Leaflet distributed outside the Dutch embassy in London, to coincide with the demonstrations in Amsterdam against the 1997 Eurotop meeting of European heads of state.
Saturday June 14th saw about 50 000 people turn out in Amsterdam for the March for Social Justice. The majority of people there were protesting against the increase in unemployment and social exclusion, they wanted a socialist Europe in which all would be included. So this demonstration was seen by them as an alternative to the Eurotop - the name given to the Euro-summit. Many people at the demo, however, reacted against their idea of a socialist Europe and instead met at an earlier time to show their opposition to this and to wage slavery. 'Eurotop' broken down to 'Eu rot op' means 'EU fuck off' in Dutch and this was taken by many as the slogan of the day. This contingent numbered only a few hundred, however, and was completely marginalised by the lefty-socialist groups.
The demo set off at about 3pm and the contingent of red and black flags was relatively close to the front. For the first half hour of the demo as we walked through the main streets of Amsterdam there was a strange scenario in that most people seemed to be standing on the sidelines simply watching, taking pictures and waving! There did not seem to be all that many people actually walking along. As we continued the spectators diminished but nothing much happened until we got to the junction where if we turned left we would be heading to the bank where the Euro-summit was being held. Surprisingly enough the road which we wanted to go down, to the left, was completely sealed off with riot vans, but it was only policed by ordinary cops.
Quite a few people stopped here and attempted to go to the left but there was absolutely no chance of that. In this time something was thrown at the police who responded immediately with a baton charge. This led to a hail of bricks, bottles and stones which did actually stop them for a short while, as they weren't in riot gear and so when hit were injured. One brick got a camera full on and it smashed to pieces. This caused a few other cameramen to turn away from photographing the protesters in order to protect their equipment. This situation did not go on for long as the police responded by driving the riot vans into the crowd at what seemed like full speed. There was a mad scramble down the street and the police had secured that junction again (not that it had ever been really threatened). The attempt to go to the left was not sustained, largely because of a lack of support from the majority of the demo. At best it could be seen as a brief skirmish, the only highlight of which was that no one was arrested.
The Dutch police were taking a very low-key approach to the whole demo. From the start there had been absolutely no cops walking along with the protesters and that junction was the first time that they were seen. They came in really hard here, but when the demo continued they disappeared again.
The next point of interest was as we passed a bank. Various hooded - and some stupidly unhooded - types proceeded to lob bricks and bottles at its windows but didn't manage to break them. This went on for quite a while as there were no police around, but people just got bored and left without finishing the job. Then as we approached the police head quarters people noticed an unmanned police van parked outside. It had its windows put in and was then overturned. This time the police did respond but it was quite a delayed response as all that was going to happen had already happened. Nevertheless they proceeded to divide the demo with the use of long batons and the threatened use of tear gas guns. Riot vans were again driven into the crowd but after about five minutes people were able to rejoin the rest of the demo as the police disappeared into the back streets again.
A short while after this we ended up back where we had started and the usual round of speakers started addressing the crowd in various different European languages. Whilst hanging around in the square we heard rumours that about 2000 Italians who had been on their way to join the demo were being held in Amsterdam railway station by the police. It turned out that the police had arrested about 200 Italians and many of the others were now protesting at their detention by occupying one the main road junctions outside the station. They were joined by many anarcho-autonome types who had been on the demo but soon afterwards the police started moving forward with batons drawn in an attempt to clear the road. At this people got up and started walking away, but kept together and moved away slowly. Though it was a retreat there was a real show of strength involved too. This mini demo ended back at the Dom where there were still things going on. Here one of the Italians got on to stage and explained what was happening.
Many Italians could not afford the train journey over to Amsterdam so they had all turned up at the station and squatted the train. The authorities tried to stop the train from leaving but they managed to take it anyway. On arriving at Amsterdam, however, the Dutch police had not allowed them to leave the station and had then arrested 200 of them for allegedly damaging a couple of the carriages. These people were still being held. In the meantime, however, people in Italy had heard of what was going on and had gone and occupied the Dutch Embassy in Rome in protest at this. The final thing we heard on that day was that the Italians had all been deported.
The next piece of news on them was that their train had been stopped in the middle of nowhere in Germany and all the windows blacked. The German and Dutch authorities wanted the Italian police to guarantee to arrest them when the train arrived in Italy but the Italian authorities didn't want to do that! Finally the train was allowed back into Italy and there were no arrests (as far as is known).
