Eyewitness reports from the G8 protests in Rostock

80,000 march against the G8

By Conor Payne

Around 80,000 people from across Germany and internationally gathered in Rostock to protest against the recent G8 summit, opposing the neo-liberal agenda of the G8 leaders, which has led to massive poverty throughout the underdeveloped world, increasingly bloody occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and a global environmental crisis.

Although the huge demonstration of 2 June consisted of a vast majority of peaceful protesters, the media focused its attention on the minor skirmishes between police and a small number of protesters. On 4 June, a protest in defence of immigrants’ rights was declared illegal by the police. Despite this, the use of disciplined tactics to defend the demonstration allowed it to go ahead. On 6 June, 10,000 protesters succeeded in breaking through police lines and blockading the G8, forcing the opening of the summit to be postponed.

The hypocrisy of the G8 leaders like Bush and Blair who are responsible for the deaths of 650,000 Iraqis was exposed at the summit when they condemned the anti-G8 protesters for being violent! The levels of police aggression against demonstrators throughout the summit were enormous, with 15,000 police being mobilised into the city and tear gas and water cannons being used against the protesters. On two occasions, the police surrounded the anti-G8 campsite to intimidate activists.

The protests against the G8 were successful in once again bringing masses of people on to the streets in opposition to capitalist policies. However, it was unfortunate that the German trade union movement did not mobilise significantly for the protests. This could have helped in showing demonstrators and the wider world, the power of working class people to challenge the policies of the G8 and to challenge the profit system.

 


Protesting against the G8 an eyewitness report

By Paddy Meehan

ens of thousands, including a delegation from the Socialist Party in Ireland, travelled to Rostock in Germany to take part in the protests against the G8 summit. Over 80,000 people took part in the main demonstration on Saturday 2 June against the G8’s policies of racism, poverty, war and exploitation.

The Socialist Party delegation joined with members of our sister organisations in Europe in the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) contingent at the protests. The CWI was one of the most colourful and lively contingents on the main demonstrations. It included a famous German rapper who led raps against Bush and the rest of the capitalist system! Our call for a socialist alternative to the system the G8 represents was enthusiastically welcomed by nearly everyone who read our material. We pointed to an ongoing struggle by German telecommunication workers as an example of wider struggles that are now taking place against exploitation.

A few weeks before the start of the protests the police had raided a number of left wing centres and offices. This attempt to disrupt the preparations for anti-G8 protests had the opposite effect as ticket sales to Rostock increased.

Leading up to the main protests the gutter media carried sensationalist headlines of terrorist attacks and mass riots. When the vast majority of the demonstrations were peaceful, the police had to justify their heavy-handed tactics by blowing out of proportion a number of small scale clashes that took place. The use of violence by a small section of protesters was used by the state to justify further repression and try to alienate people who would have been sympathetic to the protests.

The German state utilised 16,000 police, 1,000’s of soldiers, water cannons, tear gas and a huge fence around the summit costing €12.5 million. All of these tools of repression failed miserably in the face of determined demonstrators.

More than 10,000 people managed to get past this massive police force to blockade three roads, a highway and an airport to stop the G8. After a skirmish through wheat fields and past water cannon, the CWI contingent was able to take up the front line in blockading Börgerender Street (an alternative road to the summit). The blockades were a huge embarrassment for the police and the organisers of the G8. It later spurred them on to violently break up the highway and airport blockades and ram a Greenpeace boat.

The blockades were an embarrassment to the G8 organisers and to Bush and his buddies. This was a symbolic victory against these leaders who cannot bring about any real change as they are linked by a thousand strings to the system of capitalism that allows 665,000 Iraqis to be killed in the pursuit of oil profits.

Supposedly the main issue up for discussion at the summit was climate change. Before the summit even began the Bush administration vetoed a token document on cutting carbon emissions.

Since the failure of the Make Poverty History campaign at the G8 summit in Scotland in 2005 the only people who had any illusions in the G8 were Bono and Geldof. Poverty in African countries has actually got worse since Edinburgh – as in Uganda where international “aid” was given on the proviso that the government privatise its water supplies. Only when decisions on how to use the resources of the world are taken by the people they affect and not by eight representatives of the rich and powerful behind closed doors will the real problems of this society be dealt with.

If we want to end the problems of poverty and environmental destruction, we need an alternative to the system of capitalism. At workshops and discussions hosted by the CWI, we argued for a socialist world and debated how this could be achieved in sessions ranging from events in Latin America to the ideas of Leon Trotsky. It is important to oppose the G8, but, on its own, this is not enough – we need to put forward and build support for a socialist alternative to the neo liberal agenda set out by Bush, Blair and co.

 


Broken promises – G8 leaders have nothing to offer

By Michael O’Brien

It’s two years since Gleneagles, Scotland, where the G8 leaders went out on a limb to give the impression that they would fundamentally deal with the issue of debt and development in Africa. Some, like Bono and Bob Geldof, were happy to give Bush, Blair and friends the benefit of the doubt.

However those of us with no illusions in these war criminals have had our suspicions proven correct as less than half of what was promised in Gleneagles has been delivered. Most of what has been delivered in terms of “aid” is tied to countries in Africa putting up with disadvantaged terms of trade and opening their public services to the capitalist market. Even Bob Geldof was forced to describe this G8 gathering “a farce” after the broken promises.

The G8 leaders play fast and lose with figures, figures that add up to the lives of millions. Their promises to provide assistance to people suffering with HIV/AIDs in Africa was based on a presumption that five million are suffering from the disease in Africa whereas any aid agency will tell you that the real figure is ten million plus.

The sell out on climate change is as stark. Bush made it clear that he would not agree to any cuts in CO2 emissions that would impact on US multinational profits in the short term. In the end the G8 agreed in a “non binding communiqué” to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050. “Non binding communiqué” means that there will be no enforcement of this target and no consequences on the G8 leaders if it is not met. Even if these targets were met it would not be enough to save the planet from the irreversible effects of global warming. To do that would mean cutting CO2 emissions by something in the order of 90% by 2030.

What is clear is that the initiative for combating debt and global warming cannot be left to these leaders who only demonstrate a mock concern over these issues. The mass protests in Rostock that disrupted the G8 meeting despite the police repression shows that the Bush, Blair & Co. agenda will not go unchallenged by socialists.

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