Coke of Secrecy
Insufficient rains for the past three years has pushed the state
of Kerala in India to a severe drought-like situation. Reports from
across the state say that the water levels in reservoirs are going
down fast, crops are perishing and towns and villages have been
hit by drinking water scarcity. So what are the caring Coca-Cola
Company that exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches
doing? Sucking peoples water dry so they can produce their sugary
crap of course.
Coke have been the focus of protests across India for the past
few years. In Plachimada in the state of Kerla the company arrived
three years ago, building a plant in the middle of fertile agricultural
land because it had plentiful supplies of groundwater. But it wasnt
long before problems began. Farmers living nearby began noticing
changes in the quantity and quality of well water. Water from a
well in the village of Plachimada became unfit for drinking, cooking
and bathing with a district medical officer eventually telling the
villagers their water was now toxic. Crop yields began to plummet.
The water scarcity eventually hit Coke. Until recently, the company
was drawing 1.5 million litres a day from the common groundwater
resource - then it is only able to extract 800,000 litres - the
remainder being brought in by truck from borewells from neighbouring
villages. Fed up with this people recently blocked two of these
transporters and instead distributed the water to local people and
emptied the remaining water into paddy fields!
But while complaints and requests to the company and Government
repeatedly fell on deaf ears locals began an indefinite picket (or
agitation as they call it) outside the factory gates
demanding its closure. So far theyve been there for nearly
seven hundred days with over 300 arrests. Now due to the severe
drought the local authority has refused to renew the companies license
to operate. The vice-president of Coca-Cola India, Sunil Gupta said:
We have a long-term commitment to the people of Kerala. We
hope the State Government would explore the possibility of finding
a solution to the present problem of water availability due to deficient
rain in the last couple of years. SchNEWS reckons that solution
would be for the company to stop stealing the peoples water and
bugger off out of India.
When you look at just two examples of how Coke are behaving across
the world you have to ask yourself - what would happen if any of
us did the same. Intimidating and shooting people who joined trade
unions, or stealing and contaminating peoples water supply?
But then its not people doing this but a powerful multinational
whose actions Medha Patkar, coordinator of the Indian National Alliance
of Peoples Movements says are symbolic of the vulgar
arrogance and criminal power of corporations. Or as Joel Bakan
put it in his new book The corporation: the pathological pursuit
of profit and power As a psychopathic creature, the
corporation can neither recognise nor act upon moral reasons to
refrain from harming others. Nothing in its legal make-up limits
what it can do to others in pursuit of its selfish ends, and it
is compelled to cause harm when the benefits of doing so outweigh
the costs. Its up to people to make sure that the costs
to these psychopaths make it impossible for them to keep getting
away with such behaviour.
For more about Colombia and the worldwide boycott campaign www.killercoke.org
For more on Indian protests www.indiaresource.org
* Theres a vigil this Friday (26) 7.30 p.m. onwards to coincide
with negotiations between Colombian union and senior managers, followed
by a picket tomorrow (27) 11 am to 3pm Both outside Coca Cola Great
Britain and Ireland HQ, 1 Queen Charlotte Street, Hammersmith, London
W6 (adjacent to Hammersmith tube). 07743 743041
* Former Coke Chief Executive Roberto Goizueta defined the world
as Coke versus people who dont drink Coke yet.
This sort of expansionist megalomania has meant that the company
has willingly jumped into bed with anyone in order to expand its
empire. One of those was the Nazi regime, where Coke produced some
impressive adverts that for some reason are now hard to come by.
So comedian Mark Thomas has organised an exhibition to recreate
Cokes Nazi adverts in May at the Nancy Victor Gallery, 36
Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NA and at The Foundry, near Old Street
Tube. Anyone is welcome to submit artwork www.mtcp.co.uk/coca-cola
Crap Arrest of the Week
For disorderly use of a camcorder(!) or something like that,
no-one seems to be sure, including the arresting officers. An anti-war
demonstrater at last Saturdays rally in London was arrested and
charged under section 5 of the Public Orders Act.His crime?Filming
the demonstraters and cops as the march wound its way through
the capital.Apparantly the cops didnt like it so found it
in themselves to arrest the individual, confiscating his film as
RIGHTS FOR $ALE
On Sunday the new Constitutional Court building was opened in Johannesburg,
but ten years after the end of Apartheid, many poor South Africans
are still denied their constitutional rights to water, basic services,
and the right to protest. Privatization of water and public services
in South Africa continues. Local people have been mobilizing to
protest against the privatizations which have seen water bills rocket,
and thousands cut off from their water supplies for non-payment
of bills. (see SchNEWS 368).
