German prosecutors are pressing charges against three French Jewish activists arrested Monday during a demonstration they staged in the city of Rostock.
A German court on Wednesday issued arrest warrants against the three, who were protesting the German government’s failure to crack down on neo-Nazi violence and its plan to deport Gypsies to Romania.
They were charged with bodily injury, resisting arrest and the freeing of four of their fellow protesters who had been detained after a clash with police Monday.
Prosecutor Martin Slotty refused to release the identities of the three persons arrested.
But in Paris, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that two of them are 19- year-old activists in the Zionist youth group Tagar, the youth arm of the Betar Zionist movement, and the third is a 35-year-old member of the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France, a group founded by Paris lawyer Serge Klarsfeld.
Klarsfeld and his German-born wife, Beate, who is not Jewish, led the group of demonstrators, which chartered a bus from Paris to Rostock.
The Klarsfelds were among an initial group of 46 persons who were detained by Rostock police Monday. All but the three were released the following morning.
The French Jewish group chose Rostock for its protest because it has been the site of neo-Nazi attacks culminating in the torching of a hostel for asylum- seekers.
The group marched through one of Rostock’s main streets which lead to the town’s municipality. The demonstrators carried banners saying, “Germany, don’t forget history” and “Formerly gassed today deported,” a reference to the plight of thousands of Gypsies who are to be expelled from the country starting Nov. 1.
Gypsies were victims, along with Jews, in the gas chambers.
At the town hall, the protesters affixed a plaque to the building’s front entrance condemning government laxness against neo-Nazis and Germany’s intention to deport Gypsies. The plaque was later removed.
The protesters also penetrated the building, shouting anti-Nazi slogans and calling on the authorities to take action against the anti-foreigner violence in the town. They refused to leave the building.
At that point, police were called in and arrested three demonstrators.
According to police, the demonstrators used tear gas and were “extremely violent.” The French activists attacked a police car in which their three comrades were held. They allegedly sprayed tear gas on the police and freed the three.
Eight members of the police were slightly injured in Monday’s demonstration.
The French demonstrators then boarded their bus but were arrested a few minutes later by German riot police.
All the demonstrators, including some elderly Holocaust survivors, were held overnight in a sports hall. All but three were released the next morning.
The German media gave much coverage to the protest and stressed that the demonstration had not been authorized. They also elaborated on how well prepared the protesters were for violent clashes with police.
In particular, the reports said, some protesters equipped themselves with tear gas pistols, helmets and other objects to facilitate their opposition to police intervention.
In Paris, the European Jewish Congress has asked the German authorities to release the three arrested on bail, “in order to defuse any further violence.”
The Betar and Tagar groups have meanwhile called for a peaceful demonstration Thursday evening in front of the German Embassy in Paris.