News from Berlin and Germany: 20 February, 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


Compiled by Ana Ferreira



Fourth corpse found in Landwehr canal since 2015. Are these racist murders?

On 20 December 2020, the lifeless body of Pape Gorgui Samba Diop was discovered. He was floating in the water near the Schlesische Brücke. For the investigating authorities, a suicide. However, an initiative has now launched an appeal for witnesses in the hope of finding out more about the circumstances of Pope’s death once this is not the first corpse found on the Landwehr Canal. He is actually now the fourth person of colour to be found here since 2015, all of whom died in unexplained circumstances, without a fuss. There is a growing sense of unease and fear in the community. Source: tip

Suspected torturer living in Berlin

An official of the Argentine military junta lives unmolested in Berlin. Activists are now protesting in his neighbourhood. The German-Argentinean Luis Esteban Kyburg has lived here for seven years. The ex-military man is considered an urgent suspect for the torture and murder of opposition members during the dictatorship. He is wanted on an international arrest warrant. The Berlin public prosecutor’s office has been investigating the case since 2015. This is also important to mention, as Kyburg is not an isolated case: the German-Chilean ex-officer Walther Klug Rivera, who was legally convicted of multiple murders in Chile, lived unmolested in the Rhineland for four years. Source: taz

Extra buses and trams commissioned to fight Covid

To ensure more distance between passengers on heavily used lines, up to 100 additional buses have been running on Berlin’s roads since Monday, most of them articulated buses. These will be deployed on about 50 particularly heavily used lines. In addition, eight tram trains will be added to provide extra capacity on the busy M5 and M8/18 lines. The updated timetables are available in the VBB-Fahrinfo, where they are marked as additional journeys. However, because almost all pupils are still studying at home, the planned deployment of security guards will be postponed, according to the Berlin Transport Authority (BVG). Source: rbb

“Rigaer 94” suspicious of inspection

The Berlin police must grant protection to an expert fire protection test engineer during his inspection of the house project “Rigaer 94”. This was decided by the Berlin Administrative Court in summary proceedings on Thursday. In January, Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD), in his function as district supervisor, forced Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg to enforce fire protection. The “farce of fire protection” serves “our opponents only as another attempt to attack our house”, says a statement by supporters of “Rigaer 94” published on the internet. They state two fire inspections without police escort “ironically found deficiencies caused by the cops themselves”. Source: nd


Majority is not working at home

“Home office” is the magic word of the workplace pandemic. But still most people do not work from home. According to a survey from Hans Böckler Foundation, only 24% of employees currently work mainly or exclusively in a home office. This is about 3% less than during the first lockdown just under a year ago. Still, it is slightly more than in November, when only 14% of employees worked from home. This also emerges from estimates by other research institutes such as the German Institute for Economic Research, which already came to the conclusion five years ago that home-based work would theoretically be possible in 40% of jobs. Source: nd

Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine faces criticism, WHO defends it

Side effects of the Corona vaccination of the pharmaceutical company Astra-Zeneca occur in isolated cases more frequently than previously stated by the manufacturer. According to various media reports, there were sickness-related absences after vaccination among at least 21 emergency service workers in the district of Minden-Lübbecke in North Rhine-Westphalia. As a result of such reports, vaccination beneficiaries in the state had already cancelled their immunisation appointments. Meanwhile, Berlin’s health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) clarified that there is no freedom of choice in vaccines for under-80s in the capital after all. In Berlin, only people over 80 could choose a vaccination centre. Source: nd

Students face Islamophobia after meeting CDU deputy

Muslim students, beneficiaries of the Avicenna Studienwerk, say they became the targets of a vicious online campaign after a digital meeting with the high-ranking Christian Democrat Norbert Röttgen, who posted a picture showing 25 young people, some wearing headscarves. Some of the fellow students asked Röttgen to obscure the names of the participants. He then deleted any posts that allowed the students to be identified. A new law on hate speech is planned and the German government took the issue to the highest political level with its Cabinet committee on right-wing extremism and racism. Source: dw

Kunduz bombing night: limits of EU justice

Lawyers and opposition representatives have criticised the ruling from last Tuesday of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the German investigation after a deadly air raid in Kunduz, Afghanistan, eleven years ago. The bombing was ordered by a Bundeswehr colonel, although civilian casualties were likely. After the ruling, representatives of the victims of the bombing also pointed out the legal consequences of the judge’s decision: German courts would henceforth be obliged to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Bundeswehr soldiers abroad. The applicants are still hoping for an apology from Germany. Source: heise

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