Oppressive Surveillance in Germany.

More than two months ago I wrote an entry on the incarceration of the urban sociologist Andrej Holm. Luckily he has been released after several weeks of cellular confinement under particularly harsh conditions – has was labelled a terrorist, and as we learned from current US American practices, that seems to forfeit you of quite a few human rights. This week, on Wednesday, the German Federal Court will decide if the warrant issued against Andrej Holm was legal in the first place.
Remember: one of the main grounds on which he was arrested was that he wrote critically about such things as gentrification and that this and other terms were used in the pamphlets of the militante gruppe, who set fire to several German military vehicles. It seems he has met people who are suspected to be members of this group on several occasions. Using terms such as gentrification, being an outspoken critic of related urban developments, and having met people who may be arsonists seems to be enough to rid not only you of your rights, but also your friends and family, who are now all being observed, wiretapped and so forth. Now many people in the social sciences, critical or not so critical, fear that they might too be arrested as terrorists when they actually do their work, leave their ivory tower, engage with different people outside of academia, be they investors, everyday people, or militants – and how am I supposed to know if someone who I meet is a militant or not? How terribly far going these so-called anti-terrorist measures go is being witnessed on the weblog of Andrej Holm’s partner, with whom he has two children. A scary read indeed.
And what is also quite scary is that I really carefully have to judge my words writing this entry, because it has become obvious that all activity related to this case is being monitored very closely by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (the BKA). That is how far we have come: I feel afraid enough to not even dare to joke about this affair. I think it really is time to turn the wheel around and re-establish all those civil liberties that have been torn down over the course of the last six years. When I was young, reading Orwell’s 1984 and similar dystopian novels, I never thought that a distinctly similar scenario would become true when I am an adult. Dire times, and my Norwegian colleagues here in Oslo seem to be pretty shocked about the current state of interior affairs in Germany.

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5 Responses to “Oppressive Surveillance in Germany.”

  1. ozean says:

    warrant rejected
    Good news: the warrant against Andrej Holm has been rejected by the German Federal Court of Justice. Not exactly unexpected, but good to know nonetheless. However, the court argued, that the reasoning on which the warrant against Holm was based does not justify a warrant in his case (because the evidence is too thin), thus it did not examine if the so called militante gruppe could actually be regarded as a terrorist group according to the – notorious – new paragraph 129a. A decision about this paragraph would have had a much wider impact. So it is still necessary to oppose the § 129a to avoid future (and present) similar cases of the state infringing inadequately on personal affairs and freedoms.

  2. Sontin says:

    This a very disturbing trend around the world. In El Salvador, “terror” laws were used to arrest protestors. In England “terror” laws allow the police to stop and search anyone without need for justification, and this has apparently also been used to disrupt environmental protestors. In the States … well that is already common knowledge. My best wishes for the German social scientists.

  3. ozean says:

    Sure, go ahead! This is very much an international problem, and it would only be adequate if this is reflected here, too.

  4. ozean says:

    mg not a terrorist organization
    Good news II: The German Federal Court of Justice has also passed a verdict that states that the mg is not a terrorist organization according to §129a. This really is good news, as it makes the requirements for labeling someone or an entity terrorist much higher, putting a clear distinction between crime and state-threatening terrorism. See Annalist for more information.

  5. ozean says:

    Now, finally, the legal action against Andrej Holm has been stopped. It took three years – regarding the absurd nature of the accusation, this is quite ridiculous. For the people affected by this legal action and the accompanying surveillance, imprisonment, etc. this is a huge and very well deserved relief. More info here: annalist.

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