There were brutal scenes at a meeting of Eritrean clubs in the middle of Stuttgart: around 200 people attacked participants and police officers. The organizer accuses the police of having underestimated the situation.2023-09-18 20:47:41 Written by Martin Plaut Published in English Articles Read 265 times
Source: Der Spiegel
September 16, 2023, 9:31 p.m
Confrontation in Stuttgart: There were violent riots at a meeting of Eritrean clubs Photo: Jason Cheplyakov / dpa
There were violent riots at an Eritrea event in Stuttgart . Up to 200 people attacked participants in the event and police officers with stones, bottles and wooden slats, a police spokesman told the German Press Agency on Saturday. 24 police officers were injured, two of them seriously. A police spokesman reported this on Saturday evening. Four people have been arrested so far. Videos on social media show men attacking police officers with wooden boards and bottles.
A police spokesman reported that 200 people gathered in the Roman fort on Saturday afternoon for an event organized by the Association of Eritrean Clubs in Stuttgart and the surrounding area. It is an information event. According to the police spokesman, the clubs sympathized with the dictatorial government in Eritrea. According to the police, opponents of the regime met in small groups at Bad Cannstatt train station and Stuttgart main station and made their way to the venue. The situation there quickly escalated.
The police are flying in additional emergency services
The officers defended themselves against the attackers with batons and pepper spray and tried to separate the groups and keep the attackers out while the event was still ongoing in the building. The streets around the Roman fort were closed. Emergency services were flown in by helicopter and called in from surrounding headquarters. For hours, the police reported skirmishes and a confusing situation. In the evening it was said that the situation was largely stable. The police surrounded 170 men to record their personal details. They are all accused of serious breach of the peace.
From the perspective of the organizers of the Eritrea meeting in Stuttgart, the police underestimated the situation. "We asked for police protection and said what these people are capable of," said Salomon T., who organized the event and did not want to be quoted with his full name. The event was a “seminar with information about Eritrea”. 70 people had to wait in the hall during the attacks, said Salomon T.
"It was very dangerous."
A police spokesman replied that there had always been disruptions at such events in the past, but there was no knowledge that they would be so massive and intense.
Valentino Tosto runs an ice cream parlor right on the corner of the action. He was shocked that evening. "This is very bad for us," he said. The rioters took away chairs and stands. He said, "It was very dangerous."
Eritrea, with a population of around three million, is located in northeast Africa on the Red Sea and is largely isolated internationally. Since independence from Ethiopia was won in a decades-long war 30 years ago, President Isaias Afewerki has ruled the country in a one-party dictatorship. Other parties are banned and freedom of expression and freedom of the press are severely restricted. There is neither a parliament nor independent courts or civil society organizations. There is also a strict military service and forced labor system, from which many people flee abroad. There are always conflicts between supporters and opponents of the regime.
In July there were riots at an Eritrea festival in Gießen, Hesse, with at least 26 injured police officers when opponents of the event attacked security forces by throwing stones and bottles and setting off smoke bombs. Among other things, the officers used batons against them. The organizers of the event in Giessen were close to the controversial leadership of the East African country. In August, violent riots broke out at an Eritrean festival in Stockholm , leaving more than 50 people injured.
There are already initial political reactions to the incidents in Stuttgart. For example, Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Ödzemir (Greens) wrote on Platform X that the perpetrators of violence must be brought to justice quickly.