Dutch municipality bans Eritrean festivals

Source: AD

Rijswijk bans Eritrean liberation party after disturbances: ‘Very serious risk’

Mayor Huri Sahin of Rijswijk, a suburb of the Hague, will not allow the Eritrean community to hold a liberation celebration in her municipality on May 25. The operator of the Event Plaza conference center had registered the event, but the mayor put a stop to it for safety reasons and the riots in February in The Hague.

By: Nico Heemelaar 23-04-24

Last year, a similar party spiralled out of control. During a large brawl that broke out between different groups, several people were injured and a visitor was stabbed. In The Hague, a meeting of the Eritrean community in February led to violent riots. With these events still fresh in memory, the mayor believes that a thorough assessment must take place as to whether such an activity can continue.

“Unfortunately, we know from experience that the safety risk is enormous,” says Huri Sahin. “The recent riots in February at the Opera venue in The Hague also demonstrate this. Both times violence was used and people were injured.” During those riots on Fruitweg, 29 officers were ultimately injured. The organizer of these meetings, the Federation of Eritrean Communities, has indicated to The Hague that it does not want to organize anything in The Hague for the time being, the municipality reports.

Consequences for public order

The organizer expects that the threat will be considerably less than last year. Seven to nine hundred visitors are expected. Sahin: “If you think you can dismiss the next liberation party with a simple report and qualify it as a low-risk activity, then in my opinion you lack awareness of the reality and seriousness with which we are dealing. Due to the mutual tensions within the Eritrean community, such a liberation celebration has major consequences for public order and safety in our municipality.”

The content of the report for the party on May 25, partly through contact with the police, offered the mayor sufficient grounds not to accept the report. “And after the serious disruptions to public order and safety last May, I said that I would do everything within my powers to prevent a recurrence. My words remain in full force. Events with such a high risk profile and therefore a very high chance of disturbances do not belong in a busy area like Rijswijk,” says Sahin.

It is not the first time that the municipality of Rijswijk has banned a party of the Eritrean community. For example, another organization, the Dutch Eritrean Platform Foundation, did not receive prior permission in August 2022 after a politically controversial speaker announced his arrival. When the organization subsequently went to court, the municipality was vindicated.