Protests in Germany
One after another, the European countries are quarantined due to the 2nd wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The return to the harsh restrictions greatly upsets the population, for many economic and social reasons. Tens of thousands of Europeans are protesting on the streets. Germany hasn’t escaped such fate.
The German government introduced unprecedented new quarantine measures in November, even more strict than those during the spring. Violators of the regulations face fines and severe sanctions, comparable to those for the criminal acts.
Critics of the new measures argue that they are disproportionate, and unlawful. Quarantine hits on the civil liberties, leads to an almost complete stop of social and public life and, as a result, to an economic collapse.
The situation was escalated by the Bundestag’s «Infection Protection Law», which expands the powers of the authorities, and makes it easier for Angela Merkel’s government to quickly introduce isolation measures to fight the coronavirus.
The protesters believe that with this law, Berlin has exceeded the permissible limit of powers.
In Berlin, on Tuesday morning, the protesters violated the ban on rallies, and began to arrive in the city center between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, where the parliament is located. At first, the police didn’t try to disperse the crowd, despite the inconsistency of the action, and the increased security requirements in the area of government facilities.
But the number of protesters went up to 10,000, and the police called for a back-up, dogs, and water cannons. There were also instigators in the crowd. In the end, the situation escalated into riots and clashes. Bottles and stones were thrown at the police.
The most aggressive demonstrators entered the Bundestag building and headed to the debate hall. They wanted to stop the new ‘Infection Protection Act’. After that, the police pushed the crowd away from the Bundestag, dispersed the rally with water cannons, and arrested about 200 people. Berlin authorities stated that the protesters ignored the demands to wear masks.
After the «invasion of the activists», the German parliamentarians rushed to talk about an attack on the legislature.
The Social Democratic MP, Helge Lindh, initially agreed that the people «should have an opportunity to protest and criticize», but then she added:
«The tolerance can’t go so far as to agree that the law on protection against the infections means the start of a fascist dictatorship».
Some protesters, as well as the German far-right party ‘Alternative for Germany’, have repeatedly compared the aforementioned law with the ‘Emergency Powers Act of 1933’, which gave the government dictatorial powers.
The ‘Infection Protection Act’ does transfer some power from parliament to the government. So far, the German authorities have largely relied on the executive orders to tackle the coronavirus crisis. This practice was criticized by the parliamentarians from all parties, and was considered to be unconstitutional by many. The ‘Infection Protection Act’ will now create a legal framework that allows the government to restrict some of the basic civil rights, protected by the German Constitution.