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Report back from today in Edinburgh...
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Sunday July 03, 2005 22:43 by IMC Éire foreign correspondent
Quiet day action-wise... more stuff gets going again tomorrow.
Argentina Solidarity Campaign discussion panel.
There wasnt much happening today in Edinburgh action-wise. I got up early and took a very leisurely cycle into the city centre from Muirhouse, trying to take in a bit of the city centre, but at the same time avoiding as many hills as possible. It was a bit depressing at times cycling around and seeing some of the businesses who had decided to put up boards on their windows - and then those that didnt. Loads of small newsagents, local businesses, and shops that you would never even think would be a target, such as a photocopy shop, a picture framers, and a greasy spoon café all had the boards up. Whereas places like The Gap, McDonalds, and Starbucks on Princes Street all operated as if nothing was different. I would have hoped that the media scare stories would have had some effect on the multinationals rather than small independent shops...
I checked out some of the "G8 Alternatives" conference armed with the Minidisc recorder to put some stuff together for the radio station, which is currently streaming out of the Indymedia centre, you can check it out at http://radio.indymedia.org:8000/g8.mp3 if you have broadband for listening to streaming audio on the web. I avoided the larger plenaries like the plague, the thoughts of listening to people like Monbiot, Nineham or Galloway harping on enjoying the sound of their own voice made my spine shiver. Picking up my Indymedia accreditation of course I had to run the left paper gauntlet at the entrance to the spectacular Usher Hall, having copies of workers power, workers hammer, workers ding-dong-whatever shoved in my face by over-excited late teens in berets and Che t-shirts.
The first small seminar I went to was a four panel discussion on workers movements in Iran & Iraq. Yasmine Mather was the first to speak, who was from Iran. She talked of how the only issues that are ever talked about in the Western media when it comes to Iran are the nuclear threat and the 'factionalism' of reformers vs. conservative Islamists. Ordinary issues related to workers are never discussed. She said the 1979 revolution may have brought about a brief period of hope and equality, but that was long gone. In 1988, Iran took loans from the IMF, and this has led to continued privatisation, economic structural adjustments, and mass layoffs. She said that some workers had occupied factories and set up roadblocks after businesses were sold off for land, but that these did not have the same level of support compared to similar actions in Latin America. The next two speakers spoke of the trade union movement in Iraq, which was currently experiencing a lot of difficulties, for obvious reasons. The last speaker, Mohammed Itir Asad, managed to piss half of the audience off by accusing anyone unsupportive of the Islamic "Resistance" as a racist. Unfortunately this meant the Q+A session partially degenerated into a bitchy face-off about whether you should be supporting the Iraqi insurrection or not. The enemy of the enemy is my friend... or is he? And so on. A shame, because it was interesting to hear accurate information about trade unions in an Islamic country, and it was disappointing the audience were not keen on finding out more.
The second session I went to was put on by the London-based Argentina Solidarity Campaign. The talk was about how the debt should be cancelled because it was born in an illigitimate political sphere of dictatorship, and was never from mistakes made by the general public. Marina, the first of three Argentinian speakers, gave a brief history of the country and how the debt came to be from the early 1980s up until the 1990s. The second speaker brought the timeline up to the present time, including the upheaval in December 2001. The third speaker talked of popular resistance to the economic situation, including the community assemblies and the occupied factories. They had copies of the Occupied Factory Workers newspaper, which I grabbed. All in Spanish unfortunately. Never mind. It was an interesting workshop, but it seems as if things have not changed much for the economy since the 2001 meltdown.
The last workshop I checked out was about the sale of Council Housing in Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. The actions being taken by the local authorities here in Scotland seem similar in nature to what is happening in Dublin at the moment with PPPs. Housing is being sold off piecemeal, estates are being run down on purpose, and tenants are being forced into the private sector. The three guys giving the talk though were members of some political party, maybe the Scottish Socialist Party? Not local authority tenants, which is what I had been led to believe from the blurb. One guy got very animated (yes, there was spittle) about the privatisation policies of Thatcherite Britain, raising his voice to awkward levels in a small room with approximately 20 people. The panel as well were far too keen to talk, rather than allow more contributions from the floor, which I found depressing. Tenants First in Dublin have a policy of no political parties on their steering committee, which I respect them incredibly for, even if it has left them slightly isolated. But perhaps they are better off, they are learning and fighting by themselves, for themselves, in their own communities.
All of these have been Minidisc'd and probably be up on the audio stream at some stage over the next few days, or else dumped onto http://radio.indymedia.org for your downloading pleasure. The internet connection in the media centre is a bit glitchy, may have to wait until I am somewhere else.
Not much else to report from the day then. There have been small Indymedia meetings in the centre. An audio co-ordinating meeting was held earlier to work out the scheduling and technical issues related to the streaming content. There was also another meeting for co-ordinating the media feeds from tomorrows demonstrations. People have been discussing how to get out to Faslane from Edinburgh, places in cars seem scarce. The distance between locations is proving to be a bit problematic. There was a blockades meeting in the afternoon, which some tabloid journalist tried to drop in on and was evicted. Tomorrow sees the "Carnival for Full Enjoyment" in Edinburgh, should be fun.
Until tomorrow then; same bat-time, same bat-channel.