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Words Not Stones – Alternative G8 Summit Opens in Rostock

While leaders of rich nations gather for the G8 powwow in northeast Germany, a few miles away anti-G8 campaigners are staging their own parallel meeting -- an alternate G8 summit.

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Activists at the G8 Alternative Summit say: "Another world is possible"

An alternative to the G8 summit of the world's leading industrial nations got under way Tuesday with debates on the environment, racism, war and social affairs.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the three-day gathering organized by advocacy groups, relief organizations, trade unions and anti-globalization activists, including the NGO Oxfam, the Attac movement and the powerful German trade union IG Metall.


Our G8 Summit

"We think that the G8 summit does not speak to the whole population" of the world, said Hassen Lorgat, a South African trade unionist. "Without us, nothing can happen for us."

Deutschland G8 Großdemonstration in Rostock Steinewerfer

Not all protesters throw stones

Between now and Thursday the anti-G8 campaigners will hold workshops to develop an alternative to what they call the "unbridled liberalism" of the G8 group of industrialized nations, though there will be no final statement.

The campaigners' slogan has not changed over the years whether the topic is hunger, the wealth-sharing or international trade: "Another world is possible."

"Industries are collapsing in Africa because of subsidies paid to European products," said Jane Nalunga, from Uganda, of Seatini (Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute), an association which defends African economic interests.

"There is no justice" in the economic relationship between Africa and the industrialized countries, she said, underlining the fact that Africa cannot fix the price of its own raw materials.

Yet "trade is the key to development in Africa," she said.

An Alternative View

Deutschland G8 Sicherheitszaun in Heiligendamm

Heilingendamm has been turned into a walled fortress

Among those attending in a private capacity is Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food.

According to Ziegler the message is as topical as ever.

"It is the big groups that will dictate their law at Heiligendamm," he said, making it clear he was speaking as an individual and not in an official UN capacity.

In his pamphlet "The Empire of Shame" Ziegler inveighs against a new world system of "refeudalization" based on debt and hunger.

He condemns in particular "the murderous European Union policy of dumping" which means that "you find in African markets French, Italian and Portuguese fruit and vegetables at half the price of the African products," something he says drives local farmers into bankruptcy.

Words Not Stones

Deutschland G8 Großdemonstration in Rostock Vermummter auto brennt

Violence has become a nearly normal feature of G8 summits

The alternative summit is being held in the northern port of Rostock, 15 kilometers from Heiligendamm, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting the leaders of Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the US and Russia beginning on Wednesday.

Rostock was the scene of rioting over the weekend when hooded demonstrators taking part in an anti-globalization rally hurled rocks and bags of paint at police, who responded with water canons.

Organizers of the Alternative Summit said it was being held because "the current form of globalization has produced and continues to produce many losers and very few winners."

"We are looking for a confrontation, but with words, not stones," said Karsten Smid, a spokesman for the environmental organization Greenpeace.

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