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German anti G8 protests: “great mass mobilisation, explicit anti-imperialism lacking”

14. June 2007

Quick impressions of Asa Henriksson, Free Iraq Committee Malmo, Sweden

The protests around Heiligendamm were positive in many ways: the infrastructure as well as most of the activities were well organised, in a non-sectarian, unifying way and also in a such a way that the different activities would gather the largest amount of people possible. What struck me though was the virtually non-existent awareness concerning anti-imperialism or even critique against American warfare. It was as though the question of occupation, warfare and resistance simply did not exist. During the largest demonstration on June 2nd, that gathered at least 80 000 people I spotted only one Iraqi flag, carried seemingly by a small group of Iraqis. There were two or three banners with slogans concerning Palestine, but apart from that virtually nothing. Another comrade of our committee, who joined the block of the 4th international, tells me that when he and his group started to chant slogans in support of the Iraqi resistance they were immediately asked to keep quiet. Me and a few comrades joined a small group of people behind a Palestine-banner, but strangely no-one was willing to chant slogans on Iraq – only Palestine.

On Sunday the 3rd there was a manifestation in central Rostock which demanded the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan as well a stop for all German support for the occupations of Iraq and Palestine. All of that is of course very good. But no more than 150 people gathered.

The speeches were from groups like Cobas, Stop the War Coalition and Linkspartei and a few others. All of them talked about how the “peace movement” in Europe will “force” the troops to go home, but not a single word was said about the whereabouts of the popular forces WITHIN the occupied countries, not even the mass demonstrations and certainly not the armed resistance in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. All seemed just as Euro-centric as the occupiers themselves. The overall message was that “we” will liberate “them”, but in our case from the left. Well, I got one minute to speak in the end, so I said (of course) that the only force that will really be able to “force” any government to withdraw the troops is the armed resistance in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan.

So, my impressions are divided. In short: when it comes to mass-mobilization the protests around the G8-summit was a great success, but when it comes to anti-imperialism it was simply a disaster.