Davos-ATTAC protests outside WEF

For any information please email: <ecoropa@magic.fr>, <vespa@globenet.org>, <webmaster@attac.org>.

Agence France-Presse

"Freedom not free trade": protest outside global mountain summit

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 30 (AFP) - Up to 200 demonstrators staged a protest Saturday demanding "freedom not free trade" as world leaders met in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for their annual gathering to take the pulse of the global economy.

"Down with Homo Economicus" screamed the protestors, who were kept at a distance from the World Economic Forum (WEF) conference centre by police in riot gear and metal barricades erected across the town's snowy streets.

"It is scandalous that while they invited (UN human rights chief) Mary Robinson, they will not even talk to us about our demands," said an organizer of the demonstration, which lasted about two hours and was largely good-natured.

The protesters threw snowballs at police armed with riot shields and tear-gas guns and chanted "Police fascists" and "Down with global leaders" as a police helicopter hovered overhead.

Some 1,000 global business chiefs and over 250 police are gathered until Tuesday for the WEF meeting, which this year has the theme "Responsible Globality" and is debating how to give a social face to globalization.

WEF organisers had warned participants by the e-mail system in the congress centre to avoid the area of the demonstration, but those inside the hall were unaffected as the demonstrators were at the other end of the snow-covered resort.

The demonstrators wanted to demonstrate right outside the WEF conference centre, about a kilometer (half a mile) away. But after negotiations they were told they could only send a small delegation to meet WEF chief Klaus Schwab.

"It is all or nothing. We refused," said an organizer as the protest moved gradually back towards the town's train station before gradually dispersing.

Riccardo Petrella, professor of the Catholic university of Louvain in Belgium and a member of ATTAC, the association for a tax on financial transactions to help citizens founded last year, said the WEF should be dissolved.

"This forum has not legitimacy, all the more because they have admitted that the policies they promoted during 20 years have produced results they are deploring today," he said.

For any information please email: <ecoropa@magic.fr>, <vespa@globenet.org>, <webmaster@attac.org>.

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