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Independent Media at Climate Camp Australia 2008

Protesters are often portrayed in the media as hysterical, or even violent. The true story of climate camp was one of colourful and creative protest, from radical cheerleaders, to zombies dancing to samba-bands beats played on garbage bins, clowns, mums, dads, kids, students and representatives from unions and workers who work directly or indirectly with the coal industry. A comprehensive and engaging account of Sunday’s day of action, which stopped coal trains from running to the Port of Waratah for 6 hours, can be found here:

www.engagemedia.org/Members/anna/videos/climate-camp-sunday.mov/view

Another story which didn’t get played in the mainstream press was the informative and intelligent workshops and plenary sessions on creating alternative industries, and green jobs to replace those in the coal mining and export industries in areas like the Hunter. The coal industry not only contributes greatly to climate change but mines are very damaging to the environment and to the communities around them. Community activists from areas where coal mining is currently rapidly expanding talked of the serious health effects and reduction of their quality of life from coal dust, noise and light pollution, as well as rivers and swamps and other delicate eco-systems that are being destroyed by both open-cut mines and those underground such as longwall mines, which can shatter huge areas of land, letting rivers and streams run away forever through cracks in the earth.

Ex-coal miner Graham Brown talked at Climate Camp of the need to make a socially-just transition from fossil fuel economies to a renewable energy future. A long time worker in the industry he has many practical and workable ideas of how to make this happen, given the political will and broad-based community support:

www.engagemedia.org/Members/ninaramone/videos/graham-brown.mov/view

Sundays actions were a brave and urgent call to action, with activists using the proven tools for social-change of direct action and civil disobedience to bring the message of Climate Camp to the world. The mainstream media, from a so-called objective observational point of view, are unable to capture the human story of individuals who are prepared to take their concern for their planet, their fellow humans, and the generations to come to world attention, risking arrest and violence from the police to have their voices heard.

This video captures activists who found their way under the fence to lock themselves on to a coal train to prevent the trains from running, giving you the rare chance to hear from these people directly in this moment of why they felt the need for such action:

www.engagemedia.org/Members/anna/videos/climatecamp-train-lockon.mov/view

Peter Grey, a Newcastle resident who was arrested for his part in non-violent direct action to stop the coal trains on Sunday, tells us about the NSW state government plans to double the coal exporting capacity of Newcastle, paying no heed to the scientists who tell us we must stop burning fossil fuels to stop runaway climate change. He speaks eloquently of the importance of this issue, as every living organism on this planet is threatened by the climate crisis, and about his joy in participating in this historic occasion, one of the most empowering experiences of his life:

www.engagemedia.org/Members/cwirt/videos/Pete-Interview.mp4/view

Climate Camp happened just after the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference at Newcastle University, giving many young students the opportunity to use their new skills and knowledge gained during SoS in a real world protest environment. In this video one participant manages to break through and climb aboard the coal train to get his hands dirty with the dirty fuel which is polluting our planet and deliver his message about converting to renewable energy alternatives:

www.engagemedia.org/Members/cwirt/videos/black-hands.mp4/view

Media Space at Climate Camp Media activists and independent media creators also had an opportunity to network with each other and share their skills, equipment and enthusiasm for presenting an alternative view. Participants in the space learnt from each other how to publish their blogs and photos, and edit, compress and upload their videos to EngageMedia and beyond. We will take these skills back with us to our towns and cities around Australia, to continue to create the kind of participatory media which has the power to bring the community into national conversations on the most important issues of our times.

Many thanks go to the Octapod for providing their new community media space for independent media makers to publish their work during Climate Camp. You can view more photos of the Climate Camp Media Space in action here.

The Octapod supports a number of projects, community groups and creative types by providing an administrative base and important resources including a large meeting space, web hosting, zine library and project management advice. Octapod is interested in working with local communities, using arts based processes as a way to engage, inspire, give voice and create change. If you are part of a COMMUNITY and see the value of arts based processes, OR if you are an ARTS/MEDIA/CCD WORKER, and would like to get involved, please contact Christina at Octapod (4927 0470 or podadmin[at]octapod.org or drop in Thurs/Fri 10am-5pm) to 3/231King Street, Newcastle.

