The Great Swedish Unknown

Providing unreported news and culture pieces about Sweden

Malmö police accused of lying following injuries at anti-fascist demonstration

Today Malmö police are finding themselves at the centre of controversy after being accused of lying about the level of violence committed by protesters on Saturday 23rd in an attempt to justify the police’s use of force, including horse charges, that saw 10 protesters sent to hospital.

The counter demonstration, consisting of around 2000 people, was organised to oppose a rally being held by Svenskarnas Parti (Swede’s Party), a neo-Nazi party which believes that “only people who belong to the western genetic and cultural heritage… should be Swedish citizens”. The party has links to violent neo-Nazis who have previously attacked anti-fascists in Stockholm and Malmö.

Outrage at the way in which the counter demonstration was policed quickly grew on Friday as footage was posted on several news sites showing a moving police van turn to hit a man who was standing still, knocking him over and running over his legs.

Police horses trample protesters in Malmö – photo: TT

This outrage spread further as photographs of blood flowing in the streets were later posted online – the aftermath of police horses charging through the crowd, then turning around and charging back again. Göteborgs Posten interviewed one of the people ran over by the horses, a man called Mehdi, who has suffered injuries to his hand, arm, face, back of the head and scrotum. Doctors have told him that he will never have full use of his hand again.

Malmö police decided to hit back at accusations of police brutality by releasing a statement on the same day as the counter demonstration claiming that the counter protesters had ripped up and thrown paving stones and ammonia at police officers and their horses. The statement, which referred to the counter demonstration as a “violent riot”, also alleged that protesters had attacked ambulance crews who attended to the injured.

However, this statement has been utterly rejected by Swedish newspapers, most notably Skånska Dagbladet which today posted an article headlined “Police lie about protester’s violence“, stating that “none of the information [in the statement] corresponds to reality”.

The article notes that, in all of the journalistic material available online from photos, video and live reports, there is “no evidence that the protesters threw cobblestones”, nor that pavements had been ripped up to be used as missiles. The author, Dag Ankersen, also recounts interviewing Hans Ivarsson, the emergency physician who was in charge of the ambulance crews on the day, who stated that “none of the [ambulance] staff have been attacked and there is no damage to our vehicles”.

Sydsvenskan posted an interview online yesterday with Rode Grönkvist, a member of Ung Vänster (Young Left) who was hit on the head with a police baton and taken to hopsital. Rode claims that he saw someone throw a drinks bottle and an empty tin, but “no paving stones or ammonia balloons”. The 20 year old also stated that he felt the atmosphere was calm until the police horses charged into the crowd.

Malmö police have now responded to the accusations in the Skånska Dagbladet article with a second statement, admitting that they have no evidence that cobblestones were thrown at police nor that ambulance crews were attacked, however they still maintain that stones were thrown at police and that the ambulance crews were harassed by protesters.

Svenskarna Parti’s tour of Sweden continued yesterday in Gothenburg and was again met by a counter demonstration, with large numbers of police in uniform and plain clothes present once more.

A facebook group “Anmäl Polisen” (Charge the Police) has been set up to publicly document the police violence that occurred on the day and encourage people to sign a petition demanding that the police should be investigated and charged. The group states that “the police should be charged with attempted murder in at least 3 cases and aggravated assault for the remainder”.

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Nazi attack victim Showan’s condition improves

The condition of Showan Shattak, the man severely beaten during the Nazi attack in Malmo last weekend, has reportedly improved.

The Facebook group “Solidaritet med kamraterna i malmo” posted an update announcing that he had “moved his fingers and feet today” and that doctors were preparing to reduce the medication keeping him in a medically induced coma. The Facebook group has over 17,000 likes and features messages and photos of support from all around the world.

Graffitti from Berlin – photo: Solidaritet med kamraterna i Malmö.

The group has also published information from “a group of investigative journalists and activists” with the intention to counter the “inaccurate claims that the Nazis were chased before the murder attempts” being published by svenskarnas parti and the newspaper Kvällsposten.

Svenskarnas parti is spreading information and reports stating that the members of their party involved in the attack were instead chased and attacked by the feminist group including Showan. Meanwhilst, the police have apparently failed to interview any of the individuals who arrived to help those injured in the attack and – having arrived after the murder attempts already took place – are referring to the attack as a “brawl” between left-wing and right-wing groups.

The information published by the Facebook group points to the fact that the people who were stabbed were stabbed in the back as they were trying to get away, and that Showan was tackled to the ground after falling behind the group. The report also mentions witnesses who saw the Nazi attackers “position themselves outside the leftist cafe Glassfabriken, putting up stickers and looking for people [to attack]”.

Meanwhilst, another person has been arrested for involvement in the attack after “Martin”, one of the men stabbed, described him to the police. He recognised the attacker who stabbed him as he had seen him before and was wearing the same hat, bearing the symbol of Svoboda (Ukrainian far-right party), at the time of the attack.

