Tent villages welcome G8 protesters
1 June 2007, Rostock, Germany (dpa) - Tent villages for protesters opened Friday, five days before the G8 summit in Germany, where 18 world leaders are to discuss global warming and other issues. Demonstrators are not expecting luxury: thin camping mattresses and improvised wash basins will have to do. Many will however be dismayed at the mud, following recent rain that has softened all three campsites. Organizers rented fields within marching distance of Heiligendamm, the upscale beach resort hosting the
1 June 2007
Rostock, Germany (dpa) - Tent villages for protesters opened Friday, five days before the G8 summit in Germany, where 18 world leaders are to discuss global warming and other issues.
Demonstrators are not expecting luxury: thin camping mattresses and improvised wash basins will have to do. Many will however be dismayed at the mud, following recent rain that has softened all three campsites.
Organizers rented fields within marching distance of Heiligendamm, the upscale beach resort hosting the summit, and expect more than 12,000 demonstrators from around Europe to gather this weekend.
The camps are sited in Rostock, the city where the biggest anti-G8 demonstration takes place Saturday, and in the village of Reddelich, near Bad Doberan, and Wichmannsdorf, close to Kuehlungsborn.
The campers hope to march towards the summit venue from three directions on Thursday.
German trade unions have also set up a more distant camp for 15,000 at Buetzow, a town well away from the Baltic coast.
The 200 staff at the three camps - all volunteers motivated solely by political belief - have struggled for days with the rain and mud.
"I've got used to running round in wet clothes, but I sure wish I at least had a dry tent at nights," laughed a 26-year-old woman who arrived early to help erect tents and construct washing facilities.
The organizers have spent 220,000 euros on the hospitality and hope to recoup most of the sum from donations, with campers asked to contribute five euros per person per night. This is strictly non-profit, a labour of love, and perhaps also of anger.
"The policies of the G8 are crimes," says one organizer, Andi Henner, who has demonstrated at several G8 summits in the past. "They are partly to blame for thousands of people round the globe dying of hunger every single day."
German police insist they have nothing against the camps. Franz Blang, spokesman for the police security operation at the G8 summit, says police preparing for possible riots regard the camps as a moderating factor.
"The more peaceful demonstrators we get concentrated at the sites, the harder it will be for the violent mob to take over," he said.
Organizers are sensitive about the potential of alcohol to trip off violence. There is a no-spirits ordnance at the camps, and sales and consumption of beer are supposed to stop at 10pm each night.
During the June 6-8 summit itself, sales of alcohol from the camp shops will be halted completely.
"We don't want any kind of violence in the camps," said Henner.
Erecting the camps has been a struggle.
In Rostock, where the site is particularly squishy, a truck bogged down when it tried to deliver gas to heat the stoves of the temporary canteen. A company bringing the 100 portable toilets refused to deliver in the rain, and hoses and pipes for the 120 showers and wash basins have a jerry-built look about them.
Local authority inspectors, who must check for health or public safety risks, say the camp organizers make up in enthusiasm what they lack in tradesmen's skills.
Birthe Dasenbrook, who heads the inspections department in Bad Doberan, said her staff had not been too fussy.
"Maybe it won't all be set up to the standard that we usually expect, but I'm sure they'll manage to get the basic facilities to work," she said soothingly. The inspectors have focussed on the essentials such as ensuring germ-free drinking water and keeping lanes between the tents open for ambulances and emergency services.
Organizers such as Henner admitted the camps would be just makeshift affairs, but said the G8, not comfort, was the focus.
"Maybe we aren't perfect camp administrators. But we believe in what we are doing, and that's the main thing," he said.
Subject: German news