Carolyn, a reader from Detroit, wrote me an email, asking
“Would you, please, provide follow-ups on what happened to the politicians so brutalized [by the police during the 9/11 demonstration in Brussels]? What happened to others, and what, if anything, transpires in Belgian Parliament, and the EU Parliament? Will anyone bring a lawsuit against the police? […] Who gave the original orders? From where in the government is this all coming? What happened to the young German woman with the Israeli flag and your friend who was arrested? What is the reaction in the press, both local and national? Was anyone in Italy outraged by their politician being beaten and arrested? Who is buying off the Belgian, or Brussels, police and politicians? Have there been any counter-protests against the police? Are churches being attacked? What can be done? What is the position of the Banking, Financial, and Corporate leaders? Where is the Jewish Community in all of this?”
Dear Carolyn, the politicians and all the other people who were detained were released around 8 pm on Tuesday. Under Belgian law, a mayor can order the police to detain people, even without pressing charges, for a maximum of 12 hours. There is a rumour that one person had a heart attack in prison, but that appears not to have been the case. Medics had to come in and give a man assistance but he was released with the others.
The Brussels authorities have announced that they will press charges against Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter, the leaders of the Vlaams Belang party. According to the police the two politicians attacked the driver of the police bus in which they were forced to take place. As one can clearly see on the video footing, however, Mr. Vanhecke’s hands had been tied behind his back and Mr. Dewinter’s arm got stuck between the bus door and the police hit his hand with a baton. It is unclear how they could have assaulted the bus driver.
Mr. Vanhecke and Mr. Dewinter are pressing charges against the police for the violence to which they were submitted as well as for the deprivation of their freedom. Their lawyer, Hugo Coveliers, is preparing a case on their behalf as well as on behalf of everyone else who was arrested and/or brutalized and would like to press charges. These people can contact Mr Coveliers (in Dutch, English, German or French) here.
However, this is Belgium, dear Carolyn, not the United States. Hence, there is barely a chance that a court case against the police or the Brussels mayor can be won. The courts are controlled by the Belgian political establishment, as everyone in Belgium knows and as you too might already have noticed.
The Italian government formally complained about the arrest of Mario Borghezio, the Italian member of the European Parliament who was arrested together with Mr. Vanhecke. The Belgian government offered its apologies, but it has not demanded an inquiry into the police violence, let alone that the Belgian authorities intend to punish those responsible for it. Hence, what are these apologies worth? Nothing. Moreover, the government did not apologize to Mr. Vanhecke, who, like Mr. Borghezio, is also a member of the European Parliament, and whom the police officers subjected to a vicious genital grip.
What about the press, dear Carolyn? I am sorry to say that we do not have a free press. Apart from one local newspaper (Het Belang van Limburg, in Limburg, Flanders’ most eastern province) all the Belgian media failed to mention that the Belgian government felt compelled to offer its apologies to Italy. The papers have not mentioned other international protests, such as that of Vladimir Palko, the former Slovak Interior Minister, either. True, last Wednesday the papers criticized the Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans for the excessive police brutalities, but the reason why they did so was “because being maltreated in public will make the Vlaams Belang even more popular.” Not because freedom of speech or basic political and human rights have been violated. Who cares about these things? Not even the Council of Europe, apparently.
On one of the videos which we posted (the second one here) you can clearly hear Mr. Vanhecke talk to the police when they grab hold of him. “I am a member of the European Parliament,” he says. “I enjoy parliamentary immunity.” This does not stop the police from arresting him, however. (The man wearing the green scarf and standing right behind Mr. Vanhecke, is Mr. Borghezio.) When Mr. Vanhecke is forced into the police bus he says “What is happening in Brussels today, is this democracy? Is this freedom of speech?” whereupon the policemen drag him off the bus, saying “Haven’t you finished yet? This is not a political platform here.” They throw him on the ground, start beating him up, tie his hands behind his back, kick him in the kidneys and grab him in his private parts – an offence which as Diana West, a Jewish American newspaper columnist who knows Mr Vanhecke personally, writes “would get any American policeman thrown off the force.”
Dear Carolyn, I know that for you as an American this is hard to understand, but in Belgium the police gets away with this kind of conduct. The press is controlled by the regime and does not protest, apart from complaining that Mr. Vanhecke will only become more popular because he has been maltreated. The judiciary is controlled by the regime, too, and will not punish the police officers nor their superiors nor those politically responsible. On the contrary, the latter are most likely smirking that they have pinched the leader of the country’s largest opposition party in the balls. You ask how the church, the Jewish community, the banking, financial and corporate leaders have reacted. They have not reacted. Belgians consider this to be normal police behaviour, at least when it is directed at non-immigrants. If the same thing had happened to Muslim demonstrators, the press would have been indignant and the officers would have been charged and fired, while the mayor of Brussels would have been forced to resign, but not now.
I fear that at the European level the situation is the same. Although the immunity of three members of the European Parliament (Mr. Borghezio, Mr. Vanhecke and the Frenchman Carl Lang) was violated and one of them was publicly humiliated, I doubt whether the European Parliament will demand that the Belgian authorities punish those responsible. And it is exactly because the EP fails to do this that one cannot respect this institution, just as one cannot respect the Belgian police, the Belgian press, the Belgian judiciary and the Belgian government. Regime change will be necessary.