NOTE: This is not a collective statement, but rather an individual eyewitness report from an indymedia journalist who was involved with the anti-NATO mobilizations in Bucharest
Breaking News – Mass Arrest of demonstrators in Bucharest
Bucharest, Romania, April 2, 2008
(Please see www.contra-doxa.com for more background info on the NATO
summit in Bucharest, as well as the anti-NATO convergence)
At approximately 12:30pm today, hundreds of police descended on the
convergence center of the anti-NATO gathering in Bucharest. At this
point, some organizers on the scene estimate that 46 arrests in all have
been made. All the arrests were made inside the convergence center.
There was no demonstration happening. Many of the police were wearing ski
masks, and were very hostile to journalists trying to access the scene.
The convergence center was located near the center of Bucharest, which is
hosting a NATO summit that just got underway today. It was located in an
industrial space which the anti-NATO demonstrators had legally rented.
According to the police, there were accusations that some protestors used
aggression against one of the guards near the site.
By 3:15pm, 3 large paddy wagons had already left the site, carring
demonstrators inside. Some other protestors and media were gathered on
the other side of the street, chanting to release the demonstrators.
A police spokesperson gave a few statements to the media in Romanian. (I
don’t speak Romanian, but the following info was losely translated for me
by a Romanian speaker) According to the spokesperson, the police found
anti-NATO banners and some paint inside the convergence center. There was
nothing illegal. He stated that the protestors were not terrorists, and
that they had been taken to the police station to have their identities
verryfied. Among the group of people arrested were local activists as
well as foreigners. The spokesperson also stated that this police
intervention is not against the national consitution of Romania, and that
liberty of expression is guaranteed.
At this point (5:10pm Bucharest time), all the protestors are still being
detained. One organizer has stated that a few were badly beaten.
It should be noted that these arrests were made before any organized
actions against the NATO summit had taken place, and also in a context
where the authorities have stated they would not tolerate any opposition
to NATO during the summit. The local corporate media has also been in a
frenzy about “dangerous anarchists” who are going to descend on the city
and break store windows. One TV news report on Realitatea TV yesterday
morning encouraged viewers to throw rocks at any demonstrators that they
see on the streets.
Hopefully we can have a more complete report soon. Keep checking
www.contra-doxa.com or romania.indymedia.org for more info. I will also
try to upload photos and video I took.