with more than 150 tractors.