“Martin” also criticised the police and svenskarnas parti version of events, telling Aftonbladet “We were all stabbed in the back, how do you get stabbed in the back if you yourself are attacking someone? It makes no sense”.

Police confirm Nazis behind Reclaim the Night attack as man fights for his life

Police in Malmo have confirmed that three of the men who attacked a group returning from a Reclaim the Night demonstration in the early hours of Sunday are known Nazis holding membership with the svenskarnas parti (Swedes party), a party that claims that “only people who belong to the western genetic and cultural heritage…should be Swedish citizens”. Of these three men, two of them have previous criminal records for carrying knives and batons in public, whilst the third has no previous criminal record. Two of the men were arrested immediately following the attack, whilst the third was arrested during the day yesterday.

Malmo FF players gather in front of “Kämpa Showan” mural before training – photo: @Malmoistas1910

In other developments Showan Shattak, one of the people who was attacked and was reported yesterday morning as “stable” is in a critical condition in hospital, with Sydsvenskan reporting earlier today that he is “fighting for his life”. As a prolific supporter of Malmo FF and prominent campaigner against sexism and homophobia in football news of his attack spread rapidly, with yesterday’s solidarity demonstrations being boosted in numbers by local football fans and online support rallying around the slogan “Kämpa Showan” (“Fight Showan). Players in Malmo FF have also publicly offered their support to Showan, with “some kind of manifestation” planned for their match against Hammarby on Saturday. The 3 other feminists who were attacked are reported as stable, having received treatment for stab wounds to the arms and lungs. It is unknown what condition the two previously hospitalised attackers are in.

Solidarity tattoo – photo: @LFCJohansson

One of those attacked has stated to Sydsvenskan that it was a clearly planned attack, with the attackers throwing bottles and attacking with knives. Activist site Motkraft reported that “the Nazis had been searching for potential victims the entire evening in the vicinity of the March 8th Festival…the attack was… no coincidence”.

On a national level, it appears that this latest attack could cause some political fallout, and indeed already has, as Aftonbladet reported for most of the day that the Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was “too busy” to comment on the attack, leading some to start the twitter hashtag “#VarÄrReinfeldt?” (Where is Reinfeldt?). A statement was finally made at 15.30, describing how “the existence of Nazism and racism dirty… Sweden”. Reinfeldt was previously criticised for not making a strong enough statement against far-right violence following the attack in Stockholm in December.

It also appears that heads could roll at Säpo, the Swedish security agency, who last month responded to news that Swedish Nazis, including one of the attackers, were travelling to Ukraine by stating that “the Security Service is interested only in Swedes who travel to engage in terror-related activities in other countries (such as al-Qaeda-inspired groups in Syria)”. Today however, amid news articles with titles such as “Wake up Säpo, it’s serious”, chairman of the committee on justice Morgan Johansson has summoned the head of Säpo in a statement that warned that there could be a “Swedish Anders Breivik among these [right-wing] groups”.

Yesterday saw demonstrations involving thousands occur across the country in cities such as Malmo, Gothenburg and Stockholm, with more demonstrations planned for later in the week. Anger continues to grow at the lack of response by the police and Säpo in preventing these clearly pre-planned attacks and the apparent resurgence of far-right street violence, with Motkraft warning that “Today, they stand for violence in the streets. In September, they stand for parliamentary elections”.

Motkraft has a piece duplicated in English here which provides more information on recent occurrences of far-right violence in Sweden.

Six stabbed after Reclaim the Night demonstration

UPDATE Monday 10th – I have written a new article bringing together developments over the last 24 hours, you can find it here.

A group of feminists were attacked in Malmo last night as they returned from a Reclaim the Night demonstration that was held in celebration of International Women’s Day.

The attack took place at half past one in the morning as the group were going through the Möllan area of Malmo, a long-time working class and anti-fascist area, where it is believed the attackers were waiting for them to pass by.

The group was attacked after returning from a 200 strong demonstration. Photo: Patrick Persson

It still remains unknown how many were involved in the attack or how the attack started, but 6 people were later taken to hospital with stabbing injuries. Of those, one of them was in a critical condition until this morning but has now been reported as “stable”. The police originally arrested 3 people, 2 of those remain in custody and are being investigated for attempted murder. It is also believed that 2 of the injured were attackers, whilst the other 4 were feminists due to posts in feminist groups on Facebook describing them as “our side”.

The police spokesperson Calle Persson has been hesitant to state that the attackers were Nazis or even that it was a planned attack, yet groups involved in the demonstration have stated that the attackers were Nazis and that it was clearly a “planned attack”. Left-wing facebook group Ta tillbaka välfärden (Take back the welfare) has also published a post identifying one of the attackers as Andreas Karlsson, a known member of the Nazi political party svenskarnas parti (The Swede’s party). The post includes a recent photo showing Karlsson in Ukraine, suggesting that he travelled there in order to support the Ukrainian far-right in the recent political turmoil.

This attack comes less than 3 months after the Nazi organisation svenska motståndsrörelsen attacked an anti-fascist demonstration in Stockholm, leaving several people seriously injured and resulting in ongoing attempted murder investigations.

