Berlin, 11 Sep 2010, 1710 GMT+0200
Large rally on Potsdamer Platz closes successful demonstration
The organisers of the rally “Freedom Not Fear” have called today’s event a resounding success. As padeluun of the Working Group on Data Retention and the German Big Brother Awards declared in front of thousands of participants at the rally, “many people think that our politicians are now taking care of civil rights and the rest of us can settle back and wait. Despite that, you have come to our rally – in huge numbers. You understand that civil rights must be fought for. I am proud of you.”
Patrick Breyer of the Working Group on Data Retention made the connection to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center exactly nine years ago. “Mass murder and violence have nothing to do with Freedom Not Fear, but everything with Fear through Freedom, or to be precise, creating fear through abuse of freedom.” But one thing, he said, is clear: “Using criminal tools does not become right just because it is an elected government that tries to use them.”
He called for an “independent and systematic review of all existing surveillance laws, and an immediate halt to the ever recurring surveillance assaults.”
He pointed to parallel events and rallies all over Europe, in Stockholm, Warsaw, Helsinki, Paris, Venice, Vienna and Luxembourg. Breyer: “Because the fatal surveillance attacks by security fetishists are increasingly committed under an EU disguise, it’s particularly encouraging that people are taking to the streets in more countries.”
The ruling by the Constitutional Court on data retention had been “pleasing”, said Rosmarie Will, chairwoman of the Humanist Union, at the closing rally. “But this is a victory with a bitter taste, since the court left a back door open, setting out how data retention could be implemented in compliance with the constitution.” Ms Will also pointed out that the state’s hunger for data had by no means been saturated, as she listed the central employee wages database ELENA, the electronic health card and the INDECT anti-terror database. These, she said, were projects that had to be stopped, as well as the census planned for next year. “It is not acceptable that databases are being linked using 21st century technology, while the means of legal recourse against this are stuck at the level of a mediaeval pledge for mercy”, the human rights campaigner stressed.
Monty Catsin agreed with the observation that the tone has changed, but the problems have remained the same. Despite the dialogue that has begun between politics and the Internet community, he said it was still worth taking to the streets. “It is worthwhile because there are still just as many good reasons. There are just as many projects planned against freedom as there were a year ago. And it is worthwhile because we have been intensely lulled since last September.” Catsin stressed the need to remain wary even though a dialogue with the movement had been instigated. The “security freaks” would keep on driving their projects forward. “There still is the good old salami tactic – it just looks a bit more premium rather than cheap-rate by now.” But politicians were taking the demands more seriously now than last year. “They have seen that we can create quite a stir with our demonstrations, actions, petitions and blogs. They have seen that we can convince people with our arguments. They have seen that we can make politics. And that we do make politics. They don’t like that.”
Castin closed with the idea that has once again made many people take to the streets today: “Then some day we will come back to a situation where more freedom is ventured. And some day we will live in a society in which people freely decide what is right for them and their fellow people. A world in which we all live together in self-determination and freedom. That is a beautiful idea. And the best thing about it: this idea is not a utopia, it is possible – and that is why it is worth fighting for!”
The rally ended with a minute of silence in respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks on 11 Sep 2001.