Last Sunday, police opened fire with stun grenades on members of
the Gauteng Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF). Fifty-two APF members
were arrested, including 6 children, for violating the Gatherings
Act. The arrests came after APF representatives in some of Johannesburgs
poorest communities were forcefully prevented from boarding buses
to a demonstration. Others gathered at the Police Station where
their comrades were being held, and were shot at after being given
three minutes to disperse. The 52 were finally released on Monday
after being charged with participating in an illegal gathering.
The Gatherings Act is an Apartheid era law, which gives police
powers to ban or interfere with legitimate protests. On Thursday,
the Police denied permission for the Coalition against Water Privatisation
(the original organisers of the protest) to protest, on the grounds
that the protest would be violent (no previous APF protests have
been violent), would disrupt traffic (on a Sunday!) and would constitute
a threat to law and order. The Coalition appealed against the decision,
but saw their case overturned on a technicality.
Sixty people have been arrested this week for violating the Gatherings
Act. Eight were arrested in Cape Town on Wednesday when they protested
against the South African - Angolan decision to repatriate thousands
of Angolans, despite a continuing lack of human rights in Angola.
What is happening in South Africa has been described as flag
and anthem independence where people wonder whether all the
sacrifices theyve made in struggle have been worth it. The
working class protesters, mostly women and pensioners, continue
to be arrested, evicted, removed forcibly from their own homes and
imprisoned as they struggle against governments who deny them the
most basic of rights such as water.
Similar repression and privatization is taking place all over the
world. (see SchNEWS 339). If there is
one lesson developing nations can learn from us in the developed
world, its that privatization has been a total disaster for
ordinary people. ** E-mail Dale McKinley at email@example.com
to make donations to pay bail or for updates on the APF detainees.
**This Saturday African Liberation Support Campaign Network meeting
- what is the network? What is its relevance to the African liberation
struggle? Unity Centre, 2 - 4 Ravenstone St, Balham, London SW12,
4pm-8pm 020 8347 7605 firstname.lastname@example.org
We dont want youre
money this week (well we do,
but wont go on) but we seriously need a few more people
helping doing some writing. So we are having another Training
Day on Wednesday 7 April 12 noon at SchNEWS Towers. Sorry
but its only open to people who live in the Brighton area.
Give us a call on 685913 or email email@example.com
The ten year campaign to protect St Davids Wood at Blackwood (See
SchNEWS 441) from being turned into the
access road for an industrial area is in its final stage. This week
the camps protecting the woods were evicted but its
not too late to defend the last camp get down there now,
but ring the first on 07811 948764 or 07708 420446.
Bailiffs and cops moved in on Tuesday, securing the land over the
next few days. A cordon is now ringed around the site, but some
of the camp still exists outside the cordon. This eviction was done
on dodgy legal grounds because it is taking place during an appeal
against the legality of the whole project. If the appeal goes in
favour of the protesters the eviction will have been illegal and
Costain the project contractors, the bailiffs and police
could all be found in contempt of court. It is notable that police
havent charged anyone for resisting the eviction knowing
the dubious legal status of the operation. Residents from the camp
told SchNEWS that the bailiffs had been bought in for Blackwood
and would be moving onto Sherwood Forest or Nine Ladies next.
* The Sherwood Forest tree camp have won a two month reprieve due
to the council agreeing to an independent inquiry into the feasibility
of the road junction.
* It seems that a whole load of road schemes could be resurrected,
but in typical Neo-Labour spin, these are to be re-branded:
so the Hastings Bypass becomes the Bexhill to Hastings Link
Road; the Salisbury bypass becomes the Harnham relief
road and Brunel link and even the Arundel bypass rejected
last July may rear its ugly head again soon, all this comes after
the Government abandoned its target of reducing congestion and say
car growth will grow by a fifth by 2011. www.roadalert.org.uk
SchNEWS in brief
- Protest against the internment of people under terrorism laws
at Belmarsh Prison, with speakers, live performance &
signing of expressions of solidarity with the detainees being
held without trial. Belmarsh Prison, Western Way, London SE28,
4th April from 12 noon, 020 72501315 / 07818 442526, www.cacc.org.uk
- Next Saturday (3) is the Black Cat Press Freethinkers
Book Fayre something for everyone to read, at Conway
Hall, Red Lion Square, London. 11am-4.45pm.
