The right to demonstrate is under increasing pressure in the Netherlands, says human rights movement Amnesty International. According to the organization, this is because local and national governments “have insufficient knowledge about what is and is not covered by the right to demonstrate”.

    According to Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International Netherlands, demonstrations are “too often seen as a security risk rather than a human right that should be facilitated as best as possible”.

    An opinion poll carried out by I&O on behalf of Amnesty shows that 54 percent of the Dutch think that demonstrations are necessary for social change. In addition, seven out of ten people think that everyone should be free to demonstrate against or for something. That is higher than in 2018, when 58 percent thought so.

    Support

    The survey shows that demonstrations by hospital workers for better working conditions are widely supported. Half think it is desirable and seven out of ten think it is acceptable. The Farmers Defense Force protest is seen as acceptable by half of those surveyed and desirable by three in ten. The demonstrations of Extinction Rebellion, against the corona measures and against Zwarte Piet are not seen as acceptable or desirable by a large majority.

    “It is especially important now, in times of increasing social tensions, to ensure that everyone who wants to demonstrate peacefully is given ample opportunity, regardless of the content of the protest. Demonstrating is not a favour, but a right,” said Oudshoorn.

    With a new campaign, Amnesty wants to increase knowledge among both the general public and governments. In the coming years, the organization will also campaign internationally to defend the right to demonstrate worldwide.

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