Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Ombudswoman: Police erred during Chinese President's visit

ČTK |
6 October 2016

Brno, Oct 5 (CTK) - According to Ombudsman Anna Sabatova, the Czech police acted chaotically and disproportionately during some incidents in the streets of Prague accompanying the March visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the ombudsman's spokeswoman, Iva Hrazdilkova, said in a press release on Wednesday.

The police detained some people groundlessly, Hrazdilkova added.

Police officers made a serious mistake when they did not interfere against some supporters of the Chinese president who were beating a man carrying a Tibetan flag with their flagpoles, and instead, they interfered against the victim of the attack and detained him, Hrazdilkova said.

Sabatova calls on the police to make video-recordings of similar events to be able to assess the situation retroactively and identify some protagonists.

Upon the Chinese president's arrival, two activists tied themselves up to city light poles, changing Chinese flags for Tibetan ones in Evropska street, the main route from the airport. Other people were watching them and some of them also tied themselves to the poles.

The police called on the people to leave the area and those who disobeyed were detained and brought to a police station.

Sabatova says the police acted at variance with law in this case.

She also says the police intervention at the Film Academy (FAMU) in Prague was completely chaotic.

FAMU joined the public hoisting of the Tibetan flag as a symbol of support for the victims of human rights abuses in Communist China. Two men, who introduced themselves as police detectives, came to the FAMU building and asked questions about the flag.

The police's demand that a Tibetan flag be removed from a window of an administrative building opposing the Hilton Hotel raises a suspicion of a selective removal of symbols that might irritate the Chinese president.

However, Sabatova did not gain information about a possible systemic removal of other obstacles preventing the view of police snipers, and this is why the violation of the right to freedom of expression cannot be proved in the above mentioned case of one Tibetan flag, she said.

The Prague regional police director accepted the ombudsman's arguments to a high extent and took adequate measures to redress the situation, but he disagreed with her assessment of the police intervention in Evropska street, Hrazdilkova said.

The police detained 23 people in connection with Xi Jinping's visit, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) announced.

The internal police investigation has concluded that the police made a mistake only by their security measures at the FAMU over the hoisted Tibetan flag.

The security measures during Xi Jinping's visit amounted to 16 million crowns and about 1000 police officers were deployed a day to see to his safety.

The police were criticised for some of their steps against people expressing disagreement with Chinese policy.

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