Brian Holmes on 2 Oct 2000 10:17:10 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] S26 - Czech police

The following message came to me Saturday, via London RTS, while I was
away. Unfortunately it's still relevant and it brings back my question as
to whether S26 will raise Czech political consciousness. INPEG said weeks
ago that "normalization" - i.e. return to a police state - has begun in the
Czech Republic. Now INPEG members are confirming that with personal

The IMF would never have dared to meet in Poland or Hungary, where their
policies are too obviously destructive. Maybe one day they will never dare
to meet, period - but there's a lot of work to be done before then. -- BH

Czech Police Measures Bring Severe Violations of Human Rights

In Prague, the city of Kafka, hundreds of international visitors have
also been left wondering about the precise name of their crime, after
the Czech police began a policy of random arrest following the
Global Day of Action on Tuesday. As a result of the arrests,
visitors have however become much clearer about the status of
human and civil rights in the Czech Republic: a range of serious
injuries suffered by those arrested demonstrates that the police
campaign - in a country sure of gaining EU membership - has seen
gross violations of Human Rights. In addition, it is claimed that
Czech police have systematically ignored the legal rights of
The arrests began at around 10pm on the night of Tuesday
September 26th - the Global Day of Action, to bring attention to the
economic policies of the IMF and World Bank whose annual
meetings were taking place in Prague. The vast majority of those
arrested were engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever. Most were
on their way to dinner or entertainment. Many arrestees had not
even attended the demonstrations. Two of those arrested were
German schoolboys.
Set against this, the police had made very few arrests during the
demonstrations, even when circumstances isolated the purportedly
dangerous elements from the main mass of protestors - as for
instance during the anarchist led stone throwing near Muzeum.
Instead they waited until well after these incidents were over and
then targeted people walking about the streets of Prague.
The spree of attacks appeared to be aimed at producing terror and
intimidation. Typical arrests included no explanation of the arrest in
any language, and the deployment of excessive force. Both are
illegal. Police violence ranged from the merely stupid, such as hair-
pulling, finger-twisting, shoving; to the criminal beating and kicking
of unresisting prisoners, slamming them against walls, severe
constriction of plastic cuffs, and the sexual harassment of female
Police abuses continued and often escalated once prison was
reached. Czech jailers forced prisoners to stand with legs spread
wide and head pressed against the wall, often for up to three hours.
Some women were 'searched' by male officers whilst in this
position, while many others were physically harassed and beaten .
Some incidents were truly repulsive. A black arrestee was hog-tied
for several minutes and struck on the head and back by police with
truncheons. Severe abuses often seemed racially motivated.
Another incident saw a Jewish man taken away and beaten for more
than 30 minutes, sustaining cracked ribs down the whole of one
side of his torso. One woman being interrogated by police 'fell'
from an upper floor window, breaking her spine. Severe torture has
alleged to have occurred in at least one case.
Upon registration, the suspension of basic human rights continued.
Some women were strip searched and humiliated. The telephone
calls mandated by Czech law were totally denied, usually on the
basis of falsehoods, eg 'we have no telephone'. That this was a
policy of strictly political repression was demonstrated in at least
one prison when a group of neo-fascist prisoners, found in
possession of clubs, a mace and a gun and captured in the
commission of actual and non-imaginary crimes, were immediately
granted access to the telephone. They were released after a few
hours and given their weapons back. Some 30% of police officers
had voted for the far right party in recent Czech elections.
Other violations of Czech law included the photographing of
uncharged detainees, possibly for use in international intelligence
databases; not giving food, blankets or medical attention; keeping
detainees in prison without charge well after the 24 hour deadline,
and severe overcrowding. Up to 20 prisoners were kept in cells
measuring around nine feet by nine. Even in the absence of charges
or explanation, detainees were given 24 hours to leave the Czech
Republic upon release.
The following is a collective statement issued by about fifty people
detained after the first spree of arrests: "The Czech Republic has
apparently signed up to the European Charter of Human Rights, yet
all these factors point unambiguously to a deliberate campaign to
deny protestors their rights on both an individual and collective
level. These abuses cannot be tolerated by the international
community. We demand that the EU, it's member nations, the US,
Canada and all other nations secure a thorough investigation
leading to the prosecution of the responsible agents. The
international community should also ensure the immediate release
of all political prisoners in Prague. Moreover full Czech membership
of the EU ahould be made conditional in respect of a substantial
review of the Czech law enforcement system.
We believe that what has happened in Prague cannot be judged
separately from the kind of tactics used against indigenous
communities living in Southern nations who suddenly find
themselves standing in the way of the development schemes
funded by the IMF and World Bank. The current abuses are only
one more piece of evidence the World Bank and IMF promote
systematic political repression against their opponents to fulfill
their objectives."
UPDATE: Yesterday afternoon, in further evidence of growing
political repression surrounding the demonstrations in Prague,
Czech police raided the press offices of INPEG, the coalition group
involved in organising the recent activities. The crackdown came as
news of police abuses began to filter out following the morning
releases of those detained in the first arrests. Media workers were
also being targeted as police allegedly began arresting those
leaving the Independent Media Centre in Prague.

*** Names of those signing the quoted statement can be given on
request. For more information/interview please contact Tim
Edwards. e-mail: or telephone 01273
720501 Saturday onwards.

tim edwards

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