Anti-G8 carnival turns sour as
protesters clash with riot police
By Tony Paterson
Published: 07 June 2007
The Baltic seaside site of Germany’s
G8 summit was surrounded by thousands of anti-globalisation protesters despite
the presence of more than 16,000 riot police who used baton charges, water
cannon and tear gas in an abortive attempt to keep them at bay.
While world leaders were flown in
by helicopter, organisers had to rely on an armada of police launches to ferry
other delegates to the summit in Heiligendamm, as protesters forced their way
through a no-go area and reached asecurity fence surrounding the site.
Jutta Sundermann, spokeswoman for
Attac, one of the main anti-globalisation organisations, said two groups
comprising about 10,000 protesters had blocked all land routes to the summit
venue. "It is our style of civil disobedience and we appear to have
outwitted the police," she said.
Riot police used baton charges
and fired water cannon and tear gas grenades at groups of demonstrators who
attacked road checkpoints. Police said eight officers were injured in the
clashes. Police insisted they had not been surprised by the protesters, but had
decided to end an earlier policy of de-escalation and respond with force.
Scenes at two police checkpoints
resembled a battlefield yesterday afternoon, with the road littered with stones
as ambulances sped in to evacuate injured officers. Masked members of Germany’s
so-called "black block" of anarchist demonstrators fought running
battles with riot police. The protests started off in an almost carnival
atmosphere as demonstrators, somedressed as clowns, trooped off from two camps
south of Heiligendamm towards the summit. Thousands of protesters sidestepped
police checkpoints by flanking off into woods or fields thick with poppies.
They were pursued, Apocalypse Now-style, by 12 low-flying police helicopters.
Police claimed that members of a
group called "the rebel clown army" had sprayed officers with acid. A
"clown army" spokesman denied the accusations.
terror: How I raped and tortured for Mugabe
was a member of the secret police who committed unspeakable crimes on behalf of
the African dictator. He escaped – but continues to be tormented by what he did
By Olly Bootle and Emeka Onomo in
Published: 07 June 2007
drove out of Harare, he didn’t know
that there was a man, barely breathing, in the back of his car.
He was nearing the end of his
training for Zimbabwe’s
notorious secret police – the Central Intelligence Organisation or CIO – but
already his days as an agent were numbered. His mission had seemed simple
enough. "We were given a car, and there was a trunk behind in the boot of
the car," he recalled. "The briefing was to get to Lake
Kariba. There would be a boat tied
to a tree." In the boat, he was told, they would find the keys to the
trunk, and instructions on what to do with their cargo.
It was only when they stopped
along the road for a drink that Washington
heard a noise coming from the boot of the car. "At first I thought I was
just imagining it, but I called the other guys to listen," he said.
"I heard some movements coming from the trunk, and a voice."
His terrifying story began less
than two years previously, when Washington,
then aged 20 and desperate for a place at university, decided to enrol in one
National Youth Service Training Camps. "A friend of mine told me the
reason I wasn’t getting a place in university was because I didn’t have a
National Youth Certificate."
didn’t know was that horrifying stories had already emerged from Zimbabwe
about the youth camps. Though billed by the government as a way of helping
bored and unemployed youth to get off the streets, testimony from people who
had fled Zimbabwe
suggested that they existed primarily as brutal schools of indoctrination for
Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party; that rape in the camps was commonplace,
and that some recruits were trained in torture techniques. Within a few months
of enrolling, Washington found
himself doing things he’d never have thought possible.
One night, he and some friends
were plied with drugs and alcohol, and led into an interrogation room at the
camp. A girl lay there, handcuffed to the wall. Washington’s
commanding officer told his recruits to rape the girl. "I don’t know what
I was doing, but I just had sex with her," said Washington.
"I don’t know whether I enjoyed it or not because I was drugged."
During the night, as he sobered
up, the horror of what he had done struck him. He realised he had to run away.
When dawn came, as he tiptoed out of his dormitory, he bumped into his friend,
Gideon, who had also been forced to rape the night before. "I asked him
where he was going. He said: ‘I also want to run away. I can’t stand it.’"
They fled together.
Within minutes they were caught
and dragged back to the camp. Washington
claimed he wasn’t trying to flee, and was only beaten. Gideon refused to make
excuses, saying he’d had enough of the brutality of the camp. He was beaten to
attempted escape persuaded his superiors that he had potential. "We were
told, ‘Congratulations. Normally indiscipline and intelligence go hand in hand.
From now on you’re different from the others’." Washington
found himself drafted into a training programme for the CIO.
This was late 2005, and Zimbabwe,
collapsing under the tyrannical reign of Robert Mugabe, had recently been
battered by Operation Murambatsvina – the President’s vicious programme to
clear the slums of Harare and the
other big cities. Nicknamed Operation Tsunami for its abruptness and ferocity,
it resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being made homeless, with no
access to food, water, or sanitation.
Over the next few months Washington
says he and the select few who had been chosen from the camps received weapons
training; they learnt tai kwon-do; they were told who they could and could not
trust in the government.
But there were also darker
elements to the training.
