Brussels police accused of ‘unacceptable’ violence at health care workers protest
Share article:
Share article:

Brussels police accused of ‘unacceptable’ violence at health care workers protest

Credit: La Santé en Lutte/Facebook

A protest of thousands of health care workers in Brussels at the weekend led to more than 30 arrests and to accusations of “unacceptable” use of force by police against demonstrators.

Some 4,000 people gathered in central Brussels on Sunday afternoon in support for the sector’s demands for increased financing of the health care, in a demonstration which was authorised to go forward despite coronavirus restrictions of public gatherings.

Current measures mean that outdoor gatherings can take place with a maximum of 400 participants.

Related News:

 

Videos shared by organisers show standoffs between protesters and riot police during which officers can be seen shoving protesters with shields and spraying tear gas on them, while two officers can be seen beating a protester with clubs.

“Our gathering went well, we were respecting the agreement with police to gathering in groups of 400,” when police began moving in on demonstrators and began using violence in an “unacceptable and unjustified way,” according to organisers.

Organisers said on Facebook that the standoff started after officers were ordered to “provoke demonstrators” with a “disproportionate deployment of units, with violence and with degrading and humiliating comments.”

🛑 APRÈS LES APPLAUDISSEMENTS, LES MATRAQUES ! 🛑Violences policières lors de la Grande manifestation de la SantéVoici…

Geplaatst door La santé en lutte op Maandag 14 september 2020

A total of 35 protesters were arrested, a majority of whom were released with no charges before the end of the day, police spokesperson Olivier Slosse confirmed, adding that three detainees were kept longer for questioning but released after.

Footage shared online by a collective of healthcare workers called La Santé en Lutte showed police officers in riot gear line up and block unarmed demonstrators, shoving them and using tear gas against them as they demanded to be allowed to pass.

Other scenes caught on video showed some officers (not in uniform but wearing a police armband) spraying protesters as well as two police officers in riot gear clubbing one protester who appeared to be unarmed.

Images of the clashes, which took place in and around Mont des Arts square, also showed water cannons parked along the road.

Slosse said that demonstrators knew they were not allowed to march but that one group attempted to break from the main one and march towards the Place de la Chapelle.

“We effectively had to use coercion to stop this cortege,” he said, adding that towards the end of the demonstration police also used tear gas as other groups attempted to continue demonstrating in a “non-static” way.”

In their statement, organisers also denounced the continual refusal by authorities to allow the demonstration to move through the city, saying it led to riskier health situations since social distancing could not be respected as demonstrators began to be corraled-in by police.

“By investing public money in such a response by police (water cannons, over 200 officers mobilised on a Sunday) politicians chose repression over health,” demonstrators said.

Organisers launched a call for participants who were “aggressed” by police to share their accounts as well as photos and videos and said they would be filing a complaint with police observatory Police Watch.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Increase in number of people ‘asking King for mercy’ through royal pardons
More and more people living in Belgium have been seeking royal pardons, mainly for fines, largely as a result of it now being possible to send in ...
England now accepting cheaper Covid tests from fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers who enter England from non-red countries will only be required to book a lateral flow test to take following their ...
Re-introducing face masks indoors considered as Covid-19 situation worsens
Belgium's council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation, and reintroducing face ...
Federal museums to receive €2.9 million booster shot
Federal museums will receive an additional €2.9 million in support from the government for the fiscal year 2021, of which the first payouts will be ...
European Parliament emphasises healthy food and animal welfare in EU Farm to Fork Strategy
The European Parliament adopted this week a resolution on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy calling for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food ...
Threats of strike action could affect Brussels’ STIB network from Monday
Brussels public transport operator STIB's trams, buses and metros could be affected from Monday 25 October onwards as the union representing the ...
Number of international adoptions in Belgium continues to drop
The number of regulated international adoptions authorised by Belgium further dropped in 2020, continuing an ongoing decreasing trend. Last ...
Disaster drill with emergency services held at Brussels Airport
Around 300 people took part in a disaster drill held was organised on Saturday by Brussels Airport in collaboration with external emergency services ...
Austria presents bill to legalise euthanasia
Austria’s government on Saturday presented its proposals for legalising assisted suicide, in response to a Constitutional Court ruling that the ...
Brussels’ Museum Night Fever draws in some 12,000 visitors
Some 12,000 participants took part in the 14th edition of Museum Night Fever in Brussels, with the 29 participating museums filled to the maximum ...
Relaunch of 10,000 steps campaign to get Flemish people moving
The Flemish government is breathing new life into its 10,000 steps campaign to get people in the region moving after a recent survey found that a ...
‘No scientific basis’ for giving everyone third dose, vaccine expert says
The head of Belgium's Vaccination Taskforce has argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the Flemish government's decision to ...