Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Praha S-26 2000

Potent Mixture Brewing In Prague

Prague gears up for clash of the ruinous suits and the righteous kids

5th August 2000 / Squall Download 6, Sept-Oct 2000, pg. 9.

The Czech capitol is gearing up for social disorder on a scale not seen since the 1989 fall of the communist state regime.

Over 20,000 delegates, bankers and hangers-on are expected in the city for the September annual meetings of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Up to twice that number of anti-capitalist activists, intent on shutting down the shindig, are expected to flood in from all over Europe and beyond. Along with a raft of small scale protests, a massive co-ordinated action has been called for September 26 - tagged S26 - by INPEG, a loose Prague-based coalition of social justice activists, environmentalists, anarchists and Christians. September 26 is the opening ceremonies of the board of WB/IMF governors which protesters intend to close a la the WTO meeting in Seattle last year.

11,000 extra police and a 5,000 strong back-up army unit have been drafted in for the occasion and the FBI have set up shop in the city. Schools have been closed and children are being evacuated from the city. The Czech Interior Ministry (Home Office) has issued a statement telling people: "Do not get involved in opinion exchanges with protesters" and to "respect police directions even if they limit personal freedoms". It also warns citizens not to watch dramatic developments on the streets "because police will not be able to discriminate when suppressing violence and riots". The overall message from the Czech authorities is similar to that adopted by the UK media in the run up to the anti-capitalist demo's on Mayday this year ie. to alienate citizens from activists by creating a dramatised climate of tension and fear. Protest organisers are advising people not to get too excited about the scare mongering, reminding those who care enough to come that they'll be standing shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of like-minded people. Despite having been repeatedly jailed as a protest leader by the previous regime, President Valclav Havel has ordered the closure of all theatres in case they are used for rallying opponents of the WB/IMF. Hospitals are also readying themselves, as it is expected training and advice from US authorities will mean that Czech riot police attempt to emulate the Seattle's police force's heavy handed and heavily criticised approach last year. Seattle's Chief of Police was forced to resign following a barrage of 'robocop' accusation subsequent to his force's liberal use of pepper spray and an assortment of other weaponry. Non-emergency surgery in Prague hospital's has to be postponed and entrances will be designated for pro and anti-capitalists. "If you have policemen in one room and demonstrators in another they could fight in the corridor," said Dr Mark Zeman of the Kralovse Vinohrady Teaching Hospital. In case any of the delegates gets a migraine, a team of doctors will be on constant standby. Three hospital rooms will be made "especially comfortable" if Gordon Brown (UK governor of the IMF), Clare Short (UK governor of the World Bank) or any of their cronies should need hospital treatment.

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