With a protest and a demonstration, tomorrow is likely to be an eventful day at Schiphol Airport. Dozens of Wageningers are to join. Some will also attend a demonstration organised by environmentalists Milieudefensie and partners under the banner: Reduce Aviation Protest. The demonstration is to take place on Schiphol Plaza and is followed by a protest march.
Additionally, some WUR students and employees have -to quote Extinction Rebellion – pre-completed their arrest forms. They intend to join the ‘disruptive, peaceful and civil disobedience’ protest that has been announced by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion. Resource phoned one of the protesters, a WUR employee who prefers to remain anonymous due to possible (legal) consequences.
What is going to happen tomorrow?
‘That will remain under wraps because there is a fair chance that the police are also eager to learn this. Of course, there is consensus on how we intend to protest: the protest is to be peaceful, and nothing will be damaged. We will leave everything that could constitute a fire hazard at home, etc. But how will the protest take place? I would say: keep an eye on the news reports. It will definitely be disruptive, and there may even be a NOS liveblog.’
Sounds quite intense. Will it be scary?
‘I’m a little tense about it. I would have preferred not to need to go. But I am near desperate if you consider what Schiphol is getting away with in terms of climate damage. That must really stop, and history teaches us that dialogue will only take us that far. So, we will have to go down this road, even if it means we may be arrested. Nobody wants that, and I certainly don’t. But when I think about the floods in Pakistan, for example, all those victims and millions of people displaced, I cannot stand idly by. So, this is it.’
What about safety?
‘We are all peaceful people; nobody seeks escalation. However, the police may cause escalation. That is one of the reasons we huddle in small groups of five to six persons who have already met through protest training. That enables everyone to keep an eye on others if needed. We are also well-prepared with regard to our rights. When are the police permitted to take fingerprints? How long may a preliminary arrest last? We are well informed about these things. That enables each protester to consider how far they wish to go. And there is room for every individual to decide when they have reached their limit. But everyone is committed. An increasing number of people realise that the status quo can no longer be maintained and demand change.’