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International Project of the Public Union “For Human Rights”

The Decline of Europe

PreviousNext The Decline of Europe — Part V. Unwarranted use of force when dispersing actions of protest

Part V. Unwarranted use of force when dispersing actions of protest

Main page Choice of Germany as the initial monitoring country Background “On the Crisis of Liberal Values and Multiculturalism in Europe” Objectives, character and methodology of monitoring Part I. Crisis of multiculturalism Part II. Corruption Part III. Violation of freedom of expression Part IV. Challenges in penitentiary, law enforcement and judicial systems of Germany, drawbacks in the legislative practice Part V. Unwarranted use of force when dispersing actions of protest Part VI. Observance of human rights in the system of education of Germany Conclusion The Public Union “For Human Rights”

Another topical problem in the sphere of human rights violation in Germany became improper use of police force when dispersing actions of protest, as well as frequent facts of the infringement of human rights, pressures on opposition and restrictions of freedoms of speech and assemblies.

At present, the police violence in respect of demonstrators is not rare in Germany. Thus, in July last year the international organization amnesty international circulated a report titled “violence of police: assailant is unknown”. The report charged the German police with indulging these abuses. According to the report, in most cases the policemen take part in the operations aimed at protecting and dispersing demonstrations with masks and helmets on, without any identification marks on their uniforms, except for symbolic tactic units. However, the policemen easily resort to violence, however, even despite the existence of video-records of assault of protesters, no policemen guilty of this violation have ever been made responsible for their actions. The point is that his colleagues give no evidence, so it is practically impossible to identify the personality of criminal policemen.

Dispersal of meeting in Stuttgart

When dispersing a meeting of protest against the continuation of the construction of a new station in Stuttgart and the felling of trees in the city park, the police used water-jets, tear-gas and batons even despite the fact that the demonstration was peaceful and numbered 50,000 to 100,000 including a great quantity of children and old people. As a result, about 400 demonstrators with various traumas appealed to doctors. Of them 50 schoolchildren and 26 individuals were arrested. The traumas included chemical eye burn, bruises and broken noses. The opposition stressed that the use of force was in adequate to convene the parliamentary commission to investigate the incident. In the words of Cem Ozdemir, head of the opposition Greens Party, “The police scandalously beat peaceful demonstrators, elderly women and youth”. In the meanwhile, the scale of violence against peace demonstrators in Stuttgart is out of the common run. Previously, the question was about rare victims, now about tens and hundreds of wounded.

Position of Human Rights Watch

Like many international organizations, Human Rights Watch condemned the dispersal of the Stuttgart manifestation and violence of policemen in respect of peace protesters. The organization voiced its concern that the German authorities have created rather dangerous precedent, so the dispersal of peace manifestations of Germany tends to continue.

Dispersal of meeting in Frankfurt

In May this year the police forcibly dispersed unsanctioned meeting of protest in the German town Frankfurt. The action was organized by participants of the movement “Occupy Frankfurt”. Above 400 participants were detained, many people were injured. The activists try to pitch tended camps, erect barricades in different parts of the town and arrange sit-down protest on the carriageway, according to Tomas Occupy, one of the leaders of the movement, (he conceals his true name for fear of being persecuted).People began gathering together under tents to discuss urgent problems of the country. “We stressed that no democracy rules in our country but rather democratura - imitation democracy; we voiced our concern that the state rescued banks but did not even think of rescuing medium and small business. We expressed our concern that the collapse of the banking system of Germany may lead to the collapse of our government; we discussed destinies of our country but we were not allowed to say the truth on our country” says Tomas Occupy predicting an intensification of the protest movement in the near future. About 1000 people attended the action, however, the police dispersed this mass action, in so doing, the policemen used violence, particularly, police were actively using batons.

It should be noted that this is not the first dispersal of the camps of “occupants” in Frankfurt and other towns of Germany. In March this year, the police resorted to the same measure. Following clashes with police, about 20 participants of the camp were brought to the hospital with insignificant traumas. There were detainees as well. On May 16, the police, using unwarranted force smashed up a camp in front of the building of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, and again there were wounded and arrested. The law enforcement bodies attacked on May 19 a tented camp which led to numerous arrests and injures of citizens.

