PEACEFUL CIVIL RESISTANCE IN STUTTGART, DENUNCIATIONS AND A NEW ACT PROPOSED BY THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT
The Merkel administration has reached agreement among cabinet members that a new act will be submitted to parliament. It increases penalities for passive resistance to up to three years in prison while threatening throwers of bottles and stones with up to five years in jail.
At the same time, commentators in the media attempt to equate the peaceful Stuttgart demonstrators (there were 150,000 in the last big demonstration before mediation was started) with what are, at most, a few hundred young, stone-throwing “anarchists” scattered over a few big cities.
But the Stuttgart demonstrations have been non-violent from the beginning, and the fact that an angry youngsters has been throwing a chair at nobody in particular (the police being a bit too far away) IS RATHER AN INDICATION OF HELPLESS IMPOTENCE AND ANGER, resulting from the unprovoked bloody police action on September 30, 2010, than proof of an inclination to be violent. It was a rare exception, and people who would have been inclined to vent their frustration when faced with unprovoked police violence would have been, and probably were, restrained by other protesters.
As for the young German provos or anarchists who are known as the “autonomous scene of youngsters” [autonome Szene; for short: die Autonomen] in Germany, we note their stickers on lampposts that say: “Learning, living and loving in FREEDOM.” It doesn’t sound as bleak and negative a the media paint them. But after all, they embrace of concept of living autonomously, and that is fanning the suspicions of those who want consumerist youngsters. But it is a fact that "autonomous" youngsters, who staged a small solidarity demonstration in Hamburg when they learned what had happened in Stuttgart during the evening of September 30, were not present in the
South West, or perhaps in such peaceful fashion that their presence went unnoticed.
If ordinary middle-of-road people, 7-year-old pupils, and senior citizens like the peaceful 66-year-old-engineer who wanted to help children attacked with water-canons, and who had both of his eyes destroyed by the jet of water the police directed at him in response, if - I say - such people are brutally attacked, how does the German police treat teenagers in other cities who are regularly branded as the “black bloc” or as “creators of chaos” by the media? We are often much too ready to blame one side because of its “bad reputation” (created, above all, by the yellow press) rather than starting a factual inquiry in order to find out who actually triggered violence, in a given case.
In the Stuttgart case now, there was immediately an effort by the police, by the head-of-state, Ms. Merkel, and by others, to blame “the escalation” on violent, bottle-throwing demonstrators, a so-called fact that these defenders of the police action implicitly relied upon in order to insinuate that “violence” prompted the police to react. These claims have been disproved, they have not been repeated by the police, and even the once liberal weekly DIE ZEIT had to admit in its issue of October 7, 2010 on page 1, that what happened on September 30 in Stuttgart was a scandalous, massive, entirely unprovoked police attack on ordinary citizens including small children, senior citizens, middle-aged middle class people.
The Merkel administration has not apologized for slandering tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators and now claims that the new act is intended to better “protect the police” – that is to say, the forces of “order” that attacked peaceful kids and old people brutally, causing chaos and pain in Stuttgart. Of course, the government has its own definition of violence.
A PEACEFUL SIT-IN OF SCHOOL-CHILDREN INTENT TO PROTECT ABOUT THREE-HUNDREDTREES UP TWO CENTURIES OLD IS DEFINED AS “PASSIVE VIOLENCE.”
Among those attacked in Stuttgart by the water-canons of the police during the big demonstration on September 30, 2010 were 7-year-old girls, 12-year-old kids, men and women in their 60s and 70s.
A 15-year old-girl and a 68-year-old men were among those hauled off to jail that night.
The force of the water-jet was so devastating that in at least one case, that of a 66-year-old engineer who tried to come to the help of children already under attack by water canons, it “ripped” his eye-lids as well as “probably” (according to doctors) also the retina. And the strong jet of water focused directly at his face from nearby absolutely destroyed the lenses (i.e. “pupils”) of both eyes which will have to be replaced by artificial lenses. Still, there is a risk that he will remain blind.
Such use of force against peaceful demonstrator is scandalous, but it is after all, a European phenomenon. About two weeks later, a teenager who participated in a peaceful demonstration in France, lost an eye, thanks to police violence, and we would be fools not to expect more of the sort.
During the era of the military dictatorship in Greece, citizens in Athens were mostly afraid to demonstrate because they knew how brutally the police would suppress demonstrations. Today, so-called liberal governments of the European Union apparently resort to the same tactics. In Athens, not long ago, during a demonstration, a police officer shot a 14-year-old boy in cold blood, at close distance, without the slightest provokation. The officer has been found guilty in court, but perhaps only because the boy came from a well-to-do family.
