Chronicle of Germany’s ban on Yanis Varoufakis

German authorities struggling to distance themselves from their farcical authoritarianism

On Friday, April 12, during our Palestine Congress in Berlin, the police invaded the venue, preventing Yanis Varoufakis and other participants from delivering their speeches. Varoufakis went ahead and posted his speech on social media.

On the following day, Saturday, April 13, during our demonstration against the illegal and illegitimate police action to interrupt and cancel our Congress, a police officer approached our organisers, in the presence of the supervising lawyers, to inform them that a ‘Betätigungsverbot’ had been issued against Yanis Varoufakis, Ghassan Abu-Sittah and Salman Abu Sitta – three of the keynote speakers due to appear at the Palestine Congress.

Asked what the precise meaning of the said Betätigungsverbot was, the same police officer answered: “Prohibition to enter Germany but also from participating in conferences via video-link or recorded messages.” The same police officer then added that if any speech is given by “any of these three persons”, physically or by electronic means, the police would forcefully dissolve the demonstration.

At that point, the lawyers present asked the police officer for information of which law the ban on Varoufakis and the other two speakers was based. The police officer replied that it was not a police decision, but a decision by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. When the lawyers asked to be given something in writing about this Betätigungsverbot, he refused. [Click here for a formal, legal account.]

A little later, newspaper TAZ reported the Betätigungsverbot, or ban, on Yanis Varoufakis, claiming to have received confirmation from the German authorities, as can be seen from the screenshot below.

However, a few hours later, after countless messages of outrage against the actions of the Interior Ministry and the German Police from within Germany and from all over the world, lawyers acting on behalf of Yanis Varoufakis were told by the Berlin police press department (Beate Ostertag) that the police has no knowledge of such a ban against Varoufakis and that they suspect that there was ‘miscommunication’ by the police officer at the demonstration.


At around the same time, TAZ changed its article deleting the confirmation of the Betätigungsverbot issue and replacing it with an ambiguous mention of an alleged ban.

More news on Sunday: In response to an enquiry by to the Federal Ministry of the Interior as to whether a ban on political activity had been issued against Varoufakis and how it had been derived in the case of an EU citizen, the reply received contains neither a confirmation nor a denial on the matter. And with reference to security circles, according to Stern and Handelsblatt, it is supposed to be an entry ban.

What is clear is that, following the outcry, German authorities decided they had dug themselves into a deep hole of farcical authoritarianism. And that it was time to whistle in the wind.

Yanis Varoufakis and MERA25 Deutschland wish to thank the thousands of lawyers, parliamentarians, activists, journalists and citizens who wrote messages in support and whose vocal opposition to the German authorities forced them on the defensive.

The struggle for peace in Israel-Palestine and for democracy in the West is only beginning. Let us redouble our efforts.

What the German government had (not) to say

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