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GA English on Sunday: News in Brief from Bonn and the region

GA English on Sunday : News in Brief from Bonn and the region

Bottlenecks in appointments and new digital services for Bonn citizens, protests in the city on Saturday against the new Assembly Act and the violence in the Middle East, two new venues opening at Urban Soul Piazza, and another virtual event from Astronomy on Tap Bonn - here is our news in brief on Sunday.

Bonn Service Centre expanding its online services

BONN. People are currently experiencing longer waiting times and bottlenecks in appointments at the vehicle registration office of the Bonn Service Centre. According to the city, there is a high level of sickness among staff and one employee is in quarantine. "However, we are confident that this will ease again in the coming week," said vice city spokesman Marc Hoffmann. For this reason, there may currently be longer lead times at vehicle trade counters. Bonn car dealers expressed understanding for the somewhat longer waiting times.

The city notes that citizens are increasingly using the option of registering their vehicles online, especially to make new registrations. Hoffmann says: "The number of online registrations has increased by about 50 per cent.” The city announced this week that a whole range of new services are now available digitally. In addition to new vehicle registrations, applications for re-registration can be made online, as well as taking a vehicle off the road and changing the keeper’s address.

The city authorities are constantly expanding their online service, and currently offer 150 digital services. The most well-used online services include personal registrations in accordance with the registration law, domicile information and driving licence record cards.

There had been a lot of resentment due to long waiting times following a restructuring process that resulted in the centralisation of services at the city hall. Both the city and staff councillor Christian Dröttboom are satisfied with the appointment booking system for the citizens' registration and the driving licence offices. "Now that staff have been hired again, things are actually going as we would like," Dröttboom said.

Appointments at Citizens' Services are currently available via the city's online portal with a few days' notice. In the morning any cancelled appointments for the day can be re-booked. Following lockdown, the service business is now picking up again, Hoffmann said. Currently, appointments must be made with the authorities in advance and citizens must either provide a negative test result or proof of full vaccination or recovery.

Since 1 March, the city has put the branch offices in town halls back into operation. Vice city spokesperson Hoffmann announced, "that the city authorities would like to expand the range of services offered in the branch offices from mid-June". The city will provide more detailed information about this in the coming week.

(Original text: Philipp Königs)

Alliance protests in Bonn against planned Assembly Act

BONN. On Saturday afternoon around 80 people demonstrated against the planned Assembly Act by the NRW state government. An alliance of Bonn initiatives including Fridays for Future, Women's*Strike, the Anti-Capitalist Climate Group, Extinction Rebellion and the Socialist Democratic Students' Association marched through the centre of Bonn. The demonstration was peaceful and the participants respected corona regulations.

The "Bündnis für Versammlungsfreiheit" (Alliance for Freedom of Assembly), which organised the protest march, sees the new draft law by the NRW state government as a "massive restriction" on the right to freedom of expression and assembly. The draft law could have "serious consequences for the entire population", said Jannis K. from the Bündnis. "We fear that tightening of the law will now be pushed through in the shadow of the Corona pandemic."

Among other things, the so-called military ban is a source of contention. According to the NRW state government, in future "the wearing of uniforms or similar communal features will be prohibited if they convey a willingness to use violence and thereby intimidate". For Jannis K. this formulation is too vague. "This is far too harsh a restriction because forming a visible unity is part of a demonstration in order to express a common political will," said the Bonner. This also includes the choice of clothes. "I think for the state of NRW it is about being able to take better legal action against climate movements and anti-fascist movements and thus prepare for all future protests, including those by trade unions. So this concerns all people in Germany who take to the streets for their rights," he said.

Federal law applies, however, since 2006, the Länder have had the option of enacting their own assembly laws. Minister of the Interior, Herbert Reul, said that a comprehensive, modern and legally secure law on assembly was needed that also fits with current times. He said that the new draft law should provide the police with the "necessary tools" to better protect peaceful assemblies. There are plans for example to clearly regulate the cooperation between the police and the applicant of the demonstration. Furthermore, during a demonstration or assembly, the police should be informed in good time about the course of events, for example, when the leader of the assembly announces that the demonstration is over.

