This forum will blow up the myth that there is no alternative.
It will also explode the myth that this model of globalisation has
universal acceptance. - Varada Rajan, Indian trade union leader
It was the sort of conference where you couldnt grab yourself
a McDonalds and Coke or use a computer run by Microsoft. But the
100,000 people from 132 different countries representing over two
and a half thousand different organizations didnt seem to
mind. For this was the 4th World Social Forum (WSF) which took place
at Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, and ended on Wednesday. The
WSF is the grassroots answer to the annual World Economic Forum.
Western politicians, corporate bigwigs and other power brokers schmooze
it up at the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, protected from
protestors by thousands of riot cops, while the Social Forum brings
activist groups together to develop alternatives to the economic
policies pursued by wealthy nations.
Its the first time that the WSF has been held outside Porto
Alegre, Brazil, in a place described as the most hyper-capitalist,
fast-paced city in India, a grimier version of the Bladerunner megapolis.
A Forum statement said Mumbai has borne the brunt of Indias
economic liberalisation policies with millions losing their jobs.
Glitzy shopping centres have replaced mills and factories that have
been torn down over the last decade. Despite the benefits
of such globalisation, 300 million Indians subsist on less than
a dollar a day, many living in roadside shantytowns similar to the
ones outside the Forum conference grounds. 100 million Indian families
live without domestic water and hundreds of thousands of children
work in cottonseed production and sweatshops. The WSF catered for
these children with a special conference of 2,000 childrens
India has become part of globalisations race to the
bottom in which corporations move around the globe looking
for the lowest paid workforces. Jobs from America and Europes
call centres are being relocated here and, according to Business
Week, there may now be more IT engineers in Bangalore than in the
Silicon Valley. That is why the American Jobs with Justice delegation
met with their Indian counterparts to organise against the new tech
outsourcing. Some 50,000 young Indians are employed in call centres
in Mumbai. Stress and physiological problems are rampant among these
workers, who earn a mere $160 per month on all-night shifts.
There was also a strong Dalit presence at WSF. Dalits are Indias
untouchables. They make up 25% of the countrys population
and are usually condemned to the most boring and menial work. This
gathering gives me hope that we will be able to live our lives in
dignity and peace someday, said Vidi Thillana, a Dalit woman
attending the forum. It might not happen in my lifetime, but
if we continue to stand in solidarity and gain inspiration from
everyone else, my children will have the opportunities that I am
The WSF is also about what one delegate called an international
alliance to battle the multinationals. Take last Sunday, when
over 500 protesters marched under the banner of the Peoples
Forum against Coca-Cola to condemn the companys operations
in India. Three communities in India - Plachimada in Kerala, Wada
in Maharashtra and Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh - are experiencing
severe water shortages as a result of Coca-Colas mining of
common groundwater resources around its factories; 150 residents
who live in these villages joined the rally. The Dalits and indigenous
peoples are playing a key role in leading protests. Unlike top-down
activism, their campaigns are primarily village-organised, with
national globalisation activists providing access to press and linkages
with other affected villages. Coca-Colas actions are
symbolic of the vulgar arrogance and criminal power of corporations
that are looting people of their basic needs, water in this case,
said Medha Patkar, coordinator of the National Alliance of Peoples
Movements. But people are fighting back. Last April Coca-Cola was
targeted for boycott in protest against the U.S.-led invasion of
Iraq. As a result of that protest, sales dropped 50 percent in the
state of Kerala and elsewhere.
In the Orissa region its bauxite (aluminium ore) that the
corporations are looting. The region has millions of tonnes of the
stuff which is used for making missiles, bombs, planes, food packaging
and, of course, Coke cans. For the past decade, the people of Kashipur
have been resisting, using tactics such as road blockades and sabotage,
to stop one of these mines being built on their land. In December
2000, the protests came to a head when three people were killed.
A Commission set up to look into the deaths published its report
last weekend blaming the police. But no recommendations to prosecute
were made and instead the report stated that the mine should go
ahead because it would not have an adverse effect on the environment.
As one of the tribal groups pointed out, They use development
as a pretext to hide their real intentions. If any one is really
interested in our development, why are they not proposing a sustainable
package to improve our agriculture, our health, our education and
our forest resources? What they are trying to promote in the name
of development is in fact a manipulation, which would benefit multinational
companies. The Dalits and tribals have been destined to pay a price,
as if they have taken birth just to be sacrificed at the altar of
The WSF isnt of course without its problems or critics. One
complaint is that some of the groups involved are just papering
over the cracks. Even those inside the halls voice disquiet. Indian
author Arundhati Roy told the crowds, It is no good just saying
jeetenge, bhai jeetenge [we will win, we will win].
It is time we did something.
The problem is not just getting people to listen - but to make
sure that rather than trusting leaders who once they get in power
forget all their good words, we instead work together in our communities
to take control together.
Crap Arrest of the Week
For having a beard!
