Granma & Reuters & BBC – 2007-09-08 22:39:59
Protest against Bush in Australia
I’m looking forward to the beautiful city and to the extent I inconvenience [Sydney residents], I apologize.
— George W Bush
CANBERRA (September 5. 2007) — Protests against the presence of George W. Bush in Australia continued in Sydney and are expected to continue to grow, leading up to the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in that city at the end of the week.
The environmental organization Greenpeace participated in Wednesday’s demonstrations by erecting two ice sculptures of Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, with the idea that they will melt in protest against the lack of action to counter global warming on the part of Australia and the United States, the AFP reported.
Environmentalists are criticizing the excessive utilization of fossil fuels by the industrialized countries, while Sydney and Washington refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Another creative protest is expected on Friday, when some 2,000 people plan to gather in a Sydney park near where APEC leaders will meet, to send a message to Bush about what they really think about his visit.
The culmination of these demonstrations of opposition to the presence of the White House chief on Australian territory will be a big march on Saturday, in which tens of thousands of people are expected to participate.
Translated by Granma International
Protests, Heavy Security, Bush Arrives Australia For Asia-Pacific Summit
Michael Perry and Caren Bohan / Reuters
SYDNEY (September 4, 2007) – After a lightning visit to Iraq where he hinted at possible U.S. troop cuts, President George W. Bush arrived in Australia on Tuesday for an Asia-Pacific leaders’ meeting amid heavy security and anti-war protests.
Trade and climate change will top the agenda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, and Bush wants the forum’s 21 economies to agree to a strongly worded pledge to reinvigorate the Doha round of world trade talks. But the subject of Iraq will loom over Bush’s visit to Australia, whose troop contribution there is featuring prominently in Prime Minister John Howard’s re-election bid. Howard is a staunch Bush ally.
Stopping over at a desert air base in Iraq en route to APEC, Bush hailed progress in the war and raised the prospect of troop cuts after meeting top commanders.
Bush is likely to return to that theme on Wednesday morning at a joint news conference with Howard, whose support for Bush and the war has contributed to his weakness in the polls against opposition leader Kevin Rudd. Australia has about 1,500 troops in and around Iraq. Rudd has vowed to pull non-essential troops from Iraq if he wins.
Bush will spend much of Wednesday with Howard, taking part in a lunch with troops and a dinner at Kirribilli House, the prime minister’s residence on Sydney Harbour.
Bush plans to meet Rudd on Thursday and has made clear he would try to persuade the Labor Party leader to back down on his opposition to the Iraq war. Rudd has said he would not do so.
An opinion poll released on Tuesday, commissioned by the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, found 52 percent of Australians believed Bush was the worst president in U.S. history. Just 32 percent said he was not.
Highlighting the strong opposition to the war in Australia, several protests were planned for the APEC meetings, culminating in a major march by the “Stop Bush Coalition” on Saturday, when the leaders meet at the Sydney Opera House.
On Tuesday, antiwar protesters rallied in front of the city’s main railway station hours before Bush arrived amid the nation’s biggest ever security operation. “We are here today on the eve of APEC to tell George Bush that he is not welcome, wherever he and his architects of death may travel,” said U.S. Iraq veteran Matt Howard in Sydney.
Authorities have erected a 5-km (3-mile) security fence across the central business district to isolate the leaders in the Opera House and nearby hotels. A total of 5,000 police and troops are patrolling the city centre. Protesters also plan to demonstrate against global warming, human rights abuses in China and nuclear proliferation.
Members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement staged a candle-lit protest when Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the mining state of Western Australia on Monday. “We’ll be following him during his stay in Australia,” Lucy Zhao, a Falun Gong campaign organizer, said at a small rally.
Although he has made climate change a major issue at APEC, Howard has said there will be no binding greenhouse gas emission targets. Green groups have said APEC will be a failure if the leaders fail to set such targets.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the APEC hosts were looking for a broad-based approach to the issue. “We will be pressing for a commitment by all APEC economies to the key elements of a genuinely global response to climate change,” Downer said in a speech to foreign correspondents.
