News from Germany and Berlin: 2 January, 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


Compiled by Ana Ferreira



Vaccination start and demo cancellations

The vaccination marathon has begun. After the release of the vaccine by Biontech and Pfizer last Wednesday, 4.1 million doses will be administered through vaccination centres and mobile vaccination teams. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) said there would be no special rights for vaccinated persons. Meanwhile, “Querdenken” initiator Michael Ballweg posted in Youtube to “accept the ban on demonstrations in Berlin and called on people not to travel to Berlin on 30 December, 31 December and 1 January”. He said he would not register any more demonstrations until spring. Source: nd

Politicians volunteer in the hospital

Kathrin Dannenberg, head of Brandenburg’s left-wing parliamentary group and resident of Calau in the Oberspreewald-Lausitz district, is volunteering in a hospital, relieving the nursing staff. Already during the first wave of the Corona pandemic in spring, the state chairperson Anja Mayer worked at the Catholic St. Josefs Hospital in Potsdam. Things eased up in the summer, but when the second wave of the pandemic hit in the autumn, the hospital asked Mayer if she would come back if the situation would worsen. Mayer is back to St. Josefs. Source: nd

Deportations to Syria from January

The Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) wants to enforce deportations to Syria in 2021. “It has been discussed with the president of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees that from the 1st of January in 2021 we will carefully examine each case and try to make deportation possible.” Seehofer also mentioned that someone could “get away with anything in Germany – from shoplifting to manslaughter. In any case, you never have to expect to be deported.” The general stop on deportations of Syrians to their homeland expires at the end of the year; federal and state interior ministers could not agree on an extension. Source: jW

German Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concerns for Julian Assange

The German government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Bärbel Kofler, unexpectedly took a stand on the extradition proceedings of Australian journalist Julian Assange in a statement, mentioning she follows with concern the extradition proceedings in the UK against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. So far, the Germgovernment always reaffirmed its trust in the British legal system. The verdict has been announced for next Monday. Kofler reminded that the UK is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, also with regard to the possible sentence and conditions of detention. Source: nd

No apology to victims of false accusations

On Tuesday, a guest article by the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia appeared in the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger,” where Armin Laschet (CDU) asked the victims of the often sexualised assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne five years ago to forgive the failures of the state government and authorities. Meanwhile, there is not a word of apology in his newspaper article to dozens of people against whom unjustified investigations were initiated and who had to prove at great expense that they could not have committed the acts of which they were accused. Source: nd

FDP and CDU consider ruling with the AfD

One political scene of the past year will be remembered for a long time. After the election of Thomas Kemmerich in February, Left Party leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow threw the bouquet of flowers at his feet. Next year, the question of how the FDP and especially the CDU want to deal with the radical right-wing party will probably play a central role again. New elections will be held in Thuringia in April and a new state parliament will also be elected in Saxony-Anhalt, but in June. Then it will become clearer whether the currents in the CDU that are in favour of a rapprochement with the AfD will prevail. Source: nd

Class divide and the pandemic

The class divide has deepened in 2020. An example from overseas, where Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos and Tesla boss Elon Musk come from: the 650 gigantic rich in the United States collectively own more than four trillion US dollars. In Germany, the loss of revenue through tax loopholes does not prevent state budgets from cushioning large corporations like Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn with crisis aid worth billions. In Berlin, under the slogan “FCK 2020. For a better tomorrow!”, around a thousand demonstrators marched on Wednesday. The motive is clear: the rich should pay for the crisis. After all, there’s enough money – just distributed in the wrong way. Source; jW


Arrests in Neukölln after Nazi terror series

After years of unsuccessful investigations, Berlin police executed two arrest warrants in connection with the right-wing terror series in Neukölln. Former NPD cadre Sebastian T. and ex-AfD executive Tilo P. are probably accused of the arson attacks on the cars of Neukölln left-wing political activist Ferat Kocak and bookseller Heinz Ostermann in February 2018. Those arrested have been considered prime suspects for some time. It is unclear what happened to the third main suspect Julian B. Likewise, whether there is any new evidence against the two right-wing extremists. Since 2016, 72 right-wing attacks have been committed in Neukölln, including 23 arsons. Source: nd

Schools in Berlin to remain closed until 17 January

On 5 January, the Minister President of the States will discuss Corona measures with the Chancellor. But no one expects that the end of the lockdown, which actually applies until 11 January, will be decided then. For Berlin’s schools, the senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) has now made it clear that homeschooling will last at least one week longer. Whether the emergency provision of day-care centres will continue beyond 11 January will also be decided at this meeting. Berlin, together with Hamburg, have already decided before the Conference of Education Ministers on 4 January to maintain the lockdown at schools for the time being. Source: Berliner Zeitung

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