- "Poor people's summit" in Mali urges G8 to deliver promised aid
- Protest statement aginst J5 police suppression
- NGOs protest Japan's entry controls on members prior to G-8 summit
- Hundreds Stopped 4 Kilometers away from G8 Summit
- Anti-G8 protesters are on their way to the G8 Hotel
- G8: Japan at the forefront of global governance
- A lockdown on Hokkaido as police outnumber summit protesters
"Poor people's summit" in Mali urges G8 to deliver promised aid
The summit of the poor," which is taking place in Katibougou, Mali, has urged the world's richest countries, currently meeting as the G8 in Japan, to keep their promises regarding aid to Africa, according to news reaching here. As the Mali meeting, popularly known as the poor people's summit, entered its first day Monday, speaker after speaker took as wipe at the G8 leadership, notably criticizing the world's nations of making grand "announcements" in a bid to "clear their conscience."
"Gentlemen of the G8, please respect your commitments," Bernard Ouedraogo, who hails from Burkina Faso, said in remarks that reflected the general sentiment of the hundreds of participants meeting until Wednesday in this town near Bamako, in what is seen as a alternative to the "summit of rich."
"I do not want to go into the figures, but remember the development aid that was promised by these leaders, where is it? Has it materialized? Therefore, it was empty promise! An empty promise!" said the Ouagadougou-based poor people's activist.
When the time came for Tahirou Bah, secretary general of the Bamako-based Non-governmental organization "Movement of the Voiceless," to speak, he took to the podium largely echoing Ouedraogo's remarks: "I refuse to understand how democratically elected leaders can fail to abide by their commitments."
"It seems as if the announcements are just made for the purpose of having a good conscience, that's all. But this situation cannot last. We are going straight into the wall. There will be a revolution, the poor people will engineer a revolution," he said.
The leaders of South Africa, Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria,S enegal, Tanzania, who have been invited to the G8 meeting together with Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union commission, have all spoken on the need "to honor promises made during previous summits, before making new ones."
But organizers of the world's poor people summit have so far showed little enthusiasm and outright pessimism on whether the G8 summit will come out with tangible benefits for Africa. "We expect nothing from this meeting. They can do nothing, they do not want to do anything for the continent," Nouhoun Keita, one of the spokesmen of the meeting, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.
"They are incapable of generosity. They are incapable of looking the reality in the face, and it is very unfortunate. It is now up to the southern countries, the civil societies, the world's peasants to take their responsibilities," said Barry Aminata Toure, one of the organizers of the Katibougou summit.
"They have been criticizing Mugabe. Yes, yes, Mugabe is not a good model of democracy. But for us, the presidents of the G8 countries are the Mugabes of hunger, injustice, and capitalism," said Moctar Diallo, a summit attendant from Senegal.
On Monday, the G8 leaders were subjected to strong pressure from African countries to keep their promises on aid. In particular, African countries are asking the world's richest countries to reaffirm the commitments that were made at their summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.
During the summit, which was hosted by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the G8 leaders had agreed to double their annual aid to Africa by 2010 compared to its 2004 level, estimated at 25 billion dollars.
So far, less than a quarter of 25 billion dollars promised in additional aid has actually been released to the world's poorest continent, according to official figures.
Faced with the growing barrage of criticism against the rich countries, there, nevertheless, were voices emerging at the poor people's summit also pointing an accusing finger at the responsibility of African leaders.
"We should not expect anything from the rich countries. It is primarily up to us to ensure the development of our countries. This requires us to first of all resolve to fight against corruption. It also requires good management of public wealth," said Oumar Diakite, who is representing Cote d'Ivoire at the summit.
Referring to the political crisis in Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire and elsewhere around the impoverished continent, the Abidjan-based activist said: "Yes, it is true that we must fight against global warming, soaring oil prices, the food crisis, but we must above all fight against bad leadership in Africa."
Protest statement aginst J5 police suppression
Challenge the G8 Summit, Peacewalk of 10,000 was done in Sapporo City on July 5. Various people participated in the rally held in Odori Park, and the walk became large-scale to reach 5,000 people eventually.
However, police charged the sound demonstration in the peacewalk where people gather with music thrown from the loading platform of a track build up with sound systems with extraordinary suppression. Though the peacewalk was permitted to include sound demonstration where some people get on the loading platform of the track for manipulating sound systems, four people were arrested in the situation where riot police and secret officers were mixed up a for attack in the demonstration.
This suppression that concentrated on sound demonstration done within the range of the permitted demonstration application is caused by the police violence on charge of “Violation of the Road Traffic Law”, “Violation of the Sapporo City demonstration ordinance”, and “crime of obstructing the performance of official duty”. The arrested are just DJs playing or driving the track, so they have no reason to be arrested. The Reuter camera person was accused of kicking the police, but media related personnel, one of eyewitnesses, deny it.
The exerciser of overwhelming violence is the police. For instance, they stopped the track forcely, broke the window with policeman’s club etc, and dragged out the driver while hanging him. This situation was exposed as Japanese police brutality again, through the report of independent media. We denounce suppression to the sound demonstration by the police, and demand such immediate releasing of all.
NGOs protest Japan's entry controls on members prior to G-8 summit
TOYAKO, Japan, July 9 (Kyodo) - A forum of nongovernmental organizations on Wednesday protested over Japan's refusal to allow entry to 20-30 NGO members on the occasion of the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido, northern Japan.
The 2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum, which was in charge of coordinating NGOs during the just-concluded summit, issued a statement expressing concern over Japan's immigration controls which it described as "excessive."
Some 20 to 30 NGO members who arrived in Japan to attend rallies or other events connected to the G-8 summit were refused entry to the country and there were cases in which some members were questioned at airports for several hours, forum officials said.
Several other NGO members had their overseas applications for Japanese visas rejected, they said.
The police mobilized some 21,000 officers from all of Japan's 47 prefectures to maintain security at the summit venue in the Lake Toya resort and surrounding areas in Hokkaido during the leaders' meeting.
NGOs and civic groups held anti-summit rallies and demonstrations every day in and around the venue during the three-day summit but there were no major disruptions, due partly to there being fewer participants at the events than expected, police officials said.
Two days before the summit, four men, including a Reuters cameraman, were arrested after scuffles with police during a rally staged in Sapporo by various groups to call for world peace and the elimination of growing gaps between rich and poor.
A support group for the four held a press conference Wednesday in Sapporo and called for the release of the arrested men.
They said only the cameraman had been released but that the other three are still being held.
Hundreds Stopped 4 Kilometers away from G8 Summit
[Toyoura Camp Press Group]
Press Release July 8th 2008
* More actions tomorrow at camps
Hundreds of Japanese and international activists walked today from Toyora Protest Camp towards the G8 summit at Lake Toya, before being stopped by the police. The march, which proceeded peacefully for 20 kilometers, was surrounded by police throughout the duration and stopped 4 kilometers away from the hotel where the Summit is held. Demonstrators are calling for an end to the G8 meetings, charging that the leaders of the eight richest countries make decisions that affect the whole world, yet are fundamentally unaccountable to the poor of the world. The march occurred simultaneously with another march that left from the other two Protest Camps surrounding the summit.
More anti-G8 actions originating from the Protest Camps are planned for tomorrow, to be announced shortly.
“I work with day laborers and homeless in Tokyo. I realized those neoliberal policies of the G8 are connected with the problems the people I work with face”, said Chilco Yasuda, a 25 year old Japanese activist. “That is why I came here to protest today.”
“Every year, G8 leaders make promises that they consistently ignore. Two years ago it was about aid to Africa, this year it is about reducing carbon emissions. These broken promises are the result of systemic problems, stemming from the undemocratic character of the G8 meetings,” said Yosi Hakat, a 22 year Israeli activist, who came to Japan for the protest.