As viewed by Tomas Occupy, “In Germany, the government itself decides who may hold meetings and who may not do that; in Germany, there is an authorized right to the freedom of assembly”.

Position of official authorities

Press secretary of the Berlin police Stephan Redlich believes that the German policy has no right to disperse peace meetings, even if they are not sanctioned. No ban in meetings is provided in Germany, because the country’s constitution provides for the right to gather peacefully and armless. For this reason, formulations like “not authorized” or “demonstration is banned” are ungrounded, according to the German Law.

In case where the organizers of the action submitted an appropriate application to the local bodies of power, they are delivered with a permit to hold a meeting. The policy may ban a demonstration if safety of citizens and order will be violated in the course of the action. The press-secretary emphasized that the possibility of such a ban “is used very rarely”.

In the meanwhile, in practice the German authorities violate this constitution standard as is evident from the above cited examples of brutal dispersal of meetings in Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Besides, any attempt of holding unsanctioned meeting in Germany is immediately suppressed. In accordance with the actually anti-constitutional provision titled “Residence pflicht”, meeting participants, mostly immigrants, trying to hold an unsanctioned action, are interned by police to  a special territory before the termination of the investigation due to the violation of the law.

When the research team was visiting Berlin, a group of immigrants trying to hold a demonstration, was detained and internetd  in a special tented camp to identify all the circumstances of the case. Note that the statement of the press secretary of the Berlin police is contrary to the real situation: unsanctioned meetings in Germany are frequently suppressed by law enforcement bodies.

The case of Lukashenko in Germany

A high-profile scandal broke out not only in Germany and other countries of European democracy but in the world as well. The point is about making public the case of the Belarusian emergency squad trained in Germany which harshly suppressed an opposition meeting in Minsk straight after the Presidential election in Belarus in December 2010.

The journalists from the well-known newspaper “Bild” carried out investigation which shocked the international democratic public. It turned out that the German police not only assisted the Belarusian regime to train policemen for dispersing peace actions in Minsk but even armed them with computers and video-equipment, flak jackets, shields and batons, etc. Approx. 100 law enforcement officers of Belorussia were trained in Germany, watched the dispersal of German anti-nuclear demonstrations when local policemen used battons , water cannons and tear gases. Note that the support of the Lukashenko regime was directly sanctioned by the government of Angela Merkel. The collaboration with the Lukashenko regime in training security forces for the repressive regime continued up to May 2012.

A fraction of bundestag socialists submitted an official inquiry to the German interior ministry demanding to clarify the situation; however, this Ministry categorically rejected mass media information as saying that no collaboration with the Lukashenko regime had taken place to train security forces of this country.

However, shortly after the same Ministry had to admit the fact of collaboration with the Lukashenko regime. It said that from 2008 to 2011, the Ministry delivered equipment for the Belorussian militia, including helmets and shields. Besides, a financial aid worth Euro 41,200 was rendered to purchase  of computer and video-equipment; at the same time, the German Interior Ministry denied information about supplying Belarus with batons. A Ministry spokesman noted that he had no information about possible collaboration between the land Ministries of Germany and official Minsk.

The case of Saudi forces in Germany

However, Belarus is not alone in the list of authoritarian countries whose security forces were trained in Germany and received material and technical aid. Straight after the “Arab spring” and brutal suppression of protest meetings in Bahrain, it turned out that the Saudi Arabian special police forces that smashed the Bahrain revolution had also been trained in Berlin.

Of serious concern of the international human rights organizations is the active collaboration of Germany with the countries of North Africa and Near East in arms traffic. In its annual report the Amnesty International voiced its indignation that Germany goes on exporting weapons to the countries where human rights are regularly infringed. Human rights activists stress that the German arms exported to the countries with repressive regimes may be used to suppress civilian actions of protest.

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