Conspiracy Ideologists rally in Berlin; as new German Infection Protection Act is decided

Several thousand participated in protests around the german parliament Reichstag in Berlin on November 18th, 2020 to demonstrate against the new German Infection Protection Act that was passed on the afternoon of the same day. Far-right groups and many conspiracy ideologists participated in the demonstration. What started with dancing, singing and ignoring Covid-19 safety measures ended in heavy scuffles with police. The demonstration was officially disperesed after social distancing measures were ignored and the participants did not wear masks. Water cannons were used to wetten protestors, but not fired directly into the crowd. Bottles, pyrotechnics and garbage was thrown at police. In advance there was a mobilisation on the messenger service Telegram, calling for violent acts and a blockade of the parliament. Several far-right AfD parlamentarians participated and passed out flyers. Other leading figures of the german neo-nazi scene were present. Loads of antisemitic signs and symbols were carried by the crowd, as many compare the novelties to the Infection Protection Act with the so called "Ermächtigungsgesetz" that brought Hitler to power, as it grants massive rights to the government to intervene in the case of a public health emergency of international concern.

I put together a lengthy edit to show the variety of protesters.

"Querdenken" protest in Leipzig

On November 7th ten-thousands of people took part in a mass-rally organized by the group "Querdenken 711" in Leipzig. A huge mass of organized far-right thugs, hooligans and organized fascists participated in the protest as the group has not distanced themselves thouroughly from antisemitic rethorics and far-right ideas. Thousands of esoterics and ordinary citizens formed a mass that far-right groups used to incite clashes. After the rally was ended by police as participants were neither wearing masks nor keeping distance, far-right vigilantes attempted to attack the counter-protestors. The masses pushed over police, attacked journalists and marched through Leipzig in an attempt to generate a pathetic momentum with symbolics and rhetorics of the anti-GDR protest in ’89 in Leipzig. In advance journalists and anti-fascist groups warned of this escalation. Thousands of police officers were on duty, but unable to stop the crowd and were overrun. A court had priorly interdicted a moving demonstration in expectation of violations of the anti corona measurements to be taken. Until late in the night the protesters celebrated in the downtown area of the eastern german metropolitan city and shouted slogans like “Corona is over, we are free!”.

Tower Block Quarantine / "We are also humans"

In Goettingen, Lower-Saxony, "Groner Landstraße 9", a residential complex with more than 700 inhabitants was put under quarantine for several days. More than 200 had infected themselves with Covid-19. In the first days the most necessary things were missing and the complex was locked off.

Wildfire in Northern Germany

A heat-wave in early July '19 led to fields and forests in Germany drying out. In Lübtheen a wildfire was sparked - likey by an arsonist - leaving thousands of hektars burning on a former military training area that is full of left-over ammunition. Villages were evacuated. Fire-workers were not able to approach the area burning due to the danger of exploding old ammunition spread all over the place. Police and military helped fighting the wildfire. Journalists were held back from the area. In the end the fire was isolated and left burning. It was declared the biggest wildfire in the history of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Welcome to Paradise

Annually the seven leading industry nations hold a summit to meet and discuss topics moving international politics. Year by year the area around the summit is put into turmoil. France, holding this years presidency, invited to infamous Biarritz. The city known for its surfing and beach culture was locked down. Protesters gather to critique the politics of exclusion and capitalism. An excerpt of coverage for imago images of this years meeting.

Stranded in Bavaria

Since August 2018 refugees in Bavaria are isolated in so called "ANKER" Centers, large camps inhabiting up to several thousand people. Repeatedly protest against the conditions in the camps arises, as well as attacks on refugees by the security personal in charge.

Burning Rage

On December 6, 2008 a policeman on patrol murdered 16 year old Alexandros Grigoropolus near the alternative district of Exarcheia in the capital of Greece. The events sparked an outrage and Greek-wide riots, as the teenager became a symbol for the authoritarian Greek state. Police officer Epaminondas Korkoneas was charged with and convicted of murder. Ten years later thousands of people hold demonstrations commemorating the killed young man. At night police clashes with activists around Exarcheia.

Far-right Intrumentalizes Death of Young Man in Chemnitz

After a young man near Chemnitz city fair was stabbed to death potentially by a person seeking asylum in Germany, far-right groups used the tragic events to rally through the eastern german city. On the days following the crime several demonstrations where held. Hooligans clashed with police, chasing migrants, counter-protestors and journalists through the streets. Neonazis openly displaying their hatred and AfD politicians march together. What was declared as an event to express grief was soon overtaken by hooligans. The second march though the town was blocked by thousands of citizens protesting for a multicultural and open Chemnitz. The events stand symbolically for how far the debate on how refugees should be treated has shifted german society. The pictures follow the protest on the days after the death.

