Melbourne S11 protest victory
Communist Party of Australia Statement
During the meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held at the Crown Casino in Melbourne from September 11 to 13, thousands of people took to the streets in opposition to the insatiable greed, brutality and arrogance of capitalism, its corporations and the governments that serve them. The courageous demonstrations reveal the growing understanding of the real nature of the world we live in. More and more people are coming out against Nike, Nestle, Mitsubishi, Shell, Rio Tinto and the many other transnationals with their criminal exploitation and abuse of workers, peasants and the environment upon which we all depend for survival. Over the three days of actions in Melbourne at least 30,000 people took part, many of them young, many from organisations, some coming as individuals. They came to condemn corporate globalisation, to speak out for the poor and oppressed, to fight for a better future and, as their immediate aim, to shut down the WEF meeting. A real people's alliance was built on the streets of Melbourne with many discussions, street theatre, music and a carnival atmosphere in which the people felt the strength of their numbers and the common cause between all participants. On the first day there was some success with about one-third of the delegates kept out of the meeting. On the second and third days, in order to get WEF delegates into and out of the meeting, police on foot, on horseback and using dogs, smashed their way through the human barricades. To the screams and shouts which echoed around the gambling casino where the WEF meeting was held, were added the sirens of ambulances rushing injured protesters to hospitals. The demonstrators, many of them new young activists, showed outstanding courage and commitment in the face of large and brutal police actions. This brutality was another example of the growing repression by reactionary governments being used against the people resisting the attacks on their jobs, democratic rights, health, housing, education, welfare services and environment. The right-wing Labor Premier of Victoria first provoked the violence by criticising the police for not being "forceful" enough. After the police violence he praised them for doing what he called an "excellent job". The right-wing Labor Premier of New South Wales, described the demonstrations as "bully-boy fascism", while he found unity inside the WEF rubbing shoulders with Bill Gates and other corporate capitalists. The right-wing Labor leaders together with the representatives of the conservative parties found their brand of common cause in protecting the interests of global capital. Not for the first time, right-wing social democracy betrayed the people. The police brutality is being investigated by Victoria's Ombudsman and many of those injured are taking legal action against the police. On the second day, a large trade union rally marched to the casino to hold a protest rally against globalisation. Following the meeting many joined the people's blockade. Despite the police violence, despite the lies and misrepresentation of sections of the media, despite the injuries and fear, the demonstrators were steadfast in maintaining their blockade for three days. Spokesmen for the World Economic Forum went on the defensive, claiming that they had failed to properly "explain" the benefits of globalisation and free trade to the public. Some claimed that they shared many of the concerns of the protesters and that, of course, everyone should share in the benefits of globalisation. These smooth, well-fed, well-dressed representatives of the big corporations own and control vast wealth, but they are not convincing a growing number of people around the world. They will not convince millions that their poverty, unemployment, lack of health care and their homelessness is "inevitable" as WEF representatives assert. The word "capitalism" has come back into the vocabulary here in Australia and a stronger basis for real social change is being built. To the names of Seattle, Washington and Davos can now be added Melbourne, September 2000. It is now, "Over to you Prague", where the next battle against IMF, World Bank and corporate capitalism is to take place in a week's time.