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On to Gleneagles: March to the G8
summit mobilisations |
Monday July 04, 2005 11:19 by rory hearne - IAWM
Report on the G8 alternatives summit
Protests against the G8 are often portrayed as being just protest events with little in the way of serious alternatives being presented. However over 5,000 people attended the G8 Alternatives conference in Edinburgh yesterday to discuss the causes of poverty, environmental destruction, racism and to debate the alternatives to the present neo-liberal capitalist system.
Irish Anti War Movement
The mood was very upbeat and defiant with Walden Bello (Philipines activist with Focus on Global South stating “yesterday the mood was mellow, today it is militant. We should not trust the G8 and their promises. They ‘pledged’ to help the Tsnuami victims yet only 10% of what was pledged has been delivered”. Susan George (ATTAC France) said “we have come along way since Seattle and this movement is becoming a new actor in history, it is becoming a key historical subject just like the proletariat was in Marx’s theory. We must build this movement together, we can do it. We did it in France with the no vote”. The final rally made the call for as many people as possible to get to Gleneagles to “make the G8 History”.
The demonstration on Wednesday is a historic event. It was initially banned by the Scotlish parliament and six Scottish Socialist party MSPs have been suspeneded because of their protests against the ban. However now the march has been given the permission to go within 500m of the hotel where the G8 will be. Those of us who have been involved in the global justice movement since Seattle and Genoa will be there again at Gleneagles saying loud and clear that until the G8 are history poverty and war will be with us forever. This movement is growing and deepening. Bono and Geldof did well to help the mobilisations and get new people involved but now is the time to put the G8 on trial. The G8 are not on our side. This movement is about building a new power that can force the G8 aside and create a completely different world without war, poverty, privatisation and racism. The G8 alternatives Summit was an excellent representation of the diversity and unity of the global justice movement. Here are just some of the diversity of speakers and views.
Speakers included prominent authors and global justice activists like George Monbiot, Bianca Jagger, Caroline Lucas, Rosie Kane, George Galloway, Susan George, Haidi Guiliani, Walden Bello and many more.
Many speakers spoke of the need for the global justice movement to avoid becoming just a PR tool of Blair and Brown. They stated clearly that Brown and Blair are not our friends but our enemies. Any debt relief and aid offered will be used to deepen the project of neo-liberal globalisation in Africa. This will worsen the situation the poor further. Therefore we will be marching on Wednesday up to the Gleneagles hotel not just to make poverty history but to make the G8 History.
George Galloway from the Respect coalition said “Bono and Geldof are not our leaders and neither are Browno or Blairof, we will not allow our movement to be hijacked and anesthised and shepherded into a false consensus. We need to refocus between now and Wednesday on the real issues. We need to be clear in the way the leadership of Make Poverty History have not been clear. It is a deception that Blair and Brown can be the saviours of Africa. If Bob Geldof really wanted to help the people of Africa he would stand on the steps of Downing St and he would tell the poor of the world to say to banks and global leaders, ‘We no longer have any debts, we have paid you over many times, we don’t owe you (the G8) any money’.
Some issues have been wiped off the agenda by the focus on poverty. One is the presence of the mass murder George Bush in Scotland on Wednesday. We would be guilty of a dereliction of duty did we not do our best to turn Scotland into a cauldron of anger against this killer. We have won a historic victory to get the right to march on Wednesday. The whole world will be watching Scotland and we will be there”.
Another key issue was the question of charity or solidarity with Africa. Trevor Nwagne of the African Privatisation Forum said “we must strengthen the social movements in the South and not offer our charity but our solidarity. Our enemy is one, by fighting your own governments you are helping your brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We must be careful not to support African heads of state. Most if not all African governments are neoliberal-they stand with Bush against the masses. Our challenge is to build the power of the oppressed and ordinary people. There can be no accomodation between us and Blair and Berlusconi. Just as we fought and defeated slavery, colonialism, and apartheid we can defeat their system of neo-liberal capitalism.”
Scottish Socialist Party MPs were suspended from the Scottish Parliament for protesting for the democratic right to protest to Gleneagles. Frances Curran one of those MPs also spoke.
Caroline Lucas (Green Party MP) said “we must all pay attention. The danger is that we are all taken in by the spin. The danger is the political campaign of the global justice movement is turned into a philanthropic movement giving legitimacy to the powerful instead of denying the legitimacy of the powerful. The media was full of Hyde Park when there was more of us marching in Edinburgh.”
Bianca Jagger said “100,000s, indeed millions have taken part in the movement against poverty. Suddenly today we are being told we have accomplished a great deal. What have we accomplished? $440 bn of debt relief with conditions attached that will impoverish these countries further. Is that what we were fighting for?
I was born in Nicaragua. Ive been a human rights campaigner for 20 years. I know what it is to see a child die because they don’t have the money for drugs. Blair is not one of us. Let us regain our campaign, lets ensure the real issues are addressed by the media. Hardly any of the speakers at the rally yesterday were shown on TV. Our protest was not linked to the concerts because we were talking substance not just soundbites.”
Live 8, Bono, Geldof and MPH have pleaded and asked for the G8 leaders to take action. Due to the pressure of the campaign they offered some debt relief. But Bush and Blair have lied over Iraq. Why should we trust them on this? The people that can make poverty were on the streets of Dublin and Edinburgh. They are the workers fighting privatisation of our public services, the peasants occupying land in Brazil, the Bolivians forcing the nationalisation of their resources, the French who voted no to the EU constitution. Our movement will not end after Wednesday. These protests are just one more important and historic step towards bringing about a world without war, where people and the environment come before the profits of western multinationals. We appeal to all those who marched on the MPH events. Stay involved. Support the struggles for justice at home. On September 9th we will be surrounding the Dail for action on aid, on the 24th we will be in Shannon protesting against complicity with the illegal war in Iraq.
Gordon Brown said ending poverty will take a lifetime. We cannot wait that long.
Rory Hearne is attending the protest in Edinburgh. He is on the steering committee of the Irish Anti-War Movement. Contact email@example.com or 086 1523542 for info.