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( Politics demands harsh consequences after riots at an Eritrean event

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Monday, 18 September 2023

Eritrea Festival

Politics demands harsh consequences after riots

A police spokesman said up to 200 people attacked participants in the event and police officers with stones, bottles and wooden slats. /Jason Cheplyakov/dpa

September 18, 2023 at 2:12 p.m

The police surrounded and arrested the suspects after the Stuttgart riots. Only one is now in prison. Politicians are calling for tough action against the rioters.

After the massive riots on the sidelines of an Eritrea event in Stuttgart, 227 of the 228 suspected rioters who have since been arrested have been released. Stuttgart Police Vice President Carsten Höfler announced this on Sunday. The police surrounded the men and recorded their personal details until late Saturday evening. A suspected perpetrator should be brought before the judge on Sunday. He had already been noticed in a similar dispute in Gießen, Hesse. Höfler spoke of an excess of violence. Federal and state politicians condemned the violence and called for consequences.

There were violent riots on the sidelines of an event organized by Eritrean associations in Stuttgart on Saturday. The police said that around 80 to 90 participants in the event were close to the dictatorship in Africa. Several hundred opponents of the local government gathered in the city to protest. There was a riot at the venue, the Roman fort. Opponents of the event attacked participants and especially police officers. To do this, they used wooden slats, metal rods, bottles and stones, some of which were equipped with nails.

The 228 suspects are now being investigated on suspicion of breach of the peace, serious breach of the peace, assault, damage to property and bodily harm as well as grievous bodily harm and theft, as the police announced.

The police defended themselves against attacks with batons and pepper spray. The officers were surprised by the extent of the violence. Additional forces were requested from surrounding police headquarters and from the federal police. Officials were also flown in by helicopter. 27 police officers were injured. Höfler reported bruises, including on the head, as well as abrasions and flesh wounds. Six officers were reportedly treated in hospital. According to the information, five police officers were unable to continue their duties. In addition, 21 of the suspected criminals were injured.

The police reported that a total of 300 officers were on duty on Saturday. The participants in the Eritrea meeting were escorted from the scene under police protection after the end of the event. Höfler reported that there were more such events in Stuttgart, five in 2022 alone. These were essentially completely trouble-free. That's why the event was initially only secured with 20 officers. They then had to reorganize their police tactics and personnel. However, it was possible to protect the participants of the event at all times. A 15-person investigative group called Asmara has now been set up. Asmara is the capital of Eritrea.

Foreign conflicts must not be fought in our country, said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD). The perpetrators of violence must be held responsible. Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann was shocked. The images of the brutal riots with targeted attacks against the police are disturbing and completely unacceptable, said the Green politician. We do not tolerate conflicts from other countries being carried out violently in our country and will oppose this with all severity. Anyone who attacks emergency services is attacking the rule of law.

The Baden-Württemberg Interior Minister Thomas Strobl wants to find out about the operation from the Stuttgart police headquarters on Monday. The CDU politician also offered to report on the events to the state parliament's interior committee on Wednesday. This is about a breach of the peace - that's why the violent perpetrators must now feel the full severity of criminal law and immigration law, said Strobl.

The Green parliamentary group in the state parliament called for a police, legal and political investigation. Why didn't all the alarm lights go on for those responsible when registering an Eritrea event - especially in light of the events in July in Giessen? asked parliamentary group leader Andreas Schwarz and domestic policy spokesman Oliver Hildenbrand in a statement.

According to police, the personal details of almost all suspects have now been clarified. The suspects mostly come from the surrounding area of ​​Stuttgart, said Police Vice President Höfler. Only a few are from Stuttgart itself. 63 suspected opponents of the regime in Eritrea arrived from Switzerland. “That surprised us,” said Höfler. Some people also arrived from Giessen in Hesse. 212 of the suspects have Eritrean citizenship, seven suspects are German with Eritrean roots. Those arrested were 219 men and one woman. The personal details of eight people still need to be determined.

In July there were already riots at an Eritrea festival in Giessen. At least 26 police officers were injured when opponents of the event attacked security forces by throwing stones and bottles and setting off smoke bombs. In August, violent riots broke out at an Eritrean festival in Stockholm, leaving more than 50 people injured.

From their own perspective, the police found themselves caught between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean regime during the riots in Stuttgart. We stood in between as a buffer stop. The pure violence was directed against us, against the state, said Höfler.

From the perspective of the German Police Union (DPolG), the operation highlights the personnel problems of the police. It's good that we got help from other police headquarters and the federal police, said state chief Ralf Kusterer. But that often takes a very long time. He criticized the state for being weak. We have to change that. Also because a democratic state is endangered by this weak state. The public service and the police must finally be strengthened.

Kusterer criticized the fact that the unannounced counter-demonstration to the Eritrea meeting was assigned a demonstration area but did not stick to it. We're making fools of ourselves here. We must protect and strengthen our right to demonstrate and assemble. To do this, we have to take consistent action. Anyone who does not comply will forfeit their right to it.

The city of Stuttgart wants to contact the affected groups as soon as possible. We will immediately start talking to the clubs based in Stuttgart next week, said the city's integration officer Gari Pavkovic. Our line in regular discussions with the various migrant organizations is that we in Stuttgart will not tolerate any arguments or riots related to the conflicts in the countries of origin.

The city itself had rented the event room to the Eritrean associations. The city said there were no reasons to ban today's Eritrea event. Meetings in closed rooms do not require registration. However, the city will draw conclusions from the results of the public prosecutor's investigation.

Dr. Fikrejesus Amahazion at the XXIX International Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin on January

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