Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 314/315, FRIDAY 27th July, 2001
Welcome to G-Hate
"It was just endless, I really thought I was dying. It's a horrible thing when you feel your bones breaking inside you. And after a while I just tried to keep one eye open, trying to stay alive. I finally blacked out and couldn't remember anything else till I woke up in hospital."
- Marcus Cavell an IMC UK journalist describing a police attack on him.
"After all the people had been brought out either to the hospital or jail everyone flooded in. The cops had sent in cleaning teams, but it was still a mess. Blood was smeared on walls and the floor, the gear of everyone was torn open and thrown everywhere. Doors and windows were smashed. The computer terminals were lying on the ground in pieces. Absolute chaos." - Eyewitness.
This isn't a description of the actions of police in some tinpot dictatorship, but first hand accounts of the scenes in Italy late last Saturday night when the Carabinieri, Italy's conscript military police, attacked the centre where the Genoa Social Forum (GSF) and the Independent Media Centre (IMC) were based. Some of the people were asleep when they were attacked, others eating. 93 were arrested, 31 of these taken straight to hospital. The police destroyed computers and took hard drives and documents belonging to lawyers of the Genoa Social Forum - evidence of illegal police activity that could be used as legal defence. One man, IMC UK reporter Markus "Sky" Covell, will be in hospital for another week after suffering two broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Yet what happened to people in Genoa last week is often the norm for protesters outside the EU. When they demonstrate against policies of global political elites like the G8, they expect state violence. In Brazil recently, members of the landless workers union, Movimiento Sem Terra, were travelling in a five bus convoy to Curitiba to protest about logging, mining and abusive landlords stealing their land. The army stopped the convoy, forced everyone from the buses at gunpoint and made to lie on the road. One man was shot in the stomach and a local police chief who admitted that the violence had taken place, was silenced by govt officials. In Papua New Guinea, three students protesting against World Bank privatisation have been killed during the last few months. On June Severo Mamani, was shot dead for being part of a Bolivian peasant workers protest. They blocked roads to demand better services, land rights and an end to exploitation. The army replied by killing him.
"It was inevitable that the centre would come under attack. The night before, we'd discussed this and there was a strategy to stash all the videotapes gathered by IMC. We had known that the raw footage may contain incriminating evidence, with people saying that the cops "know that we have video evidence of police presence in the black bloc." - SchNEWS correspondent.
The attack on the centres was launched at midnight by the Mobile Operative Squad, claiming that the School and Indymedia Centre were 'harbouring black bloc'. One witness said "We could see them taking some laptops, and minidisc players, other recording equipment and... some salad knives." The salad knives would later form part of the display the police would show to the world to show how violent the protesters were. They would also display construction equipment, hammers, bricks and scaffold bars - but fail to mention that one of the schools was a building site!
One copper from the Squad has broken ranks comparing the operation to a nightmare under Pinochet's Chilean dictatorship accusing some colleagues of behaving like fascists. He told the centre-Left daily La Republicca what happened when people got to a holding center "They lined them up and banged their heads against the walls. They urinated on one person. They beat people if they didn't sing Facetta Nera [A Fascist hymn].One girl was vomiting blood but the chief of the squad just looked on. They threatened to rape girls with their batons."
Despite the raid, Indymedia kept going. There were continual multilingual updates and a web radio broadcast throughout the protests, with millions of hits on Italian Indymedia throughout the protests.
"I have never seen so many wounded people at a demo (over 500 in the hospital), and the level of shock in some people is unbelievable. Some people are talking to themselves and spacing out. Some are going through some really tough times mentally and we seem very unprepared to deal with it. It's a weird feeling though to sort through all the feelings of rage and trauma over what has happened (and wanting it to just go away) and know that it happens to people all over the world in non-western countries, who are resisting and have been resisting for ages." Brian, protester.
