Protests Across the World
an eXoNews special report
Earth Day 2001
On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans concerned about the environment observed the first Earth Day. The month before Earth Day April 22, 2001 was filled with news of social protests worldwide.
Protestors Shut Down Canada Border
BLAINE, Wash. April 22, 2001 (AP) -- A gathering of about 3,000 people shut down a stretch of the U.S.-Canadian border for more than four hours Saturday in the largest of several American demonstrations against the free trade summit in Quebec.

In San Diego, about 1,000 people demonstrated at the U.S.-Mexican border. Some participants in a demonstration of about 400 people briefly blocked traffic near the entrance of the tunnel that links Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. And in Vermont, about 200 people rallied.

The protest in Blaine, a town of about 3,800, remained peaceful as demonstrators chanted, gave speeches and sang songs against the Summit of the Americas, where representatives from 34 countries were negotiating a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Canadian and U.S. authorities closed the border so no one would be hurt, Cpl. Janice Armstrong of the Canadian police said. She praised the organizers for a "very peaceful, well planned and well organized'' demonstration.

Eight people -- all believed to be Canadian citizens -- were arrested and taken to Surrey, British Columbia, for processing. They face Canadian charges of participating in an unlawful assembly.

The rally at the U.S.-Mexico border resulted in a 20-minute standoff between rock-throwing protesters and police in riot gear, but there were no injuries or arrests, police said.

Several dozen people in Detroit blocked traffic near the tunnel entrance for about 20 minutes in a show of support for demonstrators at the Summit of the Americas. No arrests were made.

Protestors also rallied at border crossings in Derby Line, Vt. and across the state in Highgate Saturday.
Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Summit
QUEBEC April 21, 2001 (AP) -- Police fired rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas at hundreds of rock-throwing activists Saturday while most of the nearly 30,000 demonstrators marched peacefully through this picturesque city protesting a proposed free-trade pact.

In a second day of running clashes with police, protesters shook the chain-link and concrete wall encircling a 34-nation summit and pelted authorities with stones and sand-filled bottles. Officers charged with night sticks and opened fire with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons, blowing one man back on the pavement.

Police said nearly 30,000 protesters crowded around the summit site, with 2,000 growing violent. In two days of unrest, at least 34 police officers were injured, as were 57 demonstrators. There were at least 150 arrests, police said.

Protesters tied a long rope to one section of the fence in an attempt to tear it down. At another point they used wire cutters and tore the barrier down with their bare hands, but a graveyard fence still stood in their way. Riot police took up positions among the tombstones to defend the perimeter.

Another group tried to breach the fence a few blocks away but also was held back with water cannons and tear gas.

The violence came as two peaceful marches wound through the city. Thousands of people converged on Quebec from across the hemisphere and Europe to protest the Summit of the Americas, where President Bush and other leaders debated a zone known as the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

A delegation of activists trying to breach the gate met up with one of the marches and urged protesters to join them at the clashes. But the marchers, who filed through the 17th-century city chanting "solidarity,'' said their march was peaceful and continued on their planned route.

At a separate march across town, a carnival atmosphere accompanied a crowd that included people of all ages. Cheerleaders with pompoms led anti-free trade chants and a float carried a guillotine draped with the American flag.

One woman painted her bare chest with an anti-trade slogan.

At one spot of frequent clashes between police and demonstrators, police brought in snarling dogs and positioned them just inside the fence in case any demonstrators broke through.

Authorities also positioned snowmaking machines next to water cannons. The snow machines can hurl water farther than the cannons.

Protesters broke open the fence in one area nearby, but police quickly rushed in and stood shoulder-to-shoulder on both sides of the break until the fence was repaired.

Police continued to fire and hurl tear gas canisters into the crowds. But demonstrators often picked up the canisters and threw them back at the police. Several demonstrators used hockey sticks to slam the canisters away from them.

At one point, a group of black-clad activists began to throw wooden barricades through the windows of a bank, shattering them. Other protesters quickly surrounded them and booed.

"Go and confront the police. Don't destroy property. It gives us all a bad image,'' admonished Sel Burrows, a 57-year-old retiree from Thompson, Canada.

He turned to a journalist. "They're just crazies,'' he said. "They don't represent the rest of us.''

Organizers of that march asked police to stop firing tear gas as they passed near the flashpoints, saying children in the protest group could be sickened by the gas. Police did not appear to let up in their barrage.

