Business as usual

June 24, 2007

     In the run-up to the G8 summit a lot was announced, demanded and said. Famous people such as Bono from the Irish rock band  U2 sallied out to raise people’s awareness about the problems and conditions in Third World countries, especially in Africa. Organisations such as Attac, Interventionistische Linke, or Greenpeace stated that they would try anything to carry the demands on the G8 summit to Heiligendamm.     

     100,000 demonstrators from all around the world were expected and the whole city of Rostock prepared itself for excesses and riots like the ones that took place in Genua in 2001. But what really happend remained far behind the expectations. Camps which where supposed to accomodate 15,000 recorded only 60 people, during the biggest demonstration only 30,000 to 50,000 people were counted and feared struggles between the police and militant protesters were less severe than they had been expected. Regrettably, riots started after the demonstration on Saturday. Radical leftists of the so called ‘Black Block’ started to throw stones, bottles and other projectiles at the police and burned down one car.     

     But all this happened near the harbour in a particular area and not all over downtown as it was stated in the news. The media used the pictures of these excesses to make up a scenario which should make the viewers/listeners believe that Rostock was in a state of emergency. And sure it was but not as much as the media wanted it to be. Therefore they showed the same pictures over and over again and came up with stories. However, there was nothing reported about the peaceful and creative demonstrators who represented the vast majority. Even during the following day the media tried to report as much about riots as possible and so again the amicable activities such as the “Alternativgipfel”, the “J8” or information events paled into insignificance.    

     Fortunately, Rostock was spared further riots and violent excesses throughout the remaining time of the G8 summit. Protestors were even able to succeed when they reached the fence around the venue. All things considered it has been business as usual during a G8 summit and the peaceful activities and demonstrations outweighted the violent struggles.  

written by J.M.S., 10.06.2007    

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     Rostock, June 7th. 80,000 people came to see the “Your Voice Against Poverty“-concert in the IGA park. It was a concert against poverty in the Third World during the G8 summit. National and international artists came to show their solidarity with people in poor countries in the world.    

     Despite the heat it was a great party, it had almost festival character. The guests were well-known. Bono Vox, Leadsinger of the British band U2 and the famous German Singer Herbert Grönemeyer appeared. Before the concert Grönemeyer had had a talk that had even turned into a dispute with the German woman chancellor Angela Merkel. Grönemeyer is the man who organized the event and was the headliner, too. He was the last to enter the stage and he directed some words to Angela Merkel. “Keep your promises” was the message that was sent to the woman chancellor. His words: ”Angela Merkel made a promise and she has to keep it. It´s manslaughter through culpable negligence not to keep this.”     

      He called the Africans proud and noble people. ”If we suffered their fate, we would have been prescribed twenty psychiatrists.” Afterwards he sang his song “Mensch” in a duet with Bono. A song that is about humanity. A song that demands not to allow any excuses anymore. “Politicians want to talk their way out of out of their duties”, said “Gröni” and: ”The politicians visit the casino in the evening” he added in an aggressive way. Bono and Bob Geldof sat next to him. Bono took the same line: ”I would shake the devil´s hand to reach our goals”. They seem to know about their function between popularity and politics.    

     On the venue there was a great mood. In the crowd: kids, students, parents, families. Many were wearing shirts with the name of the performing bands.  Surprisingly there were only a few banners. One of the demonstrators was holding a banner proposing an alternative way of living while Seeed and Beatsteaks were on. Other guests were Die Toten Hosen, Silbermond, Mohammed Yunus (Nobel peace prize winner), people from the eight poorest countries in the world, and many more.    

     Everyone knew that Gröni would be the last one on stage. He brought Bono with him on stage. Bono convinced with his German language skills more or less. But he tried. That´s what the presidents should also do.

written by S. S., 11.06.2007   

The second of June

June 24, 2007

     June 2nd was the day of the biggest demonstration concerning the G8 summit 2007. In the days before this event, the police planned their mission and the public was excited because of the 100 000 expected protesters. The police also started setting up barricades and checking people’s passports. Many people you talked to were really scared and planned to hide away their cars and not to let their children go out.    

     If you have a look at it right now, you know that it was the right decision to set up barricades and to secure windows as big markets did, because of the big fights between the police and violent protesters.Stones and bottles were thrown, cars were burning and many windows were destroyed. The big destruction and the fact that more than 400 police officers were injured were reasons for some newspapers to write that these riots had been the worst in Germany for more than twenty years. Responsible for these bad happenings are many aggressive protesters who were then taken into custody. The harbour of Rostock was the place where the worst scenes happened, for example: a police officer lying on the ground with blood in his face. These fights were taking place the whole afternoon and night and reminded me of pictures of a civil war.    

     But besides these terrible pictures and outbreak of aggression, many peaceful people and a crowd of creative protesters set a peaceful example that Saturday evening in Rostock. This biggest demonstration of that week had many good and bad sides: non-violent and violent people who made that day unforgettable in a sad way. Greatly presented ideas and a powerful crowd of people stood next to these stupid and aggressive guys. 

written by P. P., 10.06.2007 

 

     The days around the G8 summit were a strain for all people involved. The inhabitants of the area around Rostock had to accept the blocked roads, busses full of demonstrators and many police cars waiting in the streets for their orders.

