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Poklukar’s Police Harassing Anti-Government Protesters – Did The Order Come From The Very Top?

“My mother, Silva Šivec, who is collecting applications for transport to the spring protest on the 21st of March, has just been visited by the police. They wanted to know all the details about the protest,” Katja Šivec recently wrote on the social network X, adding that the people in power are crossing the limits of what is acceptable and using methods that are reminiscent of a different time. “Enough!” she was clear. This begs the question: did the order come from the top of politics?

We decided to contact Ms Silva Šivec, who explained in more detail what happened when the police visited her. According to her, one of the police officers called her on the phone and asked her if he could visit her at work regarding a case. “I somehow understood that it was more of a business nature, that he was investigating something. He decided to come visit me here and asked whether I was organising transport to the farmers’ protest on the 19th of March.”

Who sent the police?

She explained to the policeman that she was collecting registrations for a protest on the 21st of March and that they should ask the farmers about the protest on the 19th of March. The police officer said that they had already asked them and that it was allegedly said that they were going to the protest with tractors, and that she was collecting applications for the bus. “I said that I was collecting applications for the 21st of March and added that if need be, we would also go to the protest on the 19th of March. Then he asked if that meant that transport was not yet organised for the 19th of March. I didn’t say anything, but I said that if it was necessary, we would go there, too.” She added that attending the protest was not forbidden and was, in fact, something completely normal. She informed him that this was definitely not the first protest she would be attending. Namely, she had also participated in protests against the Russian war against the Ukrainians and, when time allowed, in pensioners’ protests.

The police officer then asked her if she was organising a protest as part of the framework of the Cerknica Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she is employed. She explained that this had nothing to do with the Chamber and that apparently her telephone number, where people could register, had been published, which she had no problem with, as she was not afraid of anyone and would not be intimidated. He asked her if craftsmen and entrepreneurs would also come. “I told him that I hoped as many craftsmen and entrepreneurs as possible would be in Congress Square because, after all, they also fill the state coffers. And, after all, the police are also paid out of this, as are all the other civil servants, who are important for the protection of law and order.”

Did the police check on Jenull and Nika Kovač like this, too?

“But I did say that I could not help but wonder if, when any other political party or anyone else had organised a protest before, including Nika Kovač and Jaša Jenull and so on, whether the police had been as involved in those protests, too, and he said that they were taking care of law and order in their municipality,” said Ms Šivec, adding that she understood that but that she was not entirely sure what it was that she had done wrong to make it necessary for him to visit her. “I also pointed out that we have no intention of doing something at this rally that those who rode their bicycles and spat and sprayed police officers in the face with some spray cans did,” she said, adding that all of the protests she participates in are held to a high standard. “But we will have a flag with us. That’s for sure. Everyone will go with a flag,” she also said.

The policeman then warned her not to do what happened in Ilirska Bistrica, when a lady was hitting the ground repeatedly with her flag. “I said to him, ‘You know what, we members and supporters of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) carry the flag proudly and upright, just so you know.’ I told him that it would be right for the police, for every proud Slovenian, to stand with us in Congress Square on the 21st of March.” She informed him that she found it sad that just the other day, a lady had told her that she wanted to go to the protest but that she did not dare to actually attend, because she was employed in the civil service, lest she should be out of a job the next day. “I said that it would be a good idea for the police officers who are being made fun of and who the money is being stolen from to also stand in Congress Square. And he said that their police union had made a deal with the government that they would not strike.” She replied that she was not saying that they should stand in uniform in Congress Square, because they can stand there in civilian clothes, as they have a head on their neck that they can think with.

She added that she understood that police officers also need to think about their families and their income when they do their job. “We have actually reached a stage where those who work in the public service dare not raise their heads. That is a real shame,” she concluded.

Will Poklukar earn himself an interpellation?

The leader of the opposition, Janez Janša, responded to the news in question by writing: “I would like for the police to explain whether this is true and who ordered you to do this. Will the Commission for Supervision of the Intelligence and Security Services (KNOVS), under the leadership of the New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi), finally come to its senses? Will this bring about an interpellation against Minister of the Interior Poklukar? Or we can visit him or his boss at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior on the 21st of March 2024 if he needs further information about the number of participants.”

The police responds

We have contacted the police regarding the census of the protest participants. In the first part of their letter, they explained that “in the case of any public gatherings, including concerts, sporting and other public events, police officers always collect information from persons who are trustworthy and who could provide the police with useful information relevant for the monitoring and protection of such events.” The information obtained is evaluated, they say, and used to plan the performance of their main tasks in an appropriate and proportionate way, ensuring the safety of those attending the event as well as of those who may merely be passing by in the vicinity. “The protection of people and their property and the protection of constitutional and other fundamental human rights and freedoms is our core mission, which cannot be achieved without certain measures”, they pointed out.

They further explained that the Public Assembly Act stipulates that “the police shall, ex officio, maintain public order at parades and demonstrations, large international sporting events and unorganised assemblies.” “In order to successfully carry out these tasks, too, the police, in accordance with Article 34 of the Police Tasks and Powers Act (ZNPPol), collects notifications from persons who could provide useful information,” they pointed out, adding that the participation of persons in the collection of notifications is of a voluntary nature. “This is one of the fundamental police powers that police officers use on a daily basis in their work.”

According to them, there is a need to understand that credible information on events that require security is necessary to ensure the safety of both the participants of the rallies and any other persons who might be in the vicinity. “At events where large numbers of people gather, many things need to be foreseen and planned to avoid complications, including appropriate intervention routes for the smooth operation of the emergency services if situations arise that require their intervention in certain places and, for example, traffic on the roads is obstructed. Despite the information obtained from the organisers of public gatherings, if they cooperate with the police, it is necessary to obtain information on the arrivals and departures of participants from different places and to verify any information that increases the risks in order to prepare appropriate measures.”

The collection of information is, in their words, a form of informative conversation “without any coercion or influence on individuals“. “It is, in fact, the most effective way of obtaining information, which is mutually beneficial – it helps the police to plan their tasks, and it also tells citizens that they will be present at the event, which gives the participants confidence that they will be able to safely express their opinions and exercise their constitutionally protected right to peaceful assembly”. They say they understand that some police tasks are unpopular with the public. “But what is an inconvenience for one person may mean security for another. After all, the police are there to ensure everyone’s safety,” they added.

Ž. N.

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