THE Church in East Berlin was the centre this week of clashes between police and demonstrators demanding greater freedom.
As Mikhail Gorbachev was leaving for the Soviet union last week, demonstrations broke out all over East Germany against Premier Erich Honecker's intransigence towards reform and glasnost. The Stalinist policies of the East German government have caused thousands of refugees to leave the country in recent weeks, most bound for West Germany.
East German police broke up a 1000-strong candle-lit march in East Berlin earlier this week. Roads leading to the Church of Getsemane, where many of the demonstrators sought refuge, were closed. Security police snatched protestors away from the area where pro-reform groups had gathered.
Bishop Gottfried Forck of Berlin-Brandenburg came to the defence of the protestors as police began to beat up participants in the peaceful demonstration. He arranged for protestors who had taken refuge in the church to leave.
A non-stop vigil is now being maintained at the church for people unjustly imprisoned.