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(en) Britain, Media, G8 Protest Stories ahead of the Gleneagles summit.

Date Mon, 13 Jun 2005 10:27:56 +0300


Sunday Herald 12 June 2005 Police 'harass' anti-G8 activists
POLICE have been accused of waging a campaign of intimidation
against anti-G8 protesters ahead of the Gleneagles summit.
As tensions rise over the decision by police and Perth and
Kinross Council to ban activists from marching near to the
five-star hotel in Auchterarder when the world leaders meet
next month, campaigners claim they now have a catalogue of
instances where they have become the victim of police
harassment.

Penny Howard, an activist with the G8 Alternatives group,
said the latest incident took place in Aberdeen last week,
when she was fundraising and handing out leaflets to locals
in the city which detailed the anti-G8 demonstrations
planned across Scotland.

She said two uniformed officers approached her and demanded
to know her name and address. They became threatening,
Howard claimed, when she asked why they wanted the information.

"They said that now they had talked to me they had come to
the conclusion that I was not a problem and that they had to
note down the fact that I was okay," she said. "In the end I
gave them my details because they were making it clear that
if I didn't, things would be taken to the next level."

She said that three weeks ago another female campaigner had
her details taken by police. Howard was also one of the
activists who were filmed by Grampian Police on Tuesday as
they attended a planning meeting at Aberdeen University.
When approached, one of the three uniformed officers who was
filming the demonstrators said they were "compiling evidence".

Howard said: "This is a systematic campaign. It is not a set
of random instances."

Campaigners also said that police officers in Glasgow had
visited the home of a member of G8 Alternatives who was
responsible for setting up the group's website.

The 27-year-old, who did not want to be named, claimed
officers had checked through his emails and questioned him
about what he knew about the potential for violence during
the G8 summit.

"They wanted me to tell them about possible violence and
asked me if I knew any anarchists or of any illegal actions.
It was a bit of a good cop, bad cop routine."

Joshua Brown, another G8 Alternatives activist, said he had
been stopped by police earlier this month near the
Gleneagles Hotel and again when he was travelling in a car
back to Edinburgh.

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, who is acting for the
group, claimed the police were "harassing" group members.

He said the decision not to allow G8 Alternatives to march
near Gleneagles Hotel next month had now set the scene for
"chaos", with thousands making their way to the summit
without any organisation.

A Grampian Police spokes man confirmed its officers had
"attended an incident" in Aberdeen where a person was warned
regarding collecting money without permission.

The police said they were committed to "safe and lawful"
protests.

*****

The Sunday Times (Scotland) June 12, 2005 A campsite for sore idealists

One of Scotland's most deprived areas will be playing host
to thousands of G8 protesters, writes Kenny Farquharson

Most of the young G8 protesters heading for Edinburgh next
month will arrive with little more than a two-man tent and a
conscience. With the clarity of vision that is the preserve
of the young they will already have an ideal notion of how
their trip will turn out.

In their mind's eye, world poverty will be defeated, of
course. But the experience will be more, much more than
that. In their dreams, these young idealists will camp out
under summer skies in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, or
somewhere equally pleasant in the heart of the city. The
Meadows, maybe, in studenty Marchmont; Inverleith Park in
trendy Stockbridge. Even a passing acquaintance with a Rough
Guide or Lonely Planet will have them dreaming of a romantic
skyline, and smoky, atmospheric pubs.

They are in for a cruel lesson in life's disappointments. On
arrival in Edinburgh, instead of being directed by a
friendly policeman to Princes Street Gardens, they are
likely to find themselves escorted to a spot that has yet to
feature on the tourists' itineraries. Niddrie.

Bolted on to the southeast of the city, Niddrie has the
distinction of being one of the most deprived corners of
Scotland. There, far away from student bars and vegetarian
restaurants, their home will be the 90 acres of Hunter's
Hall park, around a local sports and community facility
called the Jack Kane Centre.

Up to 15,000 protesters are expected to be ensconced here
between July 1-8, out of the sight of the city's
middle-class enclaves, and far away from evil bastions of
rapacious consumerism such as Jenners and Harvey Nichols
that might attract the protesters' ire.

