Riot police arrests 23 peaceful activists in Zagreb, Croatia
At 03.30 AM last Thursday in Zagreb, Republic of Croatia, around 100 riot police officers arrested 23 activists from "Green Action" and "Right to the City". The raid took place just hours after 4000 people turned out in snowy conditions to protest against turning part of the pedestrian zone into a ramp for an underground garage planned as part of the Floral Square (Cvjetni trg) and as part of luxury flat complexes that are developing in the old part of Zagreb.
Monday, 15 February 2010, by HRH Sarajevo / Lejla Mazlic
The operation aimed to remove the accommodation container which the groups had put on Varsavska Street pedestrian zone as a 24-hour info-point in order to block the beginning of works on the ramp, which is still under legal dispute. Activists inside of the container and on the roof peacefully resisted removal by locking themselves together using arm tubes, and were arrested after the fire brigade cut the tubes. Around 50 more activists blocked the road exits of the lorry carrying the container but were also removed by the riot police.
The police also hacked to pieces a five-metre high wooden trojan horse which had been brought to the site for the previous evening’s protest as a symbol of private interests and corruption masquerading as urban redevelopment.
“Using riot police against a small group of peaceful protesters is a disturbing over-reaction to the civil offence of failing to obtain permission before temporarily placing the container in the pedestrian zone”, said Teo Celakoski from Right to the City. “Yet the whole Cvjetni project is based on dubious legal manoeuvres such as the city authorities’ decision to declare it a project of public interest when it is clearly nothing of the kind”.
“The Croatian authorities must concentrate on tackling the real problem of corruption instead of shooting the messengers, added Tomislav Tomasevic, from Green Action. “The European Commission has repeatedly identified corruption as a major remaining obstacle to Croatia’s EU Accession but if this project is anything to go by there is still a long way to go.”
The activists of the organizations ‘’Right to the City’’ and ‘’Green Action’’ with the support of members of the Human Rights House Zagreb, organized a peaceful street protest last week on February 10th in the street of Varsavska (Warsaw Street). After the night raid made by riot police, Human Rights House Zagreb reacted with a protest letter adressed to authorities of the city of Zagreb (available for download).
HRH Sarajevo / Lejla Mazlic
Based on press release by Zelena akcija (Green Action), including information provided by HRH Zagreb, and Croatian media.
HRH Zagreb's response to police intervention in Varsavska (in English).