A journalist working in Baghdad was arrested last week for looking
like an Israeli by Iraqi police and a terrorist
by the US authorities! He was then taken to a police station at
gunpoint, chucked in a cell, and held over night. The next day,
a US appointed lawyer decided there was no evidence of any wrongdoing,
but the man was still sent to see a judge, just in case he could
still be accused of anything. www.wildfirejo.org.uk
Flushed down the System
Not content with simply hassling people on the dole into accepting
crap jobs, Neo-Labour have now decided to target single parents
and the disabled. The problem you see is that, according to the
government, there are too many economically inactive
people in the country who are far too busy bringing up children
and being ill. How dare they!!
It used to be the case that, as a single parent or recipient of
sickness benefit, you could choose to see an advisor at the Jobcentre
for help with finding work, but they couldnt force you to
take any old job or go on a training course. Now, with the merging
of Jobcentres and Department of Social Security Offices into Jobcentre
Plus, there will be the introduction of work focussed interviews
for single parents and the disabled. Attendance at these interviews
is compulsory and if you dont attend you will lose 20% of
your benefit. The good news is that although you have to talk about
your situation, work history and training etc, you still cant
actually be forced to take a job or go on training schemes.
The bad news, however, is that by 2006, the situation will be much
worse. A pilot scheme in which job applications and
training scheme attendance can be enforced is currently running
in six areas and will eventually be extend to the whole country.
This Pathways to Work Scheme will force claimants into
six mandatory interviews, once a month, starting from week 8 of
And while the government talks about helping people to use
their skills to find a job with a local employer, there wont
actually be any more money for training, so if youre a skilled
tradesperson who cant do your job anymore because of an injury,
you can just fuck off and work in a call-centre for peanuts (or
at least that was until they were all transferred to India).
For more information about these changes, get a copy of Missing
Links. Send an SAE or stamps for each issue to: AwoL, c/o
BHUWC, 4 Crestway Parade, Brighton, BN1 7BL.
Meetings in Brighton for claimants, single parents, the unemployed
and all system sufferers, 5.30pm, 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month,
Cowley Club, 12 London Road.
In Russia the Federal Security Service (FSB, formerly the KGB)
have been harassing Krasnodar Automomous Action activists.
The involvement of the FSB is incredibly fishy as they have previously
tried to jail many anarchists accusing them of terrorism. FSB agents
have been present in the court case where two anarchists were accused
with assaulting the director of the press-service of Kuban oil company
Rosneft Mr. Dolgov. The FSB have been in court leaning
on the judge and persuading him to continue with the case even though
Mr Dolgov had asked for the case to be dropped. It has resulted
in a six month prison sentence for Dmitry Ryabinin and a one year
corrective order for Lev Sokolov. More details: www.avtonom.org/eng
|Marshalls PLC (owners of Stancliff Stone quarry company) won
repossession of the Nine Ladies site in court yesterday. They
can begin eviction as soon as they get their warrant, which
could be in as little as 24 hours. Their climbers and security
crews are ready to move in. This information has come direct
from site. People are needed on site NOW!! Please start your
phone trees. Site number for text messages only 0700
SchNEWS In Brief
- Martin Shaw, the climber injured by Swiss police at the
G8 summit in Evian last June, is on a video and speaking tour:
27th Nottingham, 28th Derby, 29th Manchester, Feb 3rd Sheffield,
4th Leeds EF!, 5th Bradford Uni. Call Martin 07762 252932 for
- Sussex Action For Peace meeting to organise for the anniversary
of the start of the Iraq War. Everyone welcome. Community Base
South Wing, 113 Queens Road, Brighton. 4.30pm, Sat 31, email@example.com
- Bristol Indymedia are showing Fourth World War
plus some shorter community films on Monday (26) at Cube Cinema,
7.30pm £3/2 http://bristol.indymedia.org
- Zapatista Anniversary screening next Thursday (29) at
the Other Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London W1 020 7437 0757 £7/5
- The Hijacking Green Energy workshop information
is now online at www.fraw.org.uk/rangers/frwe/19/index.shtml
- Next weekend (30-31) is the European Days of Action against
Refugee Detention and for Migrant Rights. In the UK, actions
are happening in London, Liverpool, Oxford and Lindholme Detention
Centre. 0121 554 6947 www.ncadc.org.uk
- A hunt sab has been deliberately run down by a huntsman
in Sussex and was taken to hospital unconscious with severe bruising.
The police arrested the huntsman. 0845 4500727 www.huntsabs.org.uk
- Gill Emerson, who was arrested for sitting on a wall
and had her nose broken by police during Prince Big Ears
visit to Gravesend (SchNEWS 178), has five years later been awarded
£3,500 in damages and £100,000 legal costs. Nice one,
shame it took so long.
- A man who was arrested at protests against the DSEi arms
fair last year has been found not guilty of aggravated trespass.
He was arrested for sitting and meditating on the raised footbridge
entrance to the Excel centre. The judges ruled that someone sitting
quietly could not be aggravating and criticised the
police for handcuffing him! More police payouts on the way
- If you fancy getting involved in a bit of street theatre
exposing the reality of Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror,
Romany Blythe is holding workshops on Wednesday evenings in London,
07866 474408 RomanyRomany@Hotmail.com
- The Truth and Justice Campaign are holding a meeting
Remembering 1984: Indias Hidden Genocide.
