Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed a crowd of over 60,000 people at a Fridays for Future protest in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, where she marched with the demonstrators to push local governments for climate change policy.
Thunberg began protesting on Fridays outside of the Swedish parliament when she was 15 to push her government to curb carbon emissions. Her campaign gave rise to a grassroots movement that has gone global, inspiring millions of people to take action.
The Christian Democratic Union was hit hardest, recording its second-worst state election result in history, with just 11.2 percent of the vote. The only time the party received a lower percentage of the vote was in Bremen in 1951, when it secured 9.1 percent of the ballots. Compared to its 2016 result of 15.9 percent, which was its worst ever in Hamburg until Sunday, the CDU lost another 4.7 percentage points. The CDU’s best result ever came in 2004, when the party won 47.2 percent.
The CDU federal leadership responded to the electoral debacle Monday by calling an extraordinary party congress for 25 April to choose a successor to outgoing federal party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The new CDU leader is likely to become the candidate to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor in 2021 at the latest.
The Free Democrats lost 2.4 percentage points, meaning the party narrowly missed out on being represented in the new state senate.
Actually, in the new senate there will be one FDP MP; down from nine.
With 5.3 percent of the vote, the AfD just made it over the 5 percent hurdle for representation in the senate. In 2015, the AfD took 6.1 percent.
The Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the strongest party, with 39 percent of the vote. But with a 6.6 percentage point decline in its vote, the SPD suffered the biggest drop of any party. Nonetheless, it celebrated the result as a victory. Polls several months ago had projected much larger losses, and the SPD at the federal level is currently polling at just 14 percent.
The biggest winners were the Greens, who increased their vote from 12.3 percent to 24.2 percent. The Left Party also recorded a slight increase of 0.6 percentage points, finishing with 9.1 percent of the vote. Voter turnout was relatively low at 63.3 percent, but this was still a significant increase from 2015, when just 56.5 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.
The Greens were able to benefit from being perceived as opponents of the AfD … . Among first-time voters, aged 16 to 21, the Greens were by far the strongest party, finishing with 35 percent, compared to the SPD’s 24 percent and the Left Party’s 12 percent. Among this group, the AfD received just 3 percent.
The Greens also benefited from the urgency of the climate change issue. Two days prior to the election, Fridays for Future organised a large demonstration attended by Greta Thunberg from Sweden. The police estimated the crowd at 20,000, while the organizers said 60,000 attended.
By contrast, the SPD is largely a party of retirees. It obtained its best result, 59 percent, among voters over the age of 70.
Hamburg has long been considered an SPD stronghold. Since the end of World War II, the SPD has always held the position of mayor, apart from 1953-1957 and 2001-2011. The Hamburg SPD was typically more right-wing than the federal party and enjoyed the backing of the city’s bourgeoisie.
The party’s dominant figure for many years was Helmut Schmidt, who as German chancellor in 1975 initiated the turn towards gutting public spending and social services that has continued until today, and enforced NATO’s decision to station nuclear-capable intercontinental missiles in Germany in the face of widespread opposition in 1979.
Peter Tschentscher, the outgoing and incoming mayor, took over the post two years ago from Olaf Scholz, who joined the federal grand coalition government as finance minister and vice-chancellor and has implemented the same strict austerity agenda as that imposed by his predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) ever since.
The Greens, who have governed in a coalition with the SPD over the past five years, supported all of this. Deputy Mayor Katharina Fegebank, who led the Green Party’s campaign, explicitly endorsed the police intervention to impose the return of AfD founder Berndt Lucke to Hamburg University in the face of student resistance. She condemned the student protests against Lucke as “injustice in its purest form”.
The Greens are a party of the privileged middle class. The party gained most in well-off inner-city neighbourhoods, as well as some districts associated with alternative lifestyle milieus. In some wealthy areas, they beat the SPD to become the strongest party. However, they won little support among workers and poorer sections of the population.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the attack as a “brutal terrorist crime” at a vigil in Hanau on Thursday.
According to Germany’s Federal Prosecutors Office, there are serious indications of a racist background to the crime, which is supported by videos and documents allegedly made by the suspect.
A gunman opened fire outside one shisha bar in Hanau’s Heumarkt district and drove off to a second location in the Kesselstadt district where he opened fire again, killing a total of nine people and injuring several others late on Wednesday evening.
The attacker was a 43-year-old German citizen from Hanau. Together with his 72-year-old mother, he was found dead at his home in the early hours of Thursday morning.
UPDATE: the recount showed that the FDP had less than 5,0%. They will have one MP in the city parliament, down from nine.
