10,000 march against privatization, for Palestine at Johannesburg world summit

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Sep 1 10:34:59 MDT 2002


 [Cuba News]
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug 31, 2002 (AP WorldStream via
COMTEX) -- About 10,000 protesters marched from a sprawling
township of tin shacks and open sewers Saturday to the U.N.
World Summit, demanding leaders do more to fight poverty and
save the planet.

Police in riot gear lined up shoulder to shoulder across
intersections around the luxury conference center even
before the marches began. They were backed by soldiers in
fatigues carrying machine guns and camouflage-painted
armored personnel carriers.

A speaker's corner was set up within earshot of the summit
venue, which was ringed with concrete barriers and barbed
wire. But low-flying helicopters circling overhead drowned
out much of the speeches.

Police said the marches went peacefully. "There has been no
confrontation," said police director Henriette Bester.

In Alexandra township, about 1,000 people with T-shirts and
banners representing anti-globalization, environmental and
pro-Palestinian groups danced and sang old anti-apartheid
songs before kicking off the first march. It grew to about
4,000 as it reached the summit site.

"What is this summit doing for us? It is providing for the
rich, not the poor," said Mathius Ledwaba, who had a sign
stuck in his cap reading, "Submarines, fighting jets,
machine guns won't fight unemployment and HIV/AIDS."

Many chanted anti-American slogans and carried banners
portraying U.S. President George W. Bush as a "toxic Texan."
Others had signs attacking Israel and supporting
Palestinians.

"The Palestinians are going through worse than what we went
through in this country," said Dawood Motola of a
Palestinian support committee from Durban.

Various non-governmental groups meeting at a parallel forum
marched later Saturday with the message that "sustainable
development is possible," said Muzi Khumalo, their
spokesman.

"This the world that God created and ... it is the people
who are degrading it," said Taimalelagi
Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, the Anglican church's delegate to the
United Nations in New York. "We should be good stewards."

About 7,000 attended a rally beforehand, where South African
President Thabo Mbeki attacked "global apartheid," which he
said divides the rich and poor.

"We must liberate the poor of the world from poverty," said
Mbeki, calling on the summit to set clear timetables for
reaching its goals.

"It is easy for all of us to agree on nice words," he said.
"Now has come the time for action."

Mbeki said that the people of Alexandra want the same things
as poor people everywhere: "They want jobs, decent housing,
education, health care and a good standard of living."

He also spoke out in favor of a Palestinian state and called
for the lifting of the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

The second march shrank in size to about 1,000 as it reached
the end of the 9-kilometer (6-mile) march route, Bester
said.

Many of those gathered in Alexandra stadium appeared to be
local Muslims, who were also carrying anti-Israel banners.

The rally also featured anti-apartheid music and - to the
dismay of some protesters - dancing.

"It is making me feel uneasy," said Suddley Van Dawson of
Johannesburg, who came to support the Palestinians. "This
carnival atmosphere is not for us. We are here for a
different cause."

By RAVI NESSMAN Associated Press Writer




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