The umbrella group the Genoa Social Forum set up a huge convergence centre - a massive operation to cope with the expected 100,000 protestors. But, like at festivals burger bars charging high prices angered many while different shades of red mixed uncomfortably with greens and anarchos. At one end Jubilee and Drop the Debt on the other end the militant Tute Bianche and Cobas (a coalition of street-fighting anarcho-syndicalist and marxist trade unions).
Before the G8 had even started, blue-collar workers had brought the country to a standstill. At the heart of the dispute were employers' attempts to break up national bargaining and force the unions to accept a plant-by-plant system, which would immensely weaken them. Many of the demonstrations were addressed by the GSF who persuaded some of the strikers to come to Genoa.
Thursday's march against the racism of Fortress Europe's immigration controls was peaceful - no immigrants could risk arrest otherwise they would face deportation back to the countries they were fleeing from. Still, the police showed their intentions filling side streets with riot cops and pointing CS gas launchers at protestors from the tops of their armoured vans.
The next day was never going to be peaceful. The "White Overalls"- who wore helmets and padding behind big shields- had already declared that they would march straight up the main avenue to enter the red zone. And of course there was the anarchist "black bloc", regarded as public enemy number one. Sure enough the streets soon became a war zone, a mix of white, black and red blocks facing cops who used extreme force - tear gas, water cannons, tanks and lethal bullets for Carlo Giuliani.
Late in the day one massive crowd developed chanting "Assassini!" at the cops as endless tear gas volleys rained down injuring many. This tactic didn't work as planned when protestors in gas masks and leather gloves threw the canisters onto the railway line. Eventually police dispersed the crowd by driving tanks at high speed into it. The only thing to do was run. SchNEWS hacks have been on many demos but this was worse than anything we've experienced before. One woman whose son disappeared in fascist Argentina was shaken at what she has seen, saying it was uncomfortably close to Argentina during the dictatorship - and you thought Europe was a nice safe place.
Earth First Summer Gathering, 1-5 August, is being held on a beautiful site in the foothills of the Peak District. Over 100 workshops sharing skills, campaigning and networking. National and international campaign round ups, as well as rock climbing, nature walks, games. £10 donation to cover costs. Accommodation is camping only. Details 0845-4589595 www.eco-action.org/gathering
The G-8 - Pasta Caring
"They are in a position of all ruling elites, who must preside over the flow of wealth from poor to rich, without appearing to do so." - Jeremy Seabrook, Author
The G7, which has been meeting since 1975, is made up of the leaders of the world's seven richest countries (USA, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Canada). In 1994 Russia was admitted, turning the G7 into the G8. The G8 have annual summits where they decide what sort of world you and your children will live in. As well as making decisions on ruining our environment and privatising public services, they also plan directives to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for their structural adjustment programmes.
The current G8 are probably some of the dodgiest capitalist cronies around. Here are some of their credentials: Bush illegally seized the US Presidency by getting his brother to stop thousands of black people in Florida from voting in the presidential election. Putin is pursuing a genocidal war in Chechnya... Chirac is facing allegations of corruption... Berlusconi, the summit's host, has a such a massive personal fortune that he could pay off the debt of several African countries with his spare change; he owns most of Italy's media, and has been convicted of illegal party financing, bribery and false accounting. Meanwhile his right hand man is on trial for consorting with the Mafia. No wonder the African Monitor described them as "opulent idlers hiding inside a steel cage".
The reality of the system the G8 head up is truly frightening for the majority of the planet. While some people, mainly in a handful of rich countries, live in relative comfort, the majority of the world's people face worsening poverty as a direct result of capitalist control of their economies. The 'third world debt' is not a debt in any real sense - it is the mechanism for keeping the majority of the world under the thumb of international capital.
Between 1980 and 1996 the countries of sub-Saharan Africa paid the amount borrowed by their ruling elites twice over, only to be left owing three times what they owed in 1980. Every day, £28 million flows from the poorest countries in the world to the banks of the rich countries. 19,000 children die every day as a result of the debt.
