Monday, July 07, 2008


At the G8 Summit in Japan security is tight and protesters are being kept as far away from the summit site as possible.

Police are attempting to keep protesters in a specially designated camping area on the opposite side of sapphire-blue Lake Toya, away from the plush hilltop hotel where the leaders were staying.

So fearful is the Government of incident or attack that cities as far away as Tokyo have also been under tight security for more than a week.

Activists throughout Japan have been arrested at demonstrations and in their homes, often on “technical” charges, such as not registering a change of address. Overt surveillance of activists, academics and reporters has been taking place for months, and with some local activists for years.

Still protesters and police engaged in a tense stand-off on Monday as Japanese authorities blocked demonstrators from nearing a summit of the world's most powerful leaders at a secluded mountain resort.

Around 50 anti-globalisation protesters, mostly from abroad, marched towards the Group of Eight leaders' luxury hilltop hotel but before they could come close they were stopped by more than 100 anti-riot police with 20 vans.

"This isn't what democracy looks like," one of the protesters howled at the police, who stood guard with shields under pouring rain.

Hundreds of protesters faced off with police on Sunday. A demonstration by about 5,000 people on Saturday led to a brief clash with police; four people, including a television cameraman, were detained.

While many of the protesters are foreigners, they also include Ainu -- the indigenous people on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

Kenichi Kawamura, whose Ainu name is Shinrit e=oripak Aynu, performed a traditional ritual to pray to the gods for successful demonstrations against the Group of Eight summit.

"The G8 are coming to our land to do whatever they please. Please protect us," said the 57-year-old, wearing an Ainu gown and a headband during the ritual, which was carried out in his indigenous language.

The Ainu were displaced when settlers from Japan's main island of Honshu settled Hokkaido in the 19th century. They still lag behind in education and income in the Asian economic power.

Protesters are organizing various events in the upcoming days of the G8 Summit, between the 7th and 9th of July. The No! G8 Legal Team says it will be paying close attention to the behavior of the police and government, especially since the excessive police response to demonstrations which have already taken place “Labor and peace movement leaders are concerned that the police will arrest them for organizing these protests, search their homes and interrogate their family members,” said Dan Spalding, Legal Worker Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild.
Meanwhile, protests are taking place around the world expressing outrage at this coming together of the rich to decide what to do with the rest of us.

In the Philippines, members of militant groups on Monday staged a peaceful picket in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila to join other protesters worldwide in denouncing the ongoing three-day G-8 summit in Japan.

The activists, belonging to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and joined by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan called the meeting a sham meant to preserve profits of big business.

"What a great lie for the G-8 to proclaim that their top agenda is to alleviate the peoples of the world from price spikes of basic commodities. The leaders of the G8 countries and their capitalist cohorts have created and aggravated the crisis that all of us endure today, "KMU Chair Elmer Labog said.

Hundreds of activists from around the world gathered in Mali for the opening of a poor people's summit organised to counterbalance the G8.

"The governments of the G8, heavily industrialised countries, are most responsible for climate change and the international food crisis, which are raging over the world," said organiser Barry Aminata.

A brief protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Singapore targeted repression at the summit and the news of foreign scholars, independent journalists and media workers being detained at airports in Japan where they were subjected to long hours of questioning. Infoship News reports some have had their visit cut short while others, such as activists from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, have been outright barred from entry into Japan.

The following is from AFP.

Japan blankets island with security for G8

TOYAKO, Japan -- More than 20,000 police on Sunday sealed a secluded mountain resort in northern Japan as the world's top leaders gathered, with protests kept far away from the summit venue.

Japan imposed a no-fly zone across a stretch of its northern island of Hokkaido as US President George W. Bush arrived for three days of talks with 22 other leaders in the remote lakeside town of Toyako.

Hundreds of activists held demonstrations for a second straight day in Sapporo, the closest major city to the summit area, on issues ranging from labor rights to Tibet to global poverty.

"Down with the G8 summit!" chanted some 100 demonstrators from left-wing labor unions, who were nearly outnumbered by riot police with helmets and shields.

No arrests were immediately reported Sunday. A day earlier, police arrested three demonstrators and a cameraman accused of kicking officers.

Activists of British-based charity Oxfam dressed up in oversized masks of the G8 leaders held up a mock cheque offering $50 billion for poor countries -- a promise made at the summit in Scotland in 2005.

"It is unacceptable that in the 21st century a woman dies every minute in childbirth or pregnancy due to lack of health care," said Oxfam campaigner Akiko Mera. "The G8 must keep their promises and deliver health care for all."

Separately, dozens of pro-Tibet demonstrators rallied to denounce Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is due to attend an extended session of the G8, chanting, "We can't forgive China!"

But the demonstrations were far from the summit venue, a hilltop hotel some 150 kilometers (90 miles) from Sapporo where the leaders will discuss issues including soaring oil and food prices, climate change and global conflicts.

Filipino leftwing activist Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said that he and his colleagues were trailed across Hokkaido by police, with some even sleeping in their car outside of the demonstrators' hotel.

"There are so many police officers, asking for your license, where you are going and what you are up to," said Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliace, Bayan), an umbrella group of farmers, students and workers.

He described it as "harassment."

"The G8 are very afraid of people criticizing them. They are afraid because they feel guilty about something," he said.

Police and media shuttle buses were the only vehicles allowed onto the roads heading to the venue, where banners fluttered in the breeze to greet world leaders.

"This isn't such a special occasion for ordinary people like us," said Kyoko Tateishi, a convenience store manager in Rusutsu, where the main media center is located.

"Sales are declining as we see no visitors except for the media and police. We don't expect much from the summit," she said.

But those working in tourism said that, like an Olympics, the summit can sell the town's name as a resort, which has been recovering since a volcanic eruption eight years ago.

"I hope the summit will end without any accidents, riots or terrorism. That would improve the image of our town, drawing more tourists and making our lives much better," said Hiroaki Otomo, a 60-year-old taxi driver in Toyako.

Despite the arrests, the demonstrators were relatively peaceful compared with previous G8 summits.

Last year militant activists threw Molotov cocktails and stones during demonstrations in Germany that drew tens of thousands of protesters.

No comments: