By Chris King •
Updated: 04 Aug 2023 • 13:04
Image of Swedish police vehicle.
Credit: Sundsvall/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
HUNDREDS of people were arrested and at least another 55 were injured after a pitched battle broke out at a festival in Järvafältet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Visitors to the four-day event clashed with demonstrators who had turned up for a public gathering that had been organised in a nearby car parking area to protest against the event.
Järvafältet is a large forested area, connecting several of Stockholm’s northern suburbs and the festival started this Thursday, August 3.
The Eritrean festival grounds turned into a battleground as the two sides clashed, armed with stones and sticks. Among those injured were three police officers.
In the aftermath of the incident, smoke could be seen hovering like fog over the area, with rubbish strewn everywhere and tents overturned and torn to pieces.
‘I don’t think I’m in Sweden, I’m ashamed. It is unbelievable that this is happening’, a witness told Aftonbladet while trying to clean up the mess after the chaos.
According to the permit, which the Swedish news outlet saw, 400 people were estimated to have participated in the demonstration against the festival. Several were masked with mouthguards and armed with wooden clubs.
Massive reinforcements were called in by the police, who subsequently formed a chain to cut off the protesters from the festival goers.
By 4 pm, the police had managed to get the situation under control. Protesters were gathered in clusters around Järvafältet and then ferried away in buses.
According to the police, hundreds of people were detained and at least 53 people had to seek medical care for injuries. Eight are still being treated in hospital for serious injuries and a further 15 people are being treated for minor injuries.
Daniel Wikdahl, the police press spokesperson confirmed that three cops were injured. ‘I have no information about the state of the damage’, he commented.
The police also confirmed that trouble was still ongoing in the nearby area of Hallonbergen during Thursday. Fights and disturbances are suspected of being connected to the incident at Järvafältet.
Due to the violent protests, the department of Regional special health care management (RSSL) has gone into staff mode. In a press release, Patrik Söderberg, the facility’s chief physician said: ‘It is a complicated and extensive effort. There are many people in motion at the scene and the total damage situation is still unclear’.
The Eritrean festival has been organised on the Järval field since the 90s but has attracted criticism in recent years as it allegedly supports the regime in Eritrea with money and propaganda. Similar violence broke out when the festival was organised in Germany and Norway.
Eritrea has developed into one of the world’s strictest dictatorships after its liberation from Ethiopia in 1993. In recent years the division between regime loyalists and critics has become increasingly clear.
Gunnar Strömmer, the Minister of Justice, condemned the riot that broke out at Järvafältet. ‘It is not reasonable that Sweden is drawn into other countries’ domestic conflicts in this way’, he wrote in a statement to Aftonbladet.
He continued: ‘If you flee to Sweden to escape violence, or are on a temporary visit, you must not resort to violence here. The police’s resources are needed for other purposes than keeping different groups apart from each other’.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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