May Day global anticapitalism (review)

Barry Stoller bstoller at
Tue May 1 20:28:11 MDT 2001

Associated Press; Reuters; BBC; Agence France Presse; and Korea Herald.
1 May 2001. Combined reports.

Far-left demonstrators battled police in the streets of Berlin and
Sydney on Tuesday, while hundreds of thousands of workers from Russia to
Bangladesh marched in traditional May Day labor parades.

Proclaiming causes from anti-globalization to prisoners' rights,
demonstrators marched, sang and occasionally scuffled with police in
cities across Asia and Europe.

Riot police in Berlin turned water cannons on hundreds of young
anti-capitalists activists who pelted them with bottles and rocks,
smashed cars and threw up flaming street barricades.

On the other side of the city, jack-booted skinheads hoisted banners
calling for foreigners to be kicked out of Germany. Thousands of police
ringed far-right marchers to protect them from counterdemonstrators who
blew whistles and chanted "Nazis out." Skinheads also rallied in several
other German cities, including Frankfurt, where they clashed with

Some 9,000 police patrolled the streets, and authorities in Berlin
banned anti-capitalist demonstrations this year in hopes of breaking the
cycle of violence they say draws "riot tourists."

But protesters ignored the ban: In one case, police said they confronted
up to 6,000 people in a Berlin park.

"This is a revolutionary Labor Day and I'm demonstrating against the
capitalist system," said Vincent Gephard, a 23-year-old protester.

Germany's worst violence took place in the financial capital of
Frankfurt where police used teargas, water cannon and batons in clashes
with several thousand left-wing activists protesting against a neo-Nazi
march in the city. Five police officers were injured in the Frankfurt
clashes, while 55 protesters were detained and 31 others arrested.

Leftists also barricaded streets in the northern city of Hamburg,
damaging cars and setting off fireworks. Police said one person was
arrested and 31 were temporarily detained.

In Zurich, protesters threw stones, bottles and paint at police, who
responded with water cannon, teargas and rubber shotgun pellets. Police
said around 40 people were detained.

In London, thousands of demonstrators poured into the main shopping
street to demand the government - as one banner put it - "overthrow
capitalism and replace it with something nice."

They confronted police in riot gear and on horseback. Determined to
avoid the destruction of last year's May Day march in London, police
corralled the protesters in Oxford Circus.

As riot police with sticks and shields penned some 3,000 protesters into
the intersection for about five hours, the widely predicted violence
sputtered and flared. At about 8 p.m., police began to allow some
demonstrators to leave. Police said they arrested 42 people.

More than 500 cyclists blocked morning London traffic and staged a
brief, noisy protest outside the U.S. embassy.

Police and protesters also clashed violently in Australia, where
thousands of anti-globalization demonstrators tried to shut down stock
exchanges and big corporations. Traffic was disrupted in Sydney,
Melbourne and other cities.

Two police officers were hospitalized in Sydney and 28 others were
injured in fighting. Brisbane police arrested about 35 activists and
several people were injured as protesters tried to storm the stock
exchange. Sydney police detained about 30 protesters and charged four.

In France, where May 1 marches are traditionally peaceful, thousands of
workers and trade unionists took to the streets to celebrate the labor
holiday and protest recent layoffs.

In Oslo, protesters threw a cream pie in the face of Norwegian Foreign
Minister Thorbjoern Jagland.

One of the pie throwers said the attack was a protest at what they
viewed as a drift to the right in Norwegian politics under the minority
Labor government.

In Istanbul, 20,000 people marched, many of them calling for government
compromise with prisoners who are staging a hunger strike over prison
conditions in Turkey. Twenty hunger strikers have died. People were also
protesting corruption that many believe helped trigger an economic

In Zimbabwe, thousands of workers gathered for a May Day rally seen as a
test of the government's ability to win key labor votes ahead of
presidential polls expected next year.

In Hong Kong, hundreds of workers staged protests against high

In Greece, flights were curtailed and shipping and rail services
disrupted when public transport workers joined in May Day protests
against government plans for pension changes.

A scuffle broke out in the northern Italian city of Turin after a small
group of activists backing center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi tried
to join a leftist May Day rally.