Visit their website www.octapod.org for more information

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EngageMedia at Climate Camp

On Thursday and Friday, Climate Camp saw a range of
workshops covered topics from non-violent direct action and group
facilitation to stories of success from environmental campaigns in the past, to plenary sessions on phasing out coal in Australia with peoples’ power. One session “A Just Transition” talked about making a socially just transition from coal-powered communities to a renewable economy in Australia (read blog post on the Climate Camp Australia website). Graham Brown, ex-coal worker and now climate change activist, talks about these issues, and how unions and the green movement can work together to create a path towards green jobs and a protected environment in this video on EngageMedia.

Stay tuned on the EngageMedia.org website for more from Climate Camp in the coming days…

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Anti-G8 Solidarity Action in Singapore

Dear media networks and friends, please feel free to publish and forward this info.

Today
is the 5th of July, International Day of Action Against the G8. In
solidarity with the planned mass demonstration in Sapporo and anti-G8
activists worldwide, we held a brief protest outside the Japanese
Embassy in Singapore.

As we gathered outside the gate, we were met with hostile reception
from the security guard on
duty, who threatened to call the police if we did not leave
immediately. Undeterred, we unfurled our banner and took pictures.
Later, when we asked to hand a collective letter to the Japanese
ambassador, the guard refused to cooperate. We were also stopped from
depositing the letter in the mailbox. One of us attempted to reason
with guard but he would not listen. In the end, we had to leave without
submitting the letter. We will try again on Monday.

The embassy must have been put on alert during the G8 summit, for
the guard appeared to have anticipated our actions. He was probably
told to refer anything peculiar to the police. Here, we lament the fact
that demonstrations are relatively uncommon and risky in Singapore.
Repressive laws require police approval for public gatherings of 4 or
more people. These laws are selectively enforced and used to quell
dissent.

Photos of our protest can be found on this report – http://japan.indymedia.org/newswire/display/4565/index.php

Report on mass protest in Sapporo – http://ticker.gipfelsoli.org/2008/07/05/thousands-challenge-g8-and-march-for-peace

Our letter is reproduced below.

5th July 2008

Ambassador Makoto Yamanaka
Embassy of Japan in Singapore
16 Nassim Road
Singapore 238390

Dear Ambassador,

We are a group of Singaporeans who have been following the worrying
turn of events leading up to the 34th G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan this
year.

We express our alarm at recent news of foreign scholars, independent
journalists and media workers being detained at the airport and
subjected to long hours of questioning. Among those held and probed is
Ms Susan George, a well-known political scientist and writer on Third
World poverty critical of the G8.

There have been reports of intrusive searches conducted under the pretext of “anti-terror” measures.

Those approached by the authorities have been required to declare their
schedule in Japan, with details of activities for each and every day of
their stay. Some have had their visit cut short while others, such as
activists from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, have been
outright barred from entry into Japan.

We denounce these measures as they violate both the constitutional
rights of Japanese citizens and the human rights of foreigners entering
Japan. It worries us that the level of security this year will set new
precedents for future summits in a grim trend of increasing intolerance
towards mounting opposition.

Like many others, we see that the summit venue in Lake Toya was
deliberately chosen in order to avoid civil society, requiring time
consuming and expensive trips activists and demonstrators cannot
generally afford.

As you know, the G8 is an informal grouping of eight of the wealthiest industralised
nations. Decisions arrived at G8 meetings affect billions around the
world due to the group’s collective dominance of the world’s economy.
Yet member countries constitute only about 14% of the world’s
population, with Japan as populous Asia’s only representation and none
from Africa or Latin America.

This being the case, policies set into motion show a lack of proper
consideration of problems faced by the global south, with disastrous
results.

G8 backed policies also generally favour the interests of transnational corporations over ordinary workers.

The reclusiveness, lack of representation, together with heightened police presence and security
measures at the summit this year, further adds to the already elitist
image of the G8. It appears to us as though G8 leaders are bunkering
down, seeking refuge more than ever when they should instead open up
and pay closer attention to criticism from the ground.

For the suppression of dissent with severe curbs on the right to
freedom of expression and assembly, Singapore has over the years
acquired a dismal reputation with human rights groups and professional
bodies such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.
Japan should avoid falling prey to the same authoritarian tendencies
which may one day result in a severe backlash.

We hope that you would communicate our views to the Japanese government. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
A group of concerned Singaporeans

Chong Kai Xiong
Ilyas Imran
Rachel Zeng
V. Rajaram
Seelan Palay
Shafiie