Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/175/7934
Prague Protests Czech police go in heavy
TENS of thousands of people demonstrated in Prague against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meeting there.
Molly Cooper and Rob Crowhurst report from Prague
In the run-up to the demo government and police propaganda tried, partly successfully, to scare away local residents with threats of 'anarchist violence'. Although police took a 'relaxed' approach in Prague in the smaller demos before 26 September, they came fully prepared on that day for confrontation.
Although the demonstrations were large and vocal many potential campaigners had been stopped at Czech borders by police. Many had been detained for five hours or even longer - meaning they either arrived late or not at all. In total on the day, over 20,000 demonstrators joined three separate demonstrations, with about 10,000-15,000 on the main demo.
The police were fully equipped and used riot shields, water cannon and tear gas to hold back demonstrators for over two hours at three blockades at the bridge near the conference centre. The police were particularly involved in waves of battles with Italian anarchists.
During and after this stand-off, the police went in heavy against sections of the demonstrators. Nevertheless, IMF delegations were stopped leaving the conference. In the evening demonstrators blockaded the area near the opera where IMF delegates were supposedly gathering and the adjacent Metro station was also closed. But sporadic violent confrontations occurred throughout the evening in the city centre.
Next day (Wednesday) the police tried to stop another protest but withdrew after they conceded it was a 'legal' demo. The Committee for a Workers International (CWI) contingent had a lively, successful intervention on the demonstration, although one Czech CWI member, among a small group of CWI members, was beaten up by fascists after the demo and taken to hospital.
A couple of CWI public meetings were held every night during the demonstrations and new recruits for the CWI were made. Over 450 copies of the CWI's Czech paper were sold on the demonstrations.
In The Socialist 29 September 2000: