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.
Copenhagen has long had a reputation as a tolerant and friendly city. However, thousands of environmentalists who have come to the city of the climate talks are leaving with a very different impression: that of a city intolerant of the basic human right to peacefully protest.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Danish police arrested 968 people at an overwhelmingly peaceful protest. While there were a few instances of property destruction, the vast majority of these people did nothing wrong; however, they were handcuffed and forced to sit in rows for hours, as the temperatures dipped below freezing, and numerous people urinated on themselves after being denied use of toilets. Claus Bonnez, a lawyer working with the human rights organization Krim, states that "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."
This has only been one of many instances of police abuses of power. On Dec. 14, police conducted a very heavy-handed raid of Christiania, using tear gas against peaceful party-goers; again, while some people there were engaging in illegal activities, most were simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to Lily Kember from London: "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."
Such incidents are violations of these people's basic rights, and are violations of the democratic and tolerant spirit of Danish society.
I urge you to push for a full investigation to be opened into Danish police conduct during the past two weeks. This investigation should be impartial, non-political, and independent of the Danish National Police.
I also urge you to immediately call for an end to "preventative arrests" and other heavy-handed tactics, so that protests that will happen during the remaining days of the climate negotiations can take place peacefully.
The reputation of Copenhagen is on the line, and people throughout the world are closely watching media accounts of these excessive police actions against peaceful protestors. I urge you to use the remaining days of the COP-15 climate conference as an opportunity for Copenhagen to repair its reputation, by allowing future peaceful protests to take place without fear of police harassment.
Thank you very much for your time.