     Already weeks before many police officers came to Rostock to prepare themselves for the summit. The actual beginning was on Saturday June 2nd with the first big demonstration in Rostock-City. 30 000 people demonstrated peacefully in the streets. They had colourful posters with “Peace“ written on them and the police officers were also impressed by the creative ideas of the demonstrators. Their slogan was: “Another world is possible“ and some of them had travelled to Rostock even from foreign countries.      

     But the atmosphre of the demonstration changed after a small group of activists, which were wearing black masks and hoods, attacked the police with bottles and Molotov cocktails. They threw stones, destroyed windows and burned a car. The police also resorted to drastic methods such as tear gas and water cannons. They stormed through the streets with helms and clubs. The result of the excesses were 433 injured police officers and an unknown number of hurt demonstrators. In addition to that march other demonstrations in Rostock, Laage and around Heiligendamm followed. A few demonstrators even succeeded in outsmarting the police and crossing the security zone.    

      But apart from all the negative headlines, there were also good events like the “Anti-Poverty-Concert“, which was organized by Herbert Grönemeyer. It took place in the IGA-Park in Rostock and stars like Bono, Bob Geldof or bands from Africa sang against the proceedings of the G8 and demanded more financial aid from the industrial countries. 

written by J. M., 11.06.2007 

One world

June 23, 2007

      Last week 80 000 people could get a feeling of our increasing need for responsible actions and decisions in the world.

     During the concert the visitors gave their voice against global poverty. But if people think a pop concert is able to solve global problems they waste their time on an illusion. Music, however, is a useful means to bring topics into the public.

      One of the topics on G8 summits is the development aid for Africa. At Heiligendamm the industrial countries declared their agreement on a 60-billion-dollar programme for the fight against infectious diseases and they gave their promise to realize the “millennium aims” until 2010. But in how far are declarations like that really useful? There are critical voices which say that development aid is senseless in corrupt and undemocratic countries. Or in other words: Support by the first world promotes corruption because money flows into the wrong hands.

      I think this argumentation corresponds with a true and sometimes resigned point of view. In my opinion development aid must be a help for the majority of the poor African population which does not profit from the increasing economic growth. Especially not in Angola with 27 percent, the highest growth in the world (!).

      I want to repeat that the key out of this misery is support for a fair education system. Unfortunately, the present problem is that 25% of Africans are permanently undernourished. People with an empty stomach are not able to get a basic schooling.

written by F.T., 12.06.2007

Security in Heiligendamm

June 19, 2007

     The week of the G8 summit has been one of the most exciting weeks for the residents of Rostock. It was the biggest event in Rostock this year. This event required a lot of security measures.

   It has been the biggest police operation in Germany ever. 16.000 policemen were stationed in Rostock. On June 2nd the biggest demonstration of the G8 summit started. The demonstrators were escorted by a lot of security squads. They walked down to the harbor. There was a concert presented by “Attac” and about 70,000 people celebrated peacefully. But by mid-afternoon some members of the so called “black block” began to riot at the harbor. They threw stones against the police. Altogether the demonstration claimed 1000 injured people: 500 policemen and 500 demonstrators.

      On Saturday the police followed the “de-escalation tactic“. They tried not to be involved in the demonstrations. But this failed on June 2nd. After this disastrous day the police began to act faster against rioting demonstrators. On Saturday and the following week they were much more attentive. All over the place you saw only green police uniforms. There were so many policemen. I couldn’t believe how many they were. All in all they coped with the situation.

      The second big security action, the fence, was also a big “success“. The demonstrators were not able to break down the fence. Only some members from Greenpeace tried to overcome this security installation. One day a hot-air balloon turned up in the sky. The demonstrators tried to get into the barred zone of Heiligendamm. The police forced the demonstrators to land the hot-air balloon. The second incident was a motorboat which attempted to get over the barriers in the sea. They were triumphant until they were picked up by a huge motorboat from the police. That was one of the most exciting moments in the G8 week for me.

      All in all the security measures were really effective. The police did a good job and reacted as fast as possible in fuzzy situations. Owing to a lot of police operations the charges for the G8 summit could be about 30 million euros more some politicians said.

written by F.L., 11.06.2007

After G8

June 19, 2007

      What is left to say after one week of noise, dirt, observation and fears? I couldn’t care less. If you barricaded yourself at home the G8 summit was bearable. On the other hand you could take many interesting photographs if you were outside!

      So let me say that there were approximately 1,000,000,000 photographs taken while the G8 summit was taking place. Most important for the photographers who want to get a load of money: Pictures of the representatives of the “Group of 8”. Here is an example:

http://www.g-8.de/Content/DE/Artikel/G8Gipfel/Fotos/08b-begruessung-der-afrika-outreach-vertreter-am-kurhaus,property=Teaser.jpg

Charming, isn’t it? The crowd wants to see happiness, peace and shaking hands.

      The demonstrators were also a popular motif. When they weren’t throwing stones (or their cameras?) they’ve taken some interesting shots right out of the pit. Who wouldn’t wish to take part in such a nice meeting?

http://www1.ndr.de/nachrichten/g8/steine4_v-content.jpg

Even more charming, huh?

      I, as a hobby photographer, have to say I’m not sorry about not having taken any photos of this event since it totally annoyed and bothered me. To everyone else who enjoyed this feast: Good luck for your wounds to heal and have fun looking at the photographs if your camera survived it…

written by D.L., 11.06.2007