Thousands of people have taken to the streets this Saturday in Vienna (Austria) and Rotterdam (Netherlands) to protest against the measures in the face of the wave of covid that crosses Europe. In the Austrian capital they have demonstrated for the confinement decreed by the Government as of Monday before the impact of the fourth wave and the announcement that a law is being prepared that will make vaccination against the covid mandatory – 19 next February. In the Dutch city, the protest has turned into an outbreak of unusual violence. At least seven people have been injured – among police officers, protesters and a journalist who was covering the events and was attacked by the latter – and there have been fifty arrests.
Several demonstrations run through sections of the historic center from the Austrian capital to later concentrate on different points, a way to mark a presence and at the same time block the heart of the city. A large police deployment monitors the protests to react to possible incidents and the public address system constantly warns that it is mandatory to wear the FPP2 mask, which many attendees do not wear until they are warned. After a quiet start encouraged by popular music, the Austrian media reported some incidents and first arrests. Some protesters have thrown beer cans and plastic bottles at the police, according to the newspaper Der Standard .
Anton Egger, optician for 37 years, and his girlfriend, Monika Kaltschmid, from 29 and who is dedicated to lighting projects, are approaching to one of the points of the protest without a mask and they warn that they are not vaccinated. “I have refused to follow the government’s rules, they don’t treat us like adults, and the pressure has forced me to quit my job,” says Egger. She also refuses to have to present negative evidence to work in contact with the public. “This smells of Nazism,” says the man.
The main call is paid by the far-right party FPÖ, which marks the step of the protest and has encouraged the movement of skeptics with the vaccine and the covid. Its leader, Herbert Kickl, who is in quarantine after testing positive, said on Friday, after announcing a new confinement and mandatory vaccination, that Austria is turning “into a dictatorship.” This was replicated this morning by several speakers who addressed the protesters, shouting “we are the people”, “dictatorship”, “resistance.”
Part of the attendees wear armbands of ultra party or they are members of the formation, like Günther Mück, of 54 years, who is not opposed to a new confinement to stop the infections, but to mandatory vaccination. “It goes against reason, they only do it to sell vaccines, not on a scientific basis,” he says in the Plaza de los Derechos Humanos, one of the points of the protest.
The banners show that the decision announced on Friday by the Christian Democrat Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, who governs in coalition with the Greens, also moves the protest. “Obligation to think instead of obligation to vaccinate”; “For freedom, I decide on my body” are some of the slogans on the banners. loud whistle every time the police public address system warns that you must wear a mask —the organizers offer them— and that the act is recorded in case there are incidents at any time. The Interior Ministry assumes that they will attend the right-wing extremist demonstrations, so it has prepared a device of some 13. 00 0 agents, according to the Austrian media.
“I am not from any party, but I am here for my freedom and that of our children “, highlights Bettina K., 54 years, while waiting for one of the speeches and adds that she does not trust the vaccine because” it is an experiment ”. Others have come just to show their rejection of mandatory vaccination, like Barbara K., who is 29 years. “I am vaccinated, but this cannot be decided for us. We have to vote on it ”, he demands.
Austria started a confinement for non-vaccinated people last Monday to try to stop a wave that has triggered infections above the 15. 00 0 daily and dozens of deaths. Given the unstoppable increase, the closure will be extended on Monday for 20 days to the entire population. The vaccination rate, close to 66%, is one of the lowest in Western Europe.
Violence in Rotterdam
Ahmed Aboutaleb, Social Democratic mayor of the port city, has described the events as an “orgy of violence” and said that the forces of order have been attacked several times and seen forced to defend themselves. “They have fired several warning shots that we are investigating.” He does not rule out that there will be more arrests throughout this Saturday, reports Isabel Ferrer .
While investigating the nature of the shooting, a video circulates on social networks where a man is allegedly shot, and the National Department of Criminal Investigation is analyzing what happened. The rally led to a full-blown riot shortly after several hundred people began throwing objects and large-caliber fireworks and firecrackers at officers. Police cars were set on fire and bicycles, bus stops and traffic signs were smashed. There was also looting of stores. At one point access to the central railway station was closed, and according to the police, there was a combination of factors. When reinforcements from riot control forces arrived, the regular police were surrounded by protesters. “At various points, the officers were forced to shoot. So, there were people who threw themselves against them and that group were no longer protesters but something else ”, declared Mayor Aboutaleb.
On the other hand, the authorities of Guadeloupe, one of the two main islands of the French Antilles, announced on Friday the establishment of a night curfew, following violent protests against the health pass.
The island’s prefect, Alexandre Rochatte, announced a curfew immediately until 23 November (of 18. 00 to 5. 00, local time) “before social unrest in the department and acts of vandalism ”, according to his office.