On 11 November, the Rotterdam city council passed a motion requesting the Municipal Executive to 'evaluate in dialogue' the police action during the Residential Revolt demonstration on 17 October with the organization of the demonstration.
We deeply regret that there was not a majority in the council for a motion for an external independent investigation, as we have also demanded. The questions posed during the council committee's debate about the excessive, reprehensible and violent police action were insufficiently answered. Mayor Aboutaleb's assumption that an independent investigation would lead to a "prejudgment" of the police and a "political settlement" is absurd. Independent investigation only leads to evidence if mistakes have been made. Apparently Mayor Aboutaleb knows that mistakes have been made, otherwise he would not be afraid of a conviction. It is shocking that most municipal councilors went along with Aboutaleb's reasoning and propose a dialogue without requiring proper accountability in advance.
We have very little confidence in the proposed dialogue format. By definition, there is no equal relationship between citizens and the triangle. In addition, our concerns about police action, which already arose during the preliminary consultations with the police, have been structurally brushed aside and denied. We as an organization (a group of volunteers) have made every effort to address the problems with the police action and to describe them in as much detail as possible, based on our own information and statements and images of both victims and witnesses. We have made an effort to indicate how we believe the police action violates the right to demonstrate, supported in this by the concerns expressed by Amnesty and the NJCM. To this end, we have prepared a black book containing 53 statements and images of victims and witnesses, and have written a detailed statement. Together with fourteen other citizens, we also spoke to the municipal council committee on Security and Governance.
It is now up to the police and the municipality to be transparent and verifiable. So far there has been no transparency and thorough justification in light of the obligations arising from the human rights treaties, the Constitution and the Public Demonstrations Act. The 'accountability' from the police and the municipality to date (the letter from Deputy Mayor Van Gils dated 21 October 2021, selectively cut drone images from the police, statements by police chief Westerbeke, and the council debate) is completely inadequate and lacks self-reflection and lessons for the future.
A dialogue can only take place if the triangle publishes a proper account, including the report of the facts, the legal-administrative basis for police action in relation to the Wom and international guidelines, and an assessment of the proportionality and lawfulness of the police brutality applied. As soon as a report has been published, we will first study it ourselves and have it assessed by experts such as Amnesty and the NJCM. Only after there has been serious justification for the police action surrounding the Residential Revolt of 17 October, can we accept an invitation to a dialogue with the triangle.
We inform you in advance that we are only prepared to talk to the Chief Public Prosecutor if all cases have been dropped and it is promised that no prosecution will be instituted in connection with cases that can be mentioned in the dialogue. If the Chief Public Prosecutor is not prepared to do so, then we can only conclude that the conversation is not a dialogue, but an interrogation in the context of the criminal investigation against us.
We expect the report of the triangle to be published no later than January 10, 2022.
On behalf of the organization of Woonopstand,
Gwen van Eijk