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G8 Dissent International Networking Meeting in Germany - Report
02.03.2005 19:52 http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/03/306083.html

The Dissent international networking meeting was held over the weekend of 26th-27th February in Tuebingen, Germany.

Up to one hundred people from all over europe and beyond came together to continue planning protests against the G8 Summit and campaigns around the issues related to it. With people from well over 20 different countries in attendance this was a truly international event.

Tuebingen itself is a university town, with a reputation for being liberal and a history of politics. Accommodation and meeting spaces were provided in two impressive places - the Epplehaus infoshop space and at the Schellingstrasse project buildings. Originally army officer barracks, the Schellingstrasse had been squatted around 20 years ago and has provided much needed social space and living accommodation. Both spaces are no longer squats, but have been negotiated as legal spaces. Excellant food was provided by the hosts throughout the weekend for a small fee of around five Euros.

Right from the start of the meeting it was clear just from the piles of leaflets, papers, posters and flyers that the mobilisation against the G8 in July will be a major event crossing over many issues and campaigns.

Much of the time during the two days of meetings were spent in describing the situation in Scotland and the current state of preparation and planning.

There were sessions on the various different mobilisations and the way Labour Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Brown were touting the G8 Summit as being all about ending poverty and solving climate change - a prospect about which all participants were extremely sceptical.

The meeting heard about the Make Poverty History coalition campaign for 2005, and the rejection of free-trade and forced economic liberalistaion by many of the groups involved in the coalition. There were also reports from the G8Alternatives mobilisation, their plans for organising a protest on the opening day of the Summit as well as their counter-conference and forthcoming book. There was some well founded criticsm of their organising methods and some of the media spin they were touting, but this wasn't dwelt upon.

There was also a basic introduction on the history and politics in Scotland, including the infamous Highland and Lowland clearances during the 'enclosures' that took common land from the people, and the current situation where much of the land is owned by giant absentee estate owners. It was noted that Scotland has a proud history of resistance and that many people are sympathetic to the problems caused by neoliberalism, and openly hostile towards Blair and Bush. It was stressed that in many considerations, Scotland is significantly different to England, especially in terms of the political left.

A long legal briefing described the legal system in Scotland (which again differes significantly from the English equivalent). The session included information on the controversial Section 44 stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act, which have been widely used against anti-war and anti-arms camapigners, rather than the terrorists it is intended to target. There was also a description of the Section 60 public order powers now routinely used to surround and detain protestors - powers which themselves have recently been the subject of a legal challenge following the eight hour plus detention of thousands of people in Oxford Circus during the Mayday 2001 protests in London. People were also warned about the widespread practice of police lieing about the powers they were using to trick people to give their names and addresses. There were also warnings of the use of aggressive police surveillance techniques, with members of the Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) tasked to follow, film, photograph and harrass protestors - a practice that seems to be spreading north to Scotland ahead of the G8 Summit. This was stressed since it is uncommon for these aggressive filming techniques to be used in the rest of europe.

It should be noted that during the weekend German police controlled access to the meeting spaces on a couple of occasions, stopping a number of people in the streets and checking and recording their passport details.

Activists were also warned that penknives used for camping could get them into trouble, and were advised to not bring them. The ins and outs of the Scottish 'justice' system were also described with advice given on people's rights upon arrest, and it was noted that several civil liberties groups would be monitoring police behaviour and security measures over the coming months. It was also reported that authorities have already begun questioning some people at airports in scotland about the G8 protests. A draft copy of "An Activists Guide To Scottish Law" (and not 'an anarchists guide' as was reported by the media) was made available for people and will soon be published in print and on the internet.

There were also presentations on the NVDA (non violent direct action) blockading tactics which have been widely used over the years, most noteably by the environmental roads protest movement and peace movements. It was noted that these tactics meet with significant support in Scotland where these forms of action also attract participation of some members of the Scottish Parliament.

Another session looked at the mainstream press, and in particular, their appaulling track record in 'reporting' the build up to large demonstrations. Examples of some of the worst excesses of fantasy made-up journalism seen over the past few years were given alongside a description of the current media fixation on riot scaremongering and an obsession with security arrangements for the summit at the expense of a discussion of the issues (beyond the celebrity led 'drop-the-debt' demands from Make Poverty History).

Practical discussions were also high on the agenda, with discussions being held on the vast scale of catering needed to cook for so many people. While people at the meeting were planning for a campsite for accommodation, they stressed the political importance of creating a space that would be self managed and which could be used to demonstrate sustainable alternatives. Updates were also given about the attempts of various other groups to work with the authorities in finding suitable space for campsites to accommodate thousands of people. While some hoped the authorities would come to their senses and see the urgency of the situation, others were resigned to the fact that people might have to resort to squatting large urban buildings and occupying rural land in order to provide accommodation. It was noted that there were similarities between this situation in Scotland and the European Social Forum held last October in London. Back then the Greater London Authority made little progress on aiding the process of finding cheap or free accommodation for participants, until at the last moment they realised the severity of the situation and had to resort to hiring the Millennium Dome and turning it into a huge accommodation centre.

