Sat, Jun 12, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Purification rituals instead of violent protests in Georgia

REUTERS , SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

An aging, toothless tiger or a clever predator that wouldn't take the bait?

That question hung over the anti-globalization army on Thursday as the G8 summit at Sea Island, Georgia ended without the mass protests or street battles that organizers had feared and militants promised.

Three days of rallies to protest the US-led war in Iraq and the economic and environmental policies of G8 nations attracted scant numbers to the two coastal Georgia towns of Savannah and Brunswick, where this week's demonstrations were centered.

Journalists, who descended on the towns for a possible repeat of the violence that marked the G8 meeting in Genoa in 2001 and a WTO event in Seattle two years earlier, outnumbered protesters at times.

Anti-globalization activists view the G8 -- the US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia -- as a cabal that favors multinational corporations and the rich at the expense of the poor.

low turnout

"This was a low turnout in terms of the recent history of these events," said Robert Randall, a Brunswick-based peace activist. "That speaks to the reality of how the authorities have terrorized people."

US officials massed an estimated 20,000 police, soldiers and federal agents along the Georgia coast and established a no-go land, sea and air zone around Sea Island during the three-day summit.

Military vehicles moved through the streets and helicopters hovered in the skies in a show of force reminiscent of that in the US after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

The heavy military presence, however, looked somewhat unnecessary by the time the summit ended.

Unlike the menacing crowds that had smashed shop windows and destroyed property at previous G8 events, most of this year's protesting contingent were content to spend their time chanting, dancing and engaging in soil purification rituals.

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