Police drag refugees from Berlin TV tower
Police used force to clear protesting refugees from Berlin's television tower late on Wednesday as far-right activists held a counter-demonstration at the popular tourist site.
Scores of officers and a dozen police vans were deployed around Germany's tallest structure after the refugees bought tickets on Wednesday afternoon, rode the elevators 200 metres to the revolving observation deck and staged a sit-in protest.
The protesters from countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan claimed they had been driven to occupy the building because of official indifference to their plight; citing no work permits, education rights and other restrictions that they say had made life impossible for many.
"Every day people are killing themselves in German camps [for asylum seekers] because they cannot bear this hopeless and agonizing life any more," they claimed in a statement posted on Facebook.
No arrests were made, but police who forcefully carried out 36 people who refused to leave the building served numerous notices for public disorder, resisting arrest and violation of residency regulations.
No one was injured, a police spokesman told The Local, although the protesters claimed one of their number suffered a broken arm.
The tower was closed to all other visitors for several hours from mid-afternoon on Wednesday but reopened after the eviction was completed.
The same group recently occupied a school building in the Kreuzberg area of the city, prompting a tense week-long stand-off with police. They also set up a spontaneous protest camp at Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg which was cleared in April.
Meanwhile, around two dozen members of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) staged a counter demonstration. Members of the group stood holding a large banner proclaiming "Tolerant today, strangers in own country tomorrow."
The two groups later yelled slogans and taunts at each other but did not physically clash.
But some of the comments posted on the refugees' Facebook page on Thursday showed little sympathy for the demonstrators.
"Occupying buildings IS illegal. If you want to reap you must sow," one wrote.
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