A visit to the encampment: ‘We have the energy, we have the people’

Camp life at Harmonie square has entered its second week. There is a ‘shop’ offering free food and water, a bookshelf, a medical center, and more.

The protesters spend their time chatting and discussing with visitors. They attend workshops, keep the square clean, and cook.

At night, some protesters sleep on donated air mattresses, but most just lie on blankets or yoga mats. They also take turns doing night duty. ‘We all work together’, says camp spokesperson Laleh Al-marjani.


Most sleep several consecutive nights in the camp and go home every third night to sleep in their own beds. This prevents exhaustion, as sleeping in the camp is difficult.

After the tensions of the first week, the mood in the camp is relaxed, but the campers remain vigilant. ‘It is still a stressful situation, we are camping in the middle of the city’, says Laleh.

Unsafe conditions could lead to municipal intervention. ‘We sometimes fear they will find a way to evict us and remove us from here.’


The protesters have hung plastic tarps over the tents to keep out the rain. There is a medical tent, and fire extinguishers and escape routes have been installed in case of emergency. They also hope to soon receive electricity and a portable toilet from the municipality.

Meanwhile, the camp is guarded day and night, and this is necessary. On the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the protesters were harassed by a group of youths. There is university security, a camera on the Harmonie building, and the police visit daily.

For Laleh, the camp is more relaxed than others, like in Utrecht, where the police did intervene. In Groningen, the camp is allowed to stay for now. ‘We can stay here for two months if we want. We have the energy, we have the people. You can’t just ignore us.’



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