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2007-04-30
 
Preliminary brief information about the disturbances in Tallinn on 26-29 April 2007
 
Due to weekend time the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights (LICHR) was able to collect only media reports and some information provided to our organization by those who addressed it during the weekend. LICHR has not been able to cross-check all information yet.
1. On 26 April in the nighttime the police forces pushed away the defenders of the WWII monument on Tõnismägi in Tallinn. Then access to the monument was closed and it was covered with a tent. At least one person was lightly injured.
2. The same day in the evening there were clashes between the demonstrators (mostly Russian-speakers) and the police. The crowd of protesters was disintegrated by the police by using gas, rubber clubs, noisy bombs etc. Some police officers treated people in a manifestly cruel manner. It could be seen from TV reports and it was confirmed by witnesses.
3. In the nighttime there started acts of vandalism in the Tallinn’s downtown. Police arrested hundreds of persons, including those who were innocent of any offences. 1/3 of arrested were reportedly Estonian-speakers. Meanwhile the monument was removed from its place in a clandestine way.
4. Most of the detained people were released in the morning. There were allegations about maltreatment in custody, which place was in one of the warehouses in the port (beatings, people were sitting on the cold floor, for several hours people had to tolerate plastic handcuffs, etc). Some of these allegations can be true: few detained managed to film the warehouse on mobile phones. These videos were shown on TV. Interestingly, Estonian ombudsman Allar Jõks did not find any violations (he visited this place on Sunday).
5. On 27 April the security police (special service) arrested several leaders of the Night Watch (the organization which has been trying for one year to oppose the removal of the monument by peaceful means) and of an associated organization. There are reasons to believe that these persons can be made scapegoats to provide the excuse to the police for chaos in the streets of Tallinn. It was reported that at least one of those arrested (a schoolboy) was not in the street during disturbances.
6. Acts of vandalism in Tallinn were also next night (27/28 April). Again, there are allegations that the police used excessive power. Hundreds of persons were detained. Conditions of their detention were similar.
7. 28/29 April disturbances were mostly in the towns of North-East of Estonia (populated predominantly by Russians). Tens of detained.
8. Within four days dozens of persons were injured (also policemen), at least one dead.
9. The Government of Estonia seems not to be ready for any compromises with the Russian-speakers. One can observe nationalistic hysteria.
The prehistory of the War of monuments can be found in Estonian Minority Population and Non-discrimination: Report 2006, LICHR: Tallinn, pp. 20-24 (http://www.lichr.ee/docs/cerd-final.pdf).

Legal Information Centre for Human Rights (LICHR)
 
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