The problem isn't what the G8 decides - it's the fact that a tiny group of politicians are taking life and death decisions affecting the whole of the world on behalf of a few hundred corporations and banks.
While the carabinieri were busy arresting and assaulting people in the Indymedia centre it was a very different story across town in the official press centre inside the red zone. The divide between life inside the red zone fortress, with its well-defended borders, and life outside, was a pretty neat metaphor for the world the G8 were in Genoa to sustain. Inside, the Ferrero Rocher was piled up on the tables (just like the crap adverts) getting guzzled by corporate journos, delegates and other hangers-on whose every need was catered for by an army of local servants (no doubt chucked out of the zone at the end of their shift). Hundreds of metres of computers laid on for the world's press along with books, CDs DVDs and everything else you'd need to explain how sane, rational and useful the G8 are. There were luxury boats, cheese and wine receptions, free rides on Genoa's tourist attractions, not open to the riff-raff outside. There was even an official joke book.
The port area was eerily silent - in the middle, like in some science fiction film, there was a big glass dome with three trees in it ("look, son, these used to be everywhere!"). Sure, there seemed to be police checks every few yards, but as long as you had your papers you could soon move along - and, as press reception told us, "You will be safer inside here on Friday".
And if you think the journos were having it good seven of the leaders (all except Bush) slept on the spanking new cruise liner European Vision (sic), a $250 million floating holiday resort that offers almost every luxury imagination can devise. With a golf range, a gym, Turkish baths, a Givenchy shop, an English pub and a cigar and brandy room. There's also a basketball court, mini golf, climbing wall and Internet café. And if the leaders drop their currency at the roulette wheel, there's always the ATM machine. Cor we really feel sorry for old Tory Blair who said, "We are here to work. I suppose most of us would have preferred to have spent a weekend with our families rather than in meetings from morning to night."- yeah, right.
Putin His Foot In It
With the battle of Genoa raging outside and the G8 looking less and less democratic as time went on the powers that be started the P.R. war. "Saint Bob", otherwise known as has-been pop star gob shite and businessman millionaire Bob Geldof, was flown in on Tony Blair's private jet to tell people that the G8 was really a force for good and not the un-elected power crazy cabal that everybody knows they are. Interviewed on T.V. this celebrity made out that one third of debt had been cancelled. The actual figure is 1%. The poorest 40 countries in the world owe $218 billion and of this $2.16 billion has been cancelled. Like me owing you 99p instead of £1.
Geldof gave a bearhug to Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, otherwise known as the Butcher of Chechnya. Since the war started again in 1999 nothing short of genocide has taken place. In the first war between 1994 and 1996, when Putin was Boris Yeltsin's number two, up to 100,000 were killed by Russian artillery but the war continuing at the moment is even more sinister. Concentration camps have been set up all around Russian controlled Chechnya with tens of thousands of civilians being tortured and killed.
Rozita, a grandmother, was detained in January of this year and held in a death camp outside the village of Khottuni. On arrival she was thrown into a 4-ft deep pit with heavy logs as a roof so she couldn't stand up and made to stay there for 12 days, pissing and shitting where she sat. After this she was taken out to be interrogated and tortured which entailed attaching electrodes to her body and turning the current on. "Yes I screamed something terrible", she said. "It hurt a lot when they turned on the current. The FSB (Russian secret police) people said 'You aren't dancing well enough. Lets add some more voltage.' And so they did." Rozita screamed louder and louder. All this for the charge of "sheltering terrorists" something she denies. After a while the FSB sussed out that she wasn't the militant that they thought she was and so Rozita's relatives were told they had to pay a ransom to them to secure her release. This was done with the help of her fellow villagers and she was let go.
But its not just grannies that have been held in these death/torture camps. In Grozny, the capital, most of the visible population is female, all with tales of mass round-ups of men between the ages of 16 and 50. Isa was one of these men. He was also taken to the Khottuni camp and was kept in a pit measuring 3m by 3m half filled with water with five other men. While being 'interrogated' he had cigarettes stubbed out on his body, his fingernails pulled out, his feet beaten with clubs and then gang raped. Like Rozita, Isa was also released after a ransom was paid, but the five others, along with thousands of others, were tortured and then killed.
