Czech freetekno party ended by police assaultgnd 31 Jul 2005 19:10 GMT
Czechtech 2005 is the 12th Annual Freetek Party in the open air. This years, self-organised, event met unusual hostility from the Czech Police.
The first soundsystems and visitors gathered, on legally rented land, near the city of Milec, on Friday Morning (29th July). From the early hours the police blocked the exits from the highway, D5, causing an 8 km long traffic jam. Eyewitnesses reported police trying to stop people leaving the highway based on their looks. Around 150 people sat on the road requesting to continue on their way to Milec. After 6 hours, following an ultimatum, at 13:00 the police used water-cannons and heavy force to clear the blocked highway. Abandoned cars were towed away. The police continued to block exits to the highway, as well as several routes around Milec.
Official statements from the police said that the legal contract between the owner of the land on which Czechtek 2005 was to take place were invalid. The Czech Minister for Justice, Frantisek Bublan, a member of the social-democratic CSSD, also stated that the contract was invalid and claimed that the owner of the land had revoked it. Later on Friday the contract got to the media, as well as several inteviews with the legal owner of the land. These confimed his support of the event and the validity of the contract. Following his statement, Senator Jaromír Štětina and the Czech Green Party requested that Minister Buban stops the raid against citizens of Czech republic who have not commited any crime by gathering on legaly rented land. Nevertheless, the police continued to block the area without reason.
During the night several thousand visitors managed to pass the police lines, leaving cars behind on the road. The police received reinforcements from Pilsen, brought in vans and buses. By Saturday morning, the party had 5000 visitors and around 300 cars that had managed to make it. Music started to play from the soundsystems.A spokesperson from the Czech police claimed that the visitors had damaged neighboring land whend trying to pass their blockade. The landowners filled a legal complaint against the organisers of Czechtek 2005. Citizens of Ă�jezd pod PĹ�imdou, a small town near the event signed a petition and handed it to the Police Commander requesting that the participants be allowed to continue on their way. The streets of the city were filled with cars and people who failed to go through the police street cordons.
Police redirected cars coming from the German border in Rozvadov to other border crossings. According to their statistics 105 out of 249 foreigners were turned back at the border on the basis of "coloured old cars, haircuts and tatoos". The D5 Highway was closed on both sides between 128 and 135km.
At 16:25 the police requested the participants, now numbering more than 6000, leave the gathering. If they failed to comply the police action would follow. The assault started at 16:30. Around 1000 riot cops using masses of tear gas and trying to push visitors away from the place. The assault was answered by objects being thrown at the police cordon and people shouting "gestapo" at the police. According to eyewitnesses police used water to damage the soundsytems. There are also unconfirmed reports of the use of gum projectiles and mobile phone disrupting frequency-jammers.
The Shadow Minister Ivan Langer sharply criticised the police attack saying it was a political decision imposed by the Prime-Minister, Jiří Paroubek (CSSD). Czechtek's weblog published a request for solidarity 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) with 50 people injured on both sides, police and participants. The organizers of Czechtek 2005 stated that they are going to appeal to European Court for Human Rights in Strassbourg.
On Sunday 31st July at 14.00 another demonstration took place in Prague. The number of the people reached 5000, requesting that Minister Buban steps out. The Czech Leage for Human Rights also joined this request, qualifying the police actions as illegal and the means used against the participants as inadequate and brutal. The Prime Minister Paroubek defends the police actions as "adequate". He also mentioned short-to-be-prepared legal changes to the Czech law of assembly, so that "an event like this will not happen again".
Links:official page of Czechtek 2005 | Photos from the highway blockage | IDnes news timeline (czech) | Photos from the Saturday demonstration in Prague | Brno | Videos from the police assault | More videos from the action | more updates