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Summit protests: anti-global, pro-Palestine

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  • Walter Lippmann
    Summit protest march kicks off with anti-globalization, pro-Palestinian message With BC-World Summit JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug 31, 2002 (AP WorldStream
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2002
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      Summit protest march kicks off with anti-globalization,
      pro-Palestinian message With BC-World Summit

      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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