From Australia to the French Antilles passing through European cities, thousands of people show their indignation this Saturday at the health measures that governments reinstate to try to stop a new onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Australia, 10,000 people demonstrated in Sydney in opposition to vaccination against COVID-19, according to police. Mandatory vaccination is only required in some states and territories for certain professional groups. In the country, about 85% of the population over 16 years of age is fully vaccinated.
Thousands of people also protested in Melbourne and about 2,000 turned out for a counter-demonstration, one of the first of its kind since the pandemic began.”Everything that has been done has been done to save lives. I mean, it has upset a lot of people and affected a lot of people, but it is a global pandemic. What else can we do?” said a protester. Unlike what happened on Friday night in the Netherlands and the French West Indies, the protests unfolded peacefully.
Demonstration canceled in Amsterdam
In Rotterdam, in the southwest of the Netherlands, a demonstration against the restrictions adopted to curb the virus ended in serious unrest on Friday. During the protest, fires were declared in several places, fireworks were set off and the police fired several warning shots. Dozens of people were detained and seven wounded, including police officers, according to security forces.
“The police found it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves,” the city’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, told reporters. According to the Dutch public television NOS, two people were injured by those shots. Faced with this “very serious” situation, described by the mayor as an “orgy of violence”, the local authorities decided to prohibit any gathering in the area.
This Saturday, the organizers of another planned demonstration in Amsterdam decided to cancel it. “Last night (Friday) all hell broke loose in Rotterdam,” United We Stand Europe, which acts against health restrictions, said on Facebook. Holding the demonstration in Amsterdam “did not seem fair to us,” he stressed.
The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, announced a week ago the reintroduction of partial confinement together with a series of sanitary restrictions, especially in the restaurant sector, to stop the contagion of covid-19. The government’s plans include restricting access for unvaccinated people to some places. On Friday, the country registered more than 21,000 new infections.
The Netherlands is not the only Western country to reinstate partial lockdown. In Austria, the government announced that it will confine the population again from Monday and that the anticovid vaccination will become mandatory in February. The far-right FPÖ party organized a rally in Vienna on Saturday, which is expected to be attended by thousands of people.
Violence in the French Antilles
On the other side of the Atlantic, a group of unions and civic organizations has been mobilizing for four days against the health pass and the mandatory vaccination of health personnel in Guadeloupe, one of the two main islands of the French Antilles.
On Friday, the organized demonstration ended in violence. In the town of Pointe-à-Pitre, which has many wooden houses, four buildings caught fire, according to firefighters. And on the roads, some protesters confronted the police with stones.
In reaction to these protests, the authorities announced the establishment of a curfew between 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. local time until Tuesday. The sale of gasoline in cans was also prohibited.