In Genova, peaceful young people (asleep in a school building that had been destined by the community to temporarily provide accommodation to out-of-town people that stayed in that Northern Italian city in order to protest against the G-7 summit) became victims of an unprovoked middle-of-the-night raid by a special police unit. Several of the young people were so severely attacked that night that they ended up in hospital. Again, a court found police officers guilty. But there are good reasons to suspect that people in government want such police brutality, in order to intimidate the public and discourage demonstrations. Lost teeth and lost eyes are lost for good, and so is life once we lose it due to unprovoked police violence.
ON OCTOBER 13, 2010, LISTENERS OF WDR 5 PUBLIC RADIO HEARD IN THE EVENING NEWS THAT A NEW ACT WHICH FORESEES “STIFFER PENALTIES FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST THE POLICE” HAD JUST BEEN DRAFTED AND APPROVED BY THE CABINET OF MS. MERKEL
There was also a short piece of information that one could discover in the WEBSITE of WDR 5 radio. It provided the following headline: “Kabinett zu E-Mail-Sicherheit, Polizeischutz“. This news tit-bit mixed issues by referring to three proposed act, the new act destined to “better protect” the police; then, an act referring to the protection of privacy in the context of the internet; and finally, an act ending discrimination of certain homosexual public employees [those enjoying the status of “Beamte” or permanently employed civil servants without the right to strike].
The text concerning the police protection act is quoted here in full:
“Wer Gewalt gegen Polizisten anwendet, wird kuenftig haerter bestraft. Das Bundeskabinett billigte einen Gesetzentwurf, mit dem das Strafmass fuer Widerstand gegen Vollstreckungsbeamte von zwei auf drei Jahre erhoeht wird. Bis zu fuenf Jahre Haft sind für besonders schwere Faelle vorgesehen, etwa wenn eine Waffe oder andere gefaehrliche Gegenstände [throwing stones, bottle, etc.] eingesetzt wurden. [...]” [QUOTED FROM THE WDR 5 WEBSITE: http://www.wdr5.de/nachrichten/wdr5-nachrichten.html] [backup-copy]
[Translation: Whoever uses force against the police, will face stiffer penalties in the future. The cabinet approved an act which raises the penalty for resistance against officers enforcing the law from 2 to 3 years in prison. In severe cases, for instance when a weapon or other dangerous objects [stones, bottles, etc.] are used, the penalty will be up to five years in jail.]
The new act mentioned in the WDR5 radio news on Oct. 13, 2010 immediately occasioned a very dubious commentary during the evening program. A commentator speaking on WDR 5 radio said something to this effect:
Egal “ob es Stuttgart 21” ist, “oder die Autonomen” – “der Staat” will “seine POLIZISTEN” JETZT “BESSER SCHÜTZEN”. [Whether its protest against the “Stuttgart 21” project or youngsters that describe themselves as “autonomous” (while they are often portrayed by the media a hooligans) – the State NOW intends to protect its police better than up to now.]
An incredible insinuation!
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, AFTER ALL, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE POLICE VIOLENCE IN STUTTGART, EXERTED AGAINST PEACEFUL DEMONTRATORS, AS EVEN CONSERVATIVE MEDIA WERE COMPELLED TO ADMIT? WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF THE GOVERNMENT INFORMS US RIGHT NOW, IN THIS CONTEXT, THAT NO MATTER WHETHER IT’S THOSE MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DEMONSTRATORS AGAINST THE “STUTTGART 21” PROJECT OR A HANDFUL OF STONE-THROWING, “ANARCHIST” YOUNGSTERS IN HAMBURG’S HARBOR STREET, “THE STATE NOW WANTS TO PROTECT THE POLICE BETTER THAN BEFORE”? ISN’T IT A SMOKESCREEN INTENDED TO CAMOUFLAGE WHAT HAPPENED IN STUTTGART? AND, IN THE LAST ANALYSIS, A CLEAR ENDORSEMENT OF WHAT THE POLICE DID IN STUTTGART?
If the government undertakes things of this sort that have an effect, and are intended to have an effect in the media, an effect which will blot out the fact that the police acted without restraint, if the desired effect is even to portray the police as a perpetual victim of aggression (by demonstrators), this clearly turns things upside down; it is a mockery and a perversion of the truth.