Third, this election is a loss for the federal government coalition of CDU-CSU and SPD. In Hamburg yesterday, as we saw, the CDU lost 4,7%. The SPD lost 6,6%. Meaning that these two parties together now have just 50% of the Hamburg vote. In other German states, these two parties together got far less than 50% in recent elections. These two parties have traditionally been by far the biggest parties in the Federal Republic of Germany, getting traditionally over 90% of the vote together.
And fourth, this election was a big loss for the climate denialists. As, according to Dutch NOS radio, the election propaganda of the SPD and of the Green party was centred on fighting climate change. These two parties together got 63,2% of the vote: the Green party gains far more than compensating for the SPD losses. The Left party, which also emphasized fighting climate change, went from 8.5% to 9,1%.
The journalists’ accreditations were taken away without giving reasons. A photographer of the magazine Der Spiegel had collected his accreditation on Wednesday but was no longer admitted to the conference center in Hamburg on Friday.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert claimed that the decision was taken only on the basis of German intelligence. NOS correspondent Jeroen Wollaars says that Seibert is always believed uncritically by the German media. It is remarkable that this is not the case now.
The journalists Chris Grodotzki and Björn Kietzmann went to the press with their story. They worked together near Diyarbakir in Southeast Turkey, where they had taken photos. Both were arrested for accusation of espionage and held imprisoned for one and a half day. They think that this event in Turkey is the background of the withdrawal of their G20 admission certificate.
Hundreds of demonstrators staged a protest in Hamburg’s city center ahead of the G20 summit on Wednesday. The protest was organized by the artistic group ‘1000 GESTALTEN’ (1000 Figures) in order to show ‘a symbol for our society and a symbol that they feel excluded from the political process, only look out for themselves, only consume and don’t stand for each other.’ The figures represented a dog-eat-dog society in which belief in solidarity has been lost. The performers called for more humanity and individual responsibility.
In a long-planned military-police operation, some 20,000 police were mobilized from throughout Germany and the European Union to suppress largely peaceful demonstrators. As helicopters and fighter jets flew over the city of Hamburg, heavily-armed police, some brandishing machine guns and carbines, carried out hundreds of arrests, beat protesters with batons, sprayed them with water cannon, and doused them with tear gas and pepper spray.
Incidents of vandalism by a small group of petty-bourgeois anarchists were used as the flimsy pretext for this massive police crackdown. Amid widespread infiltration of anarchist groups by German police, there can be no doubt that actions by police agent provocateurs, planned and coordinated ahead of time, played a major role in the disturbances.
With the conclusion of the G20 summit, the German political establishment has only stepped up its campaign to crack down on political dissent. In an interview with the Bild newspaper, Social Democratic Party (SPD) Justice Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a European-wide database of “left-wing extremists,” referring to protesters as “anti-social hard-core criminals,” who had “committed serious crimes in Hamburg, including attempted murder.”
Maas went on to call for a “Rock Against the Left” concert to target left-wing “extremists,” declaring, “I would hope that any form of political extremism, which encourages senseless violence, even attempted murder, would not remain without a social reaction.”
The slogan “Rock Against the Left” had previously been associated with neo-Nazi rock bands such as “Freikorps” and “Sturmfront.” The far-right press in Germany warmly welcomed Maas’s proposal. The “new right” Junge Freiheit newspaper quoted a statement by Nazi-linked German-Italian rock band Frei Wild calling on right-wing musical acts to mobilize against the left in response to the events in Hamburg.
Armin Schuster, a parliamentarian with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, called for shuttering community spaces used by left-wing political groups. “Left-wing centers like Rote Flora in Hamburg and Rigaer Strasse in Berlin need to be systematically closed down,” he declared. He said Germany should have no tolerance for “lawless spaces, either for Arab clans, Islamists or neo-Nazis, and not for left-wing radicals either.”
CDU Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declared, for his part, “The events surrounding the G20 summit must be a turning point in our view of the left-wing scene’s readiness to use violence.”
European officials backed up the repression of protesters, with European Commission PresidentJean-Claude Juncker saying the actions of the police warranted “compliments, not criticism.” He added that the police response represented “Hamburg at its best.”
The widespread attack on political opposition takes place in advance of federal elections in September in which the two leading parties, the CDU and SPD, are seeking to outflank each other from the right by whipping up a law-and-order hysteria, xenophobia and hatred of refugees.
If anything, the nominally “left” Social Democrats have taken the more extreme position. After a series of disastrous electoral failures, reflecting this broadly despised organization’s loss of credibility as a party of social reform, the SPD is seeking to appeal to fascistic elements previously attracted to the extreme-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Since the last federal election in 2013, both parties have been conspiring, with the support of the media, to bully the public into accepting a revival by Germany of great-power imperialist politics. This has entailed a massive rearmament and expansion of the country’s military and intelligence forces and the promotion of fascistic intellectual figures such as Jörg Baberowski, the Humboldt University academic who notoriously declared that “Hitler was not vicious,” as part of an effort to whitewash the crimes of German imperialism.
