Australian police attack WEF protesters
BY ROBBIE MacGABHANN
Australian police indiscriminately attacked protesters in Melbourne at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Asia Pacific Economic Summit this week. The protests were the latest round in a series of international protests organised by anti-globalisation activists from trade unions, third world lobby groups and human rights organisations around the world. Thousands of protesters have converged on Melbourne after similar protests in London and Washington this year and Seattle last year.
The aim of the protesters, who loosely title themselves under the name s11 (the start date of the summit), was to disrupt the WEF meeting by preventing delegates reaching the conference venue. s11 wanted to organise a peaceful protest. However, television pictures beamed around the world showed an Australian police force determined to break the s11 blockade by violently attacking protesters.
The WEF claims that the s11 protests are misdirected and that it has spoken out against the negative effects of globalisation in the past. The case made by s11 is much more compelling. They argue that the WEF ``is an exclusive, unelected, invite-only organisation''. The WEF's members include 1,000 chief executives from the world's largest transnational companies. S11 believes that the WEF summits ``allow the richest and most powerful corporations in the world to mingle with trade representatives from nations and with each other, to make business deals and determine global political and economic policies''.
S11 believes that the WEF ``is an extremely powerful and unaccountable body who are making major decisions about what we will read in the media, what food we will eat, what we will study in school, where, when and in what conditions we will work; almost every aspect of our everyday life''.
Whether or not you agree with s11 or believe the benign view being peddled by the WEF, it is impossible to condone the action of the Australian police, who lashed out at protesters, batoning them. The sll protesters were on the whole staging a peaceful action. Many news bulletins also showed photographers and cameramen being attacked indiscriminately. The heavy-handed police actions do not bode well for the policing of the Olympic Games, due to start in Sydney this weekend.