As holding camps go, it is not a bad looking spot. On a
sunny morning last week, with rolling lawns and shady trees,
it had the feel of an attractive country park. Within weeks,
however, it will resemble a shanty town, and local people
are preparing for the worst.

Walking his bulldogs Tyson and Baillie as he does in the
park every day is Gary Young, a 36-year-old who works in the
security industry. "When are they arriving?" he asks, a big
man failing to keep a note of apprehension out of his voice.
"How long have we got?" The influx is something he dreads,
but he is philosophical rather than angry. "Obviously I'd
rather they weren't here -- this is a nice and peaceful
place," he says. "But they've got to go somewhere, I
suppose, and it's been decided to dump them on us. We'll
just have to see how they behave when they get here. We'll
just have to deal with it."

As for the prospect of conflict between the incomers and
local people, Young is sceptical. "I can't see there being
much trouble here. They're not coming to protest against us,
after all."

The council plans to build a steel security fence around the
perimeter of the park, ostensibly so local residents will
not have their lives disrupted by the protesters. In fact,
some people believe the fence is intended more to keep
locals out than protesters in.

"I don't know if the demonstrators have any idea what's
waiting for them," says one Jack Kane Centre employee who
knows only too well what Niddrie youths are capable of, and
asks to remain anonymous. "They'll end up getting their
tents nicked. This is one hell of an area, you wouldn't
believe it."

Among the perils the protesters face, he says, is the threat
posed by local tearaways on off-road trail bikes --
currently their favourite trick is to ride across football
pitches while matches are taking place.

Despite the obvious sums of money being spent on the area --
notably in brightly-coloured new housing -- Niddrie's
deprivation and social problems are plain.

On a street of renovated council houses a hundred yards from
the park a painfully thin teenage girl with grey skin is
pushing a huge pram with one hand while lighting a cigarette
with another. Despite it being a school morning, half a
dozen young kids are hanging around in standard chav sports
gear, seemingly with nowhere to go.

In the centre of the park, the Jack Kane Centre looks like a
nuclear bunker, a brutal construction of breeze blocks and
concrete. Inside it boasts two large sports halls and a
community centre with a busy programme of play sessions,
lunch clubs and youth groups. Attitudes among the staff vary
from dread to enthusiasm. "There's a couple of anarchists in
the older people's lunch club," says one. "They'll be
delighted."

Even anarchists need some organising, however. Facilities
being brought in for the campsite include drinking water,
toilets and lighting. There will be 24-hour security and the
possibility of shuttle buses into the city centre for the
big demos.

Childcare will be provided for parents who decide they do
not want to take their children to the protests. Emergency
loans will be available for people who run out of money.
Revolution has never been easier.

Although relatively isolated from the commercial heart of
the city, Niddrie is close to a number of potential targets
for anarchists and anti-capitalists. Nearby is the Fort
Kinnaird shopping complex, complete with McDonald's,
multiplex cinema, a bowling alley and a number of big retail
chains. Managers there are currently preparing their
security plans.

As for the local community leaders, they have been far less
nimby-ish about the protesters than residents of the
better-heeled suburbs of the city which are likely to escape
the full effects of the July invasion. But there is
resentment in Niddrie at the cavalier way the council has
treated the area.

David Walker, the 43-year-old secretary of Craigmillar
community council, which includes Niddrie, is in no doubt
why 15,000 people have been landed on his doorstep.

"The real reason the site has been put here is because there
would be far too big an uproar to have put it in one of the
middle-class areas of the city," he says. "But that's not to
say that the people coming here won't be made welcome. The
community at large supports the protests against poverty --
that's at the heart of what we do here in our own way,
although we realise what we have here is nothing like what
happens in Africa."

The eponymous Jack Kane was a local Labour councillor in the
1970s with a reputation for getting things done. There were
plans to mark the 30th anniversary this summer with
festivities starting at the end of June.

Now, it seems, the people of Niddrie will have to share
their party with 15,000 unexpected guests.


*****

Scotland on Sunday Sun 12 Jun 2005 G is for Genoa 8 revisited

FROM Bob Geldof's solemn battle cries to Midge Ure's
omnipresent grin, saturation point is a whisper away as the
Live 8 juggernaut picks up pace and column inches as every
day passes.