“Demonstrations against Nazi-violence” are due to be held in several cities later today, including Malmo, Stockholm and Gothenburg. Left-wing site Motkraft has a list of planned demonstrations here and adds that “This right-wing violence is serious and should be taken seriously. We stand in solidarity and continue the fight”.

UPDATE: Expressen reports here that police have confirmed that at least two of the attackers are known Nazis. Two of them have also been previously fined for carrying weapons, a baton and a knife, in public.

Swedish far-right planning to travel to Ukraine

A group calling itself svenska ukrainafrivilliga (Swedish Ukraine Volunteers) has posted an announcement to a far-right website asking for Swedish nationalists to travel to Ukraine and support the right wing organisations Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector).

The announcement was posted earlier this week to Swedish far-right website Motgift (Antidote) and urges far-right Swedes to “be a part of this historic event” and show their unity with “white, European nationalists”. Other articles on the website analyse the events in the Ukraine and praise Svoboda’s call to ban communism.

The call-out ends with the infamous “14 words” Nazi slogan before the website itself clarifies that the aim isn’t to recruit people for “any military or police force”, but instead to recruit “civilian aid workers”.

Today another article was posted to the website to provide more information on the group. The article restates that they “do not organise any paramilitary force”, but also states that they will “make use of the right to self-defence” if violence were to break out and recommends that volunteers “improve [their] physical fitness”. It is still unclear which organisations or individuals are behind the call-out or are likely to respond to it.

Concern over far right activities in Ukraine has grown considerably since it emerged that Nazi elements were heavily involved in the protests in Ukraine. In recent days it has been thought that members of both Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor have been behind attacks on synagogues and Soviet statues in Kiev. 

 

Links to the original announcement and the follow-up post.

Swedish job agency invites 61,000 to the same meeting

The Swedish employment agency has caused “chaos” in Stockholm today after accidentally inviting 61,000 people to the same meeting.

The Arbetsförmedlingen office in central Stockholm had apparently intended to invite just 1000 people to a “recruitment fair”, where attendees would “have the opportunity to meet with 10 companies looking for staff”. Instead tens of thousands of people gathered in the streets outside after they were all emailed invitations, resulting in the police sending 8 units to manage the crowds.

Many of those who gathered outside Arbetsförmedlingen expressed their anger at having travelled long distances in order to attend the meeting. Johannes Jameel told Aftonbladet that “Many have left children or school to come here. It is just ten businesses here and they send 60,000 people”.

Unemployment remains a large problem in Sweden, with 8.5% of the registered workforce currently unemployed.

Protest calls for consent law after man acquitted of rape

A demonstration is being held today to protest against sexual violence and the state of sexual assault law in Sweden after a 27 year old man was acquitted of rape last week despite overwhelming evidence against him. The court heard how the victim “protested so loudly during intercourse she got a swollen throat”, yet the man dismissed this by describing her pleas as “weak” and claiming that he thought her protestations simply showed her desire for “dominant sex”.

The court in Lund was also told that the man had responded to the woman’s screams by holding her mouth and nose “so that she couldn’t breathe” and that the only way the woman was able to escape was under the pretense of leaving the room to get a shower. She was later found by a passing cyclist, who found her half dressed and “hysterically” crying and screaming in the street.

It was concluded by the court that both parties stories of the incident “were clear, vivid, detailed and largely agreed” and that it was “objectively proven” that the woman was violently forced into sex, however, as the court did not consider that the man “had the intent to do so” he was found innocent.

It is this aspect of Swedish sexual assault law that has consistently drawn fire from feminist campaigners, as to achieve a conviction for rape it is necessary for the victim and the court to prove that the aggressor had the “intent” to commit rape. Simply put – there is no sexual consent law in Sweden. This means that the burden of proof is on the victim to prove that the accused intended to rape instead of the accused proving that there was sexual content from both parties.

The demonstration in Stockholm today – the flag is from Feministisk Initiativ, a feminist political party. Photo: Ammy Olofsson.

Over 6000 people are expected to attend the demonstration which began at one o’clock today, with a number of feminist organisations, politicians and journalists confirming that they will attend. Journalist Cissi Wallin, one of the organisers of the demonstration, told Aftonbladet today “This is it… we feel that we are finished with this rule of law”. Also in attendance are organisations such as Storasyster (Big Sister) – an organisation dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault – whose spokesman Sanna Bergendahl stated that “we believe that consent should be self-evident, both in practice and in law….we want to show it is the law at fault, not them [the victims of rape]”.

This latest case has brought long term anger with the state of Swedish law concerning rape to boiling point, despite reforms to the laws which were made only one year ago. Previously the law required a victim of rape to be “in a helpless state”, but this was changed in February 2013 to a “particularly vulnerable situation”. These reforms have been dismissed by feminists and crime experts alike due to the fact that they still do not prominently concern sexual consent, with Madeleine Leijonhufvud, Professor of Criminal Law at Stockholm University, describing the law as “the shame of Sweden”.