Tuesday, September 08, 2015

European farmers' protest in Brussels turns violent

A protest by thousands of European dairy and meat farmers in Brussels turned violent on Monday, with demonstrators throwing projectiles and police responding with tear gas and water cannon, a Xinhua reporter noted on the spot.

Police estimated that more than 7,000 demonstrators and 1,455 tractors took part in the protest in the Belgian capital, Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere told Belgian newspaper La Capitale, adding that four police officers were injured.

The demonstration centered on the Schuman square in the European district, where footage filmed by the French-language state broadcaster RTBF showed farmers trying to breaking down a police barricade with their tractors.

Flemish-language state broadcaster VRT said protesters threw hay, eggs, bottles, stones and sticks at police. One group lit a large bonfire with tree branches and tyres, and a caravan was also set on fire.

The police, who received extra assistance from colleagues in the Netherlands, used tear gas and water cannon against the most violent protesters.

One Italian farming representative told VRT: "This (violence) is not what we stand for and we distance ourselves from the organisations that have stoked this."

The stand-off between police and protesters came after a largely peaceful march through the streets of Brussels, which VRT described as "noisy ... with cowbells, tractor horns and firecrackers".

Convoys of tractors leaving the demonstration caused major delays on motorways heading out of the capital during the evening rush.

Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper said "a hard core" of mostly French and German farmers refused to leave the area by early evening, a few metres from the European Council building where EU agriculture ministers met on Monday.

The ministers at the meeting announced 500 million euros (about 558 million US dollars) in aid to farmers, mostly milk producers, whose incomes have suffered since a Russian ban on EU food imports.

   Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

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