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Activists Lock Down to Stop Perrier

25.07.2002 20:45

Lockdown in Michigan On Monday, July 22, Michigan activists locked down in front of a Perrier bottling factory in an attempt to halt that company's theft of the state's water. Along with a demonstration of about 60 people, they halted traffic into and out of the plant for over seven hours. The blockade is the latest in a series of actions, including a boycott of Perrier by citizens looking to defend the state's water resources from an attempted takeover by the Ice Mountain Spring Water Company, a subsidiary of Nestle Waters North America. In May 2002 the company began production at its new $100 million bottling facility, pumping at rates which could top 200 million gallons in water withdrawals per year.

The Michiganians are hoping to follow the example of Bolivians who defeated a water privatization scheme in the Water Wars of 2000. Privatization and full-cost water pricing are the World Bank's prescription for handling the world's growing shortage of potable water, without consideration for how this effects people who cannot afford the water. At the same time, global trade treaties like the General Agreement on Trade in Services are designed to make it harder for citizens to take action against transnational corporations in cases such as these. Listen to an audio report on the subject.



African Union and NEPAD Facing Growing Fire

25.07.2002 14:06

Lauded as unifying the continent, the new African Union (AU) is being rejected by sectors of civil society across the continent as a plan to perpetuate neo-colonial relations. The AU organization was launched in Durban, South Africa on July 10, and is replacing the Organization of African Unity.

The economic programm to be facilitated by the political superstructure of the AU, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), has been derided as uniting "junior imperialists and their masters." South Africa's President Mbeki's obsequious response to the G8's miserly debt relief is an indication of his position in the global chain of command and of who the AU is uniting.

According to the Anti-Privatisation Forum in Johannesburg, that "while the political and economic elites celebrate the launch of the AU and NEPAD, residents of Soweto will continue to resist electricity cut-offs, in Tafelsig and Tembalihle people will not halt their struggles against forced removal and inhabitants of Chatsworth will persist in the battle for free water."



1000 Algerians Face Deportation from Canada

24.07.2002 17:24

In April, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced that it is backing out of its policy which allowed Algerians residing in Canada without legal status to remain in the country for their own safety. As a result, hundreds of Algerian refugees residing in Canada will be deported within the next six months.

While the Canadian government claims that the deportees will be safe in Algeria, it advises Canadian citizens against traveling there, warning of "continuous terrorist activity." Human rights organizations widely regard the situation in Algeria to be dangerous, leading many to question the real motives behind the deportations: a visit to Algeria by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien in the name of NEPAD has $1 billion in trade implications, and a $141 million deal between Canadian company SNC Lavalin and the Goverment of Algeria to build water-supply infrastructure was officially announced shortly afterward.

A demonstration against the deportations will take place on July 26 in Montreal, with the participation of local groups working to reinstate the moratorium.



Forum Against PPP Held in Managua

24.07.2002 02:27

March Against PPP in Managua, Nicaragua From July 16 - 18, the third MesoAmerican Forum was held in Managua, Nicaragua titled "A MesoAmerican Movement for Popular Integration Against Plan Puebla Panama." It was inaugurated with a march [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] against the effects of Mexican President Fox's proposal for the PPP program.

The forum [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | audio (en espanol) ] was initiated (espanol) to define and strategize plans of action at local and regional levels to construct a popular Mesoamerican movement of resistance to neoliberal globalization. Plan Puebla Panama is a proposed regional "free trade" program for Central America to that would involve the construction of at least five "dry canal" systems across the isthmus. These would include the construction of deep-water ports, high speed rail lines, and maquiladora zones as a means to supplement the aging Panama Canal. The program is being financed by the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral financial institutions. PPP would act as a transitional step between NAFTA and the implementation of the FTAA.

More coverage on PPP can be found at this radio program and at past Global Indymedia feature coverage [ March 22, 2002 Feature | March 3, 2002 Feature | November 29, 2001 Feature ].

Las noticias en espanol e ingles estan en el Chiapas CMI.



ACT-UP Shines Light on Prison Health Care in Philadelphia's Prisons

23.07.2002 19:10

Almost 7,000 people are incarcerated on any given day in the city of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Prison System is responsible for maintaining the health of those within it. To provide this health care, the City has a $25 million contract with Prison Health Services, a company that claims to "lead the correctional healthcare field in the application of proven managed care principles to ensure high quality, cost-effective healthcare at each of its client facilities." In doing so, PHS purports to have been able to "manage quality and cost" by "[achieving] more than $26 million in savings in actual projected inmate medical services over a 3-year period for a state DOC system" and "[reducing] per-inmate medical expenses by 27% in a 3-year period."