Anti-G8 protesters are on their way to the G8 Hotel
[Gipfelsoli Infogroup | Media G8way]
Press Release July 7th 2008
* Japan: Summit protests are relocating
* Japanese army is supporting the police
This weekend the anti-G8 summit protests relocated from Sapporo to the vicinity of Lake Toya where the G8 summit is taking place. Around 1 000 activists are spread over the protest camps Toyoura, Soubetsu and Da-te. A number of official demonstrations have been registered against the official G8 summit. The goal is to get as close as possible to the conference hotel.
Today, hundreds of demonstrators have set off from the camps to Lake Toya. The “Ainu Mosir” peoples are supporting the Soubestsu Camp demonstrators who for the large part are Japanese. The Ainu are demanding recognition as the original inhabitants of the Hokkaido peninsula.
Japanese and international activists based at Camp Toyoura will attempt to disrupt the G8 summit with blockades and rallies. They will be accompanied by legal support groups.
26 organizations from around the world have protested against the entry denial of Korean trade unionists with an open letter. Japanese immigration authorities had rejected the entry of 23 Koreans into Japan. They had intended to demonstrate against the trade politics of the G8 as well as US meat imports.
Like during former anti-G8 protests, most recently in Heiligendamm in 2007, the police forces are supported by the military. Specifically, 4 fighter jets and AWACS reconaissance are being used, in conjunction with 12 war ships and patriot rockets.
The internal deployment of the Japanese military is hugely contested. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits the use of land, sea and air forces. The military is not permitted to be used for conflict resolution. In order to circumvent this legislation, the Japanese “Self Defense Forces” were created. The air and sea missions at the G8 summit at Lake Toya will be carried out in a joint deployment of the SDF and the US military. The USA has a number of military bases in Japan, which has repeatedly sparked protests amongst people in Japan. Anti-militarist groups are part of this year’s summit protests.
The official justification for the deployment of the military is the defense against “terrorist air strikes”. However, the Japanese police has had to admit that there is no evidence of such threats.
“As in Heiligedamm in 2007, there are attempts to further establish the cooperation between police and military forces. Contrary to all claims it is clearly political protest that is the target of the military apparatus. We are deeply critical of the militarization of social conflict”, Hanne Jobst from the Gipfelsoli Infogroup explained.
* Demonstrations to the G8-Hotel: http://japan.indymedia.org/noG8/timeline/?lang=en
* Protests against the deportation of Korean trade unionists: http://japan.indymedia.org/newswire/display/4589/index.php
* Military deployment at the G8 in Japan: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/summit/20080706TDY01303.htm
* Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution: http://www.article-9.org/en/index.html
* General info: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Home/Hokkaido_2008
G8: Japan at the forefront of global governance
Restrictions to freedom of speech, arrestations, no issuance of visas, South Corean trade unionists blocked : Japan is a good cop of globalization !
A delegation of No Vox France has been in Japan since June 28 at the invitation of No Vox Japan and in the context of the mobilization against the G8. The delegation took part in four demonstrations against the G8 since its arrival : in Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.
The network denounces the lack of freedom to demonstrate in Japan. The Japanese authorities tolerate at most processions with a width of three meters (the corridor normally assigned to the bus), preventing the deployment of our banners. The processions are separated of not interrupted trafic by a column of police and important parades are divided into subgroups by cordons of mobile guards.
It has not always been so and it is the current weakness of the social movements, due to decades of intense police repression, which explains the drastic reduction of the scope of civil liberties, despite Japanese are struggling. The Japanese activists are objectively terrorized by police arbitrary.