The protesters represent a diverse range of activists -- organized labor, human rights organizations, environmental groups and others who say the trade talks should be held in public instead of in a locked conference center. Many said that forced them to express their opposition through street protests.

There also were anti-summit demonstrations Saturday in the United States. About 3,000 people shut down a stretch of the U.S.-Canadian border for more than four hours in Blaine, Wash. In San Diego, about 1,000 people demonstrated at the U.S.-Mexican border. Other protests occurred in Vermont and at the entrance to a tunnel that links Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.


On the Net:

2001 Summit of the Americas:

Host's summit site:

Summit security site:

Anti-free trade activist site:
Cincinnati Residents Want Change

CINCINNATI April 22, 2001  (AP) - Angry residents packed a City Council meeting Tuesday to speak out against the police shooting of an unarmed black man and to call for changes in police hiring and disciplinary practices.

City leaders hope changes to the department will quell the anger that sparked riots last week after the death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, who was killed by a white officer. About 200 people filled council chambers during the meeting to consider a change to the way the city hires its police chief.

Norma Payne said that when she looks at city officials she sees "the same old slave masters," and "the same Gestapo of Hitler's regime."

"When I look at you, I think you may be the KKK in disguise," the black woman said. Six of Cincinnati's nine City Council members are white; the city of 331,000 people is 43 percent black.

Currently the chief's job goes to one of the city's assistant chiefs, but many black leaders say a national search could yield a chief who is more receptive to change and not beholden to officers.

Brian Loewe, a student at Xavier University, also called for new leadership.

"There is nothing more profane than having black children killed by police," Loewe said.

After hearing citizens' comments for five hours, council referred the charter changes to a committee for more study. Any changes in the charter would have to be placed on the ballot and approved by voters.

Three days of arson, looting and attacks on motorists followed the April 7 shooting death of Thomas, who was running from officers trying to arrest him on misdemeanor and traffic warrants.

Police arrested more than 800 people during demonstrations and a citywide curfew - lifted Monday - was put in place for the first time since the race riots of 1968.

The FBI, police and the county prosecutor are investigating the shooting. Fifteen blacks have died in confrontations with police since 1995, four of them since November.

Officer Stephen Roach, who shot Thomas, is on paid administrative leave. The president of the police union has said Roach believed Thomas had a gun and that his life was in danger.

A Hamilton County grand jury was expected to begin hearing evidence soon about the shooting. Prosecutor Michael Allen said he is aware that black residents are watching to see whether Roach is indicted, but that his office would handle the case like any other.

"If there's an indictment, it will be because of the facts of the case, and not because of pressure from the community," Allen said. "We're going to present it straight up and let the members of the grand jury make the decision."

Another grand jury has begun hearing evidence against people suspected of crimes during last week's rioting, Allen said. Prosecutors and police have been reviewing videotapes of the unrest to try to identify rioters.

Meanwhile, local police and FBI investigators are also still trying to determine why police and a state trooper fired pellet beanbags at people who witnesses described as peaceful protesters. Two people were injured in Saturday's shooting, which followed Thomas' funeral.

300 Falun Gong Practitioners March
NEW YORK April 22, 2001 (AP) -- Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners marched in silence Saturday to demand that Beijing stop persecuting followers of the spiritual movement that is banned in China.

About 300 people, most of them Chinese immigrants, walked through Chinatown waving placards in Chinese and English demanding the right to practice Falun Gong -- a mix of spirituality, meditation and slow-moving exercise.

"China: End injustice, stop persecution,'' one placard said. "Respect human rights and religious freedom,'' another one read.

Hundreds of people have been jailed in China, with scores tortured to death in detention, since Beijing branded the movement "an evil cult'' and banned it in July 1999, human rights groups say.

Beijing fears the movement, which attracted millions of followers in the 1990s, could threaten communist rule, but the group claims it has no political motives.

Xiaoyan Qi, a marcher, said Chinese leaders are facing many social and economic problems as the country opens up. "So they made Falun Gong public enemy No. 1, and by persecuting us, they hope the people would think that they're doing something to solve their problems.

"It's very typical of any authoritarian government,'' said Qi, of Newark, Del., an analyst at MBNA, a major credit card issuer.

The march was interrupted by loud protests organized by the pro-Beijing United Chinese Association of New York. About 500 people gathered at several points along the march route, with some shouting through bullhorns denouncing the movement as a cult.

"Respect your life. No more Falun Gong,'' they chanted.

The practitioners were gathering in New York for a conference that marks the second anniversary of an unannounced mass demonstration at the communist leaders' compound that surprised Beijing and eventually led to the crackdown.

