Various left and Kurdish groups wanted a joint demonstration in Heilbronn on November 20, 2010 under the motto “Peace and freedom for Kurdistan! Build international class solidarity! ” carry out. After just a few meters, however, the approximately 500 demonstrators were harassed by fully equipped police units and attacked several times. The demonstration in Untere Neckarstrasse was finally encircled and broken up by the police, there were numerous arrests and around 40 people were injured by the police.
November 20th in Heilbronn: First evaluation of the demonstration “Peace and Freedom for Kurdistan!”
kurdistandemoheilbronn2010logoFor November 20, 2010, various groups from Baden-Württemberg participated in a national demonstration in Heilbronn under the motto “Peace and Freedom for Kurdistan!” mobilized.
The aim of the demonstration was, on the one hand, to send a clear signal against Turkey’s war policy against the Kurdish population and movement, supported by the FRG.
On the other hand, as an action by Kurdish and non-Kurdish leftists, the demonstration was intended to underline the need for a common struggle for liberation.
About 500 people gathered on November 20, despite massive disabilities and repression, when arriving at Heilbronn main station.
On its way towards the city center, the demonstration march was provoked and harassed several times by the militant police force and finally stopped with batons, kicks and pepper spray and broken up by the police. In the further course of the demonstration, a large area of the demonstration was encircled and the people in it were either taken into custody in an hour-long procedure or photographed for identification purposes and given a dismissal.
The demonstration ended after a kilometer, before it could reach the location of the intermediate rally in the city center.
Although our analysis of the events on November 20th has not yet been completed, we would now like to make an initial assessment.
Around 500 people came to the opening rally at Heilbronn main station, including Kurdish activists from the region as well as numerous newcomers from various cities in Baden-Württemberg.
As part of a joint mobilization, revolutionary left groups and organizations in particular organized bus and train trips from Stuttgart, Mannheim, Freiburg and Karlsruhe.
In speeches by the Revolutionary Left Heilbronn, the Kurdish Youth Stuttgart and a representative from Yek-Kom, the role of the FRG as the most important arms supplier and trading partner of Turkey was presented and attention was drawn to the persecution of the Kurdish liberation movement in Germany.
In practical terms, too, the participants in the criminalization showed their limits and simply refused to accept any slogan bans that were enforced.
Even after the opening rally, the line-up for the demonstration in Bahnhofstrasse took place in a good and combative mood. Led by an area in which mainly Kurdish women, children and the elderly ran, the demonstration march was mostly the revolutionary left groups with flags and banners.
Police provocations from the start
Well before the opening rally began, Heilbronn Central Station looked like a fortress.
The station forecourt and the entrances and exits were manned by hundreds of police officers, “suspicious looking” people were randomly checked. At this point in time, the police horse squadron and police dogs could also be seen at the main station.
The area on the corner of Roßkampffstraße registered for the opening rally was also blocked by the police in several emergency vehicles, so that the loudspeaker van had trouble driving through the area.
The police tried and tried to justify their massive appearance at the main train station with a possible Turkish counter-demonstration. However, no one appeared for this counter-demonstration, which had already been announced for 11.00 a.m. only on the Internet.
With the arrival of the first participants in the demonstration, the provocations of the police intensified. Larger groups were surrounded, filmed and held for more than half an hour before they were allowed to walk to the opening rally.
As soon as the demonstration was set up, the police, with the participation of the Evidence Preservation and Arrest Units (BFE), began to set up a trellis around the entire demonstration and to film the participants from all sides with countless cameras.
During our demonstration on Bahnhofstrasse in the direction of Friedrich-Ebert-Brücke, the police guard was drawn closer and closer to the demo so that the police officers had direct physical contact with the banners carried on the side and the demonstration participants.
Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to influence the police leadership to loosen the trellis.
Instead, there were repeated nudges and threats from aggressive police officers against demonstrators and orderers. Civilian state security officers repeatedly ran into the middle of the demonstration and tried to intimidate stewards.
At the same time, the police leadership declared that they would no longer tolerate the wearing of side banners that were knotted together, although it was pointed out several times that the demonstration had not been made subject to any conditions regarding the wearing of side banners.
