To: Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen (Ombudsman), Per Larsen (Detective Commander of the Danish National Police) and Ritt Bjerregaard (Lord Mayor of Copenhagen)
Over the past two weeks, citizens of countries all over the world have come to Copenhagen for the UN COP-15 climate negotiations. Many have engaged in peaceful, nonviolent protest, trying to push world leaders to sign a meaningful deal that will save our planet for future generations.
Rather that giving them the space, the Danish police have used extremely heavy-handed and cruel mass arrest tactics, potentially violating European human rights laws. The Danish police are out of control, and they need to be held accountable.
Please join us and take action! Sign this petition calling on the Danish government to immediately investigate the police actions of the past two weeks, and demand that they allow future peaceful protests to go forward without similar abuses.
Danish Police: Going Too Far
On Saturday, Dec. 12, 100,000 people in Copenhagen participated in an overwhelmingly peaceful protest – but this protest was marred by the overzealous Danish police, who blocked off streets surrounding large groups of protestors, and arrested almost 1,000 people, the vast majority of which were clearly doing nothing illegal. Arrestees were handcuffed and forced to sit in rows for hours, as the temperatures dipped below freezing; numerous people urinated on themselves after being denied use of toilets. According to Maria Ludwig from Germany, “They kept me for two hours with plastic cuffs around our wrists and our hands behind our back, and then they put us on the bus. We had nothing to eat or drink, and one man asked the police to go to the toilet and they said: ‘No way are you going to put your trousers down, you’ll just have to piss into your trousers.”
And this is only one example of the harassment of environmental protestors by the Danish police in recent weeks. On Dec. 11, police arrested 68 people at a nonviolent protest in downtown Copenhagen, refusing to give reasons for making arrests. (You can see examples of police violence at the Dec. 11 protest on this video.) On the night of Dec. 14, police raided the district of Christiania, where a protest group was holding a fundraiser party, arresting 200 people and using tear gas, police dogs, and water cannons on people that they claimed were protestors. Lily Kember, 22, from London, said: “There was no warning. We were dancing, having a great night and then suddenly the tent was full of tear gas. I saw an old man near me doubled up and coughing.”
Possible Violations of EU Human Rights Laws?
Throughout these protests, police have cited a controversial law, passed on Nov. 26, that gave them sweeping powers to make “pre-emptive arrests” and hold people for up to 12 hours without any actual wrongdoing having taken place. The new law was publicly denounced as “draconian” by numerous environmental groups, trade unions, and other organizations.
In a press release from Aug. 10, the Danish police stated that “all people are, without previous permission, at liberty to assemble unarmed” and that “the police arenít allowed to take action, unless attacked, until after the crowd has three times been called upon to disperse.” However, in these protests, these commitments have been blatantly disregarded.According to Claus Bonnez, a lawyer working with Krim, a human rights organization, “according to the European Court of Human Rights process, the police will have to prove that it is necessary for democratic society to make such arrests. And I don’t think that the Danish police will be able to prove that.”
On Dec. 13, Amnesty International called for an investigation into potential human rights abuses, stating that “when nearly 1,000 people are arrested and then all but 13 are released it means that many of those people were just innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Take action now! Please sign this petition, and help make Denmark a safe place for peaceful protest.