G20 in Hamburg

The 2017 summit of the G20, which is comprised of the leading seven industrial countries (G7), Russia, and a number of ‘emerging economies’ as well as the European Union, took place in the German city of Hamburg July 7 and 8, 2017. After the G8 (G7 plus Russia) summit of 2001, which had taken place in Genova, this was the first summit to take place in a major city in Western Europe. One reason for this had been that it was easier to police summits in remote locations and enforce restricted areas by only allowing counter-demonstrations far away from the actual summits.
The 2016 summit had taken place in Hangzhou, China, without any public protests. The Chinese authorities had made sure of that, simply by clearing a large part of the population out of the city altogether, either by issuing travel vouchers, shutting down factories (and thus forcing day labourers to look for work elsewhere), or putting dissidents under house arrest.

The German government couldn’t turn Hamburg – the second biggest city after Berlin – into a ghost town, but they too made it a priority to guarantee the seamless proceedings of the summit. The police force was later accused of prioritising the safety of delegates over that of the inhabitants of the host city. Apparently the police thought that by fiercely repressing any protest they would remain in control of the situation. Thus the first (legal) anti-G20 demonstration which took place July 6 under the slogan ‘Welcome to Hell’ was not allowed to march and was basically wiped off the street by water cannons, creating a panic situation that could potentially have caused casualties. [Read more →]