Dutch police arrest over 1,500 Extinction Rebellion activists as they block main road in The Hague
police have arrested more than 1,500 activists as they blocked a main road in The Hague - with one even biting an officer. Protestors blocked a section of a motorway in the centre of the city on Saturday in protest against Dutch fossil fuel subsidies. A total of 1,579 people were arrested, with 40 of those set to be prosecuted on charges of 'defacement, vandalism, insult, incitement, resistance, dangerous traffic behavior or violence', according to the Public Prosecution Service. Police used water cannons to disperse the activists and dragged them into buses of public transport company HTM. They also reported that an officer was bitten during an arrest. He is now being treated for his injuries, while the activist has been arrested for assault, police said. The 40 activists that were arrested have been transferred to the police station where their cases are being further assessed, with remaining demonstrators having now been released from custody. Several Dutch celebrities were also among the protesters, including Carice van Houten, who played Melisandre in the popular TV series 'Game of Thrones'. The Dutch news agency ANP reported that she was arrested but later allowed to return home. It did not specify if she was among those who would be prosecuted. The protests marks the seventh organised by Extinction Rebellion in this area of The Hague, but the highest number of people arrested so far, according to ANP. Demonstrators walked from the station towards the part of the A12 highway in the city, with a number of them laying down in front of the police water cannon. Activists could be heard chanting: 'Extinguish the fire, not the alarm,' according to a local media report. According to Extinction Rebellion, some 7,000 people gathered to join the demonstration. Anticipating the water cannon, some wore swimsuits or carried umbrellas as they sat in protest across the A12 motorway, holding banners and signs. The protest marks the seventh organised by Extinction Rebellion in the same section of motorway at The Hague, close to the parliament and main ministry buildings. But Saturday saw the highest number of people arrested at a protest yet, according to Dutch news agency ANP. 'We're going to stay here until they drag us away,' said postgraduate student Anne Kerevers, 31. 'Climate change is an unfolding crisis and we know the cause and it's still being subsidised by our government and it needs to stop,' she told AFP. Several Dutch celebrities were among the protesters, including actor Carice van Houten, best known for her role as Melisandre in the hit TV series 'Game of Thrones'. Van Houten posted a video on Instagram showing herself wearing a red poncho, getting drenched from a water cannon. ANP reported that she was arrested and later allowed to return home, but did not specify whether she was among those who will be prosecuted. Police said they had repeatedly 'given activists the opportunity to end their action and leave' before using the water cannon and making arrests. 'We've been coming back every month, or every two months, and every time the number (of protesters) has doubled,' said Aaron Pereira, a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion. 'There is broad popular support for real climate action and people are waking up to the fact that the government is actively going against this by subsidising the fossil fuel industry.' The environmental campaign group, shortened to XR, has become known for the disruptive and headline-catching stunts which have become their trademark. In recent years the group has caused huge disruption, hitting roads, airports and other public transport networks with direct action protests against climate change. But in January it called a temporary halt to its high-profile stunts, and instead promised to mobilise huge numbers against what it sees as government inaction against global warming. In April it held four days of action in London, including mobilising thousands to rally outside the UK parliament. In recent months it has also rallied at airports across Europe, including protests at Eindhoven airport in The Netherlands in March. This week it joined other groups in demonstrating against Europe's biggest private jet sales fair in Geneva. Some activists chained themselves to the planes on display, and air traffic was briefly disrupted at the airport due to people on the tarmac.