- There will be a memorial service on Easter Sunday on the route
of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (now the M6 Toll)
at the former Greenwood Site for Sorted Dave who died during
the protest, and Sgt Mick Belcher, (apparently an old-style country
policeman friendly to protesters) who had his ashes scattered
there. Meet at Canwell Caravans on the A38. 07742 206004
- While there have been Travellers in Britain since time
immemorial, and their way of life has been subject to attack and
prejudice particularly in the past twenty years in Britain.
There will be an evening to focus on Travellers and how they can
be supported with films about recent evictions as well
as food and bar at the Social Centre at 156 Fortess Rd
Tufnell Park, London on 1st April 7pm.
- April 8th is International Romani Day www.gypsy-traveller.org
- Bristol Indymedia are screening Afghan massacre
- convoy of death and some short community films next Monday
(29) 7.30pm at The Cube Microplex, Kings Sq, Bristol
- The first meeting of South West London Anarchist Group is
happening next Tuesday (30) 6pm at the Bread n Roses Pub,
68 Clapham Manor St London, SW4 6DZ firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Land is Ours and Chapter 7 will have a Land Occupation
and Low Impact Dwelling Convention over the Easter Weekend
(8-13th April). Events include the construction of another turf-roofed
roundhouse and a protest against the demolition of the Roundhouse
(SchNEWS 443) at the planning offices.
SchNEWS At Ten
SchNEWS has its tenth birthday this November. To celebrate we will
be putting together a book and a film covering the exciting events
of the past decade, as seen through the eyes of SchNEWS crew past
and present. We are calling out for photos, flyers, and video (any
format) of events from the last ten years. Contact the SchNEWS office.
A massive hydroelectric dam is to be built in Belize which will
flood an area which according to scientists is one of the
most biologically rich and diverse regions remaining in Central
America, it is home to endangered species such as the jaguar,
tapir, and the last 200 remaining scarlet macaws in Belize.
* The Itoiz dam in Spain is now being filled, but anti-dam activists
are planning to stop it Our objective is to paralyze
the dam works...Sometimes we stop the work for minutes, sometimes
for weeks, sometimes for days but our objective is to paralyze
the works. Read an interview with the activists: www.corporatewatch.org/news/dambusters.htm
* The Indian govt are raising the water levels of the Sardar Sarovar
dam project by a further 10 metres, which will submerge thousands
of peoples land, on top of the many who have already lost
their land to dam catchment areas. www.narmada.org
Mehdi El-Radhi - a British Iraqi stopped-and-searched under
the Terrorism Act and later arrested for taking direct action on
the Docklands Light Rail against the DSEi Arms Fair in London last
year will be appearing for a full jury trial at Snaresbrook
Crown Court, London on Monday (29). He faces charges under the railways-specific
Malicious Damage Act. Support in court is welcome 07792136765 email@example.com
* Good news. Stuart Tideswell (SchNEWS
445) has had his conviction for harassment of benefit staff
overturned and he should now be entitled to claim compensation.
This victory means that it may be harder for companies and government
departments to use anti-stalking laws against people making complaints.
* We have received more information about Helen Woodson,
her original conviction was for taking a pneumatic jackhammer to
a Minuteman nuclear missile silo in Missouri. She has taken further
actions because she was released on parole against her wishes, she
would rather have total freedom or none.
* The three women arrested for flyposting on a billboard that did
not have planning permission (SchNEWS 442)
have had their charges of criminal damage dropped. In their local
area 48 out of the 50 billboards are illegal as they do not have
planning permission, so will the billboard companies be prosecuted
or have them removed? Dont hold your breath
Some like it hot...Kings of Fizz Coca Cola have unveiled plans for
a new type of vending machine.Sensitive to the climate outside, the
machine raises the price of a can as the weather gets hotter.That
bastion of socialist economics, Pepsi, have accused Coca Cola of exploiting
consumers in hotter climates.
SchNEWS warns all readers we never bottle the truth when it
comes to Coke and rum dealings... Honest!
NOW OUT!!! 'PEACE DE RESISTANCE' - SchNEWS Annual
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