But some developing countries in the Pacific Rim grouping are uncomfortable that APEC is moving further away from its original mission of focusing on trade and investment.
The United States is pushing for a strong statement from APEC leaders in support of a world trade pact. A draft of the leaders’ statement obtained by Reuters said they would pledge to ensure that the Doha round of global trade talks “enter their final phase this year”.
Additional reporting by James Regan and Fayen Wong in Sydney)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.
Bush Arrives in Fortress Sydney
(September 4, 2007) — US President George W Bush has arrived in Sydney amid the tightest security Australia’s biggest city has ever seen. Air Force One touched down late on Tuesday evening, following Mr Bush’s surprise detour to Iraq.
Sydney residents had been told to steer clear of the city centre and main roads were shut for Mr Bush’s motorcade. The city is in virtual lock-down as world leaders gather for the high-profile Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (Apec) this week.
A 5km (three mile) barrier has been erected across the city’s central business district to protect the 21 leaders attending the summit, and more than 5,000 police and troops are patrolling the streets.
Police have been seeking court action to prevent a major protest due to take place on Saturday. Mr Bush is one of the first leaders to arrive in Australia for the forum. Apec leaders are due to gather formally on Saturday.
Over the coming days, Mr Bush is expected to hold a series of bilateral meetings with Asia-Pacific leaders, including Australia’s John Howard and China’s Hu Jintao.
Climate change, trade and regional security are believed to be high on the agenda, analysts say. President Hu arrived in Australia on Monday, beginning his visit with a tour of the state of Western Australia, which is a major exporter of commodities to China. Mr Hu is due to fly to the capital Canberra before moving on to Sydney later in the week.
Members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong, which is banned in China, are planning to hold vigils during Mr Hu’s tour to highlight alleged human rights abuses back home.
Australia’s security forces are braced for possibly violent protests over the coming days, having launched the largest security operation the country has ever seen.
Parts of Sydney’s rail network will be closed, along with many roads, for much of the week. The fence, through the city’s central business district, is aimed at keeping protesters well away from Apec venues, including the Sydney Opera House, where the summit will take place.
The first Apec protest was held on Tuesday evening, hours before President Bush landed. Some 150 people gathered in Sydney’s Railway Square, shouting opposition to the US president and the war in Iraq.
The police have gone to court over a major rally planned for Saturday, which organisers of the so-called Stop Bush Coalition say could attract some 5,000 people. The authorities have objected to the planned route, but the case has been adjourned to Wednesday to give the protesters more time to prepare their case.
© BBC MMVII
Sydney Fenced in for APEC Summit
(September 1, 2007) — Landmarks such as Sydney’s Opera House are in the protection zone. A concrete and steel fence is being built across the centre of Sydney amid a massive security effort for a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders next week.
More than 5,000 police and troops will also be deployed as part of Australia’s largest security operation ever. The 5km (three-mile) barrier is intended to protect the 21 leaders attending the meeting from thousands of protesters expected at the summit. Major landmarks such as Sydney’s Opera House fall inside the protection zone.
The world leaders – including US President George W Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin – will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) meeting for talks on climate change, regional security and free trade.
Police say they expect protests to be violent and have warned demonstrators not to march near the venue. But activists opposed to the Iraq war and global warming have insisted they want to make their point peacefully.
Australia’s government has spent A$169m (£68m, $138m) on security for the event over six years, with media dubbing the barrier the “rabble-proof fence”.
Fighter jets and police helicopters will patrol the skies above Sydney, while Australia’s navy will deploy ships, divers, water police and special forces in Sydney Harbour.
Mr Bush has already apologised to Sydney residents for any inconvenience caused during the summit, which started on Saturday and will end on 8-9 September. “I’m looking forward to the beautiful city and to the extent I inconvenience [Sydney residents], I apologise,” Mr Bush said.
There is plenty to grumble about, says the BBC’s Phil Mercer in Sydney, with commuters and tourists facing more than a week of disruption.
Parts of Sydney’s rail network will be closed, along with many roads. But residents have been given a sweetener, our correspondent says – next Friday has been declared a public holiday to coincide with the start of the meeting.
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