The moves against left-wing political organizations constitute an effort to pre-empt and intimidate widespread popular opposition to militarism and social inequality, expressed in the results of a recent EU poll that found that young people overwhelmingly believe the “gap between the rich and poor is widening,” and that “banks and money rule the world.” More than half of those polled said they would join a “large scale uprising.”
Germany: Extent of “left-wing violence” at G20 summit was wildly exaggerated: here.
The demonisation of refugees is increasingly the central theme of the federal (Bundestag) election campaign of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). Just ten days ago SPD chief Martin Schulz resorted to the jargon of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Schultz accused German chancellor Angela Merkel of allowing into the country more than a million refugees two years ago in a “largely uncontrolled” manner and declared that this could not be repeated. Boris Pistorius, responsible for internal security issues in Schulz’s election campaign, quickly followed suit. The interior minister of the state of Lower Saxony, known as a hardliner, called for the limitation of asylum numbers by setting up detention centres in Libya: here.
The Hamburg police want to significantly expand their controversial search operation for alleged “rioters” and “violent criminals” on the periphery of the G20 summit in July 2017. The measure is part of a massive stepping up of state powers at home and corresponds to the plans of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Union parties (Christian Democratic Union-CDU/Christian Social Union-CSU) for coordinated policing practices across Europe: here.
A major demonstration against the G20 summit took place in Hamburg Saturday as the leaders of the world’s 20 major powers met just a few kilometres away. Around 60,000 people marched from Deichtorplatz near the central train station to Heiliggeistfeld. Following brutal police attacks against peaceful demonstrators, the issue of police violence dominated the demonstration.
Jesse and Cosvin reported on how aggressively the police had dealt with youth. The two school students are just 15 years old but have attended several demonstrations over recent days. “Yesterday, for example, we were at a peaceful ‘youth against the G20’ demonstration, which escalated due to the police because they beat us away with batons, claiming we were standing in the way,” Jesse said. In his opinion, the violence was initiated chiefly by the police.
Cosvin agreed. At the demonstration, the police suddenly yelled, “Out of the way!” and then cleared the street. “They didn’t even give the protesters a second to get out of the way, but started striking us immediately. I mean, people were pushing from behind so you can’t retreat, and then they attack.” Cosvin thought it was an unnecessary provocation that the police used water cannon at the youth demonstration. “It could have been avoided,” the student said. “This is always portrayed differently on television,” she added.
Jesse added that he could barely sleep over recent days due to the constant sound of police helicopters. Although they opposed the police violence and the constant presence of the security forces, they were not surprised by it.
Things were quite different for Gero. The self-employed IT specialist drove from Essen to take part in the protest in order to demonstrate against police violence. He took this decision spontaneously after seeing a video of the police assault on a protest camp at Entenwerder. He had stuck a piece of paper on a plastic lid on which he had expressed his outrage in large letters, “Hamburg police: escalate until there are deaths and injuries! Violation of the constitution!”
Gero was completely taken aback by the actions of the police. For 20 years, he had “supported police activities, thought they were right, and did not believe legends that they beat demonstrators.” But then he had seen “how units stormed a field, where there were 11 tents, they must have been incredibly dangerous,” he commented sarcastically. The police then deployed pepper spray against the camp’s residents, without any provocation.
Gero was familiar with the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, which declared the camp, including the tents, to be legal. “If you think it’s over, the police violated a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court with the decision they made about the gathering.”
The authoritarian actions of the police, which without any inhibitions totally violated the law, was also the main issue for a group of young people who wrote on their placard, “The police chiefs of [capitals of governments participating in the G20 summit] Istanbul, Riyadh and Moscow welcome their ‘democratic’ colleagues in Hamburg!”
Hamburg in fact currently resembles a city under siege. Twenty-nine thousand officers from all 16 states are present in the city, backed up by special forces units from other European countries. Anyone walking through the city centre on Saturday, even away from the protest route, found officers and police vehicles in almost every alley.
The police have also acquired equipment which is obviously designed for civil war-style conflict. Looking out of the demonstration into the side streets, one could see at some distance dozens of heavily-armoured police officers, masked and wearing balaclavas, and some wearing helmets. Water cannon and armoured vehicles were always at the ready. While tens of thousands of people followed the demonstration route, the city appeared like a ghost town beyond the police blockades. Not a single car drove in the side streets or those running parallel to the demonstration, and not even pedestrians were seen.
Shortly after the beginning of the demonstration, a line of police officers flanked the march on both sides. While families with children, young people and the elderly walked between them in a relaxed atmosphere, the police put on their balaclavas, and on one side even their helmets. Two, sometimes three, helicopters circled permanently over the procession, where people danced to music and laughed. The contrast between a peaceful demonstration and an omnipresent state power could hardly be greater.
