Wednesday, June 21, 2006

FREE RENE

Dark news from Doughnut Boy Andy - his mate's been banged up in Poland for attending a gay march:
Participants of Saturday’s many thousand strong “Parade for sexual Equality” in Warsaw were arrested and held in Polish jails. One of them, Rene from Berlin, is still being held. “Queer Berlin”, an alliance of different initiatives and projects, is calling for the immediate release of those arrested and calls for the charges and enquiries to be dropped.

During the finishing speeches on Saturday afternoon the situation escalated as the demonstration was attacked from neo-nazis and ultra conservatives, who had attempted throughout to disrupt the peaceful manifestation. Despite a force of 2000 police, officials did not see themselves able to stop an encroachment of the right-wingers or to stop attacks and provocation. What followed was that those attempting to disrupt the non-violent parade managed continually to provoke and attack the demonstration. They succeeded time after time to hold up banners with nauseating homophobic slogans directly along the demonstration route, crying out sexist chants. The demonstration participants were attacked with eggs and even stones.

At the close of the demonstration the police moved in and indiscriminately pulled participants out of the parade and arrested them. 24-year-old Rene K from Berlin was among those arrested. He was part of a group from Berlin invited over to Poland by Polish groups taking part in the event. Rene was beaten down by police during the closing speeches and subsequently arrested. His travelling companions attempted everything possible to find out from the police the reasons for his arrest. When still on the following day no information had come from the police as to why Rene was still being held, a Polish lawyer was arranged for him and the German embassy informed. Rene is being charged with resisting arrest. Why he was arrested in the first place is seemingly irrelevant for the Polish authorities that have still to this day not given a reason.

A spokesperson for the regional court responsible for the case has added to the confusion by describing Rene as “far-right” when talking to journalists and accused Rene of attacking the very parade that he was invited to take part in. Whether his false statements were made through ignorance or to confuse the situation is not known. Rene is the only participant in the parade to be still held in jail.

The actions of the district public prosecution authority are also worth noting in Rene’s case. In contrast to the normal procedure, they firstly informed the German embassy of the Berlin resident’s arrest themselves. A custodial judge then decided that Rene should stay in prison on remand awaiting developments without being given the possibility of requesting a lawyer and legal assistance.

The German embassy in Warsaw’s reaction has also been disgracefully limited, although they were well informed of the case. Despite the failures by the prosecuting authority and custodial judge to follow standard legal procedures against a participant of a peaceful demonstration, the German representatives did not step in during the procedure, although it is their job to do so.

In the meantime a solidarity group “Queer Berlin” has formed to campaign for the release of Rene, working in close cooperation with groups in Poland. In order to be able to continue our solidarity work effectively we will need a lot financial help in order to pay for legal costs and legal observation. Any donation you could make to the following account would help us enormously and be highly appreciated.

Receiver: Rote Hilfe Berlin
Account number: 7189590600
Sorting Code: 10020000
Keyword: Warsaw


For those in or around Berlin there is a solidarity stand planned for Friday the 23rd of June 2006, 3 PM, outside the Polish Embassy. This is at Lassenstrasse 19-21, Berlin-Grunewald (S-Bahn. Grunewald, M19 to Hasensprung). Please come and show your support for Rene and the other peaceful demonstrators arrested in Warsaw.

For those not in Berlin there are other ways of showing solidarity in addition to donating towards legal costs. Please write to your nearest Polish and German embassies, as well as representatives from the press, and inform them of Rene’s case and your opinions and concerns.

Solidarity Group "QueerBerlin"
Tel.: Germany (0049) 0163 388 1037
Mail: warschau_soli@blacksec.org
www.queerberlin.tk
And here's my bit, for what it's worth:
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
23 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PZ

Tel. 020 7824 1300
Fax. 020 7824 1449
E-Mail: consular@german-embassy.org.uk

and

Ambasada Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
47 Portland Place
Londyn W1B 1JH
Tel.: 0870 774 2700
Fax: 0207 291 3573
E-mail: polishembassy@polishembassy.org.uk
Let them know what you think. This is not clever.

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