Yet in the world of theatre, or more specifically behind the
doors of Theatre Workshop, based in Edinburgh's Stockbridge,
things are low key as the company's artistic director,
Robert Rae, prepares for rehearsals of Black Sun Over Genoa,
a re-working of his 2002 production, Nothing Ever Burns Down
By Itself.

Rae was inspired to create his multi-media exploration of
the G8 summit after witnessing the news of the riot breaking
via television and radio -- the fatal shooting of Carlo
Giuliani and the reports that 500 people had been injured,
and 132 protesters arrested.

"I remember watching the events on television and it just
did not compute, so we started talking to Scottish people
who had been there for the protests: Christians, anarchists,
trade unionists, environmentalists, people from the Left; we
wanted to represent all the different groupings," says Rae.
"We then took each account and shaped it. We always felt it
was a work in progress being done on the basis that one day
it would find its rightful place as a more developed piece."

That day, it seems, has arrived. Since the play's first
outing Rae has journeyed to Genoa himself to meet Haidi
Giuliani, mother to Carlo, the young student shot during the
riots. There, through conversations with the Giuliani family
and with access to legal defence teams' video footage taken
by bystanders and protesters, Rae has re-worked the material
to create Black Sun Over Genoa.

ON HIS RETURN from Italy, Rae -- who was also responsible
for last year's popular hit, The Threepenny Opera --
encouraged actors and protesters who took part, to come and
audition for the production that will now perform three
nights at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre and one at Glasgow's
Tramway. The response, he says, was overwhelming.

Since the play's initial conception in 2002, the cast has
grown from six to 60, an evolution that Rae hopes, will
create a voice for all those who want to use it. "Protest
can be very theatrical and carnivalesque anyway, and as a
theatre community we can really express that as a collective
experience." Constantly in development, Rae asked each cast
member to give themselves a name and write what they
believed might be their own personal story before weaving it
in into the script.

"Theatre is the great educator, not only to watch but to do.
There are people in the cast who like acting and there are
people who are very committed to the ideas behind the
production and wanted to play a part in the process from a
creative point of view. It has been very moving: humanity in
all its difference."

The director is determined that while the Genoa summit ended
in tragedy, the celebratory aspects of the protest should be
embraced within the production. The whole first act consists
of the protesters' excitement and bustle as they get ready.
The second act, after the shooting, brings with it a change
of pace. And while a real documentary account, written by
the man who held Giuliani's hand as he died, will appear in
the show read by an actor, Rae hopes to engage with the
positive camaraderie that surrounds the 21st century
ideology of protest. "It is a hugely powerful and
significant movement that unites around the G8. It is a new
politics and a new world."

One voice that will certainly be heard is that of Haidi
Giuliani who, having written the introduction for the
production programme, will also get up on stage for a
10-minute question and answer session after the show. "She's
an extraordinary woman. I think it will be tough for her,"
says Rae. "But her message is very much a desire for justice
and she will be on the front line herself on the July 2
march, where she believes her son would have wanted her to be."

With this year's summit just weeks away, and the looming
threat of violence, Rae seems determined to bring the
ideologies surrounding the G8 back to their grass roots.
"There is a genuine sense of wanting to create a world that
is allowed to be diverse, a movement that unites kids in
Edinburgh that are against the war with young people who are
struggling in farming cooperatives in Mexico. They share the
same sets of beliefs: that's very inspirational.

"Bob Geldof banging away about world poverty is just the
icing on the cake. Pop culture tends to reflect what has
been going on for a long time; there is actually something
much more going on. Undoubtedly the sensibilities brought to
the fore by these people are great, but it connects on a
deeper level than that."

As a way of paring the message down, Rae has left the last
words of the production to the children in the cast, who
each wrote about their individual hopes for the future: "It
is their world at the end of the day," he says.

Rae already has plans afoot for his autumn production, a
collaboration with Ghazi Hussein and Nabil Shaban, focusing
on the weighty issue of whether information given during
torture should be admissible as evidence in court.

Another cheery one then? "After 10 years in the job," says
the director modestly, "I'm on a roll."

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (0131-529 6000), June 30, July 1
and 2, 7.30pm; Tramway, Glasgow (0141-422 2023), July 5, 7.30pm

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