For Eugen, a 75-year-old pensioner, the source of the violence was clear. On his sign, which he carried high in front of him in full view prior to the demonstration, he had written, “Those preparing violence are currently meeting in the exhibition centre.” That was a reference to the summit participants, who are all responsible for “all of the misery, that exists and is growing continuously in this world,” as he put it. He was “very fearful of a global war”. He also blamed German policy, which has directly profited from the wars through massive arms exports.
Eugen, who formerly worked as a shipbuilder, sees the basic problem as capitalism. “One should not strive to tinker with capitalism” and seek small changes, but rather abolish it: “I don’t care what it is called afterwards, but capitalism must be overcome.”
But many banners expressed the hope of a united world; “peace” was one of the words most frequently visible. A common topic of discussion was that Africa, an entire continent, was entirely excluded from the G20 deliberations, which outraged many. Some hoped for a better world through closer cooperation in the United Nations. Cosvin, the 15-year-old student, appealed for a meeting of all nations, “A G194.”
The enthusiastic participation of many students and youth was clear to see. Oliver, who travelled from Berlin to participate, thought this was a positive sign. The young teacher carried a sign reading, “Imagine you need asylum and nobody helps you!” His t-shirt declared, “Refugees welcome!”
He views the G20 as a “club for the elite,” who are united on most questions: Europe remains a fortress, and the US also wants to protect itself against the flow of refugees from the south. “I worry about world peace,” said Oliver. However, the real conflict is not currently going on between armies, he added, but rather in society. Whether world hunger or climate change, “those who bear the brunt are the people, and this war has been waged for a long time.”
Asked what can be done now, Oliver said, “I am an optimist.” One only needs to look at “how many young people are here. I think that is a big statement.”
Despite cobbling together a unanimous resolution, the G20 summit was, by any measure, the most fractious meeting of major political leaders in the post-war period: here.
Mass demonstrations have erupted across Hamburg, Germany, as world leaders gather for the G20 summit, where President Donald Trump is meeting with other world leaders. About 100,000 protesters took to the streets and have staged sit-ins in an attempt to disrupt the first day of the summit. Police fired water cannons, pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse protesters. Key issues on the G20 agenda include climate change, trade and North Korea. Protesters who gathered say the G20 has failed to solve many issues, including climate change and global economic disparities. We speak with philosopher Srecko Horvat, who is taking part in the G20 alternative summit, known as the Global Solidarity Summit. He is the co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement, also known as DiEM25.
This video says about itself:
Srecko Horvat on “Democracy in Europe Movement” & Uniting Leftists Against Failed Policies of G20
7 July 2017
As President Donald Trump meets with world leaders at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, European activists held a G20 alternative summit—the Global Solidarity Summit. We speak to Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat about the G20’s policies and the Democracy in Europe Movement, which he started with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
Five months after protests in the German city of Hamburg against the G20 summit, the police and state prosecutors have published pictures of hundreds of demonstrators online. In a co-ordinated campaign with the right-wing Bild newspaper, they are calling on members of the public to denounce those pictured. The initiative is not only disproportionate, but unlawful. Nothing comparable has taken place since the founding of the German Federal Republic: here.
At least 11 protesters were hospitalized with serious injuries, as tens of thousands of police turned downtown Hamburg into a war zone patrolled by SWAT teams with automatic weapons. Protesters traveling from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France were branded “left extremists” and turned back by authorities at the German border.
The brutal crackdown was escalated on Friday.
Police officials justify the police state operation by pointing to the actions of rioters. But given the well documented infiltration of political organizations by German police agencies, one can safely assume that any rioting that occurred was carried out with the involvement of police provocateurs assigned the task of creating a pretext for a massive show of force. The great majority of protestors remained peaceful.
Authorities in Germany and across the European Union fear the growth of social anger and a rising revolutionary mood among the youth. Over half of young Europeans told an EU-sponsored poll this year that they would join a “large-scale uprising” against the political system. The German authorities aim to terrorize not only protesters who are still gathering in Hamburg, but the expanding ranks of people around the world who oppose the capitalist system.
The police operation in Hamburg exposes the political and class content of the opposition of the EU, Berlin and Paris to the Trump administration. While posing as enlightened, anti-nationalist supporters of democracy and the environment, the European leaders oversee a vicious assault on demonstrators protesting social inequality. The suppression of opposition from below is central to their bid to challenge the United States for imperialist supremacy.
The fact that the Hamburg crackdown takes place in a city run by the Social Democrats and the Greens simply underscores that this is the policy not of a faction of the ruling elite, but of the entire capitalist class and all of its political servants.