There were also discussions and planning meetings about setting up volunteer medical teams, legal teams, educational projects, and DIY media reporting.

Shortly after the discussion on the media, it transpired that a Scottish TV crew had arrived in town. Apparently they had been in touch with people before the meeting, but had been told that it would not be worth their while travelling to try and film at the meeting in Germany (which had recieved a fair amount of prior media coverage in Scotland). There was much discussion of the line to take, with the majority of people agreeing that most mainstream journalists have usualy decided what story they wish to write, and subsequently always twist facts or interviews to fit their pre-fabricated (often sensationalist) story. It was agreed that individuals were free to speak to the press, but could not speak on behalf of the meeting, or of the Dissent network itself, and in the end one or two people did speak to them. They were also told a press statement would be prepared and sent out at the end of the meeting on Sunday (this is copied below).

During the weekend two time slots were dedicated to discussing the actual protests themselves with sessions held on numerous different plans including protests against the causes of climate change (a subject which for many goes straight to the heart of the inter-related issues of oil and environmental exploitation, war and capitalism). There were reports on planned demonstrations against asylum detention centres and in support of the freedom of movement, campaigns against increasingly insecure working conditions being imposed around the world, as well as presentations on positive community projects scheduled to take place prior to the Summit that activists hope will both build a stronger understanding of environmental sustainability issues, and also serve to dispell the media image that anyone directly protesting against the G8 Summit must be some crazy anarchist or mindless thug.

The meeting also stated it's support for the planned blockades against the Faslane nuclear submarine base. Yet more reports and discussions were had on other forms of action on other days including the much vaunted people's golf tournament to be played on the lawns of Gleneagles, the lighting of 'beacons of dissent' on the surrounding hills, the 'Silver Group' hillwalking protest promoting the right to roam, and several other sceduled demonstrations.

Responding to the calls to blockade the actual G8 Summit itself on Wednesday 6th July, there was again discussion of various blockading techniques. It was recognised that some people will be using static blockade techniques such as locking themselves together with chains, and as such extreme care must be taken to ensure as little risk of injury as possible, since previous large summits have seen extremely aggressive attacks on crowds of protestors by the police. There was also discussion of the need to consider the local residents, and to understand the impact the disruption caused by the Summit will have.

But it wasn't just protests and campaigns in Scotland that were discussed. There were several reports given that groups were planning on organising various events in countries across europe and beyond to highlight the issues, and make the political link from the local, to the global. These ranged from discussion forums to protests and publicity stunts themed around events in scotland, with people keen on the idea of lighting 'beacons of dissent' in solidarity with those in Scotland, and holding crazy golf tournaments outside Embassies of G8 countries.

Interestingly the next two host countries for the G8 are fixed already. Next year will see the G8 circus taking place in Russia, while in 2007, it will be the turn of Germany to host the meeting.

Back in Scotland, Monday 28th February saw the Scottish TV crew footage aired on Scotland Tonight under the heading "Protestors warn of massive disruption during G8 summit", while the Scottish Daily Mail apparently ran a frontpage story along the lines of 'secret anarchist training camp infiltrated!' (...yes, another one!).

A copy of the Press Statement produced by the meeting is below, and it was announced at the meeting that minutes and notes from the meeting will, as usual, be made publicly available.

Related Press Reports:


Statement from International Anti-G8 Meeting in Tuebingen, Germany

Copied from : http://www.dissent.org.uk/content/view/133/1/

Written by International Meeting
Sunday, 27 February 2005

International Anti-G8 Meeting in Tuebingen, Germany

From 26th-27th February 2005, people involved in anti-capitalist groups and networks from twenty-three different countries, gathered in Tuebingen, Germany to continue planning resistance to the 2005 G8 Summit.

The meeting declared, « This year's Summit professes to address issues important to us all, amongst them: climate change and poverty. Yet these are issues produced by a system from which the G8 was born and which it attempts to manage. Resistance is the obvious and growing response to the current order. Our aim is not merely to oppose the Summit, but to contribute to the daily struggle to create new worlds. »

A number of action plans were developed over the weekend, reflecting the diversity of the perspectives from which those attending were coming. Concrete action plans included:

The meeting also commented, « Whilst the eight most powerful men on Earth retreat behind fences and into militarised zones to pursue their policies of war, growth and destruction, we are attempting to build new spaces, open to everybody, and in which we can demonstrate our legitimate alternatives: of self-management, of non-hierarchical and consensus based decision making and of ecological sustainability. »

Notes to the Editor:

  1. The 2005 G8 Summit will take place at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. Gleneagles is located 70 Kilometres north of Edinburgh.
  2. Amongst those attending the meeting were people based in: Scotland, Germany, Macedonia, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, Lebanon, Israel, Ireland, Finland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Russia, England, Belarus, the United States, Canada, Austria and Switzerland.
  3. The meeting was organised by the Dissent! International Networking Group. For more information about Dissent! see: www.dissent.org.uk

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