MELBOURNE may have to abandon hosting major events such as last year’s G20 conference to avoid “disrupting the entire city”, Victoria Police’s Chief Commissioner, Christine Nixon says.
Her suggestion that major conferences may need to be relocated to islands or resorts was condemned by the Treasurer, Peter Costello…
— Nixon hits out at major events, John Silvester, The Age, February 10, 2007
Naturally: Peter is a Tory, and Tories do what what they want, when they want, and where they want. Further, it is the duty of the authorities to ensure that this is the case. In other words, it’s Peter’s job to make the decisions, and police and the general public should be grateful, for the pat on the head they receive — literally, in the case of the police — or the public exposure and slander unruly segments of the public receive as a result of not meekly acquiescing to Peter’s desires for A Quiet Life and Business As Usual (or Mick Armstrong’s desire to re-enact The Bolshevik Revolution for that matter).
That said, Christine’s suggestion that future major conferences such as G20 be held in locations inaccessible to the public is hardly novel. In fact, it is more simply a reflection of the experience of authorities on other islands. Thus following the successful disruption of the WTO conference in Seattle in 1999, the WTO decided to hold the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha in the oil-rich, Middle Eastern statelet of Qatar (November 9–14, 2001). The Fifth Ministerial was held in the Mexican holiday resort (for wealthy foreigners) of Cancún (September 10–14, 2003), and the most recent Ministerial was held in Hong Kong in ‘Communist’ China (December 13–18, 2005).
So much for the WTO: the WEF continues to luxuriate each January in Davos, Swizerland, and holds regional summits around the world. Note, however, that the WEF cancelled its proposed meeting in Dublin in 2003, and when it met in New York (January 31–February 4) in 2002 — just four-and-a-half months following 9/11 — it met with much wider and more militant opposition than was predicted by many: “The WEF is moving here because they were effectively chased out of Switzerland by a concerted campaign of direct action. They think that here in New York we’re shell-shocked, punch-drunk, and maybe we are but — whaddya fuckin’ kiddin’ me?”
As for the G8: following the mass protests, arrests, imprisonment, torture and — of course — the police murder of Carlo Giuliani that accompanied the 27th Summit in Genoa in 2001, the annual G8 Summit moved to locations outside of major cities: Kananaskis, Alberta in Canada in 2002; Évian-les-Bains in France in 2003; Sea Island, Georgia in the United States in 2004; Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005; and St. Petersburg in Russia in 2006. The decision to hold this year’s Summit, the 33rd, in the “White Town by the Sea”, Heiligendamm, Germany (June 6–8, 2007) is an interesting one, both because of its history — Heilingendamm, located on the coast of the Baltic Sea, has long-served as a holiday resort for royalty and other ruling-class parasites — and because of expectations that it will be greeted by the kind of oppositional forces that gathered in Gleneagles.
AFTER 10 YEARS OF GEAR: COSATU, THE ZUMA TRIAL AND THE DEAD END OF ALLIANCE POLITICS
— Lucien van der Walt, Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Revolutionary Anarchism, #7, December 2006
South Africa’s transition, as we stated in Workers Solidarity in 1998, went sour a long time ago. Overthrowing apartheid was a tremendous victory, but not enough. It was soon overshadowed by the ANC’s neo-liberal policies, which built on those adopted in the last years of the apartheid regime.
LOST IN TRANSIT
As an increasingly multiracial ruling class consolidated its position, the working class retreated. This retreat was – and remains – fundamentally a question of politics and strategy: COSATU and the SACP had no idea how to deal with the new situation. Having spent years believing the ANC would, like Moses, lead the people out of bondage in Egypt, they now found themselves in a strange new country. Apartheid was gone, but slavery was not. The supposed Moses now looked a lot like Pharaoh, but COSATU and the SACP remained part of the Tripartite Alliance.
ALL GEARed UP
The miserable conditions in the townships continued, mass unemployment – which started in the 1970s – continued to grow, and neo-liberalism accelerated. 30% of TELKOM was privatised in 1996 and a further 20% was listed in 2003, and ESKOM and the SA Post Office were commercialised. While the GATT (now the World Trade Organisation) required tariff protection on telecommunications to fall to 20%, the government set itself the target of zero protection, and also opened up other controls over trade and capital movements. These approaches were consolidated in the 1996 Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (GEAR), but did not start with it.
