For around three weeks, Vienna’s Stadtpark has been the epicenter of the local corona denier scene. In addition to the Andreas Zelinka memorial, opponents of the federal government’s measures to contain the pandemic set up around 20 tents. They disseminated their views on posters and in conversations with passers-by – an overgrowth of absurd conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic messages. The protesters refuse to wear a mask on principle, and according to their own statements, they are not vaccinated. Since the lockdown came into force, however, the Covid Emergency Measures Ordinance has also made it mandatory to wear a mask for meetings.
Nevertheless, the local assembly authority – the Vienna State Police Directorate (LPD) granted their protest. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right. It is guaranteed by Article 12 of the Basic Law and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But the right of assembly also has its limits. If an assembly endangers public safety, if laws are broken or if it is directed against the public interest, it can be dissolved by the authorities.
That’s exactly what happened now. In the early hours of the morning on Friday, the police broke up the protest. “The development of the demonstration has reached an extent that disrupts public order and is no longer covered by the right of assembly, “said the LPD at the request of the” Wiener Zeitung “. Passers-by are said to have been bullied for wearing a mask. The students of a nearby school are said to have been harassed by the protesters in an obtrusive manner with questionable content. Trees were damaged and the green area was affected by fire pits. The city of Vienna also informed the police that, as the landowner, they could no longer tolerate the gathering.
The dissolution of the camp was peaceful. The police gave participants time to dismantle their tents and equipment. Four people did not want to leave the city park and stopped by Andreas Zelinka Monument. You have been reported for violating the Assembly Act.