Global Policy Forum

G8 Protest: Heiligendamm, Germany - June 6-8, 2007



Picture Credit: Der Spiegel

Tens of thousands of protestors showed at the 2007 G8 summit, which took place June 6–8 in Heiligendamm, Germany, an old resort on the Baltic seacoast. While activists plan for the protest, German security forces implemented severe and controversial security measures – authorities built a razor-wire-topped fence around Heiligendamm, executed a series of preemptive raids on leftist groups, and recorded human scents to trace activists. The principle issues on the G8 agenda were climate change and "growth and responsibility" in the global economy and in Africa. World citizens voiced their concern about global poverty, migration, rampant militarism, epidemics, and environmental destruction. The Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC) seemed to be lead the preparation for the protest. Activists argue, as they have in the past, that the group of eight major industrial nations makes promises but takes inadequate action.

The Blockade of Heiligendamm (June 28, 2007)

This Transnational Institute article gives an intimate portrayal of the protesters and security forces present at the G8 demonstrations in Rostock and Heiligendamm. The author describes the scene of the protests as revolutionary and emphasizes how meticulously the demonstrators organized. On June 6th, 10,000 activists protesting globalization lined up in two columns, later splitting into "five fingers," which the police could not stop with tear gas, nor water cannons. Protesters also launched a successful two day blockade. One organizer commented, "On the one hand, everything went off like a military operation, and on the other, there was no violence."

15 Police Officers Against 5,000 Demonstrators (June 7, 2007)

Five thousand protesters marched through forests, fields, and meadows to break into the fenced-off six kilometer security zone, getting much closer to the summit site than police had expected. They went two hours with no police pursuing them except for one helicopter escort. Police claim that they will add reinforcements to their troops, but the protesters declare that they are more organized than the police. In the days preceding the summit, they practiced their elaborate strategies meticulously, dividing into groups and sub-groups, which certainly served them well on the first day of protest. (Der Spiegel)

The Dilemma of G8 Protest (June 6, 2007)

Although the mobilization of activists at the 2007 Heiligendamm G8 summit gave "unprecedented" media exposure to the social justice movement, it had the unfortunate side effect of lending attention and legitimacy to the group of eight major industrial nations. Jens Martens of Global Policy Forum argues that, in making such broad demands as "save the climate" and "solve the problems of Africa," civil society groups reinforce the idea of G8 members as "omnipotent saviors of the universe." Martens proposes the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a more equitable and democratic policy making body. But the G8 leaders, who are a minority among ECOSOC's 54 members, have prevented the council from gaining the necessary authority.
Approximately 30,000 people demonstrated at the largest pre-summit protest in Rostock, Germany on Saturday, June 2, 2007. Many lobby for the G8 to consider their specific causes, while others vehemently disagree with the concept of the G8 altogether. Although most of the protesters demonstrate peacefully, a small minority is resorting to violent tactics. Activists' major concerns include climate change and poverty, but many more issues are on the protesters' agendas, such as education, trade justice, and healthcare. This BBC Q&A states that the "overarching common interest" among the diverse group of activists is social justice.

G8: Despite Germany's Tight Controls, Violence (June 3, 2007)

Germany's invasive security measures meant to prevent violence at the G8 summit have been essentially unsuccessful. A battle erupted at the protest in Rostock, only 15 kilometers from Heiligendamm. The well-attended rally was almost entirely peaceful. However, police forces provided none of their proposed "de-escalation teams" and entered the crowd of 1,000 with rubber bats. Activists argue that the police's aggressive and unprofessional defense methods sparked the violence. Police forces say that the fault lies with the small group of more violent radical activists. (Inter Press Service)

The Way We Were: Reflections on Summit Protest, Rituals, New Technologies and Networks (May 25, 2007)

This Transnational Institute article argues that people have come to think about summit protests as an elusive "timeline." The author claims that the timeline will simply group the 2007 G8 protests in Heiligendamm with G8 protests in the past, even though social and political circumstances have changed significantly over the years. The timeline does not look deeply at the composition, state, and nature of social movements. While the internet, a modern forum for political ideas, does reveal the complexities and differing opinions within a movement, it may also reveal the great difficulty of a consensus among the protesting public.

German Rights Organizations Accuse Police of Illegal Activities (May 23, 2007)

A former German constitutional court judge says that German security measures in preparation for the G8 summit protests are unconstitutional and disregard individual rights. He made this claim after nine human rights organizations issued a report on Germany's Constitutional Day, denouncing German officials' investigation, surveillance, and searching procedures. The report condemned the invasive security procedures, which officials argue are a result of the "war on terror" and include "scent tracking" activists, a method that the Stasi once used. (Deutsche Welle)

Schäuble Threatens 'Preventive Custody' Arrests (May 11, 2007)

In anticipation of "elevated danger" at the upcoming G8 conference in Heiligendamm, Germany, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that he will arrest any "suspected violent troublemakers" as a preventative measure. Germany has constructed a 12-kilometer fence around Heiligendamm, established border-checks, and raided 40 sites with 900 security officers. Critics such as the co-founder of ATTAC, an anti-globalization group, maintain that the government's actions are "disproportionate" and possibly violate the law. (Der Spiegel)

Big Trouble in Little Heiligendamm (May 9, 2007)

This Der Spiegel article highlights the preparations undertaken by the German government for the June G8 summit in the "normally sleepy seaside resort" of Heiligendamm. In anticipation of as many as 100,000 protestors, the host country has mobilized 16,000 policemen, over one thousand members of the German military, and nine navy vessels - making the G8 summit "one of the largest ever domestic military deployments in post-war Germany." Officials have furthermore surrounded the resort with a 7.5 mile barbed wire fence, seen by opponents of the G8 as "yet more proof of a divided world in which the rich and powerful separate themselves from the rest."



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