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Breaking News: Mass Arrests during NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania
Breaking News – Mass Arrest of demonstrators in Bucharest
Bucharest, Romania, April 2, 2008
(Please see http://www.contra-doxa.com/ for more background info on the NATO summit in Bucharest, as well as the anti-NATO convergence)
At approximately 12:30pm today, hundreds of police descended on the convergence center of the anti-NATO gathering in Bucharest. At this point, some organizers on the scene estimate that 46 arrests in all have been made. All the arrests were made inside the convergence center. There was no demonstration happening. Many of the police were wearing ski masks, and were very hostile to journalists trying to access the scene.
The convergence center was located near the center of Bucharest, which is hosting a NATO summit that just got underway today. It was located in an industrial space which the anti-NATO demonstrators had legally rented. According to the police, there were accusations that some protesters used aggression against one of the guards near the site.
By 3:15pm, 3 large paddy wagons had already left the site, carrying demonstrators inside. Some other protesters and media were gathered on the other side of the street, chanting to release the demonstrators.
A police spokesperson gave a few statements to the media in Romanian. (I don't speak Romanian, but the following info was losely translated for me by a Romanian speaker) According to the spokesperson, the police found anti-NATO banners and some paint inside the convergence center. There was nothing illegal. He stated that the protesters were not terrorists, and that they had been taken to the police station to have their identities verified. Among the group of people arrested were local activists as well as foreigners. The spokesperson also stated that this police intervention is not against the national constitution of Romania, and that liberty of expression is guaranteed.
At this point (5:10pm Bucharest time), all the protesters are still being detained. One organizer has stated that a few were badly beaten.
It should be noted that these arrests were made before any organized actions against the NATO summit had taken place, and also in a context where the authorities have stated they would not tolerate any opposition to NATO during the summit. The local corporate media has also been in a frenzy about "dangerous anarchists" who are going to descend on the city and break store windows. One TV news report on Realitatea TV yesterday morning encouraged viewers to throw rocks at any demonstrators that they see on the streets.
Hopefully we can have a more complete report soon. Keep checking http://www.contra-doxa.com/ or http://romania.indymedia.org/ for more info.