Monday 24th was the start of the World Bank meeting in Oslo, Norway. At the same time a counter-conference called 'South meets North' took place in the city. This was organized by Oslo2002, a network of organizations and communities demonstrating against the World Bank during its academic conference (ABCDE) in Oslo.
Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and Philippino organiser Lidy Nacpil were amongst the speakers during the "Open Forum" of the counter-conference. Their criticism about the very existence of the Bank, as well as its policies was strong and factual, specially taking into account that they represented two countries that are directly affected by the WB's programms. A counter-festival was also held in a relaxed atmosphere with stands, music and workshops. The Norwegian Adbusters network launched their 'VB' spoof newspaper, plagiarising the country's largest tabloid ("VG") with critical articles on the World Bank.
Repression and surveillance had increased in Norway during the days prior to the WB meeting, as police used scare-propaganda tactics to frighten off people from attending the protests. People's identity was checked by immigration officials when arriving at Oslo airport, so those who had been registered in the Schengen Information System were arrested and some immediately deported.
Despite police tactics and repression, the protests opened on Sunday evening with a party and concert at the Oslo YaBasta! collective center. The colourful and peaceful demonstrations on Monday were attended by 10,000 people, including a pink bloc and a samba band. Immediately afterwards, there was a Reclaim The Streets party (pics1 | pics2) that ended with the squatting of two disused houses in central Oslo. "Our message here is that people need houses and houses need people", said one of the squatters.