Techno fans laugh off PM's "dangerous" label as CzechTek furore continues

02-08-2005

The fallout continues from Saturday's crackdown on the CzechTek party in West Bohemia, in which 1,000 riot police dispersed thousands of techno fans with tear gas and water cannon. While politicians argue over the justification for using force, the event is now being discussed up and down the country.

Vaclav Havel at a demonstration, photo: CTKVaclav Havel at a demonstration, photo: CTK CzechTek has now become a political cause celebre, with former president Vaclav Havel turning up at a demonstration outside the Interior Ministry on Monday to protest against the police crackdown. Eyewitnesses maintain the police used unacceptable brutality to disperse the partygoers. Petr Dousa, a 29-year-old computer programmer with a young son, was one of them.

"Well it was quite unbelievable. I couldn't believe my eyes. Hundreds of riot police, a police helicopter, water cannon, even a tank was stationed on the road. But the people were just dancing to the music, they were not doing anything bad. It was like a scene from virtual reality, or maybe from a country in Asia or Africa. It was simply unbelievable."

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Those who defend the police action include the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, who wrote a front-page editorial for today's Lidove Noviny newspaper. He wrote that those who inspired festivals such as CzechTek were known throughout Europe as well organised anarchist troublemakers. The hardcore of CzechTek were not dancing children but dangerous people, the prime minister added. But Petr Dousa says he's neither a child nor dangerous.

"That's nonsense. I'm not a dancing kid. I'm 29 years old and I pay taxes. I'm a father and the head of a family. I think I'm a very peaceful person and I just wanted to come and enjoy dancing. It's nonsense to say these people are dangerous."

And that's something echoed by one of CzechTek's organisers, who goes under the pseudonym Netdave.

CzechTekCzechTek "That's really not funny. All the things he said are lies. The people there were really happy that the event was being held. They didn't want any violence, they didn't want anything. They wanted to clean up the place afterwards. That's all they wanted."

A lightning opinion poll commissioned by the daily newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes found that 70 percent of Czechs believed the police were too heavy-handed, although 44 percent said the authorities had to do something. So what do the people of Prague think? We went out onto the streets to hear some views.

"I think it was completely unnecessary waste of tax payers' money. In the end, police is short on recourses and this is some 300 000 Euro spent on nothing."

CzechTek, photo: www.skaff.wz.czCzechTek, photo: www.skaff.wz.cz "I've heard about it and I was shocked. I thought it was an incredible over-reaction and I was horrified. As far as I know, they even had a contract to say that they can use the land. So I was really surprised."

"I think the intervention was legitimate. They urged them to leave the field at least twice, as I saw on TV. It's hard to say which part of the field is rented and which is not but if the organizers have thousands of people at the techno-party and they are not able to ensure that they don't go to other people's property, the police are entitled to intervene."

"Well, I don't have anything against police but in this case I would prefer a little bit more gentle approach."

02-08-2005