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Sapporo: Thousands challenge G8 and march for peace

[Media G8way]

Press release July 5th

  • 3 anti-g8 protesters, Reuters journalist arrested today in Japan

On the eve of the 2008 G8 Summit, thousands took to the streets of Sapporo, Japan, today to call for an end to the undemocratic policy-making and wars of G8 member states. The protest, which was a coalition effort of NGOs, trade unions, leftist organizations, anti-authoritarian organizers, and independent activists, culminated in the arrest of three protesters and a Reuters photographer.

“The rally today illustrated both the powerful global justice movement underway in Japan and worldwide, and the police repression that grassroots activists face,” said David Solnit, a US activist. “People are realizing that the G8 claims to be a force against hunger, poverty, and climate change, yet with each meeting, they only institute policies that perpetuate these things – “aid” packages that trap poor countries into debt, fossil fuel-based energy systems that create climate change, and war.”

Pic: Sapporo 080705

Protesters marched through the streets weilding signs, banners, and giant puppets, as a moving sound truck played music for the crowd. Many wore costumes or brought their own instruments to play as they marched. Police presence was strong, with two rows of riot police lining both sides of the demonstration route and attempting to force the procession into one lane of traffic. Some protesters resisted the strict police control by moving into another lane of traffic.

At one point in the march, police unexpectedly surrounded the sound truck and arrested its driver and DJ, as well as a Reuters journalist standing nearby.

“I saw the police arresting the Reuters guy. Three of the police were restraining him, then they violently took his camera,” said Marina Sitrin, a US lawyer and member of the National Lawyers Guild, an international human rights organization. “The police were using extreme intimidation to prevent people from demonstrating for democracy and human rights,” she added.

John Owens, a UK activist, said, “I saw the police smashing one of the windows of the sound truck. They pulled the driver out violently, even though he didn`t do anything.”

Photojournalist Brandan Jourdan, 29, who filmed the arrests, added, “They pulled the driver out in a headlock, but his foot got caught in the steering wheel. He was obviously in pain.”

Today`s demonstration will be followed by three days of anti-G8 protests in Lake Toya, where the Summit will be taking place.