News round-up 11th Jan 2020
Updated: Jan 11
Network wants to raise migrant voices in Die Linke
"Die Linke is still not diverse enough", says the founding declaration of Links*Kanax, a new network aiming to boost the participation of people with migration backgrounds in the left party. The founders include Ferat Kocak and Belma Bekos from Neukölln. They want to fight the shift to the right in German society, argue within Die Linke for pro-migration positions such as open borders, and produce left literature in multiple languages to reach marginalised communities. At the end of last year the network took part in the "No place for Nazis" demonstration, which brought 1,000 people to the streets of Neukölln in protest against a series of far-right attacks.
Police to flood 'crime hotspots' in Neukölln and Kreuzberg
A new police unit has been set up to target "crime hotspots and areas with high tourist traffic". By April, 125 extra police will be deployed daily at Alexanderplatz, Görlitzer Park, Kottbusser Tor, Warschauer Brücke and North Neukölln. A second new department dedicated to "Islamic extremism and terrorism" also started operating last week. The Berlin interior senator, Andreas Geisel of the social democratic party (SPD), said: "I want Berlin to remain a safe and liveable city."
AfD sues anti-racist activist over cancelled conference venue
A Berlin anti-racist activist is being sued by members of the AfD after she warned the owner of a venue against hosting the far-right group's conference. The AfD members are accusing Irmgard Wurdack, coordinator of Aufstehen Gegen Rassismus ("Stand Up Against Racism"), of making false statements and threats. After learning that the Ballhaus Pankow had accepted a booking for the AfD Berlin conference, Wurdack phoned the landlord to let them know about the AfD's record. The venue later cancelled the booking. The Berlin AfD conference has already been postponed twice, apparently because the party can't find a room.
Schöneberg self-managed youth centre battles eviction
It is the first of a series of eviction proceedings against autonomous spaces expected this year: on Wednesday, the POTSE youth centre in Potsdamer Strasse had its hearing in court. 80 people turned up in support. The young people who self-run the centre refused to hand over the keys after the lease expired last year. Since then, they have been squatting the venue, continuing to use it for concerts and band rehearsals. The landlord is the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. A verdict is likely to take some weeks, but a spokesperson for the youth centre said they expected to be forced out eventually: "We must assume that the Red-Red-Green coalition will go down in history as the government that evicted Berlin's last self-governed youth centre."
Civil society groups plan refugee rescue boat
Last month a coalition of workers' welfare, aid organisations and faith groups unveiled plans to purchase and convert a ship to be used for rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. 150 organizations and individuals are part of the United4Rescue initiative, including Germany's Protestant church. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairman of the council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD), has denounced the criminalisation and villification of sea rescue workers in the Mediterranean. Bedford-Strohm has said he has received death threats for backing the rescue ship plan, indicating the sharp polarisation in German society on the question of refugee welfare.
PKK activist arrested in Bremen
Police have arrested an official of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Germany. According to the officers, the arrest of the 42-year-old came after a lengthy investigation. The man is said to have been active as a regional leader of the PKK in Bremen and Lower Saxony. According to the report, his duties included organizing money for the PKK and recruiting members.
Number of attacks on mosques reaches record high
Attacks on mosques in Germany are at a record high, according to a community group. The initiative Brandeilig documented 110 incidents in 2019, more than in any other year since the start of the recording in 2014. The incidents listed by the project range from verbal intimidation and written death threats, to racist graffiti and severed pig heads, to arson attacks. Despite the increasing threat, authorities have done nothing to step up protection of mosques.
Leipzig New Year's Eve riots lead to claims against "left-wing extremists"
An attack on a policeman during riots in Leipzig on New Year's Eve has been blamed on "possible left-wing extremists". Police say the officer was seriously injured in the Connewitz district. Local SPD politician Henning Homann has warned against "instrumentalizing" the incident in the forthcoming local election. Leipzig's mayoral election will take place on February 2nd.