Pain & Punishment For Prague Protesters
Corroborated reports of police brutality against Prague prisoners
2nd October 2000
Hundreds of reports of police brutality against detained activists in Prague have been confirmed by OPH, the independent legal observer group in the Czech Republic.
Over 850 people have been taken into custody by Czech police following the anti-capitalist demonstrations in the city last week. A barrage of physical and sexual assaults, starvation tactics and cell overcrowding have been reported and a significant number have been corroborated by legal observers and independent eye-witnesses. Many lawyers have lost contact with clients as prisoners are being rapidly moved around from one cell block to another with no official notice.
There have been hundreds if reports of women being strip searched and humiliated by male police officers, and a large number of activists also report being taken to an out-of-the-way place on the way to the police station and being beaten and kicked. One female activist who jumped from a window during "interrogation" fractured her spine and broke her femur.
Around 500-600 of the detainees are Czech nationals and, along with activists from Israel, seem to be coming in for particularly bad treatment. According to Si Mitchell, SQUALL's reporter who stayed in Prague to cover the aftermath: "Hundreds of Czech activists are getting hammered in their cells. The Czech police seem intent on making Prague's resistance community pay heavily for running the IMF out of town." Around 30 detainees are from the UK and are gradually being deported back to the UK.
British activists, Scott Kelly, was dancing in Moestecha Street next to Prague's Charles Bridge when heavily armed police arrested everyone in the area: "We were taken to the central police station into the basement via two or three flights of stairs, blood was on the walls as we went down and an abusive and aggressive officer slammed us against the walls. I had my photo taken and was pushed roughly into a cell. Inside there were already six to ten people and more came in all the time. Over the next two nights and a day we were crowded in that dark hellish basement with a total refusal of contacts and two blankets provided for between eight to 15 people in each cage."
According to SQUALL's reporter, Si Mitchell: "Those filtering back onto Prague's half-cobbled streets relay tales of demonstrators cuffed to walls being punched and clubbed. The Israeli's are fairing badly and the hundreds of Czech activists have gone missing in action.
The S26 international coalition of activists who co-ordinated the anti-World Bank and International Monetary Fund protest have asked people throughout the world demand from their respective Czech embassies that detained activists have their human rights respected; That they receive their entitlement to legal representation, food, water, sanitation and warmth. The United States - who sent police advisors to aid the Czech police's operation to the squash the demonstrations - are refusing to aid US citizens in Czech jails.
Spanish solidaristas managed to get over 100 of their country-folk out of the jails by occupying the Czech embassy in Madrid. However, when shown the door, the imprisoned Spaniards refused to leave until those held with them were released too. The authorities capitulated and the entire lot were released. The Czech Embassy in London is being picketed by British activists demanding that the basic humanitarian standards be upheld for all activists currently in Prague prisons.
Czech Embassy is at 25, Kensington Gardens, London W8. Tel: 0207 243 1115.