Berlin Police Disrupt Pro-Palestine Conference, Prevents Speakers from Entering Germany

Berlin Police Disrupt Pro-Palestine Conference, Prevents Speakers from Entering Germany

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Police in Berlin abruptly halted a pro-Palestine conference shortly after it commenced, following an incident where one of the primary speakers said that authorities hindered his entry into Germany.

According to police statements on the social media platform X on Friday, the Palestine Congress faced interruption initially due to a speaker being subjected to a ban on political activities in Germany.

While police did not disclose the identity of the speaker, participants identified him as Palestinian researcher Salman Abu Sitta on X.

Subsequently, authorities announced on X that they terminated the remainder of the conference, attended by approximately 250 individuals, slated to run until Sunday, citing concerns about the re-invitation of the same speaker, whom they accused of making "anti-Semitic" remarks in the past.

On the Congress's official website, organizers condemned Israel's crimes in Gaza, stating, "Together, with the voices of the Palestinian movement and the international community, we will denounce Israeli apartheid and genocide. We accuse Germany of being complicit."

Berlin police disclosed that they deployed 930 officers, including reinforcements from other German regions, to ensure security at the event.

One of the key speakers, Ghassan Abu Sittah, a British Palestinian doctor, expressed being denied entry into Germany to attend the conference. He lamented on X, "The German government has forcibly prevented me from entering the country."

The doctor, who volunteered in Gaza hospitals during the first weeks of Israel’s war, said he arrived at Berlin airport on Friday morning before being stopped at passport control.

Abu Sittah elaborated on his experience, revealing that he was detained at Berlin airport for several hours and informed he must return to the UK.

Abu-Sittah claimed that following the interrogation, German authorities said he was not allowed to enter the country and warned him of a fine or up to one year in prison should he have tried to link via Zoom or Facetime with the event.

“This is exactly what accomplices to a crime do. They bury the evidence, and they silence or harass or intimidate the witnesses,” Abu-Sittah said.

Airport authorities justified their decision citing concerns for "the safety of the people at the conference and public order," as Abu Sittah relayed to The Associated Press.

Organizer Nadija Samour denounced the action, stating to Anadolu Agency, "There is absolutely no legal basis for this, no justification at all. (Abu) Sittah is the dean of the University of Glasgow. I can’t imagine that he’s a dangerous person or a person who incites violence. Quite the opposite."

Abu Sittah condemned his exclusion from the event as "silencing a witness to genocide before the ICJ adds to Germany’s complicity in the ongoing massacre," on X.

In a broader context, Germany is facing accusations at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of aiding genocide in Gaza through arms sales to Israel, a war that has claimed over 33,600 Palestinian lives since October 7.

Germany's significant role as one of Israel's primary military suppliers, with 326.5 million euros ($353.7m) worth of equipment and weapons sent in 2023, as per Economy Ministry data, underscores the gravity of the accusations.

Organizer Samour accused the German government of exerting pressure to cancel the Palestine Congress, alleging active efforts to obstruct the event.

She further criticized the intentional delay in the congress's commencement, attributing it to purported technical reasons. “The congress could not be banned. Freedom of assembly protects the congress, which is precisely why the police came up with all sorts of harassment,” she said.

Amidst these events, the crowd outside the venue voiced solidarity chants, including "Viva, Viva Palestine" and "Germany finances, Israel bombs," waving Palestinian flags as they awaited entry.

Berlin police's stringent approach towards pro-Palestinian gatherings since the onset of the Israeli war on Gaza has drawn criticism, with accusations of curtailing democratic freedoms of speech and assembly.

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