Posted 12:40 02 June 2003
Hi from Lausanne,
we're all fine here - only one small injury and all of us detained yesterday were released. It's been wicked here and there's loads to report.
A crew of us arrived in Geneva on Wednesday morning where we witnessed every single window in sight being boarded up - and not with chipboard either, but yellowish, fire-retardent wood - the first swiss person we met said: 'don't worry, it'll all be torn down', which it was, the night b4 the G8 started. Being a bit early, not much seemed to be happening in Geneva and the campsite was miles away on the outskirts of town, so we made our way to Annemasse, over the border in france & on one of the 3 roads 2 evian, were there were 2 camps - VAAG 4 'triple strength anarchy' & Intergalactic 4 ATTAC, Disobedienti etc.
We stayed in VAAG, needless to stay, but although it was beautiful there we found some things a bit frustrating. The camp was set up as a series of barrios or neighbopurhoods, which were formed round kitchens. The idea was to create a mini non-hierarchical society and for the camp itself to be an action, to create something aswell as destroying capitalism. However, all the meetings were in french only with no translation, and were mostly about the running of the camp itself, while info about actions was spread by word of mouth & rumour.
Aside from that, we met loads of brilliant people there and the organisation & infrastructure of the camp itself was something we could totally learn from in the UK - especially the beautiful home-made showers in the woods.
While in Annemasse, we took part in 2 brilliant actions. The first on Thursday, which was attended by thousands of people from both camps, was a ultra-fluffy parade from the camp 2 Annemasse to introduce ourselves to the mosltly working class people of the town, and to override the media hype that we were all really scary. It passed off really well with virtually no cop presence, the locals really loving it, and we danced to samba with a load of turkish men from the kebab shop.
Friday was the No Borders demo in Geneva, and a 2 large posses set off to the train station in Annemasse. Waking up slightly late, the wombles gang went with the second group, and arrived at the station to hear the first group had managed to occupy a train to geneva. We decided to do the same, both as an action for free transport & in solidarity with the french train drivers who are on strike this week. We were told that the railway people were offering a symbolic price of 40 Euros for the lot of us. We refused & boarded the train anyway & they agreed to take us! Can u imagine that happening in England? On the way to Geneva we heard that there were loads of riot cops waiting for us at the other end, so a few minutes from geneva station, we pulled the emergency cord, forced open the train doors and all escaped over the tracks, over a fence and all 300 of us made our way to the No Border demo.
The demo was pretty great, with the heavier elements holding off from doing any serious smashing til the G8 started. There was initially hardly any cops to be seen except some hiding in the bushes by the WTO. The demo was a walk around to several symbolic buildings, including the WTO and the IOM which is the most important international agency dealing with the 'problem' of global migration of people. The WTO's huge gates were pulled apart Fairford stylee, and a flare fired at a lone cop photographer at one of the windows - he soon moved. Accompanied by a sound system playing bad french rock music, we moved onto the IOM where windows were smashed & some small fires lit. There was a bit of comfrontation with the police outside the russian embassy compound, and we were lightly teargassed. Passing the Shell building a bit more trashing was done.
After the demo finished we went for a swim in Lake Geneva before taking another 'free' train back to Annemasse.
That night in the camp, the first meeting took place about Sundays actions. We were told that as many people as possible should go to Lausanne as the delegates in Geneva were 'definitely' being taken to by road from Geneva to Lausanne where they would catch the ferry, and it would be the most effective action. We were pretty pissed off at the authoritarian way we were told to go to Lausanne and the total lack of info about any other actions in Annemasse or Geneva from the organisers, but since 2 of our crew had already gone ahead to Lausanne to check out the situation there, and they said more people were definitely needed, we decided to go. Unfortunately we'd just bought a trollyload of beer & wine, so unable to carry it all to Lausanne we had to drink most of it on the spot.
On Saturday we spent a lot of the day travelling to Lausanne, unfortunately missing a wicked impromptu action in Annemasse. The French socialist party had organised a meeting at the camp which was to be addressed by the vice president of the World Bank, and Susan George. Dodgy anarchists, quite rightly decided that this was as illegitimate as the G8 - well not quite, but still something that had no place on an anti-capitalist camp, and smashed it up. This ended with riot cops storming in and gassing a load of SWP/GR & other trots, who'd travelled up from Geneva for the meeting.
