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Old 08-03-2005, 07:06 AM   #1
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Czech police injuring dozens of dancers

I. THE FACTS

http://skylined.org/adamm/police-violence/
http://g4.avu.cz/czechtek2005/

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L01193716.htm

PRAGUE, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The Czech president said on Monday a police crackdown which injured dozens at a rave was a grave mistake that split the country, adding that politicians may have overstepped the constitution in ordering it.

Police used teargas, water cannon, stun grenades and batons on Saturday to end the party in a meadow near the village of Mlynec in southwestern Czech Republic, near the German border.

Thousands of people demonstrated outside the Interior Ministry on Monday, protesting against what they called brutal police action.

The office of President Vaclav Klaus, a former chief of the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats, said in a statement: "Those who approved the intervention bear full responsibility for damaging trust in the police and creating another split in our country."

The police action was ordered by the local police chief and backed by Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan and Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who both said police acted to uphold the law.

On Monday, Paroubek said in a statement he was sorry for the injuries on both sides, and that the action would be evaluated by the Interior Ministry's internal affairs division.

The president's statement said the intervention was a "grave mistake" and demanded an explanation from the centre-left government.

"The president will further follow the investigation of this case and demand an explanation from the government why there was such police intervention," it added.

"It is also necessary to find out if some political steps before the police intervention, and during it, did not go beyond the framework of the constitution," the statement said.

Klaus does not have much executive power but his views are taken seriously by many politicians.

The interior minister was quoted by Czech media as saying he and Paroubek had planned how to respond to the party in advance.

The party's organisers said they had a contract to use the meadow, but police said they were asked by owners of neighbouring land to halt the concert because their property was being damaged.

TV footage showed some party-goers throwing bottles and rocks at the policemen.


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edit: what Reuters says in the last sentece, is decribed by a DJ as follows: The policemen closed the people in from all sides. A few tried to get out and threw their plastic bottles. One bottle hit a policeman, and at that moment the first smoke-gas-bomb went into the crowd. Bang, and panic erupted. The people in the back wanted to help those in the front and went to the front too. Even more teargas and smoke-bombs. Imagine it like a U2 concert, thousands of people standing close to each other, teargas, panic, and then the first watergun throws five people to the floor. The situation escalated when dancers who were on the floor were beaten up by the police. Dozens of injured people, some are fleeing into their cars and locking them out of fear of the police. Policemen crashed the windows of the cars and damaged the cars heavily. From a certain moment it was pure provocation

(thanks to DJ FMx for that one)


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edit2: a 22 yr old guy has lost his life there; death reason is unclear.
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Old 08-03-2005, 07:23 AM   #2
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Re: Czech police injuring dozens of dancers

2. THE NUANCES

I have the impression authorities all over the EU (at least-think of other, similar scandals both in EU and in other countries) want to communicate the following to the population (without being able to say it openly, after all, officially we are good democracies):

- don´t dare to mess with the police
- don´t dare to mess with the nation/state
- basic rights of citizens are cut

- if a politician is acting against the national constitution or openly anti-democratic, it is not punished accordingly
- if you´re without work, you´re useless
- if you have work, you are a good person, if not, you are a bad person

- everything that doesn´t directly support economy (good example: underground techno-festivals) is bad
- culture and education are luxury

- politicians are all corrupted anyway, you can get excited as much as you want about manipulated elections or whatever else, this is not going to stop the ones in power -> ergo: being an asshole you can make a career everywhere and then you are allowed to scare those below you
- don´t protest against that, that´s a warning. don´t even think of protesting
- don´t dance, don´t celebrate alternative cultural events, just shut up and work
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Old 08-03-2005, 08:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
...think of other, similar scandals both in EU and in other countries...
I guess I'd want to know more about these other "scandals" you have in mind before drawing any conclusions. It seems to me you're making some awfully sweeping judgments, based on this incident alone. But being American, I know very little about EU domestic affairs, and am probably in no position to comment knowledgeably.

