LONDON - In an attempt to silence dissent against the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy this week, French authorities have cancelled a train chartered by British protesters.
All of the Globalise Resistance train's 450 seats were filled when organizers were informed yesterday (Tuesday, July 17) by French authorities that the charter was cancelled.
Ticket-holders included environmentalists, trade unionists, teachers, students, pensioners, socialists and children. Despite this, the British press had dubbed it the "Anarchist Express."
The train was scheduled to depart from Calais, France tomorrow morning. It was going to the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Genoa. Evidently, the G8 leaders' commitment to free trade remains limited to the free movement of capital, goods and services - not people.
"It shows the weakness of the authorities and their policies that they feel it necessary to stop people having a voice at all," said Guy Taylor, a Globalise Resistance spokesperson. "We are fighting this decision. Democracy without the right of protest means nothing."
Dispina Mavrou, a member of Globalise Resistance, asked, "What are they scared of? We only want to put the case for preserving the environment and cancelling Third World debt. This whole thing is ridiculous."
The group plans to pursue legal action against French authorities. In the meantime, the 450 ticket-holders are scrambling for alternate transportation, including planes, buses, trains, ferries and hitchhiking.
The demonstrations in Genoa will once again bring together the disparate strands of the emerging movement against corporate globalization. Third World debt, Star Wars, sweatshop labour, global warming, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, agri-business, racism and drug patents are just some of the targets of the demonstrators.
Organizers expect over 120,000 people in Genoa.
Attempts to thwart participation - like those of the French authorities - should prove futile. As at previous demonstrations in Seattle, Prague, Nice, Quebec, Gothenburg and Barcelona, the majority of protesters are in fact local.
Erin George is a recent graduate of the Ryerson School of Journalism, and former Ontario Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. She is a member of Toronto Mobilization for Global Justice. At CFS and Mob4Glob, she was involved in educating and organizing for the Quebec City demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
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