Arriving in Lausanne, we found there were 2 camps - a governmnet sanctioned one, by a motorway with woodchip ground & no grass, or an 'illegal' one by the lake, with a beach, mountain views across the lake, trees & gress aplently. Needless to say we chose the latter, though it had been threatened many times by the police, and set up camp on the beach.
Sunday was the major action day. In Lausanne the instituational left had largely pulled out due to political pressure & the 2 actions taking place were anarcho organised blockades in the morning and a local workers demo in the afternoon. Most people on the camps planned to go to both.
The anarchist actions began at 6am, with the objective, NOT to try and get into the militarised red zone around the port but to blockade all roads & motorway to stop delegated getting from geneva to the port in Lausanne where they would be transported by ferry to evian.
There were 3 main blocs - an Anthrax, dark grey/black bloc and a pink/silver/samba bloc who would both make barricades to blockade the roads. The Anthrax sometimes used fire while the pinksilver used frivolity & their bodies. Both were confrontational but in different ways, and there was a sense of the both moving towards a middle ground to occupy the space left by the lack of a large padded bloc, to make sure there was a level of confrontation for everyone. These 2 groups would try to take the 9 roads into the Yellow Zone & would support each other as needed. The 3rd bloc - Aqua - were sit down pacifists but refused to condemn any other tactics, and were to take the road along the lake front. There was also a bike bloc who took the motorway and a boat bloc for the lake - who made it pretty far out before being stopped.
The actions were brilliant with the roads being blocked by 'fallen' trees, burning barricades and samba dancers waving feather dusters. We were teargassed loads after getting to and holding for some time, the road that led to the ferry. Also, the Anthrax bloc got to and did a lot of damage to one of the hotels that delegates were staying in. Solidarity was great with the pink & anthrax bloc ending up together. We heard later that delegates were held up from geting to the summit til the afternoon - though this was also due to the brilliant blockading of every bridge in Geneva by people there.
Blockading went on for about 6 hours, but marching back to the 2 camps, police with tear gas blocked the road to the illegal camp forcing us all to go the legal camp. They then surrounded about 700 people at the legal camp, appearing from all directions. They demanded that we all go voluntarily to a detention centre where we would have to show our papers and be interrogated. We refused - partly because many people did not have papers - either because they had left them at the other camp or in the case of some, because they had none. It was impossible to escape, so we decided to all sit in rows with linked arms, with the people without papers at the back so they would be the last & least likey to be taken away. People were violently grabbed & taken away one by one, handcuffed with tight plasic cable ties, then made to sit in airless metal army vans, in the sun with no water for about half an our before being driven away. About 500 people were taken away in total, before police got news that the local workers march from Lausanne had abandoned it's original route, in order to come down to the camp in solidarity with us. The cops left leaving the remaining 200 people free to go.
Those of us who were taken away - not arrested - were taken to an army building 20 minues outside Lausanne, and put in an ex-nuclear bunker in 4 concrete metal cages with no ventilation. Our passport details were written down and we were held for a further 4 hours. At no point were we arrested, cautioned or told our rights. We were refused requests for lawyers, consuls, phone calls, food, translators and the police imprisoning us said they didn't know why we were being held. None of this is legal in Switzerland. It's not even compulsory to carry ID.
However, the solidarity and militancy of those arrested was amazing, transforming what could have been a terrible experience into a really empowering one. Since we were being illegally detained we decided to make it as difficult for them as possible. We quickly discovered a way to get the plastic handcuffs of, and were pretty blatant about it - in the womens cell, every new woman who came in, we would immediately decuff in front of the guards, and hang the cuffs on the cell bars. Even if they recuffed us on a toiled trip , we just took them off again when we got back - and so they gave up. The womens cell led an attempted breakout, pushing our way out of the door when it was opened for a toilet trip, and getting the door to one of the mens cells open, before eventually being overpowered by police.
They did give us water, so we used the bottles to bang on the bars and walls with, all 4 cells making impromptu samba music, kicking the bars and trying to kick the door in. Every time the police chief appeared, we screamed 'no justice, no peace, fuck the police' loudly, continually and in his face til he scuttled off looking shocked. In the womens cell, we even tried to start a fire with the paper from the water bottle labels.
Their plan had been to take us from their to a big hall where we would all be held before being put on a train out of Lausanne, but our behavior convinced them it would be dangerous to hold all these potentially riotous people in one room and they eventually, drove us all together back to the camp, where so far we have not been bothered since.