Notts IMC | 05.08.2005 22:37 | World
The annual Czech 'CzechTek' (also known as Technival) is one of the biggest free festivals in Europe. With over 6000 people attending this year, it has met with severe police hostility. Police blocked access to the legally rented festival site and later attacked it, resulting in over 50 injured people. One man has been confirmed dead. Police has stated he was killed in a "normal car accident". The Czech League of Human Rights have called upon Interior Minister František Bublan to immediately resign. A large demonstration against the police brutality, in Prague on Sunday July 31th was attended by over 5000 people and was supported by the former Czech President Vaclav Havel. The demonstration in the capital ended in a streetrave. Solidarity actions have been taking place throughout Europe.
Official Festival Website | Photo's Festival      | Photo's Motorway Blockade | Photo's police brutality  | Video police brutality   | Statement by Czech Prime Minister | Updates on Indymedia Slovakia
On Friday morning (June 29th) the police redirected cars coming from Germany to the border in Rozvadov to other border crossings. According to police statistics 105 out of 249 foreigners were turned back on the borders on the base of "colored old cars, haircuts and tatoos". The motorway D5 was closed on both sides. Around 150 people blockaded the road demanding to continue on their way to the festival site (in Milec). After 6 hours, following an ultimatum, at 13:00 the police used water-cannons and heavy force to clear the blocked motorway.
During the night several thousands of visitors managed to pass the police blockage, leaving their cars behind on the roads. On Saturday morning the festival started with about 5000 visitors and around 300 vehicles that managed to get on the site. Soundsystems started to play music.
The first police action took place on Saturday 30th July. At 16.25 the police requested that the than 6000+ participants leave the gathering otherwise a police action will follow. Over 1000 policemen, water cannon, armoured tank and a low-flying helicopter entered the festival site, trying to remove people. A second attack at 22pm was led with extreme brutality. Police in 'riot gear' without identification numbers, refusing to give identification, info about their command or first aid entered the site. The raid resulted in hundreds of injuries, including cuts, bruises, burnings and broken arms. Some people were in still in shock the next day with red faces from tear gas. Police seem to have intentionally damaged vehicles, electronic equipment and other property. Some say the attack was led with clear intention to cause injuries. Reports say the police used 'masses of teargas' and desorientation grenades. In some cases they broke car windows using iron bars, threw tear gas granades inside, to force people out.
The police have confirmed the death of a young man attending the festival. Reportedly he was "killed by a truck which left the site". No witnesses were found to verify the police statement.
"The festival was legal"
Police stated different reasons for blocking access to the festival site, throughout Friday (July 29). The final reason for the raid of the site on the Friday night was "threat of damaging the surrounding private pieces of land". Festival organisers give a very different picture: "Czechtek is open-air international and multicultural music festival with 12 years of tradition. Not only different genres of music, but also videoart and other art performances take place at this unique event of free culture. In all history of the festival there have been no significant problems. Participants have always cleaned up after themselves and take responsibility for their actions."
The contract with the owner of the site where the festival was to take place was clearly shown to police. "The festival was legal in every aspect was according to Czech Republic law". However, official police statements said that the legal contract between the owner of the land and the festival organisers is invalid. The Czech Minister of Internal Affairs, Frantisek Bublan of the social-democratic party CSSD, stated that the contract is invalid and that the owner of the land revoked it. Later, the contract got into the media, as well as several interviews with the legal owner of the land, confirming his support for the event and the validity of the contract. Following his statement the Czech Senator Jaromír Štětina and the Czech Green Party requested that Minister Buban stops the raid against citizens of Czech republic which have not commited any crime by their gathering on a legaly rented land.
A woman from a nearby village, owner of adjoining land, said she had been woken up by police friday morning, long before people began to arrive, taken to police station and by false arguments encouraged to sign complaint. The citizens of Újezd pod Přimdou, a small town near the place of CT 2005 signed a petition and handed in to the main Police Commander requesting that the participants are allowed to continue their way. The streets of the city were filled up by cars and people who failed to go through the police street cordons.
"Acts of Solidarity"
The League of Human Rights has called upon Interior Minister František Bublan to recognize his responsibility for the completely inappropriate and illegal intervention committed by the police and to immediately resign. On the weblog of Czechtek a request for solidarity was posted asking people to join a demonstration in Prague at 19.00 in front of the Ministery of Justice. The police assault ended around 19.20 (before the evening news) resulting in 50 injured people on both the side of police and the participants. The organizers of Czechtek 2005 stated that they are going to appeal to European Court for Human Rights in Strassbourg.
Solidarity actions have been taken place around Europe. Actions took place outside ambassies in Paris, Bratislava and Helsinki. In Berlin the annual 'Fuckparade' redirected it's planned route to pass by the embassy in Berlin and the czech consulate in Salzburg was spray painted. On Sunday July 30th demonstrations took place in Prague (photo's) and Brno (photo's). Over 5000 people participated in the demonstration in Prague, which was supported by the former Czech President Vaclav Havel.