High-Profile Activist's Arrest Fuels Fears of Police Crackdown in Copenhagen

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

High-Profile Activist's Arrest Fuels Fears of Police Crackdown in Copenhagen

Climate Justice Action spokesman to face charges, as Danish police prepare for mass protests at Copenhagen's Bella centre

by
Bibi van der Zee

Arrested activists sit on the ground as they are surrounded by police in Copenhagen. Tadzio Mueller, a spokesman for the umbrella group Climate Justice Action (CJA), was arrested today by plainclothes police as he left the Bella centre, where the official climate talks are taking place. The police refused to say what charges will be brought.(Photograph: Christian Charisius/Reuters)

A high-profile climate activist was arrested ahead of tomorrow's
major protests planned outside the Copenhagen climate summit, fuelling
anxiety about how the Danish authorities are policing demonstrations.

Tadzio
Mueller, a spokesman for the umbrella group Climate Justice Action
(CJA), was arrested today by plainclothes police as he left the Bella
centre, where the official climate talks are taking place. The police
are holding him at the Retorvej detention centre, and he will be
charged in court tomorrow morning. The police refused to say what
charges will be brought.

Kevin Smith, an organiser for activist
group Climate Camp, said: "It's unbelievable that in a supposed
democracy, undercover police are silencing spokespeople that are
criticising the climate talks. How far are the Danish authorities
prepared to go to stop tomorrow's protest from going ahead?"

Mueller's arrest comes on the eve of a Reclaim Power action that aims to "disrupt the sessions and open a space inside the UN area to hold a people's assembly" from 10am tomorrow.

For
several months, Mueller and other activists from CJA, which includes
representatives of organisations from around the world including Via Campesina, Focus on the Global South and Climate Camp, have been planning the protest.

But
their plan has now been modified and not all the demonstrators will
attempt to enter the centre. The largest section of the demo is likely
to be the "blue bloc" which has been granted permission to march by the
police. It will gather at Tarnby train station, and walk from there to
the north-east point of the fence around the Bella centre. It will be
headed by the large groups from the southern hemisphere including Via
Campesina and Focus on Global South among others. They will be
accompanied by the "yellow bloc", consisting of members of some of the
NGOs who have been shut out of the Bella centre to make space for world leaders arriving this week.

From
inside, a group of delegates - at least two countries have committed
themselves - and some NGOs, will take part in a demonstration of
solidarity. According to one organiser, who asked not to be named,
there may be acts of civil disobedience. The inside groups hope to be
able to come out and join the blue bloc, and hold a "people's summit"
inside, or near the perimeter of the centre.

Simultaneously, a
"green bloc" and an "autonomous bloc", consisting of various groups,
will be coming at the Bella centre from unspecified points and
attempting to scale the fence. These groups are reportedly committed to
non-violent civil disobedience.

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Ed Thompson, a spokesman for CJA,
said: "This is potentially a truly historic action, bringing together
activists from the north and south, in an attempt to make the voices of
the most vulnerable groups who are being left out of these talks heard.
We are not intimidated by the police. Every activist I know has come
here to take non-violence direct action, and not a single one of them
has said that he's going to stay home."

A spokesman for the
Danish police said: "For the demonstration tomorrow we're expecting
large numbers. We have some information coming in but we will just be
monitoring the situation as it carries on. We're hoping, of course, for
a peaceful demonstration, where people can exercise their right to
demonstrate."

Smith added: "The Danish government knows just how
embarrassing it will be when hundreds of delegates walk out tomorrow to
join us in the protest tomorrow against the climate talks, and it is
trampling over all manner of civil liberties to try and prevent that
from happening."

 

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