ACT-UP Philadelphia has consistently questioned the human cost of PHS' "successes," especially in regard to prisoners with HIV/AIDS. Most recently, citing documents that the City has acquired that detail everything from understaffing to overmedication, lost paperwork and an inability to comply with contractual obligations for certain kinds of care, ACT-UP paraded to City Hall before a City Council hearing on the matter. ACT-UP demanded Philadelphia Managing Director Estelle Richman overhaul the contract and assure better health care for the 40,000 being detained or held in the city's prisons.



Britain Rejects Young Asylum Seekers

23.07.2002 01:12

Woomera Detention Centre ID Card On Thursday July 18, two boys (aged 12 and 13) who were part of a mass escape from the Woomera Detention Centre in late June, sought asylum at the British consulate in Melbourne. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw rejected their application later the same day.

The children's father has been granted a temporary protection visa by the Australian Government. His wife and children have been locked up in Woomera and refused visas, while the Australian government disputed their Afghani status. Asylum Seeker activists rallied outside the British consul on Thursday. Further protests were held at the Australian Department of Immigration and at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre, while the decision was condemned by Amnesty International.

In other refugee news, RMIT University announced its intention to join global private prison operator, Group 4 Falck in tendering for the contract to run Australia's detention centres. RMIT is arguing it will provide education in the facilities.
Listen to interviews [ 1 | 2 ] with the two boys, and read a transcript of an interview with them. More interviews with Woomera escapees are available here.



Making Change: Baltimore Joins Local Currency Movement

22.07.2002 16:18

Baltimore, Maryland, recently joined a growing list of communities with locally controlled systems of exchange. Seen as an alternative to the federally-managed dollar, Baltimore "hours" are intended to promote the use of local businesses and services and ensure a living wage for all workers. Read more about the Baltimore system here.

Ithaca, New York, started the recent wave of local currencies in the United States in 1991, and it has encouraged a greater focus on people over profits. As the slogan of the Bay Area Regional Exchange And Development (BREAD) local currency program in the San Francisco Bay region puts it, "In each other we trust." The Madison, Wisconsin program looks to "enhance and strengthen the economy" as the currency remains local.

The economic collapse of Argentina has caused a huge surge in attendance at local barter fairs or "trueques." Each trueque prints up its own credit slips, which participants use to exchange cheap and used goods, homemade food, and skilled services like haircuts, backrubs and even cardiograms.

Please contribute to this feature here.



NoBorder Camp Opens in Strasbourg

22.07.2002 02:37

NoBorder Camp in Strasbourg The city of Strasbourg, France is the scene of the pan-European Noborder camp. This camp, running from July 19 -28, was initiated by the Noborder network and organized by activist groups across Europe. The camp aims bringing together activists, migrants and artists from across Europe in a laboratory of creative resistance and civil disobedience for ten days of actions, workshops, and discussions in support of "Freedom of Movement and Settlement' for all. Read reports [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] and view photos [ 1 | 2 ] about the camp.

Strasbourg was chosen because it is home to the central headquarters of the Schengen Information Systems (SIS), the database used to document and track those labeled terrorists, refugees, immigrants (legal or otherwise), and (suspected) political activists, particularly 'anti-globalization' protestors. The "d.sec" project is an online method of exploring the issues of borders open to capital but closed to people for "skillsharing and collaborative knowledge production."

The Strasbourg camp follows bordercamps in Jena, Germany and Wizajny, Poland that ran from July 12 - 19, and is part of a series of camps across Europe in the summer of 2002.

The camp is producing a radio station, while more streams are availble [ 1 | 2 | 3 ]. More news and information on the noborder movement is available from the Germany IMC, the Italy IMC, the Barcelona IMC, the Sweden IMC, and UK IMC Global Features.



Activists Mark One Year Aniversary of Genoa

20.07.2002 20:26

Genoa, Italy; July 20, 2002 Up to 100,000 people turned out [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ] on the streets of Genoa on July 20, 2002 to mark the one year aniversary of the 2001 G8 protests and the shooting of Carlo Giuliani by Italian paramilitaries. He has since become became an icon of the global justice movement, in the memory represents the struggle against corporate globalization.

Solidarity protests have been planned across Europe, including London, Bern, and Madrid. The 2001 G8 summit is a continuing focus in Genoa and elsewhere in Italy, however, with the killing of Giuliani in the Piazza Alimonda, and the rampant police brutality and provocation throughout the protests that was capped with the assault on the Diaz school and Italy Indymedia.

