The federal government has put a muzzle on Greece's former finance minister. The organizers criticize the cancellation of their conference.

The man crosses his hands

Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has banned access to former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. This was confirmed to the Taz on Saturday by the Berlin police and the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI).

The Greek politician was scheduled to speak on Friday at the controversial “Palestinian Congress” in Berlin. However, police broke up the event on Friday two hours after it began. In the early afternoon, the approximately 250 conference participants were asked to leave the room. Varoufakis wrote on Platform X on Saturday afternoon that he too had been banned from speaking to participants via Zoom. Instead, on Friday afternoon he posted his video message on platform X, which was to be broadcast in Berlin.

In addition to Varoufakis, author Salman Abu Sittah and doctor and rector of the University of Glasgow, Ghassan Abu Sittah, were also banned from activities during the “Palestine Conference.” Ghassan Abu Sitta, who wanted to report in Berlin about what he had experienced as a doctor during his mission with Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, was detained at the Berlin airport for more than three hours. He was refused entry and had to return to London immediately.

Varoufakis and Israel

Yanis Varoufakis is general secretary of the pan-European party “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), which he presented at the Volksbühne Berlin in 2016. That is why he is running as a candidate for the European Parliament. Karin de Rigo, the leading candidate for DIEM's German branch, MERA25, told the taz that “we are determined not to be deterred by intimidation tactics.” They will campaign for Palestinian rights in Germany and, from June, also in Brussels. The actions of the German authorities “are eerily reminiscent of a darker period in German history.”

The ban on activity is a sharp sword that is only used in special cases. In September 2014, the Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, banned activities against the terrorist militia “Islamic State”. On November 2, 2023, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser ordered a ban on the activities of the terrorist organization Hamas.

Organizers of the “Palestinian Congress” in Berlin sharply criticized the police's actions on Friday. Democratic rights have been undermined, they said during a press conference on Saturday. Lawyer Nadija Samour claimed on behalf of the organizers on Saturday that the police had made a completely disproportionate decision. Minor measures were possible. Any attempt to protect the meeting was torpedoed by the police. There were no criminal statements, which the police also admitted.

The protest is concentrated in the street

The organizer was not aware of the ban on activities and had only been informed shortly before. From the organizers' point of view, the police action was illegal. They have filed a complaint with the police to be able to continue with the meeting scheduled until Sunday.

On Saturday, numerous people demonstrated against the dissolution of congress. The Berliner Morgenpost reported 1,700 people carrying Palestinian flags and Kufiya scarves, as well as banners and posters of socialist organizations. Slogans such as “Long live Palestine”, “Palestine will never die” or “Israel bombs, Germany finances” were heard. Not far from the demonstration, a small group of people protested with Israeli flags.

Around 900 police officers were deployed in the city, most during the demonstration. Berlin police had requested additional officers from North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

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