La Haine Jaune

Following the introduction of a so called 'ecological' gasoline-tax by the neoliberal Macron government, France was rocked by heavy clashes of protestors and police. The country known for its protest-experienced working class saw a new level of violence leaving hundreds of people wounded. The excessive use of the LBD40, known as "flashball", as well as "stun" grenades has caused a discussion on what amount of violence the state can use to face demonstrations. After weeks of what media in France declared as the most violent protest since May 1968, Macron gave in to start negotiations. If these negotiations are able to deal with the social issues in France has to be seen in the future.

End of so called ‘NSU’ anti-terror trial in Munich

After more then 5 years, in June 2018 the trial against three members of the so-called 'NSU' far-right terror network ended in Munich. The racist motivated murder of nine small entrepeneurs and a police woman has shaken german society. Investigators and media for a long time did not see right-wing terror as a possibility. Up until today the voices of the bereaved are in parts ignored. The question how the terror group chose their victims, as well as who supported them have not been revelaed. At the trial neo-nazis already lined up in the early morning hours to attend and later mock the murdered and hurt by the terror group by applauding as the sentences were spoken. Social initiatives as well as the families of the murdered called for a demonstration to Munich and held press conferences to have their demands heard: To uncover the whole 'NSU' network including the full revelation of the involvement by the Verfassungsschutz in far-right structures and an abortion of the secret service.

Deportations to Afghanistan from Munich Airport

On a monthly basis since early 2017 the german government is conducting mass-deportations to Afghanistan. The country that keeps being rocked by outbreaks of violence is declared a so-called 'secure country of origin'. Reports of the UNHCR oppose this and paint the picture of a chaotic situation in the country. Those denied shelter in Germany, as well as some with criminal offenses, are forced to Kabul with charterplanes. After a bomb-attack on the german embassy the flights were paused, but soon later resumed. Several NGO's and politicians are calling for a stop of the flights.  German troops are still participating in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Hundreds have protested through Munich airport unheard by the government that is only attempting to speed up the process and amount of deportations. Images were taken on during several deportations (22.2.17, 3.7.18, 14.8.18 & 11.9.18) at Munich airport. Practices used by german authorities on the flights were addressed and criticized by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, CPT. The german government attempts to prevent the documentation of deportations and keeps photojournalists far off. In the distant and dark the fate of refugees is decided.

Protest against G20

From July 6th to 8th 2017, Germany hosted the meeting of the G20 in the northern German town Hamburg. Months in advance police painted horror scenarios. One of the mayor demonstration called „#WelcomeToHell” was immediately dispersed before start. What followed was days of mass protest and clashes leaving the alternative district around Rote Flora partly trashed. Police sent special forces to clear the area, leading to more clashes. The mass of protesters was joined by people in bars firstly just watching scuffles, later hurling empty bottles towards police. An up-cry by politicians followed demanding harsh sentencing of arrested protesters. The special commission “Schwarzer Block” was formed which is still investigating. Thousands of hours of video and photo material was gathered by law enforcement and a public search of suspected rioters was performed. Even though plenty cases of police violence were documented and published no police officer was brought in front of a court, while the publicly demanded harsh sentences have been partly conducted, some under exclusion of the public. Several protesters were severely wounded, attempting to escape arrests.

1-O

Catalan Independence Referendum 2017. Following a long history of separatist ideas, the Catalan regional government 2017 decided to hold a referendum for all inhabitants of Catalonia to vote on their independence. The Spanish Central Government, lead by Rajoy, declared this as anticonstitutional. In a clandestine operation the inhabitants of Catalonia managed to order hundreds of urnes to France, smuggle them accross the border, print ballots and set up polling stations. Regional groups squatted schools. On the day of the referendum Catalan police opposed their orders and the Spanish Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil attempted to confiscate urnes and ballots. During sit ins in fornt of schools and scuffles some 1000 people were wounded according to Catalan authorities. Approximately 43% of the Catalans participated. 93% voted „Si“. After the declaration of the independence by president Puidgdemont, new elections were held. Puidgedemont fled to Bruxelles.  From early only far-right, pro-Spanish demonstrators took it to the streets as well. Neo fascist with tattooed swastikas could be seen standing on Catalan flags, showing the „Hitler“-salute. The referendum divided the people living and working in the area and was controversially discussed.

Michael Trammer

Freelance photo- and videojournalist based in Germany. Work focused on social movements, breaking news, politics, far-right extremism and humanitarian crisis.
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