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Is This Freedom? The Police Attacked A Protester Holding A Banner!

According to a video circulating on the social network X, the police wrote up a peaceful protester because of his banner. The video shows a peaceful citizen who came to the protest in Ljubljana on Thursday to express his opinion and dissatisfaction with the current government, which is his right – but it seems that the intention of the police was intimidation. The irony is that the police “punish” and intimidate peaceful protesters, but when a person with a knife walks around, they ignore it or “do not dare to do anything.”

It was clear that Thursday’s nationwide protest would bother the current authorities, who cannot stand criticism, nor the fact that the people no longer want them in power. But it is unacceptable that the police were being sent in to harass and intimidate peaceful protesters. Because the video that went viral on social network X proves exactly that – intimidation, even though the laws are clear.

Namely, article 42 of the Constitution (Right of Assembly and Association) clearly states in the first paragraph: “The right of peaceful assembly and public meeting shall be guaranteed.” This is exactly what you see in the video – a peaceful protester who came to express his dissatisfaction and his opinion at a large nationwide rally that took place in Ljubljana. He got an unpleasant surprise when, as he says, he was written up by a police officer “because of his banner,” even though the law is clear on when a police officer can do that – and this was not the case here.

According to many, the banner did not contain anything controversial, and it is a fact that a police officer may not stop a person simply to establish his or her identity.

While the Identity Card Act states that everyone must carry an ID card or other identification document with them at all times (except where it is unreasonable to do so in the circumstances), the Police Act requires a citizen to show their ID card to the police officer for inspection only if:
– the citizen is to be arrested or detained,
– the citizen is in or enters an area, place, premise, facility or neighbourhood where movement is prohibited or restricted or where measures are being taken to search for or trace the perpetrator of a crime or offence or objects and traces relevant for further proceedings,
– the citizen is similar in description to a wanted person or raises suspicion that they are a child or young person who has run away or is a missing person, or is obviously defenceless and identification is necessary to provide assistance,
– could provide useful information for the performance of police duties,
– by his or her behaviour, conduct or presence in a particular place or at a particular time, makes it seem as if he or she is about to commit, is committing or has committed a criminal offence or any other type of offence.

The law or intimidation?

It is not clear which of the above conditions was met in this case, which allowed the police to write up the protester carrying a banner. The police have been contacted with questions and we will publish the answers when we receive them. It should be noted that the banner was completely innocent compared to the banners waved by rioters during the protests against the Janez Janša government, and even today this has not been condemned by the police, still less by the Robert Golob government, which preaches “tolerance”.

“Hey, police, have you been put on such a tight leash under the Freedom Movement that you have to write up and punish those who simply carry banners in order to keep your jobs? Even Lindav preferred to retire as a precaution because you threatened him with prosecution when he spoke up about the methods of the Sun King,” wrote former Interior Minister Aleš Hojs on X.

Intimidation of citizens has become a government control tactic

The use of the police to restrict protests and freedom of speech seems to have become a trend, and the current government is more than clearly using intimidation tactics to suppress open public debate and the right to free assembly and expression of opinions. Let us remind you that this is not the first time this has happened. Last year, a group of passengers from Maribor who were attending a pensioners’ rally in Ljubljana were greeted on their way home by an unpleasant surprise that brought back strong memories of the communist era, when they were stopped by the financial police.

The police also visited a farmer at his home before the announced farmers’ protest, which you can read about in other articles on our website. Intimidation of citizens has more than obviously become a government surveillance tactic, with no exceptions. On the other hand, we cannot help but wonder what exactly is the job of the Slovenian police under the current government – intimidation or protection of citizens?

As another X user pointed out, the message is clear: “In times of the Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda), you can storm the street, shoot at cops with water pistols, hit a cameraman who disagrees with you… but you can’t speak your mind or write your opinion on a banner. The values of Freedom are clear: violence, yes; freedom of speech, no,” said Andrej Drapal.

We also received a reply from the Police

The public relations representative of the Police, Tomaž Tomaževič, responded to our questions about the incident at the protest with the following answer: “In accordance with the provisions of the Police Tasks and Powers Act, police officers established the identity of the person whose conduct raised suspicion that he or she was about to commit an offence. According to the information gathered so far, no elements of criminal offences have been established in the specific proceedings and no measures other than the identification procedure have been carried out by the police officers.

In order to effectively organise, coordinate and manage the activities, as well as plan the tasks related to the protection of the reported public gathering, an operational headquarters was established in accordance with the Police Tasks and Powers Act and the by-laws.

At the rally, which was attended by a large number of people, police officers detected only one individual violation of public order and took action against a single offender who behaved in an undignified manner towards a police officer, and one case of introduction of a potentially dangerous object, which was removed by the security service. The march was peaceful and in accordance with the registration. The police officers, together with the organiser, ensured smooth arrivals and departures of the participants as well as law and order at the rally,” the response read.

T. B.

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