Austria - "Opernball"demonstration 1996

Marc Zannoni (
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 12:21:18 +0100

+Info from Austria+

"Opernball"demonstration 1996

"Opernball" is a "tradition" in Austria, a ball which is celebrated as the
most important one; and it is the most luxurious. At this event many
socalled prominent figures show up. This year as in the past politicians
(Austrian, Japanese,...), industrialists (from Siemens, Friedrich Karl
Flick,...), bankers, miliitary representatives, insurance agencies, et
cetera. The ball is definitely another event for the rich and filthy.
What makes it special is its past.
1986 the resistance against the atomic power plant in Wackersdorf, Bavaria,
took place. During this time of active resistance Austrian leftradicals
took part and gained experience.
1987 Franz Josef Strauss came to the "Opernball." During the dispute on the
atomic power plant in Wackersdorf he made fun of the involvement of
Austrian leftists. To protest against his arrogance the Austrian greens
initiated a rally. But suddenly during the rally the Austrian police
started to beat everybody up they could get a hold of, even green
The year after the first "typical" "Opernball"demonstration took place.
Hundred thousands of dollars of damage was counted, about 100 wounded
policemen and a couple of dozens of arrests without much consequences.
The years afterwards were battles between the police and the
demonstrators/the spectators and every year more people came. 1990 was the
climax when 5000 people took part.
1991 the "Opernball" was canceled for a very dubious and dishonest reason:
it was the year of the gulf war and the trendies said that it would be
immoral to let the expensive and luxurious ball take place while people
died in Irak. The spontaneous demonstration that year was attended by 200
and some autonomous people.
But because every year it is immoral to let this ball take place, because
this year for the third time the government is cutting social spendings
deeply, because the Austrian government seeks to become involved in the
NATO, because foreigners are deported, because coldblooded politicians and
economists were there; the demonstration against it was initiated once
again. These were also the main topics of the demonstration.
The demonstration itself: 200-300 people came to the meeting point of the
demonstration at "Schwarzenbergplatz". After 15 minutes the demonstration
moved towards Karlsplatz and then to the beginning of the Kaertner Straße.
The Kärnter Straße was blocked by the police, as it has been in former
years, so the demonstration stopped. There were approximately 1500
policemen, 400 demonstrators. It seemed to be impossible to break through
towards the opera. 20 Minutes the demonstration stayed at the entrance to
the Kärntner Straße then it turned to leave "Karlsplatz" in the opposite
direction to "Wiedner Hauptstraße". The police which surrounded the
demonstrators forced the demonstration to stop after 500 meter. The
demo-organisation decided that after further 200 meters the people should
leave the place, because it was impossible to do anything against the
overflow of police.
After the demonstration 70 people stumbled through the streets without any
direction. They were followed by the police and after a while the police
stopped the steadily smaller demonstration. These people were forced to
give their personal datas to the police and were searched.
Now 40-45 people are accused of participating in an illegal demonstration
and one person is accused of resisting the police. Therefore the organizers
will stage a solidarity-event to raise money.
The positive side of the event was that for the first time after a long
time a demonstration was more carefully organized with fist-aid people, an
intensive legal aid, which advised people. Moreover most people who
participated were masekd which can be counted as a success.
This was the "Opernball"-demonstration 1996. It was not the biggest and the
best organized. The organization-structures will have to be improved and
enlarged. It nearly was a new beginning of a militant rally.

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