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(en) Japan, Osaka, Reclaim the Streets*/Defend Our [street] Party, August 3rd 2003

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 8 Aug 2003 10:00:30 +0200 (CEST)


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by Sally McLaren akubi (at) hct.zaq.ne.jp
A street party demonstration protesting against the war in Iraq,
recent contingency legislation passed in the Diet and the right to
mingle in public spaces took to the streets of Osaka on Sunday.
There were approximately 300 participants and 50 police. Ravers,
anti-war, anti-Bush and anti-Brand America protesters as well as
other political activists were led by a truck loaded with speakers and a DJ.
They were followed by drummers, an electric guitarist, flag wavers
and a team projecting images of dead and injured children Iraqi
children as well as messages against American Imperialism, on to buildings.

The demonstration was tightly controlled by the police. Police
vehicles were at the beginning and end of the procession. The rear
police truck broadcast instructions at the participants throughout the
demonstration. Some police were dressed in riot gear and others in plain
clothes.

They doggedly surrounded the demonstration as the participants walked from
Yotsubashi to Dotonburi (via Nagahori). A lot of participants wanted to
walk on the footpaths, hand out flyers and interact with the public. The
police pushed them back into the demo and essentially "funneled" them the
whole way. Not one step was allowed outside the designated route.

The demonstration was jointly named "Reclaim the Streets" and "Defend Our
Party" The dance party/political protest combination appears to be a
reaction against Japanese remilitarization since 9.11, and the so-called
'war on terrorism'. One of the flyers given out at the demonstration said
that the street is not not only a place for regulated traffic but a place
for mingling and acting against tyranny and military control. War reduces
the street for use by regulated traffic only. Dancing is about freedom,
not control and gets away from the domination of war and violence.

The demonstration was videotaped by the police and they also took notes.
There were quite a few tense moments between the participants and police.
The aggressive way in which the police spoke to participants could be
attributed to the arrests at the July 19th "Street Party" in Tokyo. There
were also reports from that demonstration of police intimidating, provoking
and beating participants.

Was there a reclamation of the streets in Osaka on Sunday? It seemed that
many people were there to assert their individual right to be on the street.
It was not about defending rights or freedoms in a group sense. For the
shoppers observing the demonstration it was a spectacle. Certainly, the
police successfully asserted their control of the street in an overtly
aggressive way.

Anyway, it's difficult to take back the street if you need to have a permit
and the "protection" of a bus loads of riot gear-clad police.

* See images taken by Albie, G and Jen at:
http://japan.indymedia.org/newswire/display/581/index.php

*[Ed. Note: An international style anti authoritarian direct action]


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