During the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 2017, political and economic leaders of the world gathered in order to plan the continuation of their wars, exploitation of people and animals, and the destruction of the environment. To revolt against this is necessary and gives hope. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Hamburg to obstruct these festivities for the elite. The German state, in an attempt to criminalise a few individuals, has now rapidly changed the topic to bottles and fireworks which were thrown (or not) during the riots. Not very convincing as a distraction for the real problems in this world.
From the first day, the actions against the G20 were met with harsh repression. Hundreds of people were hurt and arrested due to police violence and the tactics of escalation. There are still over thirty international prisoners awaiting trial in German prisons. One of them is Peike from Amsterdam. His trial took place on the 28th of August; the first of many trials to come. The subsequent two court cases led to immediate acquittal. Obviously, we greet this news with great joy – but despite similarities in the court files, Peike’s sentence is something different altogether.
He was sentenced to 2 years and 7 months in prison (and forced to give his DNA) by Johann Krieten, a judge infamous for his authoritarian and right-wing views. This sentence is much higher than the already particularly high demand of the prosecution: 1 year and 9 months. The point is not to ask for a more “proportional” sentence – we just want Peike and the others in freedom, point – but within a juridical context the case is remarkable for several reasons.
Peike is accused of having thrown two bottles to a cop, during the chaos which erupted when the cops attacked the “Welcome to Hell” demonstration. The details of the case remind one of absurdist theatre: a cop stating that “he felt” he was being hit by something has been translated as “grievous bodily harm”, and furthermore Peike “resisted arrest by lying down on the ground in foetal position”. The only “evidence” consists of witness statements of two Berlin cops, statements full of discrepancies and missing information.
Let’s not forget that despite the two processes with a better outcome, there is still the possibility that the same misery awaits other prisoners: juridically, it is fairly “normal” to be convicted based on police statements alone, even when these are completely inconsistent. And in this particular case, the judge has clearly stated that in his opinion, the mere fact of having being present at the demo suffices for a conviction.
It is obvious that Peike and other prisoners are being used as examples, to scare off whoever gets it in their mind to disturb future parties with the biggest villains on this planet, as the German state had planned. The fact that Hamburg, with its long history of social rebellion, was chosen as its location, could be seen as pure provocation. Yet Merkel was not interested in any opposition.
Nevertheless, it did not happen without resistance, and obviously now the government is planning its revenge. Peike’s court case marks a grim start hereof.
Furthermore, Krieten used this show process to apply the recent penalty increase when it concerns violence against cops, and stated that cops are not “Freiwild” (game) for the “Spassgesellschaft” (society of fun). It cannot be denied that he has a sense of humour, although his argument was probably not meant to be very comical. But still, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this Spassgesellschaft?
A first step towards this fun society: support Peike and all other prisoners – act and show solidarity!