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(en) UK, Media: Golfing anarchists' threat to Gleneagles G8 summit Protest groups publish plans to disrupt world leaders' 2005 meeting

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 23 Jun 2004 10:39:57 +0200 (CEST)

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GOLFING anarchists are plotting to descend on one of Scotland's most prestigious
hotels in protest at the hosting of the G8 summit of world leaders next summer.
Gleneagles Hotel's management have admitted they are running a risk by accommodating
the summit, which will "inevitably" lead to disruption, and in the worst-case
scenario lead to the Gleneagles name being associated inter nationally with scenes
of violence like those seen in Genoa and other G8 venues in the past.
The hotel is expected to be protected by a major security
operation involving police and the secret services. It has been
suggested that security for the event will cost 150 million,
although authorities have refused to confirm the figure.

Tayside Police has pledged to set aside a space for peaceful
protest, but warned that the "full force of the law" will be used
against those who try to disrupt proceedings.

Nevertheless, dozens of groups including debt campaigners,
anarchists and the so-called "black block" are now preparing a
wide variety of demonstrations and stunts to disrupt the

The People's Golfing Association (PGA) is one of the few to have
published advance plans. Members of the group, founded in
Canada but operating out of Cambridge, describe themselves as
academic anarchists and "self-proclaimed consultants to the
revolution". They plan to hold an open golfing tournament at the
"posh golf resort" during the summit to draw attention to the G8's

"Making divots in the well-manicured and pesticide-fed lawns
will be actively encouraged," the group's website claims.

Organisers said they were prepared to face arrest in the attempt to
play golf at Gleneagles during the summit.

Anna Jones, a grassroots activist from Cambridge, said: "I
imagine they will try and make it into a fortress up there. If they
won't let us close theyve clearly got something to hide. We
see the summit at Gleneagles as an opportunity to focus attention
on what the G8 is doing and put pressure on it."

Critics of the G8 argue that since it was founded in 1975 it has
failed to tackle world poverty and has instead advanced the
economic interests of already-powerful countries and
multinational corporations.

Jones said: "The G8 continues to talk in positive terms about
wanting to help poor countries but in reality it continues to
strangle them with debt. When it does give debt relief there are
often strict provisos and it will only do so if the country agrees to
privatise industries or services."

Debt campaigners in particular were outraged by moves by
President George Bush to write off Iraq's international debt
burden at the recent G8 summit at Sea Island in the US state of

Another PGA member, known as Sir Milk of Magnesium, said:
"The US scuttled moves to forgive African countries their debts at
previous summits. Now that it can benefit their favourite
corporations they want other nations to cancel the Iraqi debt.
There is a huge hypocrisy that is just staggering."

He said the golfing tournament would highlight the "ironic"
nature of the summit's setting.

"It is symbolic of the degree of isolation of world leaders at this
point in time that they have to meet in increasingly isolated
surroundings. The elite nature of Gleneagles also shows how
detached they are from the lives of ordinary people."

He added: "We are well aware that 'people's golf' is not going to
be viewed kindly by some of the security. Nobody is seeking to
get arrested but I think there is a risk of that. There will be a lot of
rhetoric before the summit to try and scare people away from
protesting. But many people will be protesting despite that."

Peaceful protests against the Iraq war had been ineffective despite
their size, he said. "Because of the shallow nature of democracy,
we need to go beyond marching up and down the street and use
direct action. There will be a whole range of tactics used and this
is just one of them."

Although pictures on the group's website depict golfers in black
jerkins, combat trousers and balaclavas, he denied they were
members of the "black block" of anarchists who were involved in
much of the violence at the 2001 summit in Genoa.

"It doesn't matter what colour people's clothes are. Some class
themselves as anarchists. Some will be using black block tactics
and some will just be ordinary people playing golf," he said.

Dorothy Welsh, marketing director at the Gleneagles Hotel, said
preventing disruption would be primarily down to Tayside Police.
"We are not the security experts, we are just the hotel. But we are
working very closely with the police to put detailed security plans
in place.

"The police will arrest anyone who wants to protest in a violent or
disruptive way."

She said there were risks involved in hosting the G8, but that on
balance it would be worth it to help put Scotland and Perthshire
on the world stage and boost tourism.

Welsh said she hoped the reputation of Gleneagles would not
become tarnished by any confrontations between police and
protesters that might occur in June next year.

"That is obviously why more retreat-type locations have been
selected rather than placing the summit in towns or cities," she
said. "It's always a risk, but we have a year to prepare and we
believe the long-term benefits will outweigh any short-term

She was discouraging about the chances of an anarchist golf
tournament even getting as far as teeing off: "The golf courses
will be closed for the duration of the summit. The police have said
provision will be made for peaceful protest, but any violent
protesters or those who damage property are likely to be arrested."

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: "We will be
working closely with our partners throughout Scotland and with
the UK government to ensure the event is a success. The police
and law enforcement agencies are well equipped to make sure the
2005 summit is a peaceful and safe one."

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