Dutch police break up rowdy rallies at colonial-era statue

Dutch police break up rowdy rallies at colonial-era statue

Jan Pieterszoon Coen
A statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Dutch governor-general in the Dutch East Indies in the 17th century, is pictured on the Roode Steen in Hoorn, on Jun 11, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Koen Van WEEL)

AMSTERDAM: Police on horseback on Friday (Jun 19) evening charged rival protesters gathered near the statue of a 17th century colonial-era Dutch officer at the centre of anti-racism demonstrators in the Netherlands.

Footage showed police with shields and batons breaking up rallies near a large statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, an officer in the Dutch East India Company who is seen by some as a hero of the country's Golden Age and by others as a brutal oppressor.

Protesters scattered in groups in neighbourhoods in the town of Hoorn, about 45km north of Amsterdam, as riot police moved in with vans, footage showed.

One demonstrator was arrested and there were reports of scuffles between rival groups, Dutch news agency ANP reported. Police in riot gear cleared the area around the statue, it said.

A group of supporters carried Dutch flags with the name "Coen" written on them. Around 250 protesters reportedly attended an earlier protest calling for Coen's statue to be taken down.

In 1621, Pieterszoon Coen led the Dutch conquest of the Banda Islands in current-day Indonesia, when thousands of inhabitants were killed with the help of Japanese mercenaries. Just 1,000 out of 15,000 local residents are believed to have survived and around 800 were deported to the Dutch-held Batavia.

Colonial-era statues have become the targets of protests around the globe in weeks since the killing of African-American George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Source: Reuters/nh