Monday, August 27, 2007

APEC Protests

Every now and then I pull up the Google News page to check out current affairs. A news story caught my eye about police being asked to free up five hundred jail cells for APEC.

I didn't know what APEC was or why we'd be expecting lots of arrests for it, so I read on. The news story, which was from The Australian, says:
"The commonwealth has demanded a minimum of 500 jail beds be set aside for possible arrests during next month's summit of world leaders, which is expected to attract major protests."
The story goes on to say that police have been given extra powers in certain areas around where the world leaders will be and that those extra powers would be rather boring ones.
"The additional police powers inside these zones include the right to stop and search people and to block roads."
So they can't fly or shoot laser beams out of their eyes. They also tell us that they aren't just going to kick criminals out of jail to make room. They also fill us in on dates and locations where the police will be granted their additional powers. But nowhere does the story say what the APEC summit is or why they were expecting to arrest anyone, let alone 500 people.

"The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an economic forum for a group of Pacific Rim countries to discuss matters on regional economy, cooperation, trade and investment. Together, these countries represent about 60% of the world economy."
Apparently our very own Bob Hawke came up with the idea and in 1989 held the first meeting in Canberra. Sounds good so far, doesn't explain why we'd want to arrest anyone.
"In 1997, the APEC summit was held in Vancouver. Controversy arose after officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used force and pepper spray against non-violent protesters. The protesters objected to the presence of autocratic leaders such as Indonesian President Suharto."
Okay, so we are expecting protests against leaders of other countries that we don't like being included in APEC. Wiki lists members of APEC but doesn't say who's actually going to be turning up to the Summit, so I went to the APEC 2007 site to see if they would tell me. What I saw first was the advertising of the APEC Australia 2007 Sponsors. Microsoft was the exclusive technology partner. That's reason enough for me to protest. How is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation going to survive if it allows exclusive partners? Anyway, I kept looking for who was going to be there but couldn't find anything at the official site.

Back to Wiki.

There is a separate Wiki entry for the APEC Australia 2007 summit which does have some information on who is going.
There is supposed to be representatives from twenty-one countries so this is clearly not a complete list.

Okay. There might be some people who would want to protest to let Howard and Bush know their feeling on the war. Granted. It also says on Wiki:
"The public response in Sydney presently has been mixed. Many are fearing similar disruptions to those experienced during the visit by US Vice President Dick Cheney which cause massive transport disruptions. Civil liberties and many political groups are also concerned about new laws enacted for the protest giving police sweeping new powers. Police and security forces have also planned a security wall around much of inner city Sydney for the September 8th leaders summit. Around 5000 police are expected to be present at the leaders summit. Another point of criticism is the massive cost of security for the event with official budget figures at AU$169 million."
Still don't understand why 500 cells need to be cleared. Trippy how often the number 500 turns up with reference to the APEC 2007 summit.
Also, readers of the Sydney Morning Herald were invited to send 500 words on what makes their blood boil about the APEC summit like traffic problems from police exercising their special powers, or the cost of all these guys spending millions of dollars on a meeting they could have done with a conference call. 50 of the 500 members of the Sydney Children's Choir had background checks done by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police. There's also the 5000 police on duty at the leaders summit.

That is 50 weird...

It took some digging but it seems that protesters will be demonstrating against a number of issues, like climate change, work choices, and George W. Bush. It doesn't look like anyone is actually against the meeting, if only it didn't inconvenience so many Sydney residents and business owners or cost so much money.

Really, someone should introduce our world leaders to GoogleTalk and they'd be able to sit at home and have their meeting without upsetting anyone.


Anonymous said...

How dim are you? Is that what APEC is?

Jon said...

About 4 candle power on a good day. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Go Jon, well researched... your absolutely right, they should stay home and use conference call..But, you have forgotten the credo of all pollies to be seen. after all it's a show for the voters, and of course all at the taxpayers expense, there is the free travel, the best of accommodation, the cocktail parties and free dinners who would want to give up all that..

It would need true true seekers with unselfish desire to serve his or her people without excessive gain and we all now how abundant they are in politics.