On 11 February 2010 at 03.30 around 100 riot police arrested 23 activists from Green Action and the Right to the City initiative in Zagreb, Croatia. The raid took place just hours after 4000 people turned out in snowy conditions to protest against turning part of the pedestrian zone into a ramp for an underground garage planned as part of the Cvjetni shopping centre and luxury flats development in the old part of Zagreb.
The police also hacked to pieces a five-metre high wooden Trojan horse which had been brought to the site for the previous evening’s protest as a symbol of private interests and corruption masquerading as urban redevelopment.
“Using riot police against a small group of peaceful protesters is a disturbing over-reaction to the civil offence of failing to obtain permission before temporarily placing the container in the pedestrian zone,” said Teo Celakoski from Right to the City. “Yet the whole Cvjetni project is based on dubious legal manoeuvres such as the city authorities’ decision to declare it a project of public interest when it is clearly nothing of the kind.”
“The Croatian authorities must concentrate on tackling the real problem of corruption instead of shooting the messengers,” added Tomislav Tomasevic, from Green Action. “The European Commission has repeatedly identified corruption as a major remaining obstacle to Croatia’s EU Accession but if this project is anything to go by there is still a long way to go.”