Dutch PM condemns protests by farmers at minister's home
The Dutch prime minister on Wednesday condemned a violent protest by farmers outside the home of the countrys agriculture minister amid increasingly bold demonstrations against the governments plans to rein in pollution.A small group of farmers clashed on Tuesday night with police stationed outside the home of Christianne van der Wal, the Cabinet minister overseeing the Netherlands reforms to curb pollution.
The Dutch prime minister on Wednesday condemned a violent protest by farmers outside the home of the country's agriculture minister amid increasingly bold demonstrations against the government's plans to rein in pollution.
A small group of farmers clashed on Tuesday night with police stationed outside the home of Christianne van der Wal, the Cabinet minister overseeing the Netherlands' reforms to curb pollution. They spread manure on a nearby street. At another protest, farmers attacked a police car.
The violence capped a second straight day of protests that included torching bales of hay near roads and blocking highways across the country with slow-driving or parked tractors.
The protests resumed on Wednesday with dozens of tractors blocking a highway close to the German border, traffic authorities said.
The Netherlands' lucrative agricultural sector is protesting against a proposal, approved by lawmakers on Tuesday, to reduce emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 percent by 2030.
Provincial governments were given a year to draw up ways of making the cuts, which are expected to include buying out some farms with livestock that produce large amounts of ammonia.
Farmers argue they are being unfairly targeted and shown little concern for their futures.
Christian Democrat lawmaker Derk Boswijk tweeted on Wednesday that he was staying home after his family, including his 4-and 7-year-old children, "received a visit." He added: "This way of demonstrating serves no purpose. Stop it!" "You can demonstrate, but in a civilized way," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said from a NATO summit in Madrid.
"So don't block highways, don't set off fireworks outside a minister's house and spread manure and ... scare two children, and endanger families." The Dutch national police chief also weighed in, saying officers have fined dozens of farmers in recent days and prevented more road blockades.
"The right to demonstrate is a great asset, but there are limits to it," police commander Willem Welders said. "If there is a disturbance of public order or criminal offenses are committed, we will take action." According to a national farm lobbying group, LTO, there are nearly 54,000 agricultural businesses in the Netherlands with exports totaling 94.5 billion euros (about USD 99 million) in 2019.
The protest at Van der Wal's home came on the eve of an announcement by the government that it planned to criminalize the practice, known as doxing, of publishing online personal details such as home addresses as a means of intimidation.
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