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Counter-summit against G8 at Japan and Peoples’ Forum in Africa – No rest for the struggles !
by Eric Toussaint , Eric De Ruest , Pauline Imbach
14 July 2008

Report prepared by Eric De Ruest, Pauline Imbach and Eric Toussaint on the basis of messages from Japan and Mali.

For the CADTM international network the beginning of this summer resonates with the counter-summit !

Myriam BOURGY (CADTM – Belgium), Sushovan DHAR (VAK – India) and Yoko AKIMOTO (ATTAC Japan) attended the G8 counter summit at Hokkaido in Japan. A gathering of anti-globalisation activists under high security, numerous persons were prohibited from entering the islands, the streets were full of posters calling for the denouncement of “terrorists” and the presence of more than 21,000 police (it was 18,000 at Rostock, Germany, last year)

Quite a number of activists coming from other countries were refused entry at the airports and borders while local activists were locked up for 28 days as “preventive measures”. This is the democratic climate in which the leaders of the G8 countries of the free world meet.

At the same time at Koulikoro, (Mali) the Peoples’ Forum was organised: an African counter-summit of G8 where Jérôme Ollier attended on behalf of CADTM.

Protests were as well held at Liege, (Belgium) on Wednesday, July 9th with a street theater play. It staged a peoples’ tribunal where the G8 leaders were tried and convicted.

Do 8 countries have the right to decide for the whole planet ?

Myriam BOURGY asked the readers of Le Monde in a pessimist article about the global justice movement [1] However, leaving apart the normal propaganda for a uni-linear world, this is what Myriam told us about her experiences at Sapporo :

I did not have any problem at the immigration as was the case with Susan Georges (interrogated for 4 hours), Lidy Nacpil (the national secretary of FDC and Jubilee South, interrogated for 3 ½ hours yesterday at Tokyo), we will be attentive to the manner in which Walden Bellow (Focus on the Global South) will be received tomorrow. 19 Koreans (of KCTU and Via Campesina) were held at the airport for hours and then turned back.

Friday, July 4

We were at the Hokkaido private university where Susan Georges spoke (100-120 students) which was quite interesting. This afternoon, after a little walk around Sapporo with Sushovan, we were at the opening ceremony of the G8 action network. There were a few persons and among them were Nicola Bullard (Focus on the Global South), Lidy Nacpil (Jubilee South- Asia and Pacific), No Vox, FOEI, Sophie Zafari (FSU), Josu from Basque country, the CNT et some anarchists. A person from Bangladesh whom I was supposed to meet was refused the visa, Wangui Mbatia (grassroots – Kenya) was not able to be there since she had not yet received her visa. At best, she may arrive on late on Monday or even on Tuesday.

After the ceremony, 200 people took out a rally which was limited to the bus lane, flanked both sides by lines of police and their vehicules. It was unprecedented!! The liberty of expression was reduced to 1/3 of the road!!! A few tried to push the police lines and widen the procession but, that did not work. It was important to note that there was as many police and journalists as the number of demonstrators. Precisely two hours later, the rally had to end.

Saturday, July 5

In the morning, we had a workshop on illegitimate debt and the international campaign with Jubilee South. I presented the international campaign and everything went well. The room was primarily full of Japanese people (35 persons). Various cases of illegitimate debt from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Philippines were presented.

In the afternoon, we took part in the common march and walked together with Jubilee South and 8 masks representing the G8 leaders. There were around 5000 persons. Once again, we were forced to walk along 1/3 of the road which was really bizarre. There was a high mobilisation of police and they looked very nervous. On one side we were flanked by uniformed police and on the other side by plain cloths police. Whenever anybody tried breaching the limits, they were pushed back to the centre. Behind us there was a procession of anarchists, the riot police surrounded them with shields to restrain them within the line. There were four arrests : a journalist of Reuters [2], the DJ, the driver of the truck and a person on the anarchist truck. The police got hold of them by breaking the glasses of the vehicle and also seized their music system. One person was later released and the others were detained for another 10 days.

