Bayer wins case to ban beekeeper protests
So what can protesters do?
According to the organisation “SumOfUs”:
“Bayer just won the court battle to ban protest in the
square outside its annual meeting” and that “court documents show that Bayer
referred to peaceful protest as a “terrorist threat””.
(25-page legal document, in German, available here). SumOfUs
members helped pay for the protest, which would represent beekeepers.
So what did the document say?
I don’t have time to read and translate all
of it, but this paragraph caught my eye:
"In den Vorbereitungen der Veranstaltung wurde eine
umfangreiche Gefaehrdungsanalyse durchgefuehrt.
Die getroffenen Massnahmen sind danach einerseits erforderlich, um einen
ordnungsgemaessen Ablauf zu gewaehrleisten und Stoerungen und Straftaten, wie
Hausfriedensbruch und Noetigung su verhindern.
Davon unabhaengig sind sie andererseits auch aufgrund der aktuellen
terroristischen Bedroehungslage und der Abwehr gezielter massiver
Which translates as:
preparations for the event a comprehensive analysis of the danger was carried
The measures taken are then necessary on the one hand, in order to ensure
a proper course of action and prevent disturbances and crimes, such as
housebreak and injustice.
Independent of this, they are also justified on the
basis of the current terrorist threat situation and the defense of targeted
massive business damage."
- The protesters themselves are not being referred
to as ‘terrorists’.
- There have been a number of terrorist attacks in
- It seems that Bayer’s argument is at least
partially, that their objections to the protest in the square are justifiable
on the basis that there is a threat of further terrorist activity.
"Terrorist threat"? What are Bayer referring to?
- Possibility of terrorists attacking the area during protest
(attracted by the gathering of civilians).
- In the event of threat, escape routes being impeded or
blocked, due to the number of people.
- The possibility that terrorists would be able to mingle
undetected whilst co-ordinating attack.
So what can protesters do?
SumOfUs are trying to raise money to fight the court
ruling. Personally, I would suggest a
slight change of tactic – I suggest they do not simply demand the right to
protest in the square according to their original intention, but to protest differently.
The truth is, the threat of terrorism is
real, and should be acknowledged. However, I also
think the right to protest should be protected.
So here are some ideas:
- Ask for permission for the right to stage alternative
protest methods, for example (and the group may have better ideas):
- Instead of a mass of people demonstrating, huge
billboards erected stating the arguments of the protesters, displayed in the
square (and possibly driven around the city on a bus or similar) – and the
number of people who signed a petition published and in view.
- The right to put up ‘protest posters’ around the
- The right to present their argument to attendees
at the Bayer annual meeting.
- The right to know the names of Bayer’s top corporate
shareholders, and to list them publicly.
Within their arguments, they should include:
- the democratic right to protest should not be stifled, even by terrorism.
- an important signal must be given to terrorists and corporations, that the people cannot be silenced, and that people's freedoms and rights will be upheld.
- corporations must not be allowed to exploit situations such as this, as a means to silence opposition.
I’m sure there are more potential ideas - indeed, played correctly, protesters may even attract more publicity.
The protest group could engage the press and social media
with their campaign, and in particular, the points they wish to make.
As for any other objections to the protest, I have not investigated those, but perhaps a new approach to the protest might help overcome them anyway?