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(en) Britain, MEDIA: Inside the secret world of anarchists preparing for G8 summit

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 29 Apr 2005 14:57:20 +0200 (CEST)


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"The Times penetrated a group of militants who are intent on
organised chaos when world leaders come to Scotland"
A REMOTE farm in the Lanarkshire countryside was transformed
last weekend into a city of well laid-out army tents and marquees
resembling a military encampment.
The military aspect was no accident. This was a "war
summit", where about 300 anarchists - some dressed in
urban guerrilla garb in freezing temperatures - had gathered to
draw up plans to paralyse Scotland during the G8 meeting at
Gleneagles in July.

At this so-called Festival of Dissent, held on the land surrounding the
imposing 17th-century Birkhill House at Coalburn, a secretive group
of militants drew up plans to blockade the summit by cutting road
and rail links.

Under the plans, tens of thousands of protesters are to be housed in
three camps strategically placed across Scotland and will be deployed
through a communications network designed to outflank the police.

Despite the group‚??s obsessive secrecy, The Times was able to
penetrate it to discover the nature of many of its plans - and the
willingness of some militants to resort to violence in their
determination to disrupt the summit.

After attending a series of meetings under an assumed identity, a
Times journalist also established that two key figures in the network
are a university dropout named Alessio Lunghi and Mark Aston, a
university administrator.

Mr Lunghi, 27, is a leading light within the Wombles, the hardcore
anarchist group that was behind the May Day chaos visited on
London in 2002. The son of an Italian wine importer and a primary
school inspector, Mr Lunghi, from South London, has been directly
involved in anti-G8 groups in the run-up to the summit.

He favours combat trousers and heavy, military-style boots, and
admitted at one meeting that there was no point to the
anti-globalisation protests if there was no violence.

Mr Aston, who works at Cardiff University and was the
vice-president of the Cardiff branch of the Association of University
Teachers last year, is a key organiser of the anti-globalisation group
Dissent, which was behind the festival.

Set up in 2003, Dissent is an umbrella organisation for anarchists and
other radical groups, which say that they wish to see the overthrow of
capitalism through "direct action".

The event last weekend at the farm 32 miles southeast of Glasgow
attracted radicals from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea,
Spain and Iceland, along with a broad section of Britain‚??s
anti-globalisation movement.

These included a PhD student from Cambridge University, a sales
representative from London, a professional artist from Cambridge and
an assortment of eco- warriors. They were housed in a tent city set in
the farm‚??s 50 acres that included a military-style mess hall,
where activists lined up in orderly queues for vegan meals.

Using a large map of the Gleneagles area pinned to the canvas wall of
the main marquee, Mr Aston explained to the listening militants the
benefits of cutting off the A9 trunk road from Glasgow to Perth and
the Forth Road Bridge. "This would effectively cut off the north
of Scotland," he said. "We have to make sure that we can
transport the protesters around the area and make sure they have
maximum impact and blockade Gleneagles."

Protesters from outside Scotland would converge on three camps
- in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Their exact locations are a
closely guarded secret.

Activists at one meeting boasted that they knew the intended location
for the main police camp, which will house many of the thousands of
officers whose task will be to prevent any disruption of the summit. It
is believed that some groups intend to target that camp. Mr Aston
noted the success of text-messaging in marshalling protesters during
anti-globalisation protests abroad and also discussed using
motorcycle couriers to disperse information.

Among the foreigners were two Icelandic activists who gave their
names as Oli and Runar. Runar, who said he was an art professor in
Iceland until being made redundant when his radical activities upset
the authorities, said: "We are here to learn about the techniques
required for direct action. In Iceland we have serious campaigns
against developing hydroelectric dams coming up this summer and
felt we needed to come here to understand what we can do."

The main action - which is scheduled for July 6 - is designed
to prevent support workers, journalists and international and British
civil servants, rather than the main leaders, from reaching
Gleneagles. Several thousand foreign and British civil servants are
expected to set the stage for the G8 leaders‚?? three-day meeting,
where Tony Blair, as the host leader (if Labour is re-elected on May
5), has pledged to push forward his plan to relieve debt and poverty in
Africa.

As plans for the summit are being polished in Western capitals, the
organisers of the campaign were preparing their own detailed designs
in the hope that they can plunge the event into chaos. The festival
focused on a series of workshops that included using blockading
techniques, surveillance and counter-surveillance, arrest role play,
first aid and "dealing with trauma".

Activists were told not to use inflammatory language or discuss
detailed strategy or tactics in open meetings because of fears that
undercover police or journalists were present. Security was tight, with
mobile phones and cameras banned.

Nevertheless, activists openly discussed their involvement in previous
anti-G8 riots at Evian in France, and Genoa. They also made clear
their hatred for the "British State".

One organiser of an "arrest role play" workshop, who did not
give his name, said: "The British State has a soft and fluffy
image, but it is not. It can be as violent as the Italian, German and
Swiss police. Do not be fooled."

More than 10,000 police are expected to be drafted in from across
Britain to protect world leaders, including Presidents Bush and Putin,
in an exercise expected to cost £20 million. Just how seriously the
G8 anarchists treat the prospect of violence can be gauged by the
setting-up of a trauma group to help protesters to deal with not only
the aftermath of any physical injuries received during the G8 summit
but also with their long-term effects.

One organiser also stated that they needed to pool funds to "sue
the police as fast as we can" because it would "help the
recovery process".

In a "blockading workshop", activists openly discussed
paralysing Scotland‚??s rail network by using equipment to
simulate a signal that there was a train on the line, and methods of
interfering with level crossings.

One clean-cut English student, who did not give his name, explained
the use of "track circuit operating clips" - which resemble
battery jump leads - to turn the signals red on a rail line and
effectively close it down. "There is an electrical current and you
attach the clips to the tracks and it breaks the circuit," he said.
"This makes it look like there is a train on the line and stops
everything."

The blockading workshops also saw discussion about methods to
block motorways, including the scattering of waste metals and plans
for activists to dress as motorway maintenance workers before
placing cones to create traffic jams.

Although Mr Lunghi did not attend the festival, he was at a meeting
this month at a community centre in Reading of a "South East
Assembly", gathered to deal with the logistical difficulties of
helping protesters to reach Scotland from London.

It was at an earlier meeting of the South East Assembly umbrella, in
East London, that Mr Lunghi addressed the question of violence
during the protests against the Gleneagles summit. Asked whether it
was likely, he smiled and said: "Well, I would hope so.
There‚??s no point going otherwise."

Asked yesterday about the campaign, Abby Mordin, 29, a resident of
the Talamh co-operative that owns Birkhill House and its estate,
said: "Dissent is not about riots but peaceful protest. It is a way to
get a strong message across and making sure the world leaders have
important issues on the agenda. We had workshops about dealing
with the media and peaceful blockades to block roads."

Mr Aston said: "I would really rather not give an interview to The
Times." Alessio Lunghi refused to comment.

SECURITY IN NUMBERS

100,000 people expected at the Make Poverty History march in
Edinburgh on July 2

50,000 protesters expected at a rally outside the Gleneagles Hotel on
July 6

10,000 police on standby during the summit, from Scottish forces
and from England and Wales

1,151 the regular strength of Tayside police force, which covers the
Gleneagles Hotel

1,500 delegates from the eight countries attending the summit

3,000 members of the media covering the summit

£150m estimated cost of hosting the summit

£20m amount provided by the Treasury for security


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