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Public Appeal for the Right to Demonstrate in Strasbourg

Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy, Martin Singe, Aquinostr. 7-11, D-50670 Cologne, Tel. +49-221-9726920

February 17, 2009

TO: The French Minister of the Interior

The Embassy of France in Germany

Members of the European Parliament

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

At the recent international conference in Strasbourg, 14-15 February, called to prepare for demonstrations and protest actions during the NATO summit meeting on April 3-4, 2009, those present learned that all demonstrations in the central city are to be banned. In addition a ‘red zone’ limited to those with special passes, and a new video monitoring system will be set up. Suddenly the Schengener internal frontiers are to be restored, reflecting the motto: an international military whirlwind, yes - democratic international action from below – no.

For the more than 350 participants at the international preparatory conference, this limitation of basic rights is not acceptable. The peace movement will maintain its goal of demonstrating against the NATO Summit in downtown Strasbourg with thousands of citizens.

The Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy was founded in 1980 by participants in the Russell Tribunal on the human rights situation in the Federal Republic of Germany (1978-79). In the framework of its activities and cooperation with the peace movement, the Committee supports the call for *peaceful* demonstrations around the NATO summit. The planned massive restrictions against the right of assembly are incompatible with democracy and citizens’ rights. They are evidence of the state apparatus’ deep-seated fear of the real ‘sovereign’ – the men and women of the citizenry. On the occasion of the NATO meeting, the police and military administration want to impose a ban on an entire region, between Baden-Baden and Strasbourg, so that they can remain undisturbed by citizen action. The sovereign is to be excluded. The Charter of Basic Rights of the European Union, proclaimed with such celebration, would be perverted by the NATO powers.

The right to freedom of opinion and assembly, thus the right to demonstrate, is clearly the democratic basis for citizens in representative democratic constitutional systems, which otherwise have little space for direct expressions of the sovereign citizenry. Thus we demand from all politicians that they refuse to accept any limitations of the basic freedoms during the NATO summit. NATO’s war-like strategic planning must face critical public debate and public protest. Citizens will not accept a democracy under a state of police and military emergency.

We call on the responsible ministers and public authorities as well as all politicians in charge, to commit themselves to the unrestricted right to demonstrate during the days of the NATO summit meeting on the first weekend in April, between Baden-Baden and Strasbourg.

Sincerely yours,

gez. Martin Singe

Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy, Martin Singe, Aquinostr. 7-11, D-50670 Cologne, Tel. +49-221-9726920