Only three weeks remain until we meet in Hamburg. Their Hamburg is a city of millionaires, a port city with its capitalist commodity flows, a city of exploding rents with a pretentious new Elbphilharmonie, a law-and-order city with mayor Schulz and his interior minister Verbote-Grote. Their Hamburg does not want to host us: Through an unprecedented legal measure, a densely populated area of 38 sq km was declared a no-protest zone devoid of democracy.
But there is also another Hamburg, our Hamburg: a city of lively neighbourhoods with a strong anti-gentrification movement and the Rote Flora squat; a city that looks back on a long leftist history from the Hamburg rebellion of 1923 to the protests against evictions in the Hafenstraße. It is the convention centre which best symbolizes this contraditction: While in 2015, it served as a space for self-organized practical solidarity with refugees on a large scale in 2017, it will be the venue of the G20 summit, the site where those leaders meet whose policies first put millions of people to flight and who then seek to stop the same people with fences and walls or leave them to drown in the Mediterranean.
Only three weeks until, on the global solidarity summit and the tent camps, we will tell our concepts and our dreams of a better, more just and more joyful world beyond the violence and sadness of capitalism.
On Friday, the different BlockG20 fingers will start from all directions and ignore the ban on public assembly in order to bring colour to theRed Zone. They will not be stopped until they have surrounded the G20 summit in the convention centre and until they have captured the city’s streets for a festival of resistance. Meanwhile and even before, other actions, demonstrations and blockades will take place throughout the city and at the port, borne by the diversity, the determination, the radicalism and the solidarity of the international resistance to G20.
On Saturday finally, all of us – no matter where we are from or in which actions we have participated in the previous days – will come together for an international mass demonstration with tens of thousands of people. We will send our one common message to the world: Solidarity without borders instead of G20!
The madness of this world has taken no break in the last weeks. Donald Trump has announced the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Blind to all scientific evidence and dismissive of those already suffering from droughts, storms and floods caused by the man-made climate change. And yet we are almost thankful for Trump’s disarming honesty in putting short-term profit interests of the oil, energy and gas industry above the long-term goal of leaving an inhabitable planet to the generations to come. Thankful at least when we have to bear with the mendacious pretensions of people like Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel, who want to be congratulatedon their climate awareness while carbon emissions are also increasing in Europe, while the assembly lines of automobile production are not stopping and while Germany is not only the world champion of exports but also of brown coal.
Another part of the madness of this world is the terror of ISIS and its followers, the worst and most hopeless form of insurrection against an equally hopeless world of capitalism. Indiscriminately, people are being killed just because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, because they celebrate, because they want to live. Even though the wars of the Western powers and the racist exclusion within Western societies are part of the causes, we cannot leave any doubt that jihadis just like fascists are the sworn enemies of all leftist and freedom-loving people: In Rojava, where our Kurdish and international comrades fight against ISIS, just as much as here and everywhere. But at the same time, we reject the call to go along with the camp of law and order. We do not join in the false community of false democrats. We do not legitimize surveillance, police armament, expansion of intelligence services and the state of exception.
Bringing rebellion and hope from Nuremberg to Hamburg
On May 31, a huge bomb detonated in the embassy district of Kabul. Far more than a hundred people were killed, hundreds were critically injured. On the evening of the same day, another deportation flight from Germany was supposed to take off for Afghanistan. Just like Trump denies the facts of climate change, the German government creates alternative facts of supposedly safe areas within Afghanistan. But they are neither interested in the truth nor in the fate of the refugees who are supposed be deported back to the war which they managed to escape from. All that they care about is to reassert their control over migration and to send a signal to the many racists in the country, namely that they are just as capable of practical inhumanity as the right-wing populist party AfD.
But something else also happened on May 31: In a vocational school in Nuremberg, police officers removed a student from class in order to put him on a deportation flight to Afghanistan. Other students spontaneously decided to not just let this injustice happen. They blocked police cars until the police lost their temper and used truncheons and pepper spray against the students. Thereby the regime of deportation has been unmasked as what it really is: naked violence. The courageous protest of these students in coincidence with the devastating assault in Kabul and the subsequent public outcry have contributed decisively to the suspension of deportations to Afghanistan. That is the hope hat arises from rebellion.
