The cabinet considers the demonstration held by a group of farmers last Friday in front of the residence of VVD minister Van der Wal not acceptable. This is what Secretary of State Van der Burg for Justice and Security in the House of Representatives said.
There are many questions about the intimidating effect of certain protests by farmers, such as that of Voll Gass on Friday and earlier that of Farmers Defence Force. A large part of the Chamber immediately distanced itself from that. Another major demonstration has been announced in The Hague for Wednesday 22 June.
D66 MP Paternotte believes that it is likely to become too normal for ministers – and their partners and children – to face citizens at home who disagree with cabinet policy. “How could this happen Friday?” , he wanted to know from the Secretary of State. After all, it was known that the cabinet would come up with controversial nitrogen plans that day.
Secretary of State Van der Burg reiterated that the police did not see the protest action coming, and once found no offences at the scene. “But we all experience this demonstration as intimidating. That is unacceptable. Everyone has the right to demonstrate, but do so in an orderly manner.”
Paternotte wondered what there is legal to do against demonstrations that actually go too far. The Party for the Animals also finds it abundantly clear that harassment has become an end in itself. “Does the state not find it harassment that they come with tractors?” , asked MP Wassenberg. “A tractor is not a normal mode of transport. When these farmers are running errands, they take the car, not the tractor.”
The Secretary of State also finds tractors more intimidating than “coming to a demonstration by bike or walking”. But appearing intimidating isnt automatically a criminal offence, he said. “We cannot act because there is no legal basis for that. A mayor can intervene by saying where a demonstration is allowed in a city. This could, for example, stipulate that there may not be demonstrated around a particular house.”
SGP and BBB renounced the action at the ministers doorstep. But they believe that there is too much attention for peasant protests compared to the intimidating actions of, for example, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, according to them.
The visit of farmers from Farmers Defence Force to then D66 party chairman Jetten, who was handed over a food package from them at home, does not mind MP Van der Plas. “What actually happened there?” she said. Van der Burg did not take that perspective for granted. “I can bring you an orange very intimidating Mrs. Van der Plas.”
The last word has not yet been said about the announced demonstration next Wednesday. The mayor of The Hague Van Zanen (VVD) has asked for help from the national government in stopping tractors on the highway. The protest action can disrupt the city again. It is also important that the build-up for Veterans Day at the Malieveld will start on the same day.
Various agricultural organizations such as LTO Netherlands want to participate if the protest remains orderly. Tractors do belong, says LTO chairman and former CDA politician Van der Tak.
How big the demonstration of organizer Agractie is not yet clear, it probably will be emotional. “Premeditated murder against farms and the future of farming families wont happen!” it says at the call.