After the demonstration we had a public meeting where Sushovan spoke on the illegitimacy of G8 and India’s role.

The same evening we had a meeting of International co-ordination where Jubilee South, Via Campesina, FSU, Focus, FOEI, CADTM, ATTAC Japan and other Japanese organisations were present. In the first place, we took note of the repression at the borders. Via Campesina wrote a press release and we enumerated all the cases of expulsions and interrogations at the airport on arrival and the visa refusals as well. We decided to react immediately and write an open letter to the Japanese prime minister to denounce the methods which strongly resembled the methods adopted in Singapore during the annual meeting of the World Bank in 2006. It was also decided to have a common press release at the end of the counter-summit.

Sunday, July 6

I spoke about the African development with Noel Florent of Jubilee South from Cameroon and a lady from the organisation campaigning against TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development). I made an announcement of the Peoples Forum at Mali which created a lot of interest. There were 25 persons and some of them were very interested. Immediately after, I gave an interview to the correspondent of Le Monde in Japan and NHK World, a Japanese radio which broadcasts in France.

Next, Sushovan made a presentation on the agricultural situation in India and the condition of peasants in a workshop organised by the Japanese peasants’ organisation.

At the end of the day, we came to a press conference where the declaration on repression was read. CADTM was one of the signatories of the declaration.

Monday, July 7

We went to the workshop on ecological debt organised by Jubilee South. In spite of not making any presentations, we were there as we wanted to hear others on this. In the afternoon, I made a presentation at a seminar organised by Action Aid on G8 accountability, along with Vinod Raina, Walden Bello, John Samuel (Action Aid) and Noel from Cameroun. I strongly denounced the illegitimacy of G8 and the fact that the G8 is the pinnacle of the world capitalist order with the IFIs, WTO, trans-nationals, NATO, etc. I also spoke about G8’s responsibility of the current crises and the result of its policies of the last 30 years. I explained the idea that we really can’t expect anything out of G8 by drawing the example of debt as a tool of domination & G8’s complicity. I concluded by raising the demand of abolishing G8 and changing the system.

At the same time, thousands of kilometres from there, the 7th edition of Peoples’ Forum took place at Koulikoro, Mali. [3]

The opening ceremony took place in an amphitheatre at the Rural Polytechnic Institute of Katibougou, livened up by a rap performance by a group called “Les niananboys” which was very sharp in their criticism of the authorities. The hall was crowded, very hot with its very friendly atmosphere. A thousand of global justice activists came from Africa, Europe and Latin America.

Jérôme Ollier (CADTM- Belgium) who was there wrote this before the inauguration of the Forum :

The last preparatory meeting took place with the participation of around 40 participants from different branches of CAD (Coalition des Alternatives Africaines Dette et Développement- Coalition of african alternatives for African Debt and Development), Mali, some other Malian organisations (especially the students), the foreign participants (especially Senegalese organisations, Emilie from Benin, Ibrahima from Mauritania and a participant from Niger)

A very eventful programme was worked out :
4 days of activities, 7 plenary sessions, 19 workshops and 81 lectures.
There would be four spaces: peasants, youth, world of women and peoples’ market (promotion of local consumption).

The CAD expects the participation of 700 people:
200 persons from Bamako
60 from abroad
90 from the interior of the country
And 350 persons from Koulikoro

The forum was budgeted at 89 million CFA francs of which 6 million from the government (compared to 2.5 million in the last year)

The building of a rural educational institute (3 rooms having a total capacity of 1000 people) was taken for the programme and a building for lodging (which might be insufficiant). The utilisation of the place had been reduced in the last few years and the buildings had not been used in the last 15 years. The friends of CAD Mali had a tough task to clean the area and make it workable (electricity, kitchen, toilets and to get rid of the snakes that inhabited there).

The media response was positive. It was diffused by Malian television, some radios as well publicised the Forum and a website was set up. Around fifteen media participated at the Forum.

