Protests in Europe

Tens of Thousands Confront the International Gangsters of G8

Revolutionary Worker #1203, June 15, 2003, posted at

The heads of state of the Group of 8 countries (G8) met in Evian, France, from June 1 to 3. Tens of thousands of people confronted these international gangsters with determined protests in the face of massive police mobilization.

The G8 is made up of the governments of the world's wealthiest capitalist countries--U.S., Germany, France, England, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Russia. This was their first meeting since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. This was also George Bush's first trip since the war to Europe--where millions marched against the war earlier this year. Many demonstrators were particularly forcused on denouncing Bush and the unjust U.S. war and occupation, as well as the whole U.S. drive to be the new Roman empire on a world scale.

The protesters also opposed the claim of the U.S. and other powers to represent the future of the world and the interests of the people. Coming from various political viewpoints and trends, the protesters demanded a different world from the present hell of massive poverty, ecological disasters, and predatory wars.

It was fitting that these richest world powers met in Evian--a symbol of the well-to-do because of the name of the expensive bottled water. The G8 had a practical reason for choosing this site--they could easily fortify it against protesters. Evian is a remote resort between Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) and the Alps mountains, accessible only by narrow roads. The French government set up a demonstrator-free zone around Evian, guarded by thousands of police and military. Across the border, the Swiss government mounted the largest security operation since World War 2, mobilizing over 5,000 Swiss militia and police who were joined by German police.

The protesters weren't able to reach Evian, but nearby areas were rocked by opposition to the G8 and the whole world order. Anti-G8 activists mobilized for a week-long carnival of resistance--including blockades, huge activist encampments, direct action, and counter conferences. Protesters made plans to gather in Annemasse, 25 miles to the west of Evian on the border with Switzerland, and across the border in Geneva and Lausanne.

On June 1, thousands of activists blocked five bridges in Geneva in the early morning to prevent G8 delegates from getting across the border. Crossroads in Lausanne and roads from Annemasse toward Evian were also blocked.

Massive protest marches from Geneva and Annemasse--with more than 100,000 people--came together on the Swiss/ French border, disrupting traffic. On the way back to Geneva, police attacked protesters with rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and tear gas. This set off a street battle that continued long into the night in the heart of Geneva, home of the World Trade Organization and some of the world's richest banks. Joined by local kids from housing projects, G8 activists fought police assaults with stones and Molotov cocktails. Some gas stations were ransacked and bullet-proof bank windows were smashed. An AP report said, "The elegant streets of the lakeside city were turned into a sea of glass and acrid smoke filled the air." The police targeted anyone on the streets and invaded L'Usine, an activist organizing space, beating and arresting people.

A march of several thousand on the road to Evian was heavily gassed by police. People built barricades of steel and fire to block the police. A British activist who was hanging from a rope in an attempt to stop traffic on a road near Evian fell 20 meters (about 60 feet) when the police cut off the rope. He sustained a serious spine injury.

In Lausanne, pink, silver, black, and aqua blocs, representing different activist trends, worked together to try to disrupt ferries taking G8 delegates across the lake to Evian. They were attacked by police, who eventually surrounded the activists' legal encampment, arresting hundreds and beating people.

On June 2, demonstrations against police repression and water privatization joined up to sit down on a bridge in Geneva. They were surrounded by hundreds of Swiss and German riot police and assaulted with rubber bullets and tear gas. The police presence drew thousands of Geneva residents into the streets to defend the protesters. Police turned water cannons laced with pepper spray on them. The surrounding streets became a battle zone between the people and police.

Street battles again burst out the next night in Geneva's streets as the G8 summit drew to a close.

The resisters who confronted the G8 summit and the armies of police spoke for people around the globe who hate the oppressive future that the imperialist powers want to impose and who want a new, different world. A call put out from Geneva for the G8 protests declared, "Summits intended as ritual shows of their supremacy now reveal the universal unpopularity of the regime and its fundamental basis: force and violence. Of course this symbolic revolution will not suffice, but it is the essential achievement of the movement and has given new hope and determination to millions worldwide."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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