Anna Politkovskaya, a respected Moscow journalist, also fell foul of the FSB when she went to Chechnya to find out about the human rights abuses going on there. After she had seen the 'pits' for herself she was arrested and tortured, all the while her captors reminding her that the FSB take their orders direct from Putin himself. Which kind of puts the G8 statement that he signed condemning the street violence in Genoa in perspective.
The black bloc is a tactic used by people who believe that physical confrontation is an important way of showing that peaceful opposition to the state and capital is not enough. In Seattle, the black bloc physically attacked banks and multinationals guilty of human rights abuse such as McDonalds and Nike. In Prague they worked with other groups in physically confronting the police's defence of the summit. In Genoa, however, some people dressed in black went on a spree of destruction in working class areas, smashing phone boxes, emptying recycling bins, burning cars and looting corner shops. Although the police were nearby, they did not intervene. There is no doubt that plain clothes police were pretending to be protesters in Genoa - a familiar tactic of the Italian state - an hour before the IMC center was raided la7, an Italian TV company, showed 'black bloc' climbing in and out of police vans in the red zone.
Many Black Bloc were refusing to have anything to do with the people wrecking neighbourhoods far from the red zone. As a statement from some Black Bloc involved in Genoa read, "Day by day, the capitalist world order produces a diversity of violence. Poverty, hunger, expulsion, exclusion, the death of millions of people and the destruction of living spaces is part for their policy. This is exactly what we reject. Smashed windows of banks and multinational companies are symbolic actions. Nevertheless, we do not agree with the destruction and looting of small shops and cars. This is not our policy. However, we also do not let us be divided. To divide resistance is a usual way to weaken resistance. We appreciate and count on solidarity criticism."
On arrival six British activists were deported from Genoa before the protests even began. They all had one thing in common, they were all arrested (but not charged and convicted - whatever happened to innocent till proven guilty) at the peaceful Trident Ploughshares blockades at Britain's Faslane nuclear submarine base. Hardly riot tourists part of an anarchist travelling circus intent on mayhem and destruction.
The following morning, three of the deportees went to London's Italian consulate and constructed a shrine to Carlo Giuliani. They were watched by two armed police and around 30 riot cops in attendance. Later that evening, one person was dropped at a train station by his son, who was then surrounded by 30 police officers, four pointing automatic weapons at him, they ordered him from his van, which was then thoroughly searched. The police claim they were acting under the Terrorism Act, and kindly left him a note "thanking him for his co-operation". Nice to know they care.
* There's a public meeting next Tuesday (31) organised by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (part of a coalition of groups against Terrorism Act 2000) at Camden Town Hall, Judd St, London NW1 7pm. The meeting will bring together representatives of some of the groups banned under the new Terrorism Act such as the Kurds, Tamils, Sikhs, Kashmiris, and Algerians as well as journalists, trade unionists lawyers and campaigners Tel 020 7250 1315
* Protesting against the Terrorism Act this weekend is Ralph Smyth cycling 170 miles from Lindholme Detention Centre, Doncaster, to Oakington Detention Centre, Cambridge. He'll be wearing an illegal T-shirt and riding a 'terrorist' bike (i.e. showing support for organisations which are banned under the Act.). Sponsorship money will go to Liberty and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. To sponsor him call 0709 203376, www.blagged.freeserve.co.uk/ride4ref.htm
Stop Press: Paul Robinson has been given a year for 'violent rioting' at the Gothenburg EU demo in Sweden in June. Please write to him at: Goteburg Remand Centre (Haktet), Goteburg Polis Headquarters (Polis Huset), Box 429, 40129 Goteburg, Sweden.