The heads of state assembled at the G20 personify an entrenched capitalist oligarchy that is driving the world to disaster. All of them—including Rothschild banker-turned French president Emmanuel Macron; the representatives of the oligarchs who emerged from capitalist restoration in Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping; the Saudi oil sheikhs; and the multi-billionaire US president—are yes-men of Wall Street, the City of London and the stock exchanges of Frankfurt and Paris.
The billionaire financial elite has enriched itself massively since the 2008 Wall Street crash, when their criminal speculation in the US housing market sank the world economy, plunging it into its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. With contempt for rising social distress and popular anger, they funneled trillions of dollars and euros from the public coffers into the banks, the stock exchanges and their own pockets.
The major powers launched the G20 summit in 2009 to show their supposed unity and celebrate their success in handling the crash via these bank bailouts. In the communiqué from its 2009 Pittsburgh summit, the G20 hailed the transfer of massive sums to the super-rich, declaring: “It worked… Our forceful response helped stop the dangerous, sharp decline in global activity and stabilize financial markets.”
Faced with the exposure of corporate criminality that had impoverished billions of people worldwide, bourgeois politicians held up the bailouts and the establishment of the G20 as proof of capitalism’s historic viability. “The crisis of financial capitalism is not the crisis of capitalism… The crisis of capitalism calls for its moralization, not its destruction,” then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed, while former French Socialist Party Prime Minister Michel Rocard hailed capitalism as the most “democracy-compatible” social system.
Over the same period, the struggle among the ruling classes over the division of the world’s wealth has escalated to the point of all-out global conflict. With political and geo-strategic conflicts openly pitting the major powers—whether enemies or “allies”—against one another, the Hamburg summit is on the verge of concluding without reaching an agreement on a final communiqué. The current debacle may very well be the last such gathering.
On Friday, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held an inconclusive meeting, agreeing to another shaky cease-fire in southern Syria, where NATO and Russian forces have on several occasions nearly clashed. However, they failed to reach any agreement on the US military stand-off with nuclear-armed North Korea, which borders Russia and China. After the two met, US press commentary soon focused on incendiary allegations of Russian hacking of the American elections.
Explosive conflicts between the G20 powers exist in virtually every corner of the globe, including the current face-off between Indian and Chinese troops over disputed territory in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Perhaps the most destabilizing conflicts, however, are the growing threats of trade war between the imperialist states at the heart of the world financial system.
After Trump threatened the EU with tariffs on its steel exports to the United States, EU officials indicated that they are preparing a list of retaliatory tariffs on US goods. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker commented, “We are ready to take up arms if need be.”
Bitter experiences like the Hamburg protests are driving the working class, across Europe and internationally, onto the road of world socialist revolution. The financial oligarchy is beyond reform. The only way forward is a genuinely revolutionary policy, mobilizing the working class in struggle for a direct assault on the capitalist class, with the aim of confiscating its obscene fortunes, seizing control of the major banks and corporations, and placing them under the democratic control of working people.
Ivanka Trump Stepped In For Her Dad At The G-20 Summit, And Folks Weren’t Happy: here.
This 8 July 2017 video is called LIVE: Protesters gather as up to 100,000 expected at anti-G20 in Hamburg.
More than 20,000 police from across the country have been mobilized to crush all protests against the world’s major capitalist governments.
On the eve of Saturday’s demonstration, expected to draw 100,000 G20 opponents, the ranks of the police have once again been increased. Two hundred additional officers have been sent from Baden-Württemberg and more than 200 from Mecklenburg-Pomerania. … Hamburg itself is governed by a red-green coalition under Social Democratic (SPD) Mayor Olaf Scholz. …
The brutal actions carried out by police on Thursday against a demonstration organized under the slogan “Welcome to Hell” further escalated the situation in the city. In the Schanzen district, a stronghold of anarchist groups, there were scenes reminiscent of a civil war as police clashed with demonstrators. Special Forces operated with helicopters and armoured vehicles and forced their way into the district with machine guns cocked. The security forces attacked journalists and refused to allow them to document the crackdown.
The police intervention on Thursday evening was so brutal and provocative that even some bourgeois media outlets criticised it. “The police acted at times so harshly that people panicked,” wrote Der Spiegel. Based on the pretext that some members of the so-called black block were hooded, police used armoured vehicles to stop the peaceful demonstration after 300 metres. They then proceeded to fire water cannon and tear gas into the crowd. “The police accepted that there could be deaths,” said Christoph Kleine from “G20 Platform.”
On its “Monitor” programme, Public broadcaster ARD focused on the savage and unlawful methods used by the Hamburg security forces. Responsibility for this lies with the police director, Hartmut Dudde, who was installed by Social Democratic Interior Senator Michael Neumann in 2012. Courts have repeatedly confirmed that the director has “violated applicable laws,” by arresting, kettling and “provoking left-wing demonstrators.”