Its on 7th Feb 6pm at Hounslow Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Alice
Way, off Hanworth Road www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india
- The Bar End protest camp near Winchester has called it
a day. The protestors were trying to stop the council building
a park and ride scheme on meadowland set aside by the Conservative
government to compensate for the destruction of Twyford Down.
The protestors have added £760,000 to the cost of the £3.5m
park and ride scheme, but, unfortunately, have not stopped yet
another beautiful site being covered by concrete.
- Prepare for the Battle of Weymouth following Dept of
Transport approval of a bypass that will cut through the ancient
woodland Two Mile Coppice and destroy the breeding grounds of
bats and voles. www.roadalert.org.uk
- Following the Battle of Bulkington last week
(SchNEWS 437), in which a Traveller community near Coventry fought
off eviction, another site has sent calls for help to save their
homes at Meadowlands Caravan Park, Cranham Rd, Little Waltham
(near A130). Travellers from Essex and Bedfordshire have already
agreed to help resist the eviction but more support is needed.
Get to the site this Sunday (25) and stay overnight. Call 07721081000
for transport from Chelmsford station. To be added to an alert
phone tree please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Percy and Perky
The Canadian Supreme Court is deciding on a case concerning patents,
genetic contamination, Monsanto and 73 year-old farmer Percy Schmeiser
(SchNEWS 300). Percys home-grown canola (rapeseed) was contaminated
by Monsantos own genetically modified rapeseed. Monsanto then
had the cheek to accuse him of stealing it.
Other farmers whose land have been contaminated by wind born pollen,
which spreads up to 16 miles per plant, have also been forced to
pay Monsanto for the honour. Percys costs so far are $370,000
and judgement is not expected for several months. www.percyschmeiser.com
Fancy a Seedy Sunday in Brighton? Then do your bit for guerrilla
gardening and get along to a community seed swap next Sunday (1
February). The UK has lost 97% of its vegetable varieties in the
past 100 years and just three corporations now control a quarter
of the worlds entire seed market. As well as the seed swap
there will be talks on everything from supermarkets to saving your
own seeds, organic seed potatoes on sale, community gardening groups
to chat too, seed doctors, and a café, bar and crèche.
All this for £1 at the Old Market, Upper Market St., Hove.
10am 5pm. Programmes available around town or check out www.seedysunday.org
Theres also a Seedy Sunday on the same day at Tapeley
Park, Instow, Nr Bideford, Devon. 01237 424029 http://seedswap.mysite.freeserve.com/
Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has been imprisoned since
1986. His crime? Revealing to the world the existence of Israeli
nuclear weapons. Israel had illegally created more than 200 nuclear
warheads at its Dimona centre. Soon after the story broke, Mordechai
was kidnapped by Mossad in Rome, smuggled to Israel, and convicted
of treason, espionage and revealing state secrets. The campaign
to free him expects him to be released on April 22nd.
Weapons of Mass Destruction, like nukes, exist in many dodgy regimes
such as Britain, the US, and Israel. So while Iraq gets bombed,
Libya gets to cut a deal for tourist dollars, and Israel gets mega-bucks
and gets told to keep schtum about its military programme.
For more on the Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear-Free
Middle East 020 7378 9324 www.vanunu.freeserve.co.uk/
And the prize for the most counter productive idea of the year
goes to... Slough Council. They are about to hold an anti-litter
competition in their town. And whats the matter with that
we hear you ask? Well nothing, until you find out that the first
prize is a years worth of McDonalds meals! Seeing as fast food wrappers
constitute most of the litter on our streets, its more than
a bit ironic that the winner will have to dispose of another 1068
burger wrappers, chip bags and drink cartons and thats
not even counting all the disgusting food that comes
along with the rubbish!
SchNEWS warns all readers we dont just print any old Mumbai-Jumbo.
NOW OUT!!! 'PEACE DE RESISTANCE' - SchNEWS Annual
2003 - £8 + £1.70 p&p
- SchNEWS Round
issues 51 - 100 Sold out - Sorry
- SchNEWS Annual
issues 101 - 150 £3.70 inc. postage.
- SchNEWS Survival
Guide issues 151 - 200 and a whole lot more £3.70 inc. postage
- The SchQUALL
book at only £6 + £1.70 p&p.
and SQUALLs YEARBOOK 2001. 300 pages of adventures from
the direct action frontline. £3 + £1.70 p&p. You
can order the book from a bookshop or your library, quote the
ISBN 09529748 4 3.
- SchNEWS Of
The World issues 301 - 350. 300
more pages of adventures from the direct action frontline. £7
+ £1.50 p&p. You can order the book from a bookshop
or your library, quote the ISBN 09529748 6X
In the UK you
can get SchNEWS Annual, Survival Handbook, Yearbook 2001 and SchNEWS
of the World for just £15 inc p&p.
£6.00 for individual books, £13 for above offer).
In addition to
50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles, photos, cartoons,
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to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9 issues)
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