This Saturday (28th July) there will be a National Noise Demonstration at the Italian embassy, bring lots of banners, drums, whistles, pots & pans, and anything else that can make a lot of noise! Meet 2pm, Italian Embassy, Three King's Yard, W1 London (nearest tube Bond St.)
A FIESTA FOR LIFE AGAINST DEATH - Disarm the arms trade
What are you doing on the 11th September? Howzabout coming down to the DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment international) arms fair. This is your chance to tell all those capitalist death traders selling arms to dodgy regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Italy what you think of them. Last year they got away with selling landmines which are banned under international law, what will they try to get away with this year?
It's being held at the Excel Centre, in London's Docklands. Get together with your mates, form an affinity group, make some props, and get down to the docks... As the flyer says "Something beautiful is going to happen on the opening day." Get more info from Disarm DSEi, PO Box 9556, London, N4 4JY. Or telephone 020 7281 0297. www.disarm-trade.org
While the cops were beating shit out of protesters in Italy this week, delegates in Bonn, attending the COP 6.5 meeting on climate change were busy selling the environment down the drain.
As NGO's, the so-called defenders of the environment were quickly celebrating the agreements reached in Bonn as a "a major political victory" others with a better understanding of the games being played inside the conference centre took a more direct course of action. Nine activists from Rising Tide climbed a 50 metre crane outside the congress centre on Godesberger Allee and dropped a banner which read, "60% CO2 Reductions HERE and NOW." After four hours the cops finally managed to get the activists off the crane. All nine were released without charges at noon yesterday.
What the activists were aware of, and something that the NGO's had completely overlooked, was that the new watered-down version of the Kyoto agreement 'with added loopholes' looks more like a concession to the interests of big corporate business and political harmony than anything concerned about preserving the environment. The deal reached behind closed doors contains no environmental integrity at all. Delegates inside the talks forgot that they were negotiating a treaty for the future of humanity and settled down to their usual game of political brinkmanship. The inadequacies of the deal struck starkly demonstrate that governments are not prioritising for the destruction that climate change is bringing.
The Kyoto protocol if implemented will see the beginning of a new form of colonialism, as carbon becomes the new currency of the rich. The treaty allows countries to use 'carbon sinks' and gain carbon credits for managing its forests and agricultural land, which absorbs carbon from the atmosphere (SchNEWS 311). Ironically it is forests that were originally cut down and used to fuel the industrial revolution and colonise the world creating the West's consumer nightmare. Now we have a technology economy we have no use for our forests we can get highly tradable carbon credits for managing these forests. Rich countries will not use carbon sinks to reduce domestic Greenhouse gas emissions, instead it will provide industrialised countries with a loophole to avoid reducing their emissions at source. There is no such thing as a market-based solution to a market-based problem. 'Free' trade will not provide a solution to the climate crisis.
In order to stabilise Carbon Dioxide at a safe level it will require a 60 to 80 percent cut in carbon emissions from 1990 levels. Some of the "flexible mechanisms" or loopholes depending on yer perspective which have been introduced into the Kyoto Protocol reduce the cut in CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2010 from 5.2% to between 0-3%. In reality this may actually lead to a 14% increase in carbon emissions as rich countries simply buy their way out of real changes heavily relying on carbon sinks and carbon trading.
About the only piece of good news to come out of the Bonn agreement is that there are no nukes in the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM).
If ratified at the next climate talks, in Marrakech, Morocco, (COP7, Oct 29-Nov 9) this agreement will be legally binding and will open up a financial aid fund of $520 million per year for developing countries to cope with climate change. This agreement will also give some strength to fight the WTO on a few of their environmental issues.