I do have a close friend who taught in a Czech town northwest of Prague for a year, back in the late '90s. We corresponded frequently about his experiences and impressions, which often touched on social and political issues. One thing I remember distinctly was his shock and horror at the lack of police response to a string of violent attacks on local Roma (Gypsies). There were, as I recall, at least 2 incidents involving Roma beaten to death, and another involving a young boy set on fire and thrown out a window. Not only did the police make no attempt to go after the perpetrators, but the chief of police--as quoted in a local newspaper; my friend had the clipping--dismissed the crimes by saying, "Well, you have to understand, these people [Roma] are dirty and a lot of them steal things."

Obviously, none of this reflected well on Czech police; but neither did it reflect well on Czech citizens, who after all were the ones committing the crimes (and apparently agreed totally with the police that the Roma deserved whatever they got, since no-one publicly protested). Apparently, crucial democratic concepts like the rule of law and civic responsibility were, at best, poorly grasped by most Czechs. Other democratic values, like cultural and artistic freedom, seemed much better understood--having leaders like Havel helped with that, I'd imagine. Nonetheless, you can't build a healthy democracy on freedoms alone, and I can't help wondering if the sort of overzealous "crowd control" seen at Mlynec might not be the chickens coming home to roost. Police who think their job is to 'make the riffraff behave,' rather than preserving public safety; citizens who protest in droves when the police quash a rave, yet say nothing when children are lynched--these are both symptoms of a dangerously weak civil society, and they are probably intimately connected, in my view.

I had assumed--as did my friend--that this weakness was most likely a consequence of years of Soviet authoritarianism, where no meaningful public discourse existed and civic traditions rotted away. If you are right that the Mlynec incident is representative of trends throughout Europe, though, then I'm probably wrong to suspect any connection.
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland


I guess I'd want to know more about these other "scandals" you have in mind before drawing any conclusions. It seems to me you're making some awfully sweeping judgments, based on this incident alone. But being American, I know very little about EU domestic affairs, and am probably in no position to comment knowledgeably.

I do have a close friend who taught in a Czech town northwest of Prague for a year, back in the late '90s. We corresponded frequently about his experiences and impressions, which often touched on social and political issues. One thing I remember distinctly was his shock and horror at the lack of police response to a string of violent attacks on local Roma (Gypsies). There were, as I recall, at least 2 incidents involving Roma beaten to death, and another involving a young boy set on fire and thrown out a window. Not only did the police make no attempt to go after the perpetrators, but the chief of police--as quoted in a local newspaper; my friend had the clipping--dismissed the crimes by saying, "Well, you have to understand, these people [Roma] are dirty and a lot of them steal things."

Obviously, none of this reflected well on Czech police; but neither did it reflect well on Czech citizens, who after all were the ones committing the crimes (and apparently agreed totally with the police that the Roma deserved whatever they got, since no-one publicly protested). Apparently, crucial democratic concepts like the rule of law and civic responsibility were, at best, poorly grasped by most Czechs. Other democratic values, like cultural and artistic freedom, seemed much better understood--having leaders like Havel helped with that, I'd imagine. Nonetheless, you can't build a healthy democracy on freedoms alone, and I can't help wondering if the sort of overzealous "crowd control" seen at Mlynec might not be the chickens coming home to roost. Police who think their job is to 'make the riffraff behave,' rather than preserving public safety; citizens who protest in droves when the police quash a rave, yet say nothing when children are lynched--these are both symptoms of a dangerously weak civil society, and they are probably intimately connected, in my view.

I had assumed--as did my friend--that this weakness was most likely a consequence of years of Soviet authoritarianism, where no meaningful public discourse existed and civic traditions rotted away. If you are right that the Mlynec incident is representative of trends throughout Europe, though, then I'm probably wrong to suspect any connection.
Very well thought out post, thank you for that.

You are right what you say about Roma.. I have been in their slum-like villages and met the people. Incredibly gifted they were all playing zieh-harmonica etc.; really nice people. It is a shame they are still being suppressed. Roma and Sinti...

That weakness? of civil society has not much to do with the Soviets. In the case of the Roma I can´t tell you why no one went out to protest. I´d rather say that its about national groups, Roma and Sinti being minority groups. In comparable cases in Germany where Neonazis attacked the homes of east-European or Turkish asylum seekers, hundredthousands of people went to protest.