From this point of view Japan, far from being a particular case, appears to us at the forefront of global governance and a model that is expected to be applied in all parliamentary democracies. The freedom to demonstrate is emptied of its substance at the point of mascarade and it is in fact nothing else but the mode of “participation” that is to be imposed on citizens in the framework of “global governance”. In short a Board of Directors (the G8) entirely submitted to its corporate shareholders and a “lane for expression,” like a bus lane, where it is forbidden to cross the white line and to disrupt the “fluidity” of markets and trafic. Both separated by a police lane.
Demonstration against the G8 in Tokyo, 30th of june 2008
Facing with this situation and during the united demonstration in Sapporo on July 5, 2008, movements have crossed peacefully the white line in spite of the police cordon and doubled the area set aside for the freedom of expression. Three Japaneses were arrested, including one member of No Vox Japan, and equipment seized (truck and sound.) No Vox is fordering immediate release of those who were arrested under the ridiculous charge of “non-compliance with the rules on the traffic of cars in the prefecture of Hokkaido because the demo lorry extended the width of the event with intend and excited demonstrators. [And] interference with police officers in duty by refusing to comply and stop the vehicle. ” For these petty infraction, since no law has been violated, custody can be extended up to 23 days and prisoners may be jailed for months, what demonstrates once again that Japan has de facto abolished the freedom to demonstrate while trying to preserve appearances.
In addition, the demonstrators gathered at Toyoura camp “close” to the red zone as allowed by authorities (20 km away) were blocked from leaving the camp July 7, as they were walking to the station, refusing to walk the 20 km on foot through the countryside and under rain to reach a allowed point at the border of the red zone.
In addition, No Vox strongly protests against the blocking of a delegation of trade unionists from South Korea by the Japanese police and requires them to be allowed to reach immediately Hokkaido. Similarly, delayed issuance of a visa to a representative of Kenyan grass-roots organizations who was involved in many workshops is intolerable.
Generally speaking, we are asking the authorities to publicly assume their choice to abolish civil liberties rather than to push formal democracy up to the absurd!
We will support all the associations and organizations in Japan, and in particular those concerned with daily workers, who mobilize to reclaim an area of freedom. These facked freedom of speech and limited access to public space are not worthy of a country defined as democratic. For the Japanese situation cannot be branded elsewhere as an example of “good governance”, we must provide unwavering solidarity to all those fighting for freedom of speech in Japan.
Toyoura, July 7, 2008
A lockdown on Hokkaido as police outnumber summit protesters
DATE, Japan: They descended on this sleepy fishing town, some with faces wrapped in white bandannas, carrying red banners and shouting slogans.
But the 200 anti-globalization marchers, protesting Tuesday against world leaders meeting at a lake resort a half-hour away, quickly found themselves outnumbered by the police, who formed a moving cordon around them, and followed in half a dozen blue buses and vans.
"This security is really overkill," said one marcher, Bill Hackwell, an antiwar activist who arrived last week from San Francisco. "We're not trying to crash the summit's gates."
Japan, host to the leaders of the Group of 8 wealthiest nations on its bucolic northernmost island of Hokkaido, has deployed one of the heaviest security operations in the history of the G-8 talks. But whether this has helped the current meeting escape the violence of previous summit sessions is under intense debate, with many here criticizing the police presence as excessive, and overly expensive.
"If violent protesters did not show up, it was because Hokkaido is so far away," said Masaaki Ohashi, vice chairman of the 2008 Japan G-8 Summit NGO Forum, a coalition of Japanese nongovernment groups meeting on the sidelines. "We did not need all these policemen tromping around Hokkaido."
Indeed, activists say this may be one of the costliest and most heavily guarded Group of 8 sessions yet. According to the National Police Agency, Japan is spending ¥30 billion, or about $280 million, for security at the meetings, which ends Wednesday. That is more than double the $130 million that Germany spent on security last year when it hosted the previous Group of 8 meeting in Heiligendamm.
Japan has mobilized about 21,000 police officers, including 16,000 from other parts of Japan, who have essentially locked down an entire corner of Hokkaido, an island about the size of Ireland. That is more than last year, when Germany marshaled about 16,000 police officers and 1,100 soldiers. Japan has also deployed extra police in Tokyo and other main cities, where they stand guard at train stations and street corners and patrol roadblocks.
