Violent protests in Brussels against government imposed Covid restrictions

On the 5th December in Brussels, demonstrations in Brussels turned violent, as protestors began firing at police officers with cobblestones and fireworks. The police had to retaliate, firing teargas and using water cannons in an attempt to disperse the crowd of protestors.
A few thousand protestors marched through the city towards the neighborhood where the headquarters of European Union institutions are situated. Although the march was peaceful, a group of protesters began throwing stones at the police, which caused them to react with teargas and water cannons.
Footage shot by Reuters shows a group of protestors wearing black hoods beginning to chant “liberté”, which means freedom, and starting to throw stones at the police.
Police spokesperson, Ilse Van de Keere, said, “A group sought confrontation with a police roadblock…tear gas and water cannons were used.”
The demonstration was to protest the rules that were imposed in October which mean that people must show COVID-19 passes in order to access bars and restaurants.
One protester, a martial arts teacher named Alain Sienaort, said, “I can’t bear discrimination in any form, and now there’s the vaccine pass which is discriminatory, sanctions for (unvaccinated) carers which are discriminatory too, there’s mandatory vaccination which is heading our way. That’s all discrimination, so we have to fight it. We don’t want a dictatorship.”
Another protestor, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “I can no longer recognise the society that we are living in, I have never seen the government track down healthy people.”
On Friday new measures were announced to try and curb the infection rate, which is one of the highest in Europe and are to include mask wearing for most primary school children as well as linger school holidays. The protest was likely triggered by these new measures.
In late November, there was another, much larger, demonstration. Even more protestors violently clashed with the police in Brussels, leading to many arrests as well as injuries among police officers and lots of property damage. It is thought that around 8,000 people took part in the latest protest, which is certainly a sharp decline from the estimated 35,000 that participated in November’s protest.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.