The Kyoto Protocol is clearly a political move and not a true agreement to address all issues of climate change. The heavy use of Sinks and Carbon Trading will create yet another market-based system in which the already rich developed countries of the North will profit from the poor countries of the South. Rather than tackle the fundamental causes of climate change, dependency on fossil fuels and an unwillingness to switch to alternative sources of energy, the delegates have disregarded the environment and created yet another system of neo-liberal trading in the new global market economy. It is clear that Kyoto is a sell-out. "The chilling reality is that the climate summit agreement in Bonn enables northern governments and their corporations to escape their promised CO2 reductions, but allow them to significantly increase their emissions." Corporate Europe Observatory. www.xs4all.nl/~ceo
A simple and far more effective method of reducing carbon emissions by 90% and stabilising climate change is to reduce public transport fares by 90%. This is more than just a nice idea it's essential for our survival. For a 90% for 90% info pack and more info on climate change contact; Rising Tide c/o Manchester Earth First!, Box 29, 22a Beswick St., Manchester, M4 7HS. www.risingtide.org.uk
On Wednesday Greenpeace shut down the Esso (Exxon Mobil to our US readers) fuel distribution centre in Purfleet, Essex. People blocked the gates to the depot with two big customised shipping containers bolted to the road. Two volunteers chained themselves to the inside of each container that were covered with posters of George W Bush and Esso. A second team shut down the fuel supply to the petrol tankers and then occupied the rest of the site. Greenpeace climate campaigner Rob Gueterbock explains the action, "Because of Esso, Bush has stuck two fingers up to the world and is refusing to abide by the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty. Bush does what Esso tells him. To get the US, the world's biggest polluter to sign up to the agreement, we have to stop Esso." According to The Economist "Exxon Mobil, the biggest oil company, is also the worlds most powerful climate change sceptic" it also made record profits of over $17 billion last year. During the same period the company spent $7.9 billion on oil exploration and nothing on renewable energy or green fuels. Greenpeace are encouraging everyone to boycott Esso in protest at their profits before the planet policy. www.greenpeace.org.uk
So, not only is it bad for your teeth, it appears that the world dominating mega-corp Coca-Cola is responsible for the "systematic intimidation, kidnapping, detention and murder" of workers in an outsourced bottling plant in Columbia, according to the US union, United Steelworkers, on behalf of Sinatrainal, the Columbian union. Since 1994 it is claimed that five workers have been killed by paramilitary organisations on behalf of the bottling company. Coca-Cola naturally deny any responsibility, as the company operates under contract, but union lawyers claim they tightly control operations and are well aware of intimidation tactics to scupper unions within the plant. In the 1980's, Coca-Cola wielded it's mighty fist to curb human rights abuse in Guatemala, after three union members were killed.
Following last year's running over of hunt sab Steve Christmas by a hunt supporter, a demo was held at kennels in Felbridge. Police arrested loads of protestors in a series of dawn raids after the demo. Those arrested are currently awaiting trial, faced with transport costs to and from court every day for up to six weeks. Please send donations if you possibly can, payable to Burstow Defendants Fund, c/o 6 Tilbury Place, Brighton, BN2 2GY.
After the Genoan people had been so nice to us in the days preceding the conference the SchNEWS crew were a bit confused when the local residents waved pants and random bits of washing out of their windows during protest marches. Were they telling us we were pants? No, this was their way of showing support. The pants thing was related to the fact that Mr Belusconi doesn't wear any pants (just a G8-string!). The dirty washing was put out in defiance of the local mayor who had asked residents to help keep the city tidy. He obviously hadn't considered the fact that his city might get trashed anyway!
Cor-blimley-theyre-practically-giving-them-away book offer
In the UK you can get 2, 3, 4 & 5 for £20 inc. postage.
In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles, photos, cartoons, subverts, a yellow pages list of contacts, comedy etc. All the above books are available from the Brighton Peace Centre, saving postage yer tight gits.
Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9 issues) or donations (payable to Justice?). Or £15 for a year's subscription, or the SchNEWS supporter's rate, £1 a week. Ask for "originals" if you plan to copy and distribute. SchNEWS is post-free to prisoners. You can also pick SchNEWS up at the Brighton Peace and Environment Centre at 43 Gardner Street, Brighton.
Last updated 27th July 2001