5th Press Release, 5:00 p.m.
With bands like the ska group “Banda Pacheco” rocking the 20,000 “Freedom Not Fear” demonstrators at the end of the mass rally at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, the organizers are taking an extremely positive view of the day’s event: “The success of the event can be seen and heard loud and clear. People are taking to the streets to fight for the protection of their civil rights. The politicians cannot ignore this signal any longer,” said Kai-Uwe Steffens from the protest coaltion. “The success of our demonstration encourages us to go on fighting for civil rights over the months to come – both before and after the election”, Steffens added.
The other speakers struck a defiant note as well. Parker Higgins, an activist from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (USA), voiced an urgent warning of the consequences of blanket surveillance for human dignity. “We need to take the system back — and to do that, we need an informed citizenry and we need to bring national policies back into line with international principles of human rights. I’m ashamed of what my country is doing in my name, but today I feel that I’m among my real people – people who believe in freedom and stand up against fear!”
Michael Rediske from Reporters Without Borders emphasized the threat to press freedom that has become an everyday reality with the surveillance and monitoring of journalists around the world via the Internet. “They’re arrested for blog posts or tweets, their e-mails are monitored, their contacts are investigated, their computers are infected with monitoring software.” He pointed out that the NSA scandal has now made it clear that even German journalists are being monitored as a matter of course. This surveillance not only threatens German freedoms, it also destroys Germany’s credibility as an ally. “We can’t do dictators the favor of becoming like them.”
“We could give Snowden asylum if only we wanted to,” said Christian Humborg of Transparency International. He cited Snowden’s response to receiving the Whistleblower Prize: “Governments must be accountable to us for the decisions that they make. Decisions regarding the kind of world we will live in. What kind of rights and freedoms individuals will enjoy are the domain of the public, not the government in the dark.”
The organizers even reported praise from the police due to the fact that the march proceeded completely peacefully and without any negative incidents.
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