Many marchers said their relatives at home have been harassed or interrogated because of their activities abroad. A few admitted that they're staying here illegally to avoid persecution.
French Farmers Protest for More Aid
PARIS April 21, 2001 (AP) -- French farmers held peaceful protests across the country on Saturday to demand more compensation for losses incurred from livestock diseases, shunning the spectacular protests they have used in the past.

Known for dumping hay in the streets, depositing cow dung at the steps of city halls and setting bonfires in town squares, farmers hard-hit by mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases were asked Saturday to tone it down.

"I hope we will mobilize between 70,000 and 100,000 people, in a calm way, without slogans, without tractors, peacefully,'' Luc Guyau, head of France's main farmers' union, FNSEA, said in an interview published in Saturday's Liberation newspaper.

The turnout fell short of expectations, though it drew tens of thousands of farmers to more than 75 protest sites across France, organizers said.

Television footage showed farmers in convivial spirits, gathered around barbecue pits and marching through the streets of towns and cities. But the good behavior was unlikely to last.

"Today, our protest is taking place amid calm and dignity, but it's getting more and more difficult to hold onto our herds,'' said Raymond Vial, president of a local farmers' union in the central Loire district.

Noisy protests have become the expression of choice for France's farmers, doubly hit by the livestock maladies that have swept through much of western Europe.

Public concerns over mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, spiraled last year after it was revealed that potentially infected meat wound up on French supermarket shelves. The ailment, linked to the human brain-wasting illness variant Creutzfeld Jakob disease, caused a huge drop in beef consumption. Thousands of cattle have been slaughtered to prevent further contamination.

Saturday's nationwide protest was called ahead of a meeting planned for Thursday between union leaders and Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

Guyau said that only a small percentage of a $200 million emergency government-aid package had been distributed since it was announced in March.

Even if the total was disbursed, Guyau said it covered less than 30 percent of farmers' losses.

"Do we want to see the death of the French farming industry?'' Guyau said. "We absolutely have to support French cattle breeding, which is in a desperate state since the mad cow and foot-and-mouth crises.''

France reported two cases in March of foot-and-mouth disease, a highly contagious ailment that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, cows and sheep. The illness has ravaged farms in Britain, where nearly 1,400 cases have been confirmed since an outbreak in February.
Basques Rally Against Violence
VITORIA, Spain April 21, 2001 (AP) -- Thousands of Basques marched through their regional capital Saturday to demand an end to a bloody campaign by the armed separatist group ETA.

The demonstrators wore yellow Stars of David and carried signs that read, "Freedom from the Extermination,'' and compared the ETA's 33-year campaign of violence to the Nazi Holocaust.

"This protest is the Basque citizenry's repudiation of terrorism. ETA wants to exterminate us,'' said Vidal de Nicolas, president of Basta Ya! the peace movement that organized the march in Vitoria, about 200 miles north of Madrid.

The ETA has claimed responsibility for killing more than 800 people since it began a violent campaign in 1968 for independence of Basque regions in northern Spain and southwestern France.

The ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has targeted its political opponents and perceived symbols of the Spanish state, including policeman, soldiers, politicians, judges and intellectuals.

Two explosions shook the region Saturday, but no one was seriously injured. One explosion was at the Vitoria home of a pro-Madrid politician, police said. One demonstrator was treated in an ambulance for shock.

Another bomb exploded in Hondarribia, near the French border, outside the home of Rosa Dorda and her son, both town councilors for the Popular Party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. A neighbor was treated for shock.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, but authorities blamed the ETA. The group usually does not claim attacks until several weeks afterward, and then does so through statements in a militant Basque newspaper.
Up to 15, 000 Zambians Flock to Anti - Chiluba Rally
LUSAKA April 21, 2001 (Reuters) - Zambia's vice-president led up to 15,000 chanting and singing Zambians in a rally on Saturday opposing President Frederick Chiluba's bid to prolong his rule.

Vice President General Christon Tembo, accompanied by dissident ministers, was cheered by a far larger-than-expected crowd that turned out to hear him denounce Chiluba's plan to change the constitution, which currently limits the president to two five-year terms.

Up to 10 people suffered head injuries when about a dozen of Chiluba's stone-throwing loyalists stormed the rally. But they were quickly overpowered by the crowd and the injured were taken to hospital. Witnesses said police did not intervene.

"Leaders must go when their time is up. Time moves on and it is not within the powers of a leader, however great he is in his moment of history, to stop the clock,'' Tembo roared.

