Pro-Palestinian protest in Amsterdam swells after student rally shut down

Pro-Palestinian protest in Amsterdam swells after student rally shut down
Pro-Palestinian protest in Amsterdam swells after student rally shut down

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Students and employees of the University of Amsterdam protest against the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza and the University leadership after police broke up a student protest camp in Amsterdam overnight, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 7, 2024. — Reuters pic

AMSTERDAM, May 7 — A pro-Palestinian protest in the Dutch capital swelled today, a day after riot police violently broke down an encampment at the Amsterdam University.

A crowd of several hundred chanted anti-Gaza war slogans, blocked downtown streets and denounced Israel’s ongoing military operations.

“Free, Free Palestine!”, protesters gathered around the university’s premises shouted. “The people united will never be defeated.”

Police used a bulldozer to knock down barricades early today morning and detained 140 people in sometimes violent clashes, statements and videos of the protest showed.

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Teachers and university employees angered by the police response called for another protest today afternoon.

“Students and staff describe the use of pepper spray, police batons, police dogs and bulldozers to forcefully remove them. People were injured because of this excessive violence,” a group calling itself Dutch Scholars for Palestine said in a statement.

“We firmly and unequivocally insist upon the rights of students and scholars to engage in protest. We deplore the University of Amsterdam administration’s reliance on using violence instead of engaging in the students’ justified demands.”

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Amsterdam University said in a statement that an initially peaceful student protest which began on Monday afternoon had turned hostile, with beatings, throwing of fireworks and the burning of an Israeli flag.

The university provided a list of its Israel programs to meet a request by student groups, but a core of the protesters was not satisfied and refused to leave.

“We deeply regret that things went the way they did. Demonstrating is permitted at the UvA, but without covered faces, barricades or an atmosphere of intimidation,” it said.

In messages posted overnight on social media X, police said they had to act to stop the event and dismantle tents due to safety risks.

Requests from the University of Amsterdam and the mayor for the protesters to leave the campus were ignored, the police said.

All but four demonstrators were released today morning. The four were being kept on charges of public violence and insulting an officer.

One officer suffered hearing damage, a police spokeswoman said, adding that it was still unclear how many other people may have been injured.

“The police’s input was necessary to restore order. We see the footage on social media. We understand that those images may appear as intense,” police said.

Outgoing Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said universities were places for dialogue and debate and he was sad to see that police had to intervene.

Student protests over the war and academic ties with Israel have begun to spread across Europe but have remained much smaller in scale than those seen in the United States. — Reuters

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