Later that evening, back in Amsterdam, there were about 200 dodgy types sitting outside Vrankrijk - a squatted punk bar. A limousine went by which was instantly trashed and then an ordinary van had things thrown at it as well. There was an outcry over the van being hit and the people who had done it were confronted by others. Then a call came to move towards the main police station and demand the release of people who had been arrested. About a hundred people started walking and just before we got to the station five or six riot vans began approaching the demo from ahead. People split up and dispersed and were condemned for not standing their ground despite being massively outnumbered by riot cops. There were a few confrontations and people got beaten up and arrested. Some of the arrests were by plain clothes cops which was quite disturbing. An attempt was made to de-arrest someone being held by plain-clothes cops but they immediately pulled out their guns and started waving them around. This went on into the night.
The next day, Sunday, people met at 12pm at Amsterdam railway station for a street party. Four sound systems were already there and once people had amassed they all moved off together. The police tried to guide them towards a warehouse where a free party had been situated the previous night but people wanted a street party. So they got to Visserplein Square and the party started to go ahead. Within a short space of time, however, the party moved to the warehouse as the people with sound systems had struck a deal with the police that if they went there they would not be hassled. A lot of people were pretty disgusted with this.
At 3 o'clock there was a sex riot in Nieuwmarkt which consisted of a few people dressing up in extremely outrageous gear and various others walking around with sex toys strapped to their heads and bodies. It was basically a media stunt in response to the Mayor of Amsterdam's speech where he had said that the coming week was an opportunity for the people of Amsterdam to show the world that they were a great cultural city and were not simply about sex and drugs. The media lapped it up and were there in great numbers.
The next thing planned for that day was an evening of chaos and fireworks starting around 9pm. 9pm arrived but there were hardly any people around. Walking towards Vrankrijk to find out what was going on we bumped into lines of riot cops and vans and horses! There was no way of getting in and finding out what was going on so we stayed where we were and talked to people. It transpired that at about 9 o'clock 350 people had left Vrankrijk to march towards the police station again to demand the release of their comrades who had been arrested on the previous nights. As the demo walked along police vans suddenly pulled in, both in front of the demo and behind it and loads of cops got out and sealed off the area around them. All the people immediately sat down but the police proceeded to arrest every single person who was there. This operation took them until about 12.30am. They quick-cuffed everybody and herded them into buses, taking them to police stations around Holland.
They were arrested under Article 140 which states that the police are allowed to arrest someone they believe to be a member of a criminal organisation if they suspect that organisation of planning criminal activity. This then allows them to hold people for three days. Even the lawyers expressed surprise at the use of this law as it hardly ever used. But it has been used and these people, of all different nationalities, are being detained at least till Wednesday evening. Many of them have refused to give their names and so the police are in the process of investigating them further. Also quite a few of them have gone on hunger strike refusing food and water in protest at being detained.
On Monday there was a demonstration at a refugee prison in the outskirts of Amsterdam. About a thousand people went along and it was a very creative affair. Tennis balls were thrown into the compound with messages taped to them and people later learned that this show of support and solidarity had been heard and appreciated by the refugees imprisoned in the detention centre. At the same time as this about 10 000 Kurdish people demonstrated in central Amsterdam against Turkey joining the EC. There was also an ASEED demo against genetics. None of these had any arrests.
Later in the evening, however, quite a number of people went around to the various hotels in which the heads of state were staying and about a hundred were arrested for this. The explanation given by the police was that they were being held for going into restricted areas. Some may have been released but the general feeling was that they were not going to be released until the summit had ended.
During these arrests the police had cornered off a few people by a canal and one enterprising individual escaped arrest by jumping in the canal and swimming away! A tactic which ought to be more widely used in Amsterdam!
On Tuesday 17th, the final day of the Euro-summit there was supposed to be an autonomous demonstration to where the EU leaders were going to present their new 'Amsterdam Treaty'. With so many people arrested, however, it was unlikely to have gone ahead but the police made sure of it by banning the demonstration. Nevertheless 1500 people went along to it but were stopped from even coming close to the area they were attempting to march to. It was still quite a buoyant day and there doesn't seem to have been any trouble.
On Wednesday at 4 o'clock people protested outside their local police stations in Holland - and over here in England there was a demonstration outside the Dutch Embassy - to express our anger at the detention of over 400 people still inside from being arrested at the weekend, and call for them to be released. Sunday, the 22nd of June there was a further demonstration against Article 140, in Amsterdam.
Taken from the Antagonism website.