The crowd shouted back, "No third term, no third term.''

"Countries are not the personal property of their leaders,'' Tembo said. "A leader has no choice about whether to stay or go. The only choice is whether to leave in honor or to leave in shame.''

Referring to the advent of pluralist politics in Zambia in 1991, Tembo said: "We did not promise (Zambians) a better dictatorship. We promised a new style of government in which leaders should freely go once their time comes.''

Members of parliament, opposition leaders, prominent lawyers and church leaders also attended the landmark rally.


The rally was the climax of a rebellion against Chiluba by senior figures in his ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), political analysts in Lusaka said.

Diplomats said they feared political violence in coming

weeks as Chiluba's supporters swap charges with his opponents.

Traveling by truck, bus, bicycle or on foot, the crowds made their way to the Kafue Roundabout grounds in Lusaka to listen to Tembo, an army infantry general once detained for plotting to overthrow the government of former president Kenneth Kaunda.

Many at the rally wore T-shirts marked with slogans denouncing Chiluba's attempts to change the constitution.

"These people are carrying a serious message: Zambia will not allow Chiluba to become another African Big Man. Zambians love their democracy and will not let anyone trample on their sacred constitution,'' lawyer Mutembo Nchito told Reuters.

Chiluba, who came to power 10 years ago after unseating

Kaunda, has not publicly declared his intention to run in elections due this year. But he has banned debate in his party about a successor and encouraged discussion about a constitutional amendment to allow him a third term.

On Saturday, Chiluba was chairing a crucial meeting of the MMD's policy-making National Executive Committee, set to talk about a special congress on changes to the constitution.

Some 74 MPs in the 158-member house have signed a petition saying they will not support a third term for Chiluba, in effect ensuring he would lose if the matter reached parliament.
Riot Police Break Up Opposition Rally in Azerbaijan
BAKU April 21, 2001 (Reuters) - Azeri riot police used rubber truncheons on Saturday to break up a rally by opposition supporters calling for the release of political prisoners.

Around 300 supporters of the opposition Democratic Party took to the streets of the capital Baku chanting slogans calling for the release of political allies who they say have been imprisoned by the government of President Haydar Aliyev.

Police in full riot gear dispersed the demonstration after about 40 minutes, beating protesters with truncheons.

Baku police said in a statement they had arrested 31 people.

The statement said 17 policeman were injured and five of them were taken to hospital. It did not say whether any of the protesters were injured.

Opponents of Aliyev, 77, who has led the oil-rich former Soviet republic since 1993, accuse him of dictatorial rule with little regard for human rights or freedom of speech.

The government denies that it holds any political prisoners and says all those in jail are criminals.
Ethiopia Rights Group Condemns Police Brutality
ADDIS ABABA April 21, 2001 (Reuters) - Ethiopia's human rights watchdog condemned the country's security forces on Saturday for the way they dealt with this week's riots in which 41 people died.

The Ethiopian Human Right Council (EHRICO), an independent non-governmental organization, also blasted the government for not responding earlier to student demands for academic and political freedom, which sparked the riots.

"EHRICO believes that injuries sustained by students and other citizens as well as the destruction caused to private and public properties was due to the brutal actions by the security forces,'' EHRICO chairman Professor Andargatchew Tesfaye said.

Police opened fire on the rioters on Wednesday and later arrested more than 40 opposition party members, rounded up hundreds of students and even detained 70 newspaper vendors, according to opposition and media reports.

Residents said it was the worst violence to hit the capital since the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front overthrew the Dergue Marxist military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

But EHRICO said the trouble could have been avoided if the government had responded to the students' initial demands for political and academic freedom and for the police to leave their campuses.

Andargatchew told a news conference the students were not to blame for the violence because they only left their campuses when the security forces entered them.

"EHRICO has ascertained that the students remained within their campuses all the time, chanting and shouting their demands in a peaceful and orderly manner,'' he said. "Had the students' simple demands been responded to promptly, the problem would not have gone out of the university campuses.''

Andargatchew appealed to the government to bring to justice members of the security forces responsible for the bloodshed and asked international aid organizations to help the injured students.

There were no private papers on the streets of the capital on Saturday because of the arrest of the 70 newspaper vendors on suspicion of involvement in the riots, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association said.

Its chairman, Kilfe Mulat, appealed to the government to release the vendors. The capital remained calm on Saturday, with life returning to normal, but the shells of burned-out cars and looted shops remained as reminders of the riots.

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