Hundreds Hurt as G8 Protesters Clash With Police

ROSTOCK, Germany, June 4, 2007 (ENS) - German authorities Sunday closed most roads to the G8 Summit resort town of Heiligendamm. Police stopped cars to check occupants for weapons on the main road there from the port city of Rostock, where protest demonstrations injured hundreds of people Saturday.

German police said more than 400 officers were injured, 30 of whom were hospitalized with broken bones and lacerations. Organizers said 520 demonstrators were hurt, 20 of them seriously.

One group of demonstrators marches toward a rally in the center of Rostock, Germany. June 2, 2007. (Photo courtesy Indymedia Germany)
The officially permitted march started peacefully as protesters gathered at two locations, then marched in two groups to converge on the harbor for the main rally. One group was led by about 40 big puppets and two samba bands.

Authorities put the size of the Rostock demonstration at 25,000, while organizers said it was 80,000. About 13,000 police were on hand.

With banners and puppets, protesters from across Europe and around the world tried to dramatize their opposition to capitalism, globalization, the war in Iraq and the Group of Eight itself. Most of the demonstrators remained peaceful.

The protesters said police were "very aggressive and provocative, using batons, water cannons and tear gas, not only against the bad protestors but normal ones as well."

Police used water cannons in the festival area and in the streets to extinguish a burning car and burning barricades made of garbage containers.

Demonstrators set this car afire (Photo courtesy Indymedia Germany)
Violent confrontations were taking place while on stage, people attempted to continue with a concert and speeches.

While hundreds were arrested Saturday, police said Sunday that fewer than 20 people remained behind bars.

Violence broke out again Sunday after a peaceful protest of about 5,000 people on the day's theme of agriculture. Protesters used big puppets to emphasize their opposition to genetically engineered crops and the patenting of life forms while others listened to speeches about the effects of agri-business on farmers.

On Sunday night, a group of concert-goers was attacked by police on their way back to Camp Rostock. "The cops went by in cars, suddenly stopped and beat them without any given reason," a witness said. "One person was heavily injured on the head and was lying on the ground - motionless but concious - for at least 10 minutes until the amulance arrived."

Police move in on a group of demonstrators in Rostock. (Photo courtesy Indymedia Germany)
At least 34 persons were arrested Sunday in Rostock and the surrounding area.

Today, just two days before the leaders of the largest industrial nations gather for their annual meeting June 6 through 8, police said the area around Heiligendamm was calm.

Scheduled to attend the summit are the leaders of the Group of Eight countries, the world's largest industrial nations - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Commission.

The UN Secretary General is also expected to be there, along with the leaders of five rapidly developing countries - Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa - who have been invited to participate in a working session Friday.

Heads of state and government of Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa as well as the chairman of the African Union Commission will meet with the G8 leaders on Friday.

Protesters in the Rostock demonstration Saturday (Photo courtesy Indymedia Germany)
In addition, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the vice president of the World Bank, the director of the International Monetary Fund, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, and the General Director of the World Trade Organization will attend a working lunch also on Friday.

The leaders will consider Climate change and energy efficency, growth and responsibility in the global economy, and a new impetus for continued negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

Children and young people from the G8 countries are holding their own Junior 8, J8, Summit in Wismar parallel to the G8 Summit.

On Sunday, German Economic Cooperation and Development Ministery Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul opened the J8 Summit. The topics on their agenda mirror those to be tackled by the heads of state and government in Heiligendamm.

On Tuesday, all 74 young participants will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The J8 participants will have the opportunity Thursday to discuss the outcomes directly with the G8 heads of state and government in Heiligendamm.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.