More than 30 activists from across Europe have been arrested in the Belgian capital after an occupation of the headquarters of Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN). Rehn is known as an ardent champion of austerity across Europe, undermining democracy.
The occupation was part of two days of action across Europe organised by For a European Spring against austerity, to coincide with the EU Spring Summit in Brussels on the 14th and 15th March.
Pascoe Sabido, a coordinating member of For a European Spring, said “We did exactly what the police asked of us, and all 150 of us agreed to leave the building as they promised nothing would happen. Instead, we were kettled and treated like criminals. It’s the Troika the police should be arresting, not us.”
The circumstances around the arrests were also very irregular, with the police arbitrarily arresting people to meet a pre-set quota. Some of those arrested had not even been inside the ECFIN building but had stayed outside protesting. Those arrested had their photos and fingerprints taken before being released, which is not allowed to happen if the arrest is administrative rather than judicial. For a European Spring is looking into the legality of the police actions.
“I was peacefully protesting outside a building that’s causing violence across Europe through the austerity policies it’s unleashing, but it looks like protesting Europe’s undemocratic austerity drive is is no longer deemed legal. After banning our anti-austerity demonstration, today really shows that, here in Brussels, the right to assembly and freedom of expression are in grave danger.” said Corrina Genschel, a coordinating member of For a European Spring and in Brussels with Blockupy Frankfurt.
Notes for editor
For a European Spring is a coalition of movements from 13 European countries, denouncing the EU push for austerity, including cuts in social expenditure, radical wage cuts, attacks on social and labour rights, while demanding the abolition of all austerity treaties and legislation and genuine democracy.
DG ECFIN is the Commission’s department fulfilling most of the work of the Troika, providing staff to the various task forces that travel to “indebted” European countries to impose austerity policies regardless of public interest or opinion.
European Commissioner Olli Rehn has publicly stated that the minimum wage in Greece of €511 gross salary per month – already below the poverty line – is too much and need to be cut further. He has also threatened to fine the Belgian state – which would fall on its tax-payers – if it does not further cut its health, education and unemployment budgets.
For more information see www.foraeuropeanspring.org
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