Arrests, beatings, intimidation and silencing: this is how Berlin police responded to a small, peaceful gathering of approximately 200 people who joined together on May 12th for an event hosted by Jewish Voice For Peace Germany, Jewish Bund and Palestine Speaks.
After less than an hour, police violently disrupted the gathering on the thinnest of pretexts in what was a clear show of racism. As police charged into the diverse crowd, they beat, punched and smacked demonstrators indiscriminately and picked people of colour out at random for arrest. In the end, over 20 people were arrested – predominantly people of colour.
The protest had gathered to legally and peacefully protest against Israel’s seven-decade long occupation of Palestine and its current bombing campaign on Gaza, the violent seizure of Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and the racist mob violence against Palestinians led by armed Israeli settlers and supported by the Israeli military and state.
Shortly after the protest started, the police began to continuously blast announcements about coronavirus regulations, and one that absurdly warned protesters against the support of terrorist groups. Palestinians’ speeches about their family members who were killed by Israeli occupation forces in the last few days and a Jewish woman speaking about the importance of solidarity and historical resistance to oppression were repeatedly interrupted as police randomly attacked and arrested protesters who were doing nothing more than simply standing and listening to the speeches.
The frequent announcements from police loudspeakers and regular arrests were a clear display of force from the police, and an indication they intended to drown out the demonstration, suppress democratic rights, and intimidate solidarity groups who are fighting ongoing repression and censorship in Germany.
This repression took place despite protesters wearing face masks and largely maintaining a safe distance from one another – health precautions that masses of right-wing demonstrators against coronavirus measures completely ignore in Germany, yet they are often met with kindness and receive special treatment from the police. Double standards.
In Germany, time and time again, the state shows that it does not value Palestinian life. Germany contributes to Israeli policies, both at home and abroad, by materially supporting the Israeli military who attack Palestinians and enabling the German police who do the same.
Germany supports Israel unconditionally. Both the German government and media malign Palestinian resistance as terrorism, and any form of solidarity protest against Israeli violence as Antisemitic. We condemn both in the strongest terms, and note how this framing perpetuates a history of colonial violence and oppression.
This country leaves no space for Palestinians to grieve and mourn for their families, for their friends and for their land – all of which is met with the brutal violence of military occupation, settler-colonialism and Apartheid.
We condemn the psychological warfare and unhinged brutality of the Berlin police who violently disrupted the demonstration, and endangered the safety of the protesters. Additionally, we condemn the irresponsible coverage in German media that upholds a racist agenda.
We send our condolences to Palestinians and stand in solidarity with them in their fight for freedom.
Until Palestine is free, none of us are free!
Berlin Against Pinkwashing
Palestine Speaks – Palästina Spricht
Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden – European Jews for a just peace
Berlin Migrant Strikers
The Left Berlin
Photo by @Montecruzfoto