We have not forgotten the revealing fact that soon after the brutal police action against peaceful demonstrators in Stuttgart, commentators in the media and members of cabinet of the Merkel government were ready to denounce those who peacefully protested in that city. Now that the allegations of violence on the part of some Stuttgart demonstrators have been disproved and that allegations have been retracted, the image of a “police under attack”, a “police that is the victim of violence” is highlighted nonetheless in the media.
In fact, it is scandalous that the fact of police brutality witnessed in Stuttgart is not admitted at all by conservative politicians, even though the opposition has asked successfully for a parliamentary commission that will inquire into the Stuttgart occurrences on September 30. Ms. Merkel has not dared to mention police violence in Stuttgart at all; she initially alluded to violence by demonstrators and when this became untenable, simply became quiet about it and opted for the immediate introduction of the new act. In view of her silence about the victims in Stuttgart and the true role of the police in Stuttgart, it is all the more strange that the new act her government wants, intends so clearly to bolster the image of “the cops as victims”. The well-informed citizens in the Stuttgart area and in the country are shocked, however, especially as the peacefulness of the Stuttgart demonstrators is not mentioned at all by the head of state.
IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT IS HAVING AN EFFECT IN THE NEWS AND COMMENTS ON PUBLIC AND PRIVATE TELEVISION AND RADIO.
This is apparent for instance, in the case of the WDR [WestDeutscheRundfunk or West German Radio] commentator just mentioned. In other words, one cannot help thinking that the commentator is attempting on purpose to create a slanderous image of the peaceful protesters in STUTTGART, at a time when the opposition is demanding a parliamentary inquiry that would prove the wantonness with which the police relied on the use of force.
This strategy is very dangerous, it is the old Goebbels stategy: IF A LIE IS REPEATED FREQUENTLY, PEOPLE WILL START TO BELIEVE IT. Undoubtedly, the NAZIS thought and acted accordingly.
IT MIGHT BE A FAIRLY SUCCESSFUIL STRATEGY TODAY, TOO: MANY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY, OVERWORKED, STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET, ASK YOU AFTER THREE WEEKS OF HUGE DEMONSTRATIONS IN STUTTGART: “O WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?”
THEY SEE A FEW IMAGES ON TELEVISION; BUT MAYBE THEY PREFER TO LISTEN TO MTV OR TO SOAPS. AND THEY ARE ENTIRELY UNIMFORMED.
But everybody who has followed the events knows that the activities of the protesting Stuttgart citizenry were a sign of considerable civil courage.
IT IS INADMISSABLE TO EQUATE THESE PEACEFUL ACTS OF CIVIL COURAGE WITH OTHER PROTESTS THAT TURNED FROM NON-VIOLENT TO VIOLENT.
It’s necessary, at this point, to say a few words once more about “violence by youngsters”.
In the banlieues of Paris, the hopeless situation of immigrants and the fact that they suffer from discrimination and experience racism has resulted in depression and meekness among the older generation. It has made a large portion of young immigrants nervous, touchy and often mentally disposed to react aggressively.
It is quite clear that the hard-fisted policy of SARKOZY produces adverse results: THING GET WORSE RATHER THAN BETTER.
The situation in certain neighborhoods – some of them almost resembling ghettos – in Berlin and Hamburg is somewhat comparable to the situation in the poorer suburbs of Paris. OCCASIONALLY THERE ARE FLARE-UPS OF VIOLENCE.
Yes, such youth violence is a fact today; and the police has sometimes preferred de-escalation, which is a first step in the right direction but insufficient if deeper reasons of frustration and hopelessness among youngsters existing in certain “milieus” continue to be ignored.
Often, however, the police has done everything to provoke escalation.
To say so does not mean that it is okay to justify a certain type of violence by youngsters who see “no future” for themselves and who quite often were – or are – ready to build barricades, set cars on fire and throw stones.
After close observation of such occurrences, some observers have noted that violence of youngsters often exploded in response to obvious provocations by the police. For instance, when the police started to arbitrarily arrest young people in the evening, during Saturday night neighborhood festivities in certain Berlin and Hamburg neighborhoods, i.e. in parts of the city that are largely inhabited by immigrants, students and “freaks” and where the police traditionally is seen skeptically and tends to have not exactly a good reputation. IF THE POLICE HAD STAYED OUT RATHER THAN APPEARING ON THE SCENE OF SUCH “FESTS,” VIOLENCE WOULD IN ALL LIKELIHOOD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED.
