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Ilka Schröder


Auf Initiative von Ilka Schröder protestierten Europaabgeordnete der Grünen / Freie Europäische Allianz und der Vereinigten Europäischen Linken / Nordische Grüne Linke in einem Brief an den Präsidenten der Tschechischen Republik, Vaclav Havel, gegen die Verletzung von Menschenrechten durch die Tschechische Polizei während und nach den Protesten gegen die Weltbank und den Internationalem Währungsfonds (IWF) in Prag.

On initiative of Ilka Schroeder MEP‘s of the Greens / European Free Alliance and the European United Left / Nordic Green Left protested in a letter to the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, against the violation of human rights by Czech police during and after the protests against the World Bank and the International Monetary Found (IMF) in Prague.

MEP‘s Letter to Havel

Ilka Schroeder, MEP

Rue Wiertz ASP 8 G 253
B-1047 Brussels
phone + 49
fax + 49

Brussels, 24 Oct 2000

The President of the Czech Republic, Mr. Vaclav Havel


as Members of the European Parliament we are writing to you to express our deep concern about the news that we have received from Prague and elsewhere. Besides several dozen reports by affected people, there is video footage as well as offical documents (from the police station at Prague 4) which, according to our contacts in Prague, provide evidence of just one example (detailed below) of police action that violates fundamental human rights. This is just one of the many reported cases, and it concerns us in particular: it is an activist that filmed during the demonstration.

We came to the conclussion that immediate action is necessary from your side firstly and most urgently to release all imprisoned IMF/World Bank demonstrators, especially as we have been informed that in several cases there is no evidence against them.

If illegal and repressive behaviour of the police forces towards peaceful and non-peaceful protestors is confirmed, we strongly recommend you to take all steps necessary to in order to avoid similar situations in the future; one of them being a compensation for all victims of human rights violations. In this case, we believe that a public apology from the Ministry of the Interior for the criminalisation of peaceful protestors will be mandatory. We would also welcome an in-depth independent investigation of the information policy that this Ministry has practised for months in relation to the protests.

We, as Members of the European Parliament, will discuss the issue in our respective parliamentary groups' meeting next week. A possible outcome of those consultations is to bring the issue up in the plenary of the European Parliament at the end of this month.

Yours Sincerely

Nuala Ahern, MEP

Neil MacCormick, MEP

Per Gahrton, MEP

Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, MEP

Alain Krivine, MEP

Guiseppe Di Lello, MEP

Caroline Lucas, MEP

Patricia Mc Kenna, MEP

Erik Meijer, MEP

Hans-Georg Modrow, MEP,
Vice-Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Czech Republic Joint Parliamentary Committee

Inger Schörling, MEP

Ilka Schröder, MEP

Elisabeth Schroedter, MEP

Roseline Vachetta, MEP

Francis Wurtz, MEP


More detailed report, based on evidence related to the case of Sylvia Yolanda Mach:

* The Czech police reacted aggressively to peaceful demonstrators, charging against them when they were creating a buffer zone between them and the police in order to avoid any possibility of clashes or confrontation. Before that, a very small group of people had attacked the police with sticks and stones but this did not lead to any reaction on the side of the security forces. It seems strange that the charge came when the demonstrators were trying to prevent the repetition of this kind of confrontation.

* As most of the protestors left the area after this charge with tear gas and concussion granades, a small group of protestors (many of them with cameras) was isolated from the rest by the police. This group of demonstrators remained locked with no possible exit while the police line advanced towards them. Ms. Sylvia Yolanda Mach, the Austrian/American citizen who filmed this video evidence (the same one who suffered very serious and irreparable injuries after jumping out of the window of a police station during interrogation) was within this group.

* Some of these demonstrators seeked refuge in the courtyard of a school. As the video apparently shows, a policeman approached Ms. Mach within that courtyard while she was completely alone aggressively assoulted her, asking for her video camera and making abusive comments.

* According to the medical report included in the police files, a medical check done on Ms. Mach at the police station shows that she had injuries and concussion in her head. In the video it is possible to see that she had none of this before being arrested.

* The same files show that there was no reason for her detention. The only reason mentioned in the report is that she was banned from the country during the time when the protests took place (presumably because she attended some of the preparatory meetings). But the police files also confirm that this ban was never communicated to her, which makes a detention on those grounds illegal according to the Czech legislation.

* The files also show that despite the lack of motives to arrest her, she did pay a fine of 500 Czech Crowns on the same day when she was arrested. The only reason mentioned in the receipt is her participation in the demonstration against the World Bank and the IMF, which according to our understanding should not be a reason to pay a fine. Instead of being released after paying the fine, as should have been the case, she was kept in custody.

* The same files confirm that she had to sign documents in Czech language, to which she added comments such as 'I declare that I cannot read any of the above' or 'I have the right to telephone', which seem to indicate that some of her basic legal rights were not respected.

* The next morning she refused to go back to her cell after visiting the toilets. According to the police files, she offered resistance to the police taking her back to the cell using passive and active resistance. According to her, she only offered passive resistance, and the only pro-active move that she did was trying to take the badge with the identification number of the police who was nearest to her just before she was put back in the cell. In either case, the police files show that there was no reason to keep her in custody.

* After this incident she was brought to the interrogation room, where according to her, she was told that she would remain under custody until being sentenced to prison for assoulting and injuring policemen. According to her, this was done without the presence of a lawyer, and not giving her the possibility to let anybody know about her situation. According to Ms. Mach, the despair caused by this situation led her to jump out of the window.

* Several communications and public declarations by the Ministry of the Interior have depicted Ms. Mach as an aggressive person. The video apparently shows how she was taking care of a group of representatives of Southern movements (of peasants, indigenous peoples and trade unions). Her friends from all over the world, some of whom work at the European Parliament, portray her in a different light.

In the next days we will receive copies of the video, the police files and the communications and declarations of staff from the Ministry of the Interior. If the information as described above is true, the police forces of the Czech Republic will have very little credibility left to testify against the persons who still remain in custody only on the basis of the testimony of policemen.


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