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CRIME

Kurdish gathering turns violent in Mannheim

Around 80 police officers were injured and 31 people arrested in Mannheim on Saturday after an international gathering of about 40,000 Kurds erupted in violence triggered when a teenager was stopped with a banned flag.

Kurdish gathering turns violent in Mannheim
Photo: DPA

Police stopped the 14-year-old at the entrance to cultural festival on the city’s Maimarkt because he was carrying a forbidden flag, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

After security guards unsuccessfully tried to block him from entering the festival’s grounds, they called the police for backup.

Before long around 2,500 Kurds were in an hours-long stand-off with 600 police officers, the paper reported. The police spokesperson said the “outbreak of violence was enormous,” and added that he had never experienced something like it in his 30 years on the force.

Hundreds, “if not more than a thousand” people ran at the police, some throwing stones, water bottles, bricks and fireworks, a police spokesman told the paper.

The police used pepper spray and confiscated flags and T-shirts of banned organizations, along with four knives and a set of brass knuckle dusters.

The police spokesman said those being violent and rushing the police were supported by thousands of their fellow participants, and that they had “no chance” of calming the crowd. The area eventually cleared at around 8 pm.

The news outlet Tagesschau.de reported early indications that the violence could have been influenced by targeted propaganda, such as a rumours among the Kurdish participants that on Friday night police in Mannheim had mistreated a Kurdish demonstrator.

Various smaller incidents were reported during Friday as the Kurds gathered in Mannheim. Police stopped a march on Friday by a Kurdish youth group after some involved attacked Turkish-looking passersby.

One group waved a banned PKK flag and shouted slogans in support of the group banned and regarded by the authorities as terrorists.

Reinhold Gall, interior minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg said he was shocked by the incident, and that such events would have to be checked more closely before being allowed in the future, if they are allowed at all, Tagesschau reported.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/mbw

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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