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Police crack down on anti-EU rally

Protesters blasted with water cannon during demo against pro-privatisation trade deal

POLICE launched a brutal crackdown yesterday against a peaceful protest outside the European Business Summit in Brussels as EU bigwigs were planning a trade deal with the US. 

Mass arrests were made at the demonstration against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal which could enforce the privatisation of public services — including the NHS.

Around 250 protesters were surrounded by riot cops, handcuffed and forced to sit in rows on the floor before being put on busses to police stations. 

Three Green members of the Belgian parliament and two assistants to Green Euro MPs were among those arrested. 

Hundreds more demonstrators were blasted with water cannon when they marched on the police kettle, demanding the police release them. 

European Young Greens secretary-general Maria Dokupilova was among those hit. 

She told the Star: “We were shouting, singing songs and just standing next to the police. 

“Out of nowhere the water cannon was spraying. 

“I was standing there sending a tweet about the demonstrators being captured, I wasn’t doing anything and I got a shot of the water cannon. 

“There was no violence, we were just standing there.”

Ms Dokupilova recalled how the police stormed in when protesters tried to move closer to the invite-only summit between European Commission representatives and big business leaders. 

Inside the plush Brussels venue, pushing forward the trade deal between the EU and US was top of the agenda at the “rebuilding a competitive Europe” meeting. 

Workers, farmers, unemployed people and others who will lose out from the deal were also on the receiving end of the police attack, reportedly ordered by Socialist Party Mayor Yvan Mayeur.

The attack was condemned as an “anti-democratic” bid to suppress rising public anger over the privatisation stich-up by the French Green MEP Jose Bove. 

He said: “It is not peaceful activists that should be stopped from expressing their opinion — the behind closed-doors negotiations of TTIP should be stopped. 

It is the second time in a month that Brussels police unleashed violence against anti-austerity protesters. 

Some of the 50,000 people who joined last month’s European Trade Union Congress march were blasted with water cannon and hit with batons. 

And the latest assault came exactly a week before Britain goes to the polls in the European elections on May 22. 

No2EU — Yes to Workers’ Rights candidate Rob Griffiths said it was further evidence of “authoritarian methods” against anti-austerity protests. 

He said: “It should be seen as part of the same approach that we saw being used against ETUC demonstrators last month.

“To protest against trade agreements designed to boost multinational corporate profits is rapidly becoming a crime.”

Mr Griffiths added that the violence was “wholly consistent with EU intervention in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected government and install a Kiev regime stuffed with open fascists and racists.”



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