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Say East German Authorities Release About 100 Protesters

January 19, 1988

BERLIN (AP) _ Most of some 100 dissidents arrested in East Berlin for holding a demonstration during an official communist rally have been released, Lutheran church sources said Monday.

The rally Sunday to honor two founders of the German Communist Party was attended by by East Germany’s communist leader Erich Honecker and other senior officials.

Plainclothes security agents arrested about 100 people, most members of human-rights and peace groups, moments after they tried to join the rally in downtown East Berlin, said the sources who spoke with the condition they not be identified.

They said many of the detainees were released later Sunday, but they had no figures on the number freed and those still held.

West German government spokesman Friedhelm Ost on Monday criticized the arrests, saying they harmed relations between the two German states.

The West German newspaper Die Welt, in its Tuesday editions, reported East German authorities expelled 14 young human rights activists to West Germany.

It did not give attribution for its report, but said the 14 were expelled over the weekend apparently to prevent them from taking part in the East Berlin demonstration.

Such an expulsion action would be unusual for East Germany, which built the Berlin Wall in 1961 and then extended barriers along its border with West Germany to block East Germans from fleeing to the West.

Die Welt did not identify the 14, but said some some had applied earlier for permission to emigrate while several did not want to leave East Germany.

It said the 14 belonged to a human rights organization associated with a Lutheran church community in East Berlin.

West German government spokesmen were not available late Monday for comment on the Die Welt report.

The East Berlin rally, held annually, honors German Communist Party founders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht who were killed by soldiers during a 1919 uprising.

According to the Berlin sources, the dissidents who went to the rally unfurled several banners, with one reading ″True Freedom Means the Freedom to Think Differently.″

The protesters were quickly bundled into police cars and vans and driven away while police blocked the view of Western reporters.

East Germany’s ADN news agency said at least 200,000 people attended the official rally.

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