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Wednesday, July 10

Berlin police admit mistake after Ukrainian language banned at demo

Berlin police have admitted a mistake in banning Ukrainian at Monday's demo, but it's not the first time the language ban has caused controversy.

Photo: IMAGO / imagebroker

Wednesday, July 10

Berlin police admit mistake after banning Ukrainian language at demonstration

On Monday evening, a demonstration was led past the Russian embassy in Berlin to protest the air raids in Kyiv which had destroyed a children’s hospital. However, when the demonstrators took to the streets, they discovered an official order had been issued by the Berlin police banning any speeches in their native tongue. The police have since admitted to making a mistake.

This is not the first time that the ban on foreign languages at Berlin demonstrations has caused controversy. Back in April, Irish activists at a pro-Palestine march were threatened with arrest unless they broke up into smaller groups or stopped speaking in the national language of Ireland in public. The reason for these bans is a policy – instituted by the Berlin police in response to Arabic language chanting at pro-Palestine protests – of banning protests from taking place in any language they do not understand, or for which they cannot find an interpreter.

The police have since apologised for banning Ukrainian, commenting that they did not think the “risk forecast” that someone at the Ukrainian demonstration would issue a “criminal statement” was justifiable. According to Patrick Heinemann, a lawyer quoted in the Tagesspiegel, it is unclear whether any such ban is strictly legal.

“In Germany, people are not only allowed to assemble freely, they are also allowed to speak in the language of their choice. Freedom of assembly is not dependent on the police controlling and approving the content of the protest.”