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Year 2005 No. 89, July 6, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

"Another World Is Possible" Convergence on Gleneagles

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"Another World Is Possible" Convergence on Gleneagles

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"Another World Is Possible" Convergence on Gleneagles

On July 6, during today's G8 opening, well over seven thousand people gathered for the Another World Is Possible convergence on Gleneagles.

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Sixty coaches left from Edinburgh alone, and coaches also left from Glasgow, Dundee and other places. So great was the demand to get to the remote site of the luxurious Gleneagles Hotel that around 1,000 protesters were left without transport in Edinburgh. Not to be outdone, they also staged an impromptu demonstration, occupying Princes Street, the main Edinburgh thoroughfare.

People started to gather in the morning in Auchterarder, a village of 6,000 people in the Scottish countryside, about two miles from Gleneagles.

Beginning from around 9am and lasting until after noon, the activist coaches coming from across Scotland were stopped at a roundabout about 11 miles from Auchterarder. Sometime before 11 am, the police called a press conference and unilaterally declared that the march, organised by the coalition G8 Alternatives, had been cancelled for "security reasons". After negotiations the ban was lifted, and the coaches were released, to be shepherded in a vast convoy with police escort to Auchterarder! Not the least of the protesters' negotiating cards was that if not allowed to proceed, they would blockade the roads themselves and make it impossible for any traffic to progress.

At Auchterarder, the welcome the convoy of coaches received from local residents had to be seen to be believed. Residents and protesters alike waved, cheered, applauded and held up clenched fists. Indeed, all along the route of the march also, those who were perhaps too elderly to join the march waved from their windows and balconies.

From the stage at the rally before the march, George Galloway, one of the speakers, warmly thanked the people of Auchterarder for their welcome. Equally he condemned the police for their attempts to cancel the march or prevent it from taking place with their blockades and harassment of those trying to reach the demonstration, including himself. "We have the right to demonstrate!" he declared, and that cannot be taken away from us, at the same time denouncing the government for turning this into a police state. He insisted that the police, instead of targeting those who wear scarves and hoods, should arrest the real violent criminals, those who sit at the Gleneagles table and are responsible for the deaths of millions of people in the world.

He poured scorn on "Sir Bob" and "Sir Bono". What should be said, he declared, is that the poor do not owe the rich anything. In fact, it is the rich who are indebted to the poor.

The march finally started at 2 pm, in an extremely festive and comradely mood. Colourfully dressed people, groups of clowns, three bands, the Rinky Dink bicycle-operated sound-system, giant puppets representing all the G8 leaders (which were finally lined up in comical array in a field) and with Prime Minister Tony Blair himself the puppet of US President George W. Bush, babies in buggies and representatives of every conceivable stratum of society in a packed throng made their way, passing by the Auchterarder golf course en route, to the heavily guarded entrance to Gleneagles at the end of the country lanes, where everyone wanted to vehemently denounce Bush, Blair and the rest of the G8 who were locked away from the people's wrath, attempting to decide the people's fate.

There were a few protesters who vigorously threw down some of the fences, causing the authorities to rush more police into the gap, and the riot police split the march into two parts so that not everyone was able to make it to the focus of the demonstration. Nobody was hurt, nobody arrested, but the way the monopoly media operates could be seen by the fact that at the very instant this solitary act occurred, a reporter in her piece to camera opened by saying, "This violence of the demonstrators is the very reason the police wanted to ban the march, to prevent this sort of nightmare in Scotland."

Gradually, and in ever-increasing numbers, about a thousand activists clambered over the small perimeter fence of the fields of Easthill Farm, close to the G8 summit venue. The police suddenly found themselves unable to cope along a broad front with the flood of colourful people with flags and banners walking through the crops and presenting a festive spectacle in the "forbidden zone".

The police opposed this festivity with a sinister display of might. Riot police were flown in several times with Chinook military helicopters, which circled at low level before landing in strategic points to disgorge their forces. Both mounted and riot police were deployed on the move as if this were a re-enactment of Waterloo or the Battle of Orgreave. Despite this, the people still continued their dancing and chanting, and the clowns their clowning.

The people had the last word, and the protesters moved back peacefully into Auchterarder for a final militant rally and a call that the struggle will continue until the G8 leaders have been made to answer for their crimes.

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