|by Hana Nelson,
||Dec 13, 2009
| I was part of the group that got arrested yesterday in Copenhagen and I am incredibly disappointed with the conditions of our arrest. The group I was with, Friends of the Earth Norway and the University that I am attending in Norway (approximately 30 people) were marching,
along with ~ 50,000, others to the Bella Center where the climate conference is being held. We were there because we are ecology/ agriculture students who believe in the collective pressure that a united international group can show the world. Our message is that we are ready for political action on climate change.
Our group was officially registered to be a part of the march so we were placed in order for the march. We had marched for about 40 minutes when, all of a sudden, the street block we were on was cordoned off by the police. We couldn't move. All we could suspect as the cause were a few people who ran towards us, trying to get away from the police. We heard rumours that there were approximately 10-15 who were
seen throwing things at the police further behind us. We were asked to sit by the police, and at this point we thought everybody would be checked and those responsible caught and then we would be sent on our way.
This was not to be the case. People were being taken one by one, arms cuffed behind backs in plastic and sat in rows, with legs spread and people sitting between them. We could not believe it, but they were taking everyone, including us, the Krishna chanters beside us and all the other peaceful marchers.
Most incredible for me was that I was standing beside a fellow student from Iran while they were taking people and she was getting quite emotional asking 'What have we done?' and Are they going to arrest us?' With tears in her eyes she said 'This doesn't happen in Iran, the police don't treat people like this'. She had even participated in protests after the elections in Iran. She was taken before me and sat in another row, so I'm still not sure what happened to her, but I know that she missed last night's midnight flight to Tehran for the holidays
and that she will probably have to stay here over the holidays.
After they took me and cuffed me I was sitting in an all-female row. We sat for three and a half to four hours on the pavement with our hands behind our backs and our legs spread. I tired of asking police officers several times, 'Under what charge are we being held?' 'What are our rights?' and 'For how long are we going to be sitting here?'. I also asked that someone inform us about what was going on. Most ignored me, or said that we'd get someone, but until about the fifth or sixth hour, no one actually told me why were we being held.
In anticipation of the Climate Summit, the Danish government passed a law that allows police to "detain persons who have been the source of risk of disturbance of public order or safety or who pose a danger to the safety of individuals. The rules may be used, for instance, to control persons who take part in demonstrations that develop into
"public disorder". They can, in demonstrations detain people for up to twelve hours.
The police were completely unprepared for the results of being able to use this law. We were five-hundred sitting in the street and there was no organized form of transportation to get us out for several hours, there was no toilet, no water, and no food. People quite literally peed their pants because they could not hold it any longer. They asked a store owner on the street for the use of their toilet but this was not sufficient. People all around me were asking for the use of the
toilet and for hours they got the answer 'There is a really long
queue, you'll just have to wait'. I saw a police officer take a crying friend of mine to the bathroom and today she is still quite upset and only wants to leave.
My row was the last to be taken away and there were no more buses so we were taken in a paddy-wagon. I was joking with the police officer, saying 'Are we really that dangerous that we need to go in a paddy-wagon?' He laughed and said, 'Well at least now you'll have a good story to tell.' Because I was in a paddy wagon we were taken directly to the door of the holding facility (a makeshift jail, apparently they also had installed cages to hold up to 10 people and I'm still not sure if some were put in those).
Once more, they sat me down on the floor for more than an hour in a room full of many men and nine women. I think that because of this they processed us more quickly and I was out six hours later. Having the plastic cuffs cut off was not an enjoyable experience, I was in so much pain from my numb arms. Over the coming hours fellow group members trickled out of the various holding facilities or were sent to different bus and train stops across the city.
We were shocked to see, on the Danish news, police officials and politicians saying that the people that got arrested were those that caused trouble and inhibited the peacefulness of the march. The message that politicians gave is that the activists were only there to protest and to not constructively work within the system for effective change. This action disturbs the image that people like us are trying to communicate.
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