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Hamburg transformed itself into an Orwellian dystopia for the G20 Summit

On July 7-8 the G20 Summit took place in Hamburg. The city’s authorities plan to transform it into a democracy-free zone of complete surveillance, enforced by paramilitary means. We wrote the open letter below to the Senate of Hamburg to protest.

lead A demonstrator stands in front of a water canon on Millerntor square in Hamburg, Germany, 7 July 2017. The police cut off a demonstration with several thousand participants.Boris Roessler/Press Asociation. All rights reserved.

Honourable Senators of the City of Hamburg,

We are the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), a pan-European alliance of European citizens for the democratisation of Europe. What we are witnessing in Hamburg worries us deeply.

In less than three weeks from now, the world’s attention will be drawn to your city, as you host the planet’s most powerful heads of state for the G20 summit. Let us be clear: the G20 has no democratic mandate: it embodies the politics of austerity, social inequality, war and ecological destruction. The protests and draconian security measures that follow G20 summits around the world are testament to this group’s odiously illiberal and autocratic nature.

Yet on July 7 and 8, your city will take security measures that are extreme even by G20 standards. Andy Grote, your senator of the interior, went back on a previous promise to not ban demonstrations and declared a general decree forbidding any kind of assembly in a territory of 38 km2.

Predator drones, usually deployed in warzones, will circle the skies, tanks will be out on the streets, and over 15,000 police officers are expected to be on patrol, including those on horseback and with dogs.

Robots deployed by U.S. secret services will crawl through sewers and subway tunnels (doing what exactly? No-one knows since the U.S. won’t give us any information about them!) Hamburg will be transformed into an Orwellian dystopia of complete surveillance, enforced by paramilitary means; a democracy-free area.

Senators, these moves are a travesty against the democratic identity of the “free and hanseatic city of Hamburg”, to use its official name. They are a blow to the standing of European democracy as a whole and its perception across the world.

We will not be deterred. From July 5 to July 8 we will be in Hamburg to demonstrate for global solidarity, to protest against the G20’s illiberal policies, and to put forward real political alternatives to austerity, war, social inequalities and ecocide.

In line with the constitution of your city, which cites Hamburg’s role as ‘mediating between all the world’s parts and people in the spirit of peace’, we will peacefully and constructively #disOBEY the international dogma of austerity.

Please feel free to join us in our festival of democracy.

Carpe DiEM!

About the author

The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, or DiEM25, is a Pan-European political movement launched by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. Their movement aims to reform the European Union's existing institutions to create a "full-fledged democracy with a sovereign Parliament respecting national self-determination and sharing power with national Parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils".

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