By Owen O'Brien 17-10-2023
THE HAGUE - "I cannot understand why you would attack people who want to peacefully celebrate their independence day," says Daniel at the Koekamp in The Hague. On Monday afternoon, hundreds of Eritreans drew attention to the security surrounding their communal meetings in Rijswijk, among others, which had previously gotten out of hand.
The demonstrators gathered at the Koekamp on Monday afternoon with banners and many Eritrean flags. Music was also played, danced and sung. It was important for 31-year-old Johanna from Voorburg to be present at the demonstration and make her voice heard.
'This year we were unable to celebrate our Independence Day because our party was violently disrupted by opponents just before it started. We want to be even better protected by the state and hope to make that clear here today," she says, with an Eritrean flag wrapped around her body.
Daniel also came to the demonstration on Monday to draw attention to safety at Eritrean events. He was on his way to the party in the Event Plaza in Rijswijk on May 28, when he was told at the last minute that it was canceled . 'We meet there once a year to get to know our culture better and I don't think it's right that opponents could just attack us there. If you don't agree with our positions, that's fine, but attacking each other is not okay," he continues, visibly upset.
Protester Abraham experienced the same thing as Daniel and hopes for even more support from the police at events in the future. 'I have lived in the Netherlands for almost thirty years and have never experienced this. We don't want this to happen again and we also hope for measures from the government.'