The alliance "Stop the NRW Assembly Act!" announced a week of action across the state. Rallies were also held in Cologne, Aachen, Wuppertal and Hamm over the weekend. The alliance states on its website that it wants to increase decentralised pressure on the state government led by the CDU and FDP with "numerous actions". In addition, the initiators announced a large demonstration in Düsseldorf on 26th June.

The protesters call on the state parliamentarians to reject the bill. The SPD had submitted a draft bill itself but is willing to compromise. The NRW state government now aims to have the law passed by the end of the year.

(Original text: Niklas Schröder)

Protesters call for an end to violence in the Middle East

BONN. Pro-Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators protested at the Münsterplatz in Bonn on Saturday. The rally organised by the Palestinian Community of Germany against the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip ended peacefully on the Münsterplatz in the early afternoon on Saturday. The police attended the scene with nine squad cars and reported 250 participants.

The organisers, who prevented the protest from being cancelled with constant appeals to respect distancing rules, counted 300 mainly young participants. Numerous Palestinian flags were flying. "Freedom for Palestine" was the slogan of the day on the placards and in chants. "Stop the killing in Gaza" could be widely seen as a demand to the Israeli government, including the call: "Shame on you, Israel."

Meanwhile, at the cathedral, around 30 counter-demonstrators waved Israel flags. "Against all anti-Semitism" was printed on the placards here, as was the admonition "Auschwitz was too much: Solidarity with Israel."

Khaled Hamed, speaking for the Palestinian community, who had called for the rally, shouted into the microphone that they were happy in their hearts that a ceasefire had been negotiated for the Gaza Strip. "But we fear that Israeli aggression will continue," he added. It is wrong to identify the Palestinian Hamas as the culprit of the conflict, he said. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organisation by the EU, the USA and other states. The group's declared aim is the destruction of Israel. "Ultimately, Germany, the EU and the US bear the responsibility for the permanent violation of human rights and the violence," continued Hamed to applause. Pressure must finally be exerted on Israel so that the Palestinians can also have their state, he said.

Pro-Israel demonstrator Sebastian Zachrau explained why he was protesting against the pro-Palestinian rally even as a non-Jew: "I am here because, as at similar rallies, none of the speakers has yet confirmed the right of the state of Israel to exist." This message was composed on the placards of individual demonstrators. "Yes to Jews and Israel - but no blockade and an end to the occupation for the Palestinians," one woman had written.

Others held up the Arab-Israeli peace wishes "Salam - Shalom". 19-year-old Saloua said that as a German citizen of Moroccan origin, she wanted to stand up for people who were being driven out of their homeland. 17-year-old Lujain, also German, described herself as a "proud Palestinian fighter" and said: "You don't have to be Muslim to stand up for Palestine. You just have to be human."

(Original text: Ebba Hagenberg-Miliu)

Urban Soul to open two new venues in Bonn

BONN. On Tuesday after the Whitsun holiday, two new eating establishments will open at the Urban Soul Piazza: the Sander Restaurant and the Kaffeesaurus. Both openings had been thwarted by the winter lockdown. In addition to the distancing rules, the restrictions for outdoor gastronomy in Bonn also apply on the outside patio: access only for those with a negative test result, or those who are fully vaccinated or recovered. Customers must register on site. Reservations do not need to be made in advance.

(Original text: let)

Astronomy on Tap virtual event

BONN. Astronomy on Tap Bonn holds monthly public astronomy talks at Fiddlers pub in Bonn-Endenich. The group is going virtual due to #covid-19 restrictions on public life. The next event will be taking place live on YouTube on Tuesday 25th May at 19:00. This month includes 1) Andrea Gokus on "Catching Blazars in outburst: An extragalactic view on the variable high-energetic sky", and 2) Dr Felix Pötzl: "Magnetic fields at the edge of space and time". Participants can join the live quiz to win a super astro prize via mail. For more information, follow Astronomy on Tap Bonn on Facebook and YouTube (Astronomy on Tap Bonn) or on Instagram and Twitter (@aotbonn) or drop an email to: AoTBonn@gmail.com. The virtual event on Tuesday 25th May can be found here.

(Translations: Caroline Kusch)