Already last Sunday, the Hamburg police forcibly cleared a camp that had been sanctioned by an administrative court. Even outside the 38,000 square kilometre zone where demonstrations are banned, the security forces have acted ruthlessly against protests.
Journalist Martin Eimermacher told Monitor, “My arm with the media identification was shoved aside. With blows and kicks we were effectively kettled. I called out on several occasions that I was from the media and wanted out of there. And then my face was sprayed with pepper spray, which was sprayed at us from at most half a metre away.”
The German government gave its explicit backing to the police action. Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly thanked the security forces. They had her “full support” for their very demanding job, she said. “But violent demonstrations endanger human lives,” she added. They were therefore “not to be tolerated.”
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel hypocritically expressed his empathy for the protesters in the Passauer Neue Presse, but only to make his real standpoint clear. In “democratic countries,” he said, it had to be possible “for heads of state and government from around the world to meet and speak with each other.” The main criticism should not be “directed at such an event, but at the violent demonstrations.”
The return of German great power politics, which has above all been pushed by Gabriel and the Social Democrats, is inseparably bound up with the establishment of a police state and the mobilisation of far-right forces.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) called yesterday for a “zero tolerance strategy” against protesters. “Left-wing demonstrators can no longer be treated with kid gloves, but should be dealt with for what they are: terrorists,” stated Alice Weidel, the AfD’s lead candidate in the upcoming federal election.
Right-wing extremist Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski also demanded that the police adopt tough measures. On his Twitter account, he shared a post from Felix Leidecker, the Mainz chairman of the Junge Union, the CDU’s youth movement. Baberowski wrote, “There can be no more ‘more of the same’ in dealing with left-wing extremism in this country after Hamburg. The legal order must defend itself now!”
With its aggressive and hysterical actions, the ruling class is responding to the growing opposition to social cuts and war that has found expression in the widespread hostility to the G20 summit. The budget-cutting policies of recent years, which all capitalist parties have supported, have produced a social catastrophe across Europe and made Germany one of the most unequal countries in the world. On Thursday, the Hans-Böckler Foundation published a study according to which the percentage of the working population classified as poor in spite of regular employment doubled between 2004 and 2014 to 9.6 percent, or 3.7 million people.
On the other side, a tiny privileged elite, whose representatives are meeting in Hamburg, has enriched itself obscenely, exploiting the 2008 financial crisis to vastly increase its wealth. According to a study by development charity Oxfam, eight billionaires, six of whom come from the US, possess more wealth than the poorest half of the world’s population, 3.6 billion people. Thirty-six German billionaires own as much wealth (€276 billion) as the poorest half of the German population.
It is simply impossible to impose such levels of social inequality and the return of German militarism without a police state. Hamburg must be taken as a warning. Some seven decades after the end of the Nazi regime of terror, Germany’s ruling elite is throwing overboard all of the basic democratic principles it was forced to recognise through gritted teeth in the post-war era.
Germany: G20 protest flotilla takes to the waters in Hamburg
2 July 2017
Around 120 boats and canoes were seen on Binnenalster, Hamburg, Sunday, as part of a water-borne protest against the G20 summit, which takes place in the city on July 7-8.
Several of the protesters were equipped with placards and flags, and many wore masks depicting the leaders of the G20 countries.
Around 20,000 people are thought to have taken part in the main protest against the summit, marching through the central streets of the northern city with banners and flags demanding the summit’s cancellation. They also called for the protection of the environment and for an end to the use of fossil fuels and nuclear sources of energy.
Among the protesters were members and supporters of the German Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), the Left Party (Die Linke), and ecological and left-wing movements and organisations.
A closer look at the planned measures makes clear that they are intended not just to protect the political elite attending the G20, but represent deliberate preparations for a civil war scenario that would not be possible under normal circumstances. The number of police and security forces involved is unprecedented, with camps set up to incarcerate G20 opponents.
These measures are accompanied by massive attacks on the basic rights of demonstrators and the city’s population. The German army (Bundeswehr) is also taking part in the siege of Hamburg—in part publicly, in part undercover. Even bourgeois media outlets such as the Huffington Post write of “a city in a state of war”.
Police are assembling from all of Germany’s 16 states, with several states dispatching special police units. GSG9, the special unit of the federal police, will take part.
It is “the biggest operation in the history of the Hamburg police,” declared police president Ralf Martin Meyer. The operation has been under way for several weeks, with civilian police posted to the most important points in the city center to conduct surveillance.
It is an unprecedented operation, and not just for the Hamburg police. The head of operations, Hartmut Dudde, told the press that “almost everything the German police has” will be in Hamburg.
