News from Berlin and Germany, 17th May 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Banning of Nakba demonstrations

This Monday was Nakba Day, Arabic for catastrophe. Always on May 15, Palestinians around the world memorialise the expulsion in the wake of the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. In the past, there have been clashes with the police in Berlin, when anti-Semitic statements are made – or if statements are interpreted in this way. One thing is certain: gatherings with a Palestinian connection are under increased public scrutiny. For instance, in 2022, the police banned all gatherings for the Nakba anniversary. Last Friday it happened again: two demonstrations, supposed to take place last weekend were banned. Source: taz

Court dismisses climate demonstrator’s claim on ‘pain grip’

After a police intervention during a road blockade in Berlin, a climate demonstrator took legal action against the use of the so-called pain grip – and initially has failed. According to the Administrative Court of Berlin, activists are regularly carried away during street blockades. Occasionally, the “hand-bending transport technique” was threatened or used. This technique can cause pain to the person concerned. The footage presented by the climate demonstrator did not show that “painful enforcement practices were regularly used”. According to that court, a general review of this practice is not possible in such a proceedings. Source: rbb

Queer people in housing need: no home after coming out

At Queerhome*, homeless queer people find support – the first counselling centre of its kind in Berlin is met with great demand. It has been around for six months. The project belongs to the supporting association Sonntags-Club, a traditional queer institution in Prenzlauer Berg. “We were overrun,” says Christian Weitzel (Sonntags-Club). “In the first eight weeks, we received 120 enquiries from individual people seeking advice.” In total, they have counted around 250 people looking for support since they started. Some of them need help finding a flat or advice when they are threatened with losing their flat. “But the big issue is housing emergencies,” says Schultz. Source: nd-aktuell

Police officer alleged to have kicked man in the face

A Berlin police officer allegedly kicked an arrested man in the face. The police announced on Saturday proceedings had been initiated against the officer on suspicion of assault and battery. According to the authorities, the police were called to Brentanostraße in Steglitz by residents. They were awakened by loud shouting at around 2.30 am. A man and a woman supposedly hit several parked cars. The police then found the couple at Breitenbachplatz. After their arrest, a policeman, who had injured their nose, apparently kicked the handcuffed man in the face. Source: t-online



Warning strike at the railway cancelled

The announced 50-hour warning strike on the railways will not take place. Deutsche Bahn and the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) have reached an agreement on an important point of the wage dispute. Nevertheless, things are likely to be bumpy on the railways: the EVG stressed the strike call was still valid for some railway companies. EVG spokesperson Uwe Reitz said: “There will be no strike at Deutsche Bahn, but we are negotiating with a total of fifty companies and have also called for warning strikes at other companies, and the strike will continue there.” Source: rbb

Charlemagne Prize with bonus

There was a time when the winners of the Charlemagne Prize of Aachen (a prize awarded for “work in service of European unification”) were given 5,000 euros to take with them. One could ask oneself whether renowned politicians – and they often were – were in need of such a ‘small’ sum. And whether their politics deserved anything at all. It’s now been announced that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has received the Charlemagne Prize, and that he will go back to Ukraine with the prize of 2.7 billion euros: that is the value for which Germany wants to supply further war material. Among them more battle tanks. Source: nd-aktuell

For “personal reasons”

For “personal reasons”, as she put it, Thuringia’s Green Minister for the Environment Anja Siegesmund resigned from her office at the end of last year, for a “time-out”. But then the regional press found out such reasons had a professional touch after all. The Federal Association of the German Waste Management, Water and Environmental Service Industries had apparently already chosen Siegesmund as the next president. However, the green leader will not be able to take up this job as soon as planned. Perhaps it escaped Siegesmund’s attention that the red-red-green coalition to which she belonged had adopted a “grace period regulation.” Source: taz

New draft law reveals strict rules for Germans “cannabis clubs”

When Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) announced last month Germany would get the ball to legalisation rolling quickly, the then-dubbed “Cannabis Social Clubs” (CSC) were pitched as the heart of the government’s plan. Now, according to the new draft law, these clubs are to be strictly regulated. Cultivation, dispensing, club membership and the organisation of the clubs’ premises will be closely monitored, while cannabis consumption will be forbidden at the club itself and within a 250-metre radius of a club’s premises. Public marijuana consumption will also still be restricted. Source: iamexpat

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