The opening speeches will be presented by the Governor of the Koulikoro region and then another by a minister. Mrs Barry wanted to question the agriculture minister about the “rice” initiative. The Malian government, to confront the food crisis, is launching a rice initiative which is publicly announced today. The Forum would focus a lot on agriculture (and food), there would also be the participation of the cotton workers union. The Forum will start tomorrow with a plenary session having 7 to 8 speakers. I will speak on the African debt. Mrs Barry and Dao (CAD) met the home minister and the prime minister to present the forum. Both expressed their support.

The major theme of this year is Africa and the neo-liberal globalisation, Africa as a playing field of policies and development models, food sovereignty, the debt problem, the economic and environmental impact of gold mining in Mali, the engagement of G8 and a lot of others… like the privatisation of HUICOMA, the destruction of the eco-system caused by water and atmospheric pollution, the ongoing insecurity and conflicts between certain neighbours.

In a message sent by Salissou Oubandoma, the delegate from RNDD Niger at the Forum wrote to us describing the first day of the Forum “It must be said that the comrades from the CADTM international network who spoke yesterday have literally distinguished themselves. I would like to speak of Jérôme Ollier (CADTM- Belgium) who blew up the hall when he exposed the unequal extravagant relations between the rich and the poor. It is also important to mention that with Jérôme, CADTM had the honour of being the first organisation to speak. The applause that followed his presentation raised unexpected militancy among the participants which was reflected in the slogans raised. Emilie Atchaka (CADD Bénin) rocked the discussions with her usual grit and determination exposing the enormous consequences that debt has wrecked. She finished by launching an appeal to the social movements present there to continue the struggle. In the afternoon we found Emilie very active in a panel on micro-finance”.

Luc Mukendi, delegate from CADTM/AMSEL Lubumbashi (DRC) described us the events of July 7 as: “Yesterday afternoon, the activities resumed in the plenary of the Peasants forum where a number of speakers took the floor to share their experiences of Agricultural laws, the rice initiative, the access to inputs and the usage of pesticides. The theme was well developed by a young agricultural engineer from Ivory Coast who stimulated attention of a lot of peasants towards non-branded products. The debate that followed was very rich.

The workshops started at 15:30 and went on till 20:30. As it is difficult to attend all the workshops at the same time, myself, Salissou and Solange went for the one on GM’s and Food Security. I had especially brought GM products from Lubumbashi (oranges, mandarin oranges, apples...) Emile activated the workshop on micro-finance, she now has thetitle of “Lady of the Forum...”.

After dinner, we were invited to the film made by CADTM: “Another world is possible” by Keny Arkana.

This morning, the participants are ready for the forum. They are dressed in green loincloths with the logo of “CAD Mali and Peoples’ Forum”.

Luc Mukendi ended his message on July 8th saying that “Lucile will arrive from Morocco and Victor Nzuzi is normally in his flight from Nairobi to Bamako. We shall have a meeting of CADTM soon”.

Salissou Oubandoma also wrote about the happenings of July 8: “Yes, the events resumed at 8 in the morning till 8 pm in a pleasant climate, thanks to the rain the night before".

The morning resumed with a report of the previous days work ; then there will be two plenaries. In the workshops, we will be present as CADTM in a series of panels probably lead by Emilie, Salissou, Moctar, Lucile Daumas, Gérard Akoumey, Babacar Ngom, Victor Nzuzi and Luc Mukendi”.

All the time, without a loss of tempo, at the heart of the social movements around the world is the demand of fundamental human rights.

Translated by Sushovan Dhar and Myriam Bourgy


Footnotes :

[1Lemonde

[2[Some photos of the demonstration www.flickr.com/photos/powless

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc.
See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

Eric De Ruest

est membre du CADTM Belgique et co-auteur avec Renaud Duterme de La dette cachée de l’économie, Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2014.

Pauline Imbach

CADTM France