Spiegel Online reported that every police officer will be equipped with a gun, a baton and teargas. The special units distributed throughout the city center have additional heavy armament, including “a variety of pistols and revolvers, glare grenades, battering rams and the sniper rifle PSG1”, one of the most precise weapons available.
At the presentation of the vehicle last summer, it was said that the “Survivor” was the only police truck that can withstand shots from an AK-47. It is also equipped with detectors that report the presence of nuclear, biological and chemical agents, and it has its own ventilation system to protect those inside the vehicle. A “Survivor” costs up to 500,000 euros, depending on the equipment.
The Hamburg police also have the “WaWe 10000”—“the most modern water cannon in the world,” Spiegel Online writes. The vehicle can shoot up to 3,200 litres of water within 60 seconds, with the water jet extending up to 65 meters. The WaWe can create an artificial wall of water allowing police and special units to advance on demonstrators. The vehicle is also equipped with gas tanks and corresponding admixing systems, which make it possible to spray tear gas along with the water.
In addition to the above-mentioned vehicles, which are clearly aimed for use against the population in a civil war type situation, the police are carrying out numerous other measures. This includes a permanent presence in the waters of the port city, which transports goods along the River Elbe. The river and port are to be watched over by a special unit of the Dutch police.
Stern magazine reports that “3,000 police vehicles, nearly 200 service dogs, eleven helicopters, around 50 police officers […] and special units from several states” will be deployed. Special vehicles with translucent and bulletproof walls are due to be sent from France. They were previously deployed against demonstrators protesting the French Labor Market Act.
According to a report by the magazine Focus, the Bundeswehr is planning to use a maritime ship in the port of Hamburg as part of the G20 summit operation. The secret use of the ship, which is intended to rescue heads of state and government in the event of a terrorist attack, is clearly unconstitutional.
The ship could be sent at any time in the direction of the North Sea and has operating rooms on board. For camouflage, soldiers will wear civilian clothes. The pretext for the ship’s stay in the port is officially the procurement of missing spare parts. The federal criminal police office and the Ministry of Defence rejected the media reports. War ships were “not part of our deployment concept”, a police officer told the Hamburger Morgenpost.
In fact, according to the Morgenpost, the Bundeswehr is using the multi-purpose “Lachs” (Salmon) boat for so-called “administrative assistance.” It will be manned by personnel for various “security” tasks, as well as specialists for diving medicine. Finally, the German army is deploying an underwater drone to scan the Hamburg harbour basin for explosives.
The siege of the city is accompanied by a massive attack on the basic democratic rights of local residents and demonstrators.
A so-called general police decree enables the security forces to control the arrival and departure of the participants to the summit. The decree bans any demonstrations in a 38-square kilometre zone between the city’s airport and the Elbe, and roads can be blocked at any time. Another zone surrounding the hall where the summit takes place can only be entered by local residents.
Police have reacted to the plans for over two dozen demonstrations and protests by setting up a detention center, which could more accurately described as a temporary concentration camp.
Up to 400 people can be detained on the site of a former food market covering an area of 11,000 square meters. There will also be containers for lawyers as well as facilities for taking fingerprints and identifying personal data. A total of 70 collective and 50 individual cells are available, according to Spiegel Online.
An attempt by the city of Hamburg to ban the “Antikapitalistische Camp,” located in the city park, has failed temporarily. Following a ban order issued by the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that such a ban was inadmissible because it prevented participants from exercising their right of assembly.
However, the city court and police have given sufficient scope to proceed against the camp by other means. The police can limit the size of the camp, impose various regulations and even move it to a different place in the city.
On Thursday evening Hamburg’s interior affairs senator, Andy Grote (SPD), announced that prohibitive measures would be taken against the organizers of the camp if they build it illegally. While the Constitutional Court lifted a ban on the camp, the city council has failed to give its permission for a camp to be erected.
In Hamburg, thousands of people in a demonstration have demanded action by the world’s largest industrialized nations meeting on the 7th and 8th of July at the G20 summit in the north German city. At the first of the thirty announced demonstrations were people with signs with texts such as ‘Fight poverty‘, ‘Stop the coal mining‘ and ‘Planet Earth First‘.
According to the police there were 8000 protesters, but the organizers counted 25,000. …
When the Libyan war broke out two years ago, thousands fled the country in search of security and employment. Many made their way to the island of Lampedusa in Italy, but the Italian authorities closed reception facilities, and gave the migrants a few hundred euros to leave. Now hundreds of Africans from Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have set up camp in Hamburg. Our correspondents spoke to some who have taken up quarters in a church.
German police declare parts of Hamburg “no-go zone”
8 January 2014
Early Saturday morning, police in the northern German city of Hamburg declared the entire district of St. Pauli and large parts of Altona, Eimsbuettel and Sternschanze to be a “no-go zone.” The announcement of such a broad “no-go area” is unprecedented in German post-war history. In such areas police officers are entitled to arbitrarily check and search any individual and demand they leave the zone.
