Journalists continue to face attacks, death threats during protests against COVID-19 measures

Journalists continue to face attacks, death threats during protests against COVID-19 measures
Police use a water cannon to disperse a protest against COVID-19 measures in Berlin (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images).


On 24th, 25th and 26th November – during the Black Friday weekend – workers of the online retail giant Amazon took part in a strike called by trade union Verdi. The strike was part of a year-long battle for better working conditions, health and safety measures and salaries. A spokesperson for Verdi says around 2,500 people took part in the strike that affected distribution centres in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Augsburg, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz.

Peaceful Assembly

Anti-COVID19 protests

On 18th November 2020, about 5,000 people gathered outside the Bundestag in Berlin to protest against stricter COVID-19 measures. The protest was broken up by the police. The demonstration fits within a larger wave of protests which have taken place all over the country over the past few months. Authorities had not given permission for the demonstration, citing fear of violence and hindrance to members of parliament from accessing the building. The majority of protesters did not respect the prevailing COVID-19 measures, such as wearing a mask. After the participants ignored repeated requests by the police to cover their mouths and noses, police decided to disperse the protest using water cannon. Police officers were reportedly attacked by protesters resulting in 31 detentions.

Earlier in November 2020 more than 20,000 people gathered in the eastern city of Leipzig to protest against COVID-19 measures. It is reported that the protest was violent with people attacking the police and the media, and the police dispersed the protest.

Climate protesters removed and arrested

As reported previously, in early October 2020, thousands of climate activists gathered in the Dannenröder forest in Hessen to protest the felling of 27 hectares of forest to make way for an extension of the Autobahn (A49). In November, police removed protesters from the forest and arrested some of them. It is reported that protesters threw fireworks and rocks at the police and that police used batons to clear protesters.


The following violations against journalists have been reported during this period by Mapping Media Freedom:

  • On 24th October 2020, a life-sized doll was found hanging in Minden. A sign with the inscription "Covid-Presse" was attached around its neck and it was wearing a mask over its eyes, reading "blind". For weeks, protesters have been stirring up hatred against the local newspaper Mindener Tageblatt.
  • On 25th October 2020, journalists from mainstream media were repeatedly verbally attacked by a protest organised by Querdenken against COVID-19 measures in Berlin.
  • Dunja Hayali, journalist and news anchor for German public broadcaster ZDF was sent an abusive and anti-Semitic letter, which called “Judaism a crime”. The letter was signed off with “Heil Hitler”. Hayali has previously been targeted for her work on refugees and racism.
  • On 7th and 8th November 2020, during protests in the eastern city of Leipzig against COVID-19 measures, 12 to 15 journalists were attacked for reporting on the protests.
  • A journalist was physically attacked in front of the Leipzig central train station by a group of individuals. He was hit in the head and kicked by several individuals.
  • A journalist was chased by a group of right-wing protesters.
  • Police threatened journalists with force for continuing to report while they were clearing protests. It is reported that one police officer said: “We don’t differentiate between protesters and journalists”. Police also prevented journalists from taking pictures and filming on various occasions. In one case, after a journalist was physically attacked, police threatened him with arrest and the withdrawal of his press card.
  • Journalists faced death threats. In one case a journalist was told: “Not much longer and you will all hang!” Others were threatened with ‘cleansing’ and called ‘lying press’.