Some 5,000 mostly elderly supporters of Bulgaria's main opposition
Socialist Party marched in central Sofia to protest against poverty,
rising crime and corruption.

In Moscow, where May Day rallies filled Red Square in Soviet days, about
28,000 marchers turned out. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov led a
crowd of 15,000 people to pay homage to a statue of Karl Marx.

But hundreds of thousands paraded in other Russian cities and towns.
Many marchers carried Soviet mementoes such as red flags and portraits
of Josef Stalin proclaiming "We need a second Stalin."

Russian news agencies quoted police as saying more than 300,000 people
had attended some 480 marches without incident in the world's largest
country stretching over 11 time zones.

In Ukraine demonstrations in several cities underlined the continuing
strength of support for the Communist Party, which last week used its
dominance in parliament to topple a reformist prime minister.

Around 1,000 Communists rallied on Tuesday on May Day in the Ukrainian
capital to protest against President Leonid Kuchma, whom they accused of
reducing the former Soviet country to misery. To the sound of Soviet
anthems, the procession slowly wound its way through the city center,
bearing red Communist flags, portraits of Lenin and banners proclaiming:
"All power to the workers" and "Out with the Bourgeoisie."

Croatian workers, struggling to make ends meet in an economy mired in
recession, celebrated in Zagreb with free bean stew in a downtown park.
The president and the prime minister mingled with leaders of major trade
unions, promising better conditions.

The leisurely atmosphere was pierced by chants of "We are hungry!" and
"We want a job!" from disgruntled residents.

In Bangladesh, thousands of workers with red ribbons tied around their
heads marched through Dhaka, demanding minimum wages and better working
conditions. They also called for free flow of workers across
international borders.

In many countries, May Day is more of a holiday than an occasion for

The Chinese got a week off and were encouraged to travel - in part to
try to stimulate the economy.

In South Korea about 20,000 workers faced 15,000 riot police in Seoul to
protest against government economic restructuring and a police crackdown
on car workers in April. South Korean workers and students beating gongs
and drums marched, following a large banner that read: "Down with
(President) Kim Dae-jung, who ruined workers' lives."

The nation's labor activists yesterday held mass rallies in
commemoration of the 111th May Day in which they renewed vows to launch
a general strike next month over demands for a halt to economic
restructuring, shortened work hours and the abolition of the National
Security Law.

They also called on the government to stop the suppression of the labor
movement, a reference made to the recent brutal police breakup of Daewoo
Motor Workers and prosecution of bank unionists.

"On this day of May Day, happiness is given to anger. The Kim Dae-jung
administration has pushed the workers and the people into the swamp of
limitless competition by stressing the sharing of pain. What we have
before us now is the bleak reality represented by 2 million unemployed
and 7 million temporary workers," said the Korea Confederation of Trade
Unions (KCTU) chairman Dan Byung-ho at a rally held in Taehangno,
downtown Seoul, attended by over 20,000 unionists.

About 4,000 members of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) -
the other major umbrella labor group - also held a rally in front of
Seoul Station to commemorate May Day, followed by a march to Myongdong

Meanwhile, about 1,000 workers from South Korea and North Korea gathered
at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea for a landmark joint commemoration of May

"Workers from the North and the South gathered at this internationally
famous Mt. Kumgang to celebrate May Day," the Yonhap News Agency quoted
an official of North Korean workers as saying when he welcomed the 545
South Korean workers. "Let's gather our strength to realize what was
declared at the June 15 inter-Korean summit," he said.

About 20,000 Taiwanese workers, waving placards and purple banners
reading "Give Me Work," marched through Taipei demanding better
employment policies.

Thousands of Iranian workers marched to the parliament to protest
against high unemployment and to demand tougher action against illegal
foreign laborers.

In Cuba, President Fidel Castro led hundreds of thousands of workers in
a noisy march outside the U.S. mission to protest a trade agreement he
predicted would bring more McDonald's and other U.S. corporations to the
Americas but impoverish the region's people.

"How marvelous! Surely two or three Disneylands will be built in Central
and South America!" Castro said.

Castro was referring to a proposal for a free trade zone stretching from
Alaska to Argentina by 2005 that was approved last month at the Summit
of the Americas in Quebec.


Barry Stoller

Proletarian news & Leninist debate

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