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Commentary by Patrik Banga: How and why police detained me in Rumburk

Prague/Rumburk, 27.8.2011 20:08, (ROMEA)

I don't know myself why the police did it - evidently they detained me because I was doing my job. It's a paradox. When they detained me, I was photographing a police intervention. The riot police were arresting someone for not obeying their instructions. He was fighting them, which was reason in and of itself to photograph the incident. There were about 20 journalists there, half of them not clearly identifiable, but I knew them from other events.

While I was taking a series of photographs, three police officers lunged at me and detained me and my two colleagues (who by the way were both wearing press vests and passes) and accused us of photographing people. They pointed at each of us and said something like "you, you and you, come with us immediately".

I didn't agree and asked them why I should leave. I showed my press card and tried to explain that I was doing my job and that they could not prevent me from doing it. They managed to prevent me nonetheless, calling on us to leave with them immediately. We didn't want to disobey their instructions, so we went with them. I kept asking why they were detaining us.

Their explanation was ridiculous: "You are photographing people here." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. They obviously had never received the information that journalists photograph what happens around them, which means they also photograph people. I asked for information about who had ordered our detention, since one police officer argued that he was just following orders. He said the commander of the intervention would give me an explanation, but I didn't see the commander there. After moving us about 500 meters away, they checked our identification, just for practice, and then left us standing there.

There are many ways I could take this. I would be very glad if someone could explain our detention to us. After all, it is very possible they detained us in our own interests, and I am trying to take it that way. There were many people around us who wanted to beat up a gypsy. However, there were also plenty of riot police around who were there to defend the citizens, which means us too. They could have communicated their intentions to us normally, and given the scene we would probably have understood. However, their behavior was so arrogant as to be disgusting, and they gave us no indications that they were doing their best to protect us. It seemed rather that different interests were involved, and I am curious to know what they were.

The problem is not that they detained me, that can happen. The problem is that the police prevented journalists from doing their work for no reason, which in my view is bad indeed.

For the information of Ms Dubnová, who is blogging on iDNES.cz: I have been writing commentary and news reports for various news servers since 1999, when I commented on events in the refugee camps in Yugoslavia for several Czech dailies and news servers. I was also working for Czech Television as a local reporter at the time. In 2000 I took an intensive course at the Czech Center taught by lecturers from the BBC and Czech Radio, where I filed my first independent reports. Ever since then I have written dozens of articles/commentaries for many different periodicals. Before you throw around a lot of disinformation, you should at least use google.cz - I would be glad to advise you on how to use that search engine. By the way, my journalistic profile is also posted to iDNES.cz. All you have to do is look it up, but that would be too complicated, right? Throwing dirt is so much easier.

Gwendolyn Albert, Patrik Banga, Patrik Banga, http://banga.blog.idnes.cz/c/207378/Jak-a-proc-mne-zadrzela-policie-v-Rumburku.html, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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