But keep in mind that in those German cases, the police apparently did not act as it could have. The houses were just fucking burning down and about ten people, including children, died.

There are many examples. Remember the person killed at the G8 in Genova? One might argue about the radical methods of the protestors or play with media terms like "black block", but the fact is that this protester was 1. shot 2. they drove over him two times. Why that? To show, see, this is what happens when you mess with the police. No policeman can afford to act like that without orders from above.

Also with the example of the Roma, my words above apply: they don´t directly support economy, so they´re bad and who cares if they´re wiped off. Guess what, if many Roma´s were big businessmen, you think that would happen to them? The police wouldn´t go in and attack them violently. They can afford to do so (in regards to public opinion) because those people are said to be lazy, dirty and criminal. I just saw they were poor. If you´re poor, you have no rights. If you are without work you´re useless.

See, it´s as simple as that. Other examples? "you can get excited as much as you want about manipulated elections or whatever else, this is not going to stop the ones in power" remember the protests against the Iraq war in London? Hundreds of thousands. What did Blair do? He did the "Fuck you citizens, big fuck you - I will do it anyway".

Here a little example on my own beautiful country. he police was putting an asylum seeker into a plane to send him back to Africa. He died in the plane because closed his mouth and nose with leukoplakia so he couldnt breathe and just suffocated. later the policemen said they didn´t even realize when he died. Our minister of interior at that time, Löschnak, defended the policemen, said oh what a tragic accident, and that was it. He didn´t dare to resign, which he should have done. This was great news: the police can just kill you if they want, and they´ll not have to fear any consequences. Especially when it´s a Black African asylum seeker, right?

As to "culture and education are luxury" -in the course of a few years, European education has changed a lot. It was all free, now it´s for the ones who can afford to study, so it´s luxury. Culture is luxury, the governments all over Europe do their best to cut cultural spending, if it doesn´t make them a shitload of money. See the Salzburger Festspiele (millions pumped into that spectacle every year) in compare to young, innovative art programs - or schools, for that matter. The classrooms got bigger. Generally studies in fields like languages, history, psychology etc. will not get you a job. Read the job offers, no one is looking for persons with a certain culture. Everyone is looking for a flexible manager type who hopefully betrays his competitors and sometimes even the own customers. Everyone wants to make it big fast - that´s what counts.

On TV we have spots paid by the chamber of economy which say "If the economy is fine, the population is fine too. Economy creates jobs. Jobs make people happy" - shitloads of stupid propaganda like that.

The news coverage has changed in the last ten years. All the time, we hear about the DowJones and the NASDAQ and DAX etc. Yesterday i heard thaqt Adidas has bought Reebok and therefore closes up to Nike. What the fuck do I care? What the fuck does the average Austrian care? Come on, those in stock exchange get their informations somewhere else, not the 8 o´clock news. Uuuuuh, but all the public has to know who bought who and what their turnover was etc. right? So the sheep can slowly grasp how important that is, and look up to economy in admiration... At the same time, local, national and multinational corp.s flee into the east, because labour force is cheaper there and you can easily bribe authorities. The east wants to catch up to Western Europe; still, the people have learned that capitalism doesn´t bring wealth to all, but just to a few criminals.

Back to civil society: I think European civil society is one of the strongest, also compared to America where I see an interesting development of civil society since things became a little rougher. But civil society is not influential enough. Maybe because its methods are too weak? I am all for peaceful protest, but apparently it doesn´t make much sense (in most of the cases, I know there have been great successes too). I am all against violent protests (and will never resort to it), however, as one can see, practically its the only form of protest where those in power will feel just a little bit uncomfortable and react - by making an example and letting the police forces kill someone, say, about every six months.

As to the rest of the world: I haven´t forgotten the bulldozer who rolled over that American student Carrie (2 years ago?) in Israel when she tried to stop the bulldozers from ruining Palestinian homes. Ah, another accident, accident, sorry.. hahaha neither the U.S. president wanted any explanation! Ok come on, she was American, but you know, radical student and all... don´t play with those things, you might get hurt, no...? Even people on this messageboard fell for it, which really astonished me. After all, it was their own folks! But the message totally came through: "Don´t play with fire".
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