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2000 protesters against WEF Salzburg - extreme police violence!

Sunday, July 1 2001: Around 2000 protesters at Salzburg, Austria. Police shows extreme brutality while at the same time they seem to be unable to coordinate themselves. At least 10 arrests and 20 injured!
Up to 2.000 people have been protesting against the WEF-summit starting in Salzburg, Austria on Sunday, July 1. To prevent protests, the police setted up three different security districts in the city, while the area around the conference center is completely locked down. Within all districts, however, people have already been controlled and insulted from Friday on although the districts were officially set up on Saturday, 5pm. Even people living within the districts have been insulted and asked to go back to their homes.

A special target for the police seem to be people from the local IMC: early Friday evening, a photojournalist was arrested and threatened by the Austrian special unit "Taurus", commissioned from Graz to Salzburg and infamous for their treatment of protesters. In other cases, IMC camera teams were stopped by the police, who hit e.g. genitals and destroyed the video-footage. In all cases the victims showed their press-IDs but the police said that they would only accept accreditiations for the WEF-summit. In that way the city-center of Salzburg turned into the WEF's private area.

Today, on Sunday at 3pm an official demonstration was announced at the central station, around 5 minutes away from the border of the security districts. Although around 5.000 police have been brought to Salzburg from all over Austria, only very few of them were at the central station. Left alone police-fences were overturned by protesters and finally at 4pm the protesters managed to break through the police lines.

Until 5.30pm, several demonstrations were able to move relatively freely, also within the security zone.

The conference center was already in sight, when the police encircled the demonstration - around 500 people - at 5.30pm. In the following 90 minutes more and more people, activists, tourists and citizens of the area - including children - gathered around the scene, chanting and demanding to let the encircled protesters go. At 7pm the police started to encircle also these, refusing to let anybody out.

At the moment, the police refuses to let them leave the encirclement unless they agree to walk out seperately and accept fees up to US$ 350,-. At least five people who agreed are under arrest at the moment. All in all there there were 10 people arrested today, the same number of people have been seriously injured by the police. One person has been deported yet. These, for sure, are only the cases, we were able to verify. At the moment it's not clear what will happen to the people encircled.

What can be definitly said about the events, is that the police has serious problems to coordinate the different forces from all parts of Austria. Furthermore, the police is already extremely aggressive against protesters, a result of 18 months of massive demonstrations against the right-wing government in Austria. This fact has raised the fear that the violence of the police might get out of control - whereas the Ministry for Internal Affairs has ordered to leave the protesters free, at 8.30pm the police started to attack the activists with brutal force. It's said, that they plan to take pictures and personalities of each protester inside.



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