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3 Jun, 2007 21:07

More clashes expected ahead of G8 summit

More clashes expected ahead of G8 summit

German police remain on high alert following violent clashes that left nearly 1,000 people injured in the city of Rostock on Saturday over the forthcoming G8 summit.

Police say at least ten people are accused of rioting. They are expected to be sentenced next week.

Although protests are continuing in various parts of the city, the atmosphere of Sunday's demonstrations has been calm and peaceful.

Nevertheless, authorities have closed most routes to Heiligendamm, where the world's leaders will meet next Wednesday, and pulled over cars for spot checks between the town and Rostock.

Meanwhile, a group of local farmers gathered in the centre of Rostock on Sunday. Their tractors were making their way to the Agricultural Institute some 20 KM away.

The farmers pointed out that every year some 30 MLN people around the world die of starvation and malnutrition. What the farmers were protesting is that the forced opening of markets as well as price dictation by supermarket chains and export subsidies for food production have left poor farmers, particularly those in developing countries, bankrupt. In addition, they said, this has created a catastrophe in the environment.

There were fears that those protests on Sunday could turn violent, particularly when the demonstrators made their way to the American chains, McDonald's and Burger King.

On Saturday, 433 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters in the German city of Rostock. 30 were hospitalised with broken bones and lacerations. More than 100 people were arrested.

Concerning the security, there are some 13,000 police officers who have been deployed in the city of Rostock. This is the highest security presence ever in this country's history.

The town is located along the harbour, so the coastal guard is on high alert too. At the actual venue, Heiligendamm, a 12 KM fence has been erected. This whole security operation cost the German government some 12.5 MLN euros.

However, not far from Rostock, in the town of Bad Doberan, protests against the G8 take on a more contemplative tone. Germany's Church is set to play an active role in events surrounding next week's summit.  Its goal is to make sure real human problems do not slip through the political net. Germany's Church has long been preparing for the G8. An ecclesiastical body to co-ordinate the Church's role in events surrounding the summit was set up in 2005.

On Sunday, 30,000 candles have been reported to be lit at a mass, to draw attention to the plight of the world's poor, particularly children around the world who die in conditions of poverty. The service has taken place in the Minster in the town of Bad Doberan, a 12th Century former Cistercian abbey. Bad Doberan lies just to the south of the Baltic coastal resort of Heiligendamm where the G8 will be held.

The liturgy has been conducted by the Bishop of Lubeck, Mr Wartenberg-Potter. The service is an ecumenical mass, open to all Christian denominations.

The Church is going to be particularly active in what is known as the Alternative summit to be held in Rostock from 5 to 7 June. This aims to provide a forum to publicly discuss the inadequacies of G8 policies in tackling poverty, protecting the environment and preserving peace and international security.

The organisers of the alternative summit say they advocate globalisation based on solidarity rather than economic competition and military co-operation.