More news in English is available at the UK IMC and the Italy IMC translation. For more information on the G8 protests in Genoa in 2001, consult archived features from July 22, 2001 (focusing on the protests), July 22, 2001 (focusing on the police brutality), as well as July 26, 2001 and August 22, 2001 follow-ups.



Paraguay Suspends Liberties Following Protests; Two Killed

19.07.2002 17:08

Road Blocks in Paraguay Mass demonstrations and subsequent riots erupted in Paraguay against the neo-liberal policies of President Luis Gonzales Macchi in Ciudad del Este, Encarnacion and in the captial city of Asuncion on Monday, July 15 [ 1 | 2 ]. Protestors included farmers, students, and workers from the cities, who blockaded roads and bridges throughout a country in which sixty percent of the population lives in poverty. The governement decreed a state of emergency with a suspension of civil liberties, and the Paraguayan military and police violently repressed the protests.

There have been major protests in Paraguay since the beginning of June [ en Espanol ], following the planned privatization of the telecom company Copaco. Demonstrations in Paraguay began to deepen after thousands of farmers threatened to mobilize in Asuncion, against privatizations and other measures imposed by IMF demands . In this latest wave, police repression left two killed and dozens wounded in Ciudad del Este, near the Brazilian border. Rubber bullets and tear gas were used in Asuncion against protestors blocking roads.

The government and mainstream media attributed rioting to followers of former general Lino Oviedo, living in Brazil following a failed coup attempt in 2000, though disagreement in the Paraguayan congress regarding this is increasing. Despite the suspension of civil liberties, which was lifted on July 17, more protests are planned.

More coverage is available en Portuguese [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], en Espanol [ 1 ], and in the June 6 and June 16 features.



Council Workers Strike Across UK

18.07.2002 20:18

Council Workers on Strike in Manchester The UK saw the largest strike in over twenty years on July 17 as council workers throughout the country removed their labour in order to gain a 6% increase in flat rate payment. The Unison, GMB, and T&G unions claimed the day's strike was an "overwhelming success." Two thirds of those on strike were women who continue to remain in the low pay bracket.

The strike was seen a massive show of strength by council workers who are sick of low pay deals while other public sector workers (police, for example) are getting large pay rises. Council leaders and other local govenment officials claimed the strike being a failure, despite the fact that 1 million workers went on strike Wednesday, more action is planned for August, and New Labour allied union leaders are losing ballots.



Palestinians Begin Third Week Straight Under Curfew

18.07.2002 13:33

Bush's speech acted as a green light to Israel for a military re-occupation of the major Palestinian cities in the west bank, and continuing retaliatory violence from Palestinian militants. The Israeli government has begun construction to fence off much of the West Bank, justifying it by general promises of a future Palestinian state. Israel continues with curfews and closures in the name of security, imprisoning millions inside their homes as the Israeli military carries out actions, often resulting in the death of non-militant civilians as well as journalists, and futher exacerbating an already extreme humanitarian disaster. Moreover, at least 1,700 Palestinians are presently being held in detainment camps and prisons under deteriorating conditions.

Considering the Israeli military's recent so-called 'Operation Defensive Shield', present ongoing military actions, and anti-Arab legislation, a few Israeli intellectuals have opened a discussion around Israeli moral decline and calls for boycott, while others continue solidarity actions and refuse to serve in the Israeli military. In response to the conscientious objectors actions, settler Rabbi Shlomo Aviner has called for the execution of anyone refusing to serve.

From the side of the Palestinian Authority, critique of human rights standards is met with human rights activists being arrested for doing their work.



Irish Neutrality Breached Daily by USAF

17.07.2002 18:42

U.S. aircraft in Ireland On July 7, a crowd of 100,000 gathered at the Salthill Air Show in Galway, Ireland. Treated to a display of military prowess billed as the 'greatest free show in Europe,' the crowd 'ooh'd' and 'aah'd' as C-130 Hercules', F-15s and a B1 bomber streaked overhead. The Irish Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, who opened proceedings, announced that allowing military aircraft to entertain crowds was not a breach of Irish Neutrality. The Galway Anti-War Alliance disagreed, making a loud and vocal protest at the show, airing their contempt for aircraft like the B-1, and pointing out that the price of one B-1 could provide clean water to several thousand villages in the third world.