The police presence was heavy around Date (pronounced DA-tay), which is about 20 kilometers, or 12 miles, south of Lake Toya, the summit venue. Groups of police officers stopped cars for inspection and sealed off roads leading to the summit site. Offshore, armed patrol boats were visible, a rare sight in a nation that does not even have a full-fledged military.
So far, Japan has not seen the sort of violent protests that marred some previous G-8 sessions; tens of thousands clashed with the police and blocked roads in Germany last year. The largest demonstration here came Saturday, when about 3,000 mostly Japanese demonstrators marched in Hokkaido's main city of Sapporo, more than an hour north of Lake Toya. Four people were arrested, including a photographer for the Reuters news service, after scuffles with the police.
Anti-globalization activists here say that the smaller, more peaceful protests reflects Japan's political apathy and the low level of overall violence in this low-crime society. Still, Japanese officials said they wanted the police presence just in case, to avoid a repeat of the protests in Germany.
The buildup also seemed to reflect a broader international trend toward ever-increasing levels of security at global events. Government officials and international relations experts say that ever-growing security is unavoidable, because of the threat of violent protests and terrorist attacks.
They say that security started to get particularly tight after 2001, following demonstrations at a G-8 meeting in Italy that left one protester dead, and the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
The tighter security comes as the annual meetings themselves have grown more elaborate. The first such global meeting, in 1975 in France, was an informal gathering of six heads of state and a handful of journalists.
This year, in addition to the core group of eight industrialized nations, including the United States, leaders from 14 developing nations also attended to discuss issues ranging from climate change to African aid. About 5,000 journalists also attended.
For Japan, the conference was also a chance to raise its global profile at a time when it faces economic eclipse in Asia from China and India, the region's rising powers. International relations experts say the security measures were just Japan's way of being safe instead of sorry.
"Japan just wants to be very thorough and be ready for all contingencies," said Junichi Takase, a professor of international relations at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies. "The number of police might seem excessive to Americans or Europeans, but it makes Japanese feel more secure."
However, there have also been extensive complaints of harsh security practices. Police officers have singled out non-Asians for questioning at airports, and ordered hotels across Japan to copy the identification of all non-Japanese. Japanese immigration authorities have been particularly hard on known foreign political activists, delaying or barring their entry into Japan ahead of the talks.
Walden Bello, a sociologist who is a member of Focus on the Global South, an anti-globalization group, said he was questioned for an hour at a Japanese airport, after it took him an extra week to get an entry visa. According to Japanese NGOs, about 30 people have been denied visas or entry at the border, including 23 South Koreans farm and labor activists who were turned away or held up by immigration officials last week.
"It is pure harassment," Bello said. "They didn't want us to come."
In Date, protesters say they face a constant and overwhelming police presence. A few hundred anarchists, anti-capitalists and advocates for Hokkaido's indigenous Ainu people have held daily protests in the town, with some camping nearby.
While the police kept them getting too close to the summit site, on Monday they said they got as far as the edge of Lake Toya. In the distance, on the lake's other side, they said they could see the large white hotel where leaders were meeting, but could only yell their slogans across the wide blue waters.
One protester, an anarchist from Sapporo in a metal-studded leather jacket and rainbow-colored Mohawk, who gave his name only as Yoh, said that the heavy police presence was not a deterrent because it was common at all protests in Japan.
"They don't want us to infect locals with our radical ideas," he said of the police encircling the group.
But residents who watched the procession said that the protesters and the police - and even the summit meeting itself - were all equally unwelcome.
Shoichi Igara, 71, a scallops fisherman, griped that the protesters were scaring schoolchildren, while security measures prevented him from going to sea at the height of the scallops season.
"It's all just a hassle," he said. "I just wish they'd all leave."