Massive police attacks and breakup of the demonstration
In the area of Friedrich-Ebert-Brücke and Untere Neckarstrasse, the police finally attacked our demonstration with batons, kicks, pepper spray and police horses.
40 people were injured by the use of pepper spray, 2 participants had to be treated in hospital because of a serious hand injury or a dangerous kick in the stomach.
In this situation, parts of our demonstration tried to defend themselves against the police with paint bags, flags and a few firecrackers.
In the Untere Neckarstrasse, the police finally encircled a larger part of the demonstration and declared that they wanted to carry out a personal identification of all those who were encircled.
Attempts by the applicant for the demonstration and a lawyer called in to negotiate an alternative were rejected.
After the non-encircled part of the demonstration showed solidarity with the trapped with slogans and a sit-in, and refused to continue walking towards the city center and leave the people who were repeatedly attacked by masked police units, the police broke up the demonstration.
In a subsequent procedure, which lasted several hours, the people who were encircled were taken away individually and selected: 41 people were taken into custody by the police, a further 82 people were checked on site, photographed and were sent off for downtown Heilbronn. Whole bags of objects were randomly assigned to individual demonstrators, probably in order to be able to construct a possible charge later.
In the evening, everyone in custody was released.
“Heilbronner Weg” – The police strategy
We and many observers of the demonstration on November 20th assume that the brutal attacks and the encirclement of our demonstration were part of a police strategy.
This is supported by the completely exaggerated contingent with 5 hundreds, masked BFE, countless plainclothes police officers, horse and dog units. The provocative behavior of the police at the beginning of the demonstration by encircling travelers, filming all participants and then raising a guard, clearly shows that the police were interested in an escalation.
This also fits that the police had repeatedly announced in the run-up to the demonstration that criminal offenses and riots were to be expected.
The “Kurdish Community Heilbronn eV”, which only carried out a completely peaceful demonstration in Heilbronn in July 2010, was repeatedly described as “violent” in the grounds for the demonstration requirements and was abused to justify the martial police presence.
There was also agitation against left-wing and anti-fascist connections in Heilbronn, including a reference to a spontaneous demonstration against an NPD event on October 1st. This spontaneous anti-fascist demo went very smoothly until it was attacked by the Heilbronn police in the city center.
Apparently the police wanted to make an example on November 20th and therefore waited for a time that was favorable for them to take action against us. The Untere Neckarstrasse, relatively poorly visible from the outside and with few passers-by, seemed to her to be a suitable place to violently end the demonstration.
Politically, this approach can be interpreted in two directions:
On the one hand, active left-wing contexts in Heilbronn are intended to be intimidated and demoralized. It should not have escaped the protection of the state that there has been an increasing interest in left politics in Heilbronn, especially young people, for about 2 years.
They believe that with massive arrests, pepper spray and a “Law and Order” line, they can prevent a lively activism from developing out of an interest in left-wing politics.
On the other hand, we must expressly understand the police attack as an attack on the cooperation between Kurdish structures and German left-wing organizations.
The escalation of our demonstration is intended to drive a wedge between us and our Kurdish friends and comrades, create distrust and uncertainty and prevent further joint actions.
It is now important not to be intimidated by the massive attacks on Saturday.
If there are further proceedings and repression against those who were encircled on Saturday, we will answer them together in solidarity and leave no one alone with the consequences.
There must and will be further activities against the war against the Kurdish population and against the criminalization of the Kurdish movement. Also in Heilbronn.
In doing so, we will continue to expand the cooperation between the German, Kurdish and Turkish leftists and not allow ourselves to be divided over a few firecrackers.
However, we need more binding agreements and better communication structures for future campaigns. On Saturday it became clear that there were organizational weaknesses and internal inconsistencies that made it easier for the police to take action against us.
We also have to have internal discussions about the nature of demonstrations and how to deal with the police. However, unsolidary distancing from forms of action and declarations of innocence do not help us or the cause.
We do not have to justify ourselves to those who organize or justify the war policy and the persecution of the Kurds in the FRG and we cannot expect them to leave us alone as long as we take to the streets against their goings-on .
Revolutionary Left Heilbronn & Revolutionary Action Stuttgart