Irish neutrality, which the government claims it has been protecting in the current round of Nice treaty negotiations, has quietly eroded for years. US military aircraft have been landing in Shannon and refueling en route for Middle East destinations since the Gulf War. Since 9/11, the amount of US military traffic coming through Shannon has dramatically increased [ 1 | 2 | 3 ]. The aircraft are now carrying out training exercises, something that is mostly unreported in the mainstream media.

The Irish government's claims that these are merely transport aircraft ring false with reported sightings of F-16s and AC-130s landing at the airport. It was an AC-130 which bombed a wedding party in Kandahar on July 1.



U.S. Government Set to Launch Citizen Spy Program

16.07.2002 20:16

The Justice Department is expected to launch a pilot program in New York and other cities in August to train private citizens to be the "extra eyes and ears for law enforcement" in the war on terrorism. Millions of Americans, including truck drivers, bus drivers, train conductors, mail carriers, utility readers, ship captains, and port personnel will be trained to monitor "suspicious activity."

"Historically, informant systems have been the tools of non-democratic states," reported Ritt Goldstein in the Sydney Morning Herald, which compared the program to the use of civilian informants by East Germany's Stasi secret police. Until a critical editorial in the Washington Post on July 14, little notice has been taken of this expansion of the 'war on terror' through informants, with the exception of two reports by investigative journalist Bill Berkowitz [ 1 | 2 ].



San Salvador Atenco Erupts Against Mexican Government

15.07.2002 20:59

Roadblock in San Salvador Atenco On July 11, hundreds of farmers from the areas of San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco, 18 miles south of Mexico City, rebelled against the Mexican government's attempts to take their land in order to build airport runways. The towns have protested since October 22, 2001, when the federal government announced its plans to expropriate more than 10,000 acres of farmland for a new airport.

The uprising started when farmers attempted to blockade a road in response to a tour of the area by a government official. They were attacked by riot police, and responded with sticks, rocks, machetes, and gasoline bombs. Seventeen government officials and police were taken hostage over the next several days as a means of exchange for farmers arrested in earlier protests.

Over the next four days, thousands of demonstrators, bolstered by supporters from around Mexico, organized their municipal response and barricaded themselves in their towns, including Acuexcomac, Atenco, Magdalena Panoaya, and Tocuila as a defense from raids by the federal Mexican police. They barricaded the main roads in the towns and access to freeways, with piles of tires, tractor-trailers, Coca-Cola trucks, and burned police cars. At the same time, Mexican military forces and police surrounded the towns.

On July 14, the Mexican government released 11 jailed farmers in an effort to resolve the hostage situation. All prisoners held by the protestors were released on Monday, July 15, the remaining farmers were freed, and the Mexican government conceded that plans for the airport may be modified.

Further coverage of the rebellion: [ July 11 | July 12 | July 13 ] [ en espanol: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 ]



House Squatted and Evicted After G8 Solidarity

15.07.2002 15:05

7 Year Squat in Ottawa Following the opening 'Take the Capital' demonstrations [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 ] on June 26, G8 solidarity protestors held a march titled 'No One is Illegal' in downtown Ottawa [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | video ] on June 27. Despite rain and thunderstorms throughout the afternoon, the mood continued to be festive as about 6000 protesters took their message to Parliment Hill. This march focused upon the ongoing criminalization of migrants, in which borders are open to capital but closed to human beings.

The day before, in collaboration with the anti-G8 demonstrations, housing activists and homeless youth occupied [ francais ] an abandoned home on Gilmour Street in Ottawa [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | video 1 and 2 ]. The house was squatted [ francais ] in order to attract attention to the high price of housing, waiting lists, and "protection" acts in the city. The squat was lived in [ audio ] for more than six days.

In the early morning of June 3, following days of harassment, riot police raided the squat just after dawn, and arrested the occupants [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | video ]. Pepper-spray was used on the unarmed occupants, and one person was removed on a stretcher. Witnesses at the scene were also arrested and moved so that the raid could be conducted without any civilian witnesses present. Some persons barricaded themselves in union offices across the street in order to bear witness to the events. Those arrested were later released.

The convergence was reported in audio and video 1 | 2. For more, read analyses and commentary on the protest [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | audio 1 and 2 ].



School of the Americas Protestors Tried and Convicted

14.07.2002 18:49

The SOA 37

Thirty-seven human rights activists went on trial in federal court this week for civil disobedience last November at the School of the Americas (SOA), which was recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). They were among 10,000 who gathered in Columbus, Georgia, last November to call for the closure of the notorious school.

