Germany’s Fusion Festival may be cancelled due to police dispute

Germany’s iconic Fusion Festival, which has attracted people from across the world for over two decades, is in danger of being cancelled in 2019. The reason? A dispute between the organizers and police.

Germany’s Fusion Festival may be cancelled due to police dispute
Archive photo shows a Fusion Festival stage. Photo: DPA

The row between Kulturkosmos, organizers of the festival, and police is threatening to cancel the festival for the very first time. 

“The police want to stop Fusion Festival” reads the headline on the Kulturkosmos website. The owners have started a petition, which had upwards of 56,000 signatures early on Monday evening. 

The police have called for a police presence in the centre of the festival, saying that they are dissatisfied with the organizers’ security systems and want to ensure the safety of festival attendees. 

Aside from a centrally-located temporary station, police have sought permission to have plain-clothed officers walk around the five-day festival. 

The organizers have hit back, arguing that the requests are excessive and that they are being punished for an abstract threat and pointing out that there has been only one incident of violence in the festival’s history.

They argue that allowing unmarked officers to patrol the festival would be contrary to its ethos of freedom of artistic expression. 

District Administrator Heiko Kärger (CDU) told DPA that the police’s change in policy is motivated by legitimate security concerns. 

“The security concerns for such a major event must be met,” he said. “Nobody wants further problems, such as at the Love Parade disaster in 2010.”

Besides a break in 2017, the Festival – which takes place at an abandoned Soviet military base in Lärz, Mecklenburg West-Pomerania – has run annually every year since 1997. 

From humble beginnings, Fusion Festival has grown in size and reputation over the years. 

The festival averages 70,000 attendees from all across Germany and the world. For comparison, the United States’ Burning Man Festival has only once hit that number. 

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”