MINELRES: LICHR press-release and brief information on clashes in Tallinn

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed May 2 19:12:26 2007

Original sender: Vadim Poleshtshuk <vadim@lichr.ee>


April 30, 2007

The Legal Information Centre for Human Rights (LICHR) expresses its
unconditional opposition towards violence on the streets of Estonian
cities. However LICHR is convinced that those actions were reasoned by
arrogant and irresponsible actions of the Estonian government that took
a decision regarding carrying over the Monument to the Soldiers perished
during the WW II from Tonismagi regardless of the opinion of the
majority of Tallinn inhabitants, competent experts and the City
Government. Obviously the principles of democracy and human rights have
been neglected upon taking this decision. The Legal Information Centre
for Human Rights regrets that the Government of Estonia refuses to take
and bear the political responsibility for the outcomes of its decisions.
Instead of this, the criminal prosecution is started against the
defenders of the monument, which by no means will calm down the society.

Extremely negative consequences were also caused by brutal and
unprofessional actions of the police during disposal of those people who
on April 26 came to Tonismagi to show their disagreement with the
actions of the power. The investigation of the developments of the last
days will yet follow. However, already now it is obvious that during the
disposal of the demonstrators and further on those persons who were on
streets during the mass disorders by the law-enforcement officers
disproportionate use of force was exercised. On the other hand the
police did not manage to provide security to the peaceful dwellers of
the city and their property. With utter solicitousness LICHR also
considers numerous reports about inhuman and degrading treatment of
those who were apprehended during the night events. The Legal
Information Centre for Human Rights insists that during the
investigation the representatives of neutral and competent international
organizations, city government and representatives of the civil society
must take part.

In order to avoid further escalation of the tension and incitement to
ethnic hatred the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights finds it
important and appropriate to recommend the following actions:

- In the future the Government of Estonia must avoid actions that the
majority of minority members will ambiguously consider as provocation
degrading human dignity;
- In order to prevent further violence the republican and local
power-holders should guarantee civilized and respecting-law conditions
for realization of the right for public expression of the opinion
towards the events regarding the Monument on Tonismagi;
- Minister of Defence Mr. Jaak Aaviksoo must immediately introduce
moratorium on any actions regarding the burial place on Tonismagi;
- Minister of Internal Affairs Mr. Juri Pihl and the Chief Director of
the Police Department Mr. Raivo Aeg must objectively investigate and
analyse the behaviour of the police officers, guarantee civilized
actions during the conflict by their subordinates, prevent cases of
aggression based on the ethnic grounds from the police officers and
severely punish those of them, who exercise such actions;
- Persons opposing carrying over the Monument from Tonismagi and their
supporters must bare dignity which were have showing until now and
suppress activities of the provocateurs exercising illegal actions
towards the representatives of the law-enforcement bodies;
- Opponents and supporters of taking the monument down must abstain from
actions directed against each other.


Preliminary brief information about the disturbances in Tallinn
on 26-29 April 2007

Due to weekend time the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights
(LICHR) was able to collect only media reports and some information
provided to our organization by those who addressed it during the
weekend. LICHR has not been able to cross-check all information yet. 

1. On 26 April in the nighttime the police forces pushed away the
defenders of the WWII monument on Tonismagi in Tallinn. Then access to
the monument was closed and it was covered with a tent. At least one
person was lightly injured.

2. The same day in the evening there were clashes between the
demonstrators (mostly Russian-speakers) and the police. The crowd of
protesters was disintegrated by the police by using gas, rubber clubs,
noisy bombs etc. Some police officers treated people in a manifestly
cruel manner. It could be seen from TV reports and it was confirmed by

3. In the nighttime there started acts of vandalism in the Tallinn's
downtown. Police arrested hundreds of persons, including those who were
innocent of any offences. 1/3 of arrested were reportedly
Estonian-speakers. Meanwhile the monument was removed from its place in
a clandestine way.

4. Most of the detained people were released in the morning. There were
allegations about maltreatment in custody, which place was in one of the
warehouses in the port (beatings, people were sitting on the cold floor,
for several hours people had to tolerate plastic handcuffs, etc). Some
of these allegations can be true: few detained managed to film the
warehouse on mobile phones. These videos were shown on TV.
Interestingly, Estonian ombudsman Allar Joks did not find any violations
(he visited this place on Sunday). 

5. On 27 April the security police (special service) arrested several
leaders of the Night Watch (the organization which has been trying for
one year to oppose the removal of the monument by peaceful means) and of
an associated organization. There are reasons to believe that these
persons can be made scapegoats to provide the excuse to the police for
chaos in the streets of Tallinn.  It was reported that at least one of
those arrested (a schoolboy) was not in the street during disturbances.

6. Acts of vandalism in Tallinn were also next night (27/28 April).
Again, there are allegations that the police used excessive power.
Hundreds of persons were detained. Conditions of their detention were

7. 28/29 April disturbances were mostly in the towns of North-East of
Estonia (populated predominantly by Russians). Tens of detained. 

8. Within four days dozens of persons were injured (also policemen), at
least one dead.

9. The Government of Estonia seems not to be ready for any compromises
with the Russian-speakers. One can observe nationalistic hysteria. 

The prehistory of the War of monuments can be found in  Estonian
Minority Population and Non-discrimination: Report 2006, LICHR: Tallinn,
pp. 20-24

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