Police authorities justified the measure by arguing that there had been a number of attacks on police stations. In the most recent incident, police claim a mob attacked a Hamburg station on December 28, allegedly injuring one police officer seriously. In fact witness accounts published by Der Spiegel refute the official police version of what took place.
The police are now using this dubious incident to terrorize and intimidate the population of entire neighbourhoods. On Sunday night alone, 263 people were stopped in the “no-go zone,” according to a police report, and 62 individuals were instructed to leave the area.
The Hamburger Morgenpost reported that a group of young people were stopped and searched on the way into a nightclub. Although police found nothing suspicious, the young people were told to leave the area. One policeman allegedly justified the order by declaring that the young people looked like leftists. The newspaper then quotes a young woman who said, “Yes, we are. And where is the problem? This is a total insult.”
The right to freedom of assembly is abolished in the “no-go zone.” People had gathered in various spots to protest such state intimidation, but they were promptly dispersed by police. On Saturday evening, 60 people gathered in front of the Rote Flora alternative cultural centre. They were immediately surrounded by police, who asked every protester to provide identity papers. Two-thirds of those present were then taken into custody.
The districts affected have been declared a “no-go area” for an indefinite period. According to the Morgenpost, police intend to maintain the ban on assembly until the spring. This means that tens of thousands of residents will be deprived of basic democratic rights and subjected to months of harassment by police.
This police action has the support of the Hamburg Senate, which is headed by the Social Democratic Party. “We strongly support the efforts of the police to fully exploit the legal framework to pre-emptively counter new attacks,” said SPD domestic policy spokesman Arno Münster.
The recent police operation is part of a broader ongoing campaign. Over the past few months the mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, has systematically curtailed democratic rights, enforced police-state type measures, and escalated conflicts with anarchist groups in order to create a pretext for further police action. Scholz is a national deputy chairman of the SPD.
In October of last year, the SPD administration organized a comprehensive search for African migrants. The police were instructed to apprehend and search all citizens with dark skin in order to identify refugees without proper identification. At this time, around 300 African migrants lived in the city. They had formerly worked in Libya, before fleeing the recent war and ending up on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
To escape the inhuman conditions at their detention camp, they had moved to Hamburg, where the Senate subsequently ordered them to leave. Eighty of them then took refuge in a church.
Since then, there have been regular solidarity demonstrations for the refugees involving thousands of people. Although the protesters behaved peacefully, police sought to aggravate the situation and increasingly intimidate the protesters, week to week.
There was then a confrontation between demonstrators and police on December 21 following attempts to evict squatters from the Rote Flora centre. The owner of the building wants to demolish the centre and replace it with a commercial project.
Almost 10,000 people gathered outside the building to protest the eviction of residents. Shortly after the demonstration had formed, police blocked the road and began attacking demonstrators. Small groups of police repeatedly charged the demonstration in a deliberate attempt at escalation.
Some members of the so-called anarchist “black block”—which is known to be infiltrated by state agent provocateurs—then threw bottles, stones and fireworks. Police responded with water cannons and attacked the crowd with tear gas and rubber truncheons. Up to 500 protesters were injured, some seriously.
The tageszeitung quoted an anonymous informant from the ranks of the Hamburg police, who stated that the riots had been deliberately provoked by the police to stop the “hated leftist scene.” In order to do this, the authorities were prepared to accept, or indeed wanted “collateral damage,” the informant declared.
The establishment of the “no-go area” shows that the persecution of the “left scene” and of refugees is aimed at curtailing the democratic rights of the entire population. As social attacks continue, causing mounting unemployment and poverty, the ruling elite is preparing to defend its privileges by beefing up the state.
According to the Joint Welfare Association poverty in Hamburg has increased from 13.1 percent in 2008 to 14.8 percent in 2012. After Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg is the West German state with the third highest unemployment rate: 8.6 percent in 2012.
Olaf Scholz, who heads the only SPD majority state administration in Germany, has made a name for himself as a law-and-order politician. In 2001 in his post as Hamburg’s Interior Senator he introduced the forcible administration of emetics to preserve evidence against drug dealers. He continued this brutal policy even after one drug addict died as a consequence in December 2001.
In 2007, Scholz was appointed Labour Minister in the first grand coalition led by Angela Merkel. In this position, he played a key role in implementing the fierce social attacks that accompanied the 2008 financial crisis and bank bailouts. He was also instrumental in raising the retirement age to 67.
Last year, Scholz was one of the main architects of the current grand coalition. Together with Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democratic Union), he led the coalition negotiations in the key working group for finance, which drew up the austerity policies of the new government.