The unproductive financial sector shot up to 20% of the entire SA economy, although it employed only 1% of the workforce, while manufacturing and mining shrunk, with perhaps 1 million jobs lost in these sectors plus agriculture. The electricity and water grid was expanded, but with cost recovery applied, 10 million people suffered water cut-offs and 5 million were evicted…
And somehow, I think that Costello’s smirk is the last thing the workers of South Africa need right now, although given current polling and voting trends, it may well be that he finds himself smirking from the Opposition benches by the time the next G20 Summit rolls around. In any case, as The Age‘s editor, Andrew Jaspan, writes, “An event can still be badged and marketed as being held in Melbourne (for international consumption), even if it is held in the Yarra hills or on one of the peninsulas. Then participants could, if the conference were dull, dip into the ocean or a splendid Victorian wine to sharpen themselves up again.” But probably not while contemplating facts such as the following:
About 4 billion cases of diarrhoea per year cause 1.8 million deaths, over 90 per cent of them (1.6 million) among children under five. Repeated episodes of diarrhoeal disease makes children more vulnerable to other diseases and malnutrition.
Diarrhoea is the most important public health problem directly related to water and sanitation. The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can cut diarrhoeal disease by one-third. Next to providing adequate sanitation facilities, it is the key to preventing waterborne diseases.
And one which will not be addressed by the G20. So you better eat your turkey / And you better glut your wine / ‘Cos your days are numbered / Bourgeois swine.
Let’s not surrender
February 11, 2007
Sunday Herald Sun
POLICE Chief Christine Nixon has come up with an astonishing antidote to outbreaks of violence of the kind that horrified Victorians during the G20 conference.
It goes something like this: Make law-abiding citizens hold meetings on remote holiday islands so that lawbreakers who hijack protests and have no qualms about bashing police will have no reason to take over the streets of Melbourne.
On second thoughts, astonishing is hardly the word for this abject surrender to the lawless.
Ms Nixon appears to be shirking her responsibility in suggesting delegates to politically-sensitive conferences should hide from protesters and the anarchists who infiltrate their ranks.
She seems to be saying they should take their business elsewhere because Victoria’s police have better things to do than uphold the peace.
What next? Banning the law-abiding public from Noble Park on Friday nights to avoid confrontations with hoon drivers as they do doughnuts on the Princes Highway before trashing the local video store?
We doubt many police officers will endorse Ms Nixon’s musings on the G20 riot.
Not even the ones who were injured by violent protesters. Not even the ones now under official scrutiny for doing their jobs in the face of fanatical and well-organised attacks.
Violence accompanied G20 conferences in Washington [which is odd… given that the G20 has never actually met in Washington], Ottawa and Berlin[?], but we have yet to hear of their surrender to the enemies of freedom of movement, speech and ideas.
The chief commissioner should reconsider her stand.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…
G20 Defendants Aquitted
April 24, 2003
MONTREAL, Thursday, April 24, 2003 — After deliberating for more than one day, a Montreal jury of 9 women and 2 men returned an emphatic verdict of “not guilty” in the riot trial of activists Jonathan Aspireault-Masse, Jaggi Singh and Christina Xydous. The charges date back to October 23, 2000, more than two-and-a-half years ago, when over 1000 people gathered in downtown Montreal to protest a meeting of the G-20 (which includes the heads of the IMF and World Bank). The trial lasted three weeks.
The jury verdict was all the more powerful since the defendants were also cleared of the lesser charge of “unlawful assembly” which has been used against hundreds of Montreal protesters in the past decade. The jury ended up siding with a group of openly anarchist and leftist defendants who didn’t hide their political beliefs. The Crown’s case relied heavily on the testimonies of several senior officers of the Montreal police, men with at least two decades experience. Their accounts were soundly rejected in favor of the defense — presented by lawyer Pascal Lescarbeau, who represented Jonathan and Christina, and Jaggi, who represented himself. Their defense consistently challenged police behavior, as well as the targeting of outspoken political activists for their beliefs, and not their acts. The trial also revealed the widespread use of undercover agents, as well as significant police surveillance of political activists, including persons with no history of arrest, let alone criminal records.
Perhaps just as important as the formal verdict, was the fact that several jurors, outside the courtroom, wished the defendants good luck. An essentially middle-class jury was clearly sympathetic to Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina, and the anti-G20 protesters, even after viewing police video images of minor property destruction and rock-throwing after police charged protesters with horses and riot police beat and pepper-sprayed demonstrators. [During jury selection, the Crown systematically excluded persons who might have critical views by virtue of their profession, such as teachers and writers, as well as two working class black men. One rejected juror, a college professor, even criticized the Crown’s tactics in an open letter to Montreal-area weekly papers.]