THE NEW LAW ENVISIONED IS NOT DIRECTED AGAINST THESE YOUNGSTERS, however... IT IS UNNECESSARY, IT IS NOT LIKELY TO STOP ACTS BY FRUSTRATED YOUTHS, AND THE FACT THAT IT IS INTRODUCED NOW - immediately after the embarrassing Stuttgart mass demonstrations that shocked the "elites" - IS REVEALING.
It is repressive and anti-democratic in character and it is above all, “PREVENTIVE” IN CHARACTER. IT IS DIRECTED AGAINST PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATORS. Like those in STUTTGART.
IT IS MEANT TO INTIMIDATE: it reflects the fears of the "elites" when they witness the present appearance of massively supported peaceful civil (and civil rights!) protests by politically informed rather than ignorant and apathetic citizens.
THE LAW, in its present form, IS ALREADY STRANGELY REPRESSIVE:
The presently valid law in Germany already defines peaceful sit-ins as “PASSIVE VIOLENCE” [PASSIVE GEWALT].
A PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATOR ARRESTED BY THE POLICE WHO TRIES TO SLIP AWAY WITHOUT USING ANY FORCE IS CHARGED WITH “RESISTING THE POLICE”: the penalty written into the law book is stiff, “UP TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON.” THE NEW ACT PROPOSED BY THE CABINET OF FRAU MERKEL WILL MAKE IT “UP TO THREE YEARS.”
THE LAW ON PUPRPOSE BLURS THE LINE BETWEEN ACTUAL ACTS OF VIOLENCE AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE THAT TAKES THE FORM OF A SIT-IN. SUCH CONFUSION HELPS THE "CLASSE POLITIQUE" TO SPREAD LIES ABOUT VIOLENCE IN THE MEDIA WHEN NO VIOLENCE OCCURRED.
But to any sober witness, the difference between certain types of youth violence occasionally observed in the streets of Berlin or Hamburg and so-called “passive violence” in STUTTGART is rather obvious.
In one case, stones are thrown and sometimes, even barricades are set up; IN THE OTHER CASE, PEOPLE PEACEFULLY SIT DOWN ON THE PAVEMENT.
In Berlin or Hamburg, it is usually the violence of a dozen or twenty youngsters, sometimes, in rare cases, of 100 or 200.
IN STUTTGART, THE “PASSIVE VIOLENCE” OF MIDDLE-CLASS SCHOOL-CHILDREN AND THEIR GRANDPARENTS WAS ENDORSED ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2010 BY MORE THAN 60,000 PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATORS.
A WEEK LATER BY 100,0000 DEMONTRATORS.
AND TWO WEEKS LATER BY 150,000 DEMONSTRATORS.
WE NOW SEE THAT THIS AVALANCHE OF CIVIL PROTEST BY STUTTGART CITIZENS HAS BEEN BRAKED TEMPORARILY WHEN THE "CLASSE POLITIQUE" SUGGESTED TALKS AND NAMED A MEDIATOR WHO WAS ACCEPTED.
BUT THE SHEER DYNAMICS OF CIVIL PROTESTS AND THE SCOPE AND DEPTH OF DISCONTENT WITH THE ELECTED “ELITES” MUST FRIGHTEN THE "CLASSE POLITIQUE" AND THEIR BACKERS IN INDUSTRY AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS.
SO THAT’S WHY THEY ONCE AGAIN TAKE A STEP AHEAD TOWARDS THE DESTRUCTION (OR “DEMONTAGE”) OF DEMOCRACY, OF GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE.
A short concluding note about ominous news that come as if in confirmation of what
has just been said is still necessary.
On October 19, 2010, in the West German Radio evening news (WDR5 radio COLOGNE, 7 p.m.) we learned that Mr. de Maiziere, the Minister of the INTERIOR in the cabinet of Ms. Merkel, has just called the Stuttgart demonstrations an “abuse of the right to demonstrate” (Missbrauch des Demonstrationsrechts). In other words, ordinary citizens can only make use of the democratic right to voice grievances by way of protest demonstrations if people like the minister of the interior approve.
And we also learned that Monsieur Sarkozy, the French president currently meeting with Chancellor Merkel and the Russian head of state, Mr. Medvediev, in Deauville, has promised millions of striking French citizens that, following the example set by the police in Stuttgart, their “blocades” will be violently dissolved when he is back from the posh seaside resort. A resort, by the way, the inhabitants of which were forbidden to leave or enter the town during the “important” meeting of people so obviously irrationally afraid of their own population.
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