Doing the right thing – blocking the summit
This is what we also hope for in Hamburg. That people do not just stand and watch when faced with the injustice and irrationality of global capitalism. That they are expressing outrage at the dictators, autocrats and neoliberals who chat and dine in the convention centre, while they have imprisoned thousands, wage bloody wars, leave thousands to drown in the Mediterranean, while they gamble away the future of the planet and its inhabitants -– all in the interest of business and personal gain. We hope that they resist the false alternatives and say: Neither Trump nor Merkel! That thousands of people defiantly insist that our city shall not be degraded to a mere backdrop for this absurd spectacle of power. That they will not give up their right of free assembly despite the fear-mongering, the threats and harassment. That all these acts of protest and resistance, of self-empowerment and rebellion will together form a great common message of hope that will be understood far beyond Hamburg. That this hope will trigger new rebellion – and thereby embolden those forces that do the right thing in the madness of this world.
How to stop this madness, how to counter the brutality of the conditions and the strength of the ruling powers, how to develop courage and solidarity – on this we have – just as everyone probably – many open questions. But what we do know is that a new beginning is not just an abstract desire but a concrete necessity.
Which side are you on?
Hamburg’s media has been falling over itself in absurdly exaggerated debates on violence for weeks now. Fear of protest is systematically created and the impression conveyed that someone was seriously planning to destroy half the city and to attack its population. The disparity is obvious: While the violence of the heads of state who wage wars and block escape routes is shrugged off, protests against this violence are supposed to be committed to non-violence and harmlessness. And while the grave danger to window glasses and police cars is being lamented about, the actual, brutal and at times deadly violence at summit protests is exerted by the police. Just like in Genoa in 2001, when the police shot Carlo Giuliani and where actions of the Italian police forces were later rightly denounced as torture by the European Court of Human Rights.
For all these reasons, we will not distance ourselves from other actions or groups of the G20 protests. We are in full confidence that all activists will only undertake responsible actions in the streets that are not directed against the people of Hamburg but against the G20 and those who protect them. We will not participate in everything ourselves, we will not approve of everything, perhaps we might comradely criticize some actions. But we will never forget which side we are on. Therefore, we reject the poisoned offer to switch to the dark side of power through dissociation.
We say what we do – we do as we say
Regarding the actions that we co-organized we promise that we will say what we will do – and that we will do as we say. For BlockG20, this means that we are serious in our intention to block the access routes to the summit locations for the delegations and their infrastructure. Even if the heads of state might be able to get to the convergence centre one way or another, they will then at least be surrounded by colourful and lively mass resistance in the streets. Whether this plan works out depends less on the police behaviour as on two other factors: the determination and the number of people who participate in the blockades. This is why we agreed on an action consensus: We want to encourage everybody, we want to invite everybody to the actions and we want to give a reliable orientation for our communal and solidary actions. Because we don’t strive for the most radical action but for an action, in which the largest number of people possible can make practical experiences of empowerment and resistance.
At the international mass demonstration on Saturday, we will form a large anti-capitalist block together with other radical leftist groups. We will express our radical critique of the G20 and of global capitalism, but especially our ties to the Kurdish struggle for freedom in Rojava, in Turkey and here in Germany. United we stand against the ban of the PKK and for the project of a comprehensive and bottom-up societal liberation. Our block shall be confident, cohesive and able to act – always with the goal in mind to bring the whole mass demonstration with all its blocks and groups from the starting point to the end point and to conclude the protest week with a great final rally on the Heiligengeistfeld.
Only some three weeks remain until we meet all our friends and comrades from many cities and many countries in Hamburg. To send a common message of rebellion, of hope and of solidarity without borders. So that we will remember Hamburg like Seattle or Heiligendamm, as a milestone and a new beginning. Whether it will work out? In the end, it is up to the streets.