05:07 GMT +316 July 2019
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    German Man Claims 'He's Fighting for Human Rights' by Refusing to Pay Tax on TV

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    German pensioner Reinhard Dowe has been on hunger strike for five weeks. The 70-year old man doesn't want to pay the obligatory tax on television and radio, which, he believes, contradicts the German Constitution.

    Dowe has not paid the tax on TV and radio broadcasting (GEZ-Gebühr or Rundfunkbeitrag) for 1.5 years. According to the pensioner, 17.50 euro a month is not a lot of money, but he protests it out of principle.

    In particular, Dowe does not like the way public channels cover the events worldwide. So, he doesn't want to watch TV and listen to the radio and therefore is not going to pay for them.

    "I am a son of an invalid of the First World War. The war horrifies me. I get goose bumps when I see this one-sided coverage of events, in which Russia is presented as an evil and German soldiers are again hanging around near the Russian border. When I listen to what is being reports about it — and the media do it very intensively — I think to myself that this is not what I want to hear, and I don't want such a policy either. Germany can't unleash wars, and I won't change my opinion on this," Dowe told Sputnik.

    In Dowe's opinion, German citizens can't be forced to paying the tax, regardless of whether they use TV and radio, or not. The man believes that this is in contradiction to the Constitution, which is why he wrote a letter to the competent authorities, explaining his position.

    Reinhard Dowe
    © Photo : Reinhard Dowe
    Reinhard Dowe

    However, according to Dowe, no one was interested in hearing his point of view. Shortly before Christmas, the bank account with his pension was taken under arrest amid his refusal to pay the tax. For five weeks he has been on hunger strike, but his protest so far has had no effect.

    Nevertheless, Dowe does not give up. In his letter to local authorities, he wrote that he would be on the hunger strike until his demands are met.

    "Many are worried, but they don't try to dissuade me. They say: at last someone decided to do it," the pensioner said. "I no longer agree with what they are broadcasting; I have a feeling that I am being misinformed and my mind is being manipulated. That's why I say: I must put an end to this," Dowe stated.

    The so-called license fee for public service broadcasting was introduced in Germany in 2013 and is obligatory for all German residents. The €17.50 monthly fee is per residence, regardless of the number of TVs, radios or computers.

    Many Germans are dissatisfied with the introduction of the fee and protest it in various ways. For instance, online forum GEZ-Boykott.de gathered more than 100,000 online signatures for "the abolition of the compulsory charges for the financing of public service broadcasting." Its members are also planning to organize a corresponding protest campaign on April 29, 2017, in Berlin.

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    TV, tax, human rights, pensioners, Germany
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