EDINBURGH - In the run-up to the Group of Eight (G8) summit this week, activists from all over the world are streaming into Scotland and settling into self-organized tent communities as they prepare for a full calendar of actions on poverty and environment.
In the countryside around Stirling, 35 km from Gleneagles in rural Perthshire where the G8 will gather July 6-8, tents are beginning to fill Hori-zone, the protesters' autonomous camping site.
The twenty-five acres are divided into self-sufficient "neighborhoods" where people can organize autonomously. Each hosts eating, camping and meeting areas. The operation of the whole camping area is secured by inter-neighborhood meetings.
Police hold back protesters near Princes Street, Edinburg as demonstrators took to the streets of Scotland's capital Monday July 4, 2005 ahead of Wednesday's meeting of the G8 leaders in Gleneagles. Several hundred black-clad anarchists and other protesters clashed violently at times with officers in the streets of Edinburgh. Police wearing body armor and equipped with shields locked down entire streets, penning in protesters with the help of officers mounted on horseback. (AP Photo/David Cheskin/PA)
Waste is recycled, and most of the energy is produced by low impact sustainable sources, such as wind or solar power.
The camp is "an example of sustainable ways of living and non-hierarchical methods of organizing in direct response to the G8's poverty-making, undemocratic and ecologically devastating policies," organizers from the Dissent! network said in a press statement.
"Without immediate radical change poverty will never be history but the future for all mankind," said the group, in reference to the "Make Poverty History" campaign being waged by an international coalition of civil society organizations.
"We are practicing horizontal and participatory democracy and there is no authority in the campsite," John, who preferred to be identified only by his first name, told IPS. But it is difficult to obtain more information because nobody is allowed to speak on behalf of the others.
Around 1,000 people arrived here before the weekend, but organizers expect 5,000 in the coming days for various actions targeting the meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations (United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia), which is slated to focus on development in Africa and global climate change.
The activists will also be hosted in a community center in central Glasgow and, in Edinburgh, in a free camping site provided by the city council. The park, in Jack Kane at the edge of town, will host up to 15,000 people but is fenced in and surveyed by cameras and private security guards onsite.
Some fear the police will impose its control over the area. "I don't fancy staying in a virtual prison, even if it is free," commented one activist.
On Friday night, about 200 people occupied another city park and set up tents to make an autonomous camp site. They were evacuated by the police but obtained in exchange the removal of closed-circuit surveillance from the Jack Kane site.
But the camping sites are not just a place for sleeping. They are also a space for debate and for planning actions. Coaches will bring protesters to the main "hot spots." The calendar for the next week is full of events.
On Monday, the Faslane nuclear submarine base, 90 km from Gleneagles, will be "shut down for the day," said the campaign Trident Ploughshares, a British anti-nuclear movement against nuclear weapons organizing the mobilization.
"The action will point out the criminal behavior of spending so much money on weapons while half the world starves," said organizers, stressing "the hypocrisy of talking about poverty without mentioning war."
On the same day, the Carnival for Full Enjoyment parade will march through the center of Edinburgh to "make capitalism and wage slavery history". Unwaged, "precarious" and temporary workers, students and migrants will march through the city to "express our resistance in work and out of work."
On Tuesday, July 5, a protest called by Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees will surround Dungavel detention center for migrant people, where 150 asylum seekers are currently living, to protest against restrictive immigration policies.
As the G8 summit begins at the countryside Gleneagles Hotel on Wednesday, people will try to stop the access to the conference venue. Actions and blockades to disrupt the conference will take place in villages, roads and towns around the site.
On Thursday, anarchist "golfers" will gather for the People's Open Golfing Tournament in the hills of Gleneagles against the authorities' decision of declare Gleneagles a protest-free zone.
The last day of the summit, July 8, is dedicated to protest against climate change. Actions will happen in decentralized locations around Scotland.
Other "surprise" actions are planned in the main venues. The Clandestine Insurrectionary Rebel Clown Army, CIRCA, a collective of clowns, will also carry out non-violent direct actions during the summit.
© Copyright 2005 IPS-Inter Press Service