BERLIN — German police yesterday fired tear gas and used water cannon to quell unrest at a controversial Eritrean music festival in the town of Giessen during which more than 20 officers were hurt.
Twenty-six police were injured, mainly in incidents of “stone throwing,” regional police said on Twitter, adding that around 100 arrests were made.
About a thousand police were deployed in the town of 80,000 residents north of Frankfurt after last year’s edition of the festival degenerated into violence.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 people had been expected to attend the festival, due to run till Sunday.
The organisers are accused of being close to the authorities in the small and secretive one-party state, where critics disappear into gulags and civilians are conscripted for life or forced into labour under an extreme policy of national service that has been likened to slavery.
Hesse region’s interior minister Peter Beuth said “such an escalation of violence, with targeted attacks against our intervention forces” was “totally unacceptable”.
He called on the national government to summons the Eritrean ambassador to make it clear that “Eritrean disputes” must not play out on German soil.
A global pariah, the Red Sea nation has been sanctioned for meddling in regional conflicts, including most recently over abuses by its army in the Tigray war in Ethiopia.
Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia in May 1991 and formally declared independence on May 24, 1993. It is led by Issaias Afeworki, who is known for his iron-fisted rule. — AFP