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Police Arrest 100 People In Anti-Government Demonstrations

May 8, 1989

BERLIN (AP) _ East German police broke up anti-government rallies in Leipzig after nationwide voting and arrested about 100 demonstrators who were demanding democratic reforms, church and opposition sources said today.

About 800 people rallied Sunday after voting in municipal elections in which candidates of the ruling Communist Party ran unopposed, the sources said.

About 2,000 security forces, backed by water cannon and police dogs, were dispatched and police used loudspeakers to order the demonstrators to disperse, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They said some protesters were arrested after they tried to march from downtown to a nearby square.

The sources said police arrested another 15 people after officers sealed off a Lutheran church where a group of demonstrators gathered to protest the single-candidate elections.

They said about 100 people in all were arrested.

Sunday’s municipal elections reflected East Germany’s strong resistance to democratic reforms occurring in the Soviet Union, Poland and Hungary.

Some church and human rights groups had urged voters to boycott the elections.

State-run television reported that 98.7 percent of East Germany’s 12.4 million registered voters went to the polls. It was the first time East Germany officially reported a turnout of less than 99 percent.

Communist party officials use high voter turnout figures to claim massive support for government policies. Voters who boycott elections or cast invalid ballots face serious repercussions.

West German officials said hundreds of East Germans were allowed to emigrate in the days before the elections in an apparent government effort to prevent disturbances during the balloting.

Police in Leipzig banned reporters from the West German television ARD from entering the city before Sunday’s demonstration.

Update hourly