The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers whose graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. Human rights activist and champion of the people, Archbishop Oscar Romero, for example, was murdered in a church as he celebrated mass by an individual who was trained by the SOA. 71 people have served a total of over 40 years in prison for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience as part of a broad-based campaign to close the terrorist training camp.

Twenty-nine human rights activists were sentenced on July 13 ranging from three to six months in federal prison. Seven received six months probation. Fines ranged from none to $5000. The others convicted were sentenced earlier in the week.

Daily coverage of the trial: [ July 8 #1 | July 8 #2 | July 8 Photos | July 9 | July 10 | July 11 | July 12 ]

Solidarity events have been held in Salem, OR, Virginia, and Dublin, Ireland.



Nigerian Women Confront Chevron-Texaco

13.07.2002 20:07

A protest led by hundreds of women at the Escravos oil facility of Chevron-Texaco in Nigeria entered its sixth day on July 13. The protestors have been demanding negotiations with company managers working in the nation. Military and police boats patrol the shores off of the export terminal, but the situation inside the plants remains unchanged. Blockades of the terminal's air strip, helicopter pad and dock are continuing. Increasing numbers of women have been joining the dramatic protest that began on Monday bringing the total involved now to about 2,000.

The people in the Niger Delta are among the poorest in Nigeria. The land they live on, however, is the source of Nigeria's $20 billion in annual oil exports. The people in the region are demanding that the multinationals pumping out the oil give them the roads, water service and electricity that the government has not provided. Anunu Uwawah, a spokeswoman for the protesters said that the women were tired of living in poverty in the shadow of the oil terminal.



Activists Spring to Action in Defense of U.S. Forests

12.07.2002 14:59

Murdered old growth tree at Berrypatch timber sale at Willamette National Forest near Eugene, Oregon, USA During the first week of July, hundreds of forest activists from around North America attended the annual Earth First! rendezvous. This year's rendezvous was held in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the part of Cascadia temporarily known as the State of Washington. Immediately after the event's end, early on Monday, July 8, direct actions rippled across the Northwest of the United States. In Portland, Oregon, activists descended on the headquarters of the Umpqua Holding Company on the 19th floor of a downtown skyscraper and shut it down. In Eugene, Oregon, activists gathered outside "stUmpqua" Bank to educate customers about the tree-slaying ways of Umpqua's president, Allyn Ford. Mysteriously, a load of wood chips was dropped inside the door of the bank and a big stump blocked the driveway entrance. Outside of Olympia, Washington, activists locked down to the William's Energy Company's pipeline drilling equipment, stopping all work on the project for most of the day. In the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana, two Wild Rockies Earth First! activists occupied trees in a proposed helicopter landing site.

On Wednesday, July 10, the Cascadia Forest Alliance announced that a tree-sit had gone up in the Solo timber sale in Mt. Hood National Forest, bringing up to five the number of active tree-sit locations in Oregon. That afternoon, people protested outside the Federal Courthouse in Portland, where a Grand Jury has been subpoenaing local forest activists. Due to the secretive nature of grand juries, the subject of investigation [ 1 ] is not known. Activists in Medford, Oregon, protested at Senator Ron Wyden's office and Umpqua Bank against replacement volume timber sales and old growth logging.

Meanwhile, at a Cascadia Forest Defenders tree-sit at the Berrypatch timber sale in the Willamette National Forest near Eugene, one activist was arrested and logging continues within 20 feet of the tree-sit despite confirmed sightings of the endangered spotted owl in the area.



Thousands March in Teheran on Aniversary of Dorm Attack

11.07.2002 22:12

Although officially agreeing with a government ban on all marches, thousands of Iranians demonstrated in Tehran on July 9 to commemorate the storming of a Tehran student dormitory by right-wing vigilantes on 8 July 1999. Dozens of students were reported to have been killed in the attack, carried out by riot police and Ansar Hizbollah paramilitaries.

This year, students planned to forestall such attacks by complying with the government ban, instead pouring their energy into publicizing their cause and reviving a number of progressive newspapers shut down over the past years. Pressures were increased for an investigation into the fate of Ahmad Batebi, who became the face of the student movement after he was condemned to 15 years in prison for holding up a bloodied shirt during a protest. Protests in commemoration of the 1999 attacks were held regardless.

Iranian students, who were instrumental in bringing the party of pro-reform cleric Mohammed Khatami to government in 1997, are regarded as the main force for change. The ruling theocracy views the student movement as the greatest threat to their power, and have repeatedly tried to brand them as foreign-sponsored troublemakers - a label that carries strong stigmata among the generally nationalist Iranian population.




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