One day, Washington
says his instructor took him into a room and presented him with someone who had
stolen cattle. "He said no one cares whether he lives or whether he dies.
So far as we are concerned he is long dead. He said I should beat them under
the feet. I said I can’t do that. Then he took a bottle of gin that was on the
corner. He asked me to drink it. I could not do it. He slapped me on the face.
I drank it and we started smoking marijuana. Then after we smoked I didn’t
really know what happened but I beat him. At first he was crying then later on
he just passed out and his feet were black."
The torture training extended
was shown how to use electric wires, pliers and screwdrivers. He also learnt
what happened to opponents of the regime. "During the lessons we were told
that there are jails you know but there are some jails that you don’t know. We
were told, ‘Whatever we are going to see is going to be between us only and
whatever you see, don’t tell anyone outside’."
They were taken to a car park.
"There was a sort of a metal door on the wall." The door was unlocked
electronically, and the trainees were led inside. "It was dirty, it was
smelling," recalled Washington.
He was surprised to see a white foreigner. "He was so brown in colour, his
hair was so dirty. He went into the toilet then to the bathroom. He was washing
his face. I asked him what he was doing here. He did not reply to me at first.
Then I said, ‘Where are you from?’ He said, ‘I came here a long time ago. I was
a tourist but I was suspected to be a CIA agent and I was kidnapped and brought
does not know who the man was, or how long he’d been in prison. "We were
just told that these are political prisoners and that was it," he said. It
was a warning. Washington was
told: if you try to run away, whatever country you go to, as long as you are
within our reach, we can get you.
But despite the warnings and the
fear that had been drummed into him, what Washington
was instructed to do at Lake Kariba
was enough to persuade him that he had to flee.
When they arrived at the shores
of Kariba, the vast, deep, man-made "sea" on the border between Zimbabwe
they found the boat as promised. Inside was cement, the instructions and the
keys to their cargo. The orders were to fill the trunk with cement, take it out
to the middle of the lake, and drop it overboard.
They heaved the trunk on to the
shore and hurriedly opened it. "There was a man inside. He looked 40 to 50
years old. His shirt was grey and soaked in blood." Washington
described the clear signs of torture: the man’s tongue was cut, and chunks of
his lips and ears had been removed with pliers. His arms were slashed and Washington
could see the bone of his knuckles. "It was so horrible."
He was in such bad shape he could
barely talk. "He was saying: ‘Help me my son, help me.’" When Washington
wondered aloud whether he could go ahead with it, one of his colleagues told
him to look over his shoulder.
"There was a man in the tree
holding what looked like binoculars or a camera. Then I felt there was nothing
I could do." As the man in the trunk pleaded for help, they started
shovelling cement and sand on top of him. What happened next is unclear. Washington,
now in hiding in Namibia,
breaks down into uncontrollable sobs. He says the man in the trees drove off,
but he won’t say if he completed the mission. Perhaps they buried the man and Washington
can’t admit to being a murderer. Perhaps they let him go and he is protecting
the colleagues he left behind.
With most foreign media
organisations officially barred by President Mugabe from entering Zimbabwe,
it is impossible to verify all the details of Washington’s
story. But the claims of rape in the youth camps, the torture and the beatings
tally with countless reports emerging from the country. And the Zimbabwean
journalist Spiwe Ncube recently reported in the Zimdaily.com news website that
as a result of engineering work on a dam wall in Lake
Kariba, bodies had been found in
trunks filled with cement.
said he has had to evade CIO agents who have come to Namibia
to abduct him. Those that have tried to help him say they have been harassed.
may have evaded capture so far. He may even be able to hide from the Zimbabwean
CIO until Mugabe is gone, but he will never stop running from his conscience.
Zachary Katznelson: In
Guantanamo, men shadow-box for their lives
Have your hopes dashed enough and
you start to question if there is ever a way out
Published: 07 June 2007
Imagine that this is your world:
a 6 ft by 8 ft cell where everything is steel – the walls, the floor, the
ceiling, the toilet, the sink, the bed. Walk two steps in any direction and you
hit a wall. There are no windows. The lights are on 24 hours a day. You are
allowed out of your cell two hours a day, sometimes at 6am, sometimes at midnight.
For those two hours, you are placed in a 6.5ft by 16.5ft outdoor cage with a
deflated football. You can go weeks without seeing the sun.
Imagine five and a half years
away from your family, your wife, your children. You can’t call them. They
can’t visit. Mail takes months to get through. When it does, it is heavily
censored. Imagine being beaten, stripped naked, humiliated, again and again and
again. This is the life of my clients in Guantanamo
Since 2005, my colleagues and I
at Reprieve, a legal charity based in London,
have been representing 37 prisoners in Guantanamo.
Two of us have passed through the United States
military’s screening process and have been to the base. We are the only people
in Britain who
can actually go and talk to these men.
Every time I visit them, the
prisoners ask for just one thing: a fair trial. "I know mistakes are
made," Jamil El Banna, a British refugee from Jordan,
told me when we met last month. "I’m not upset about that. But why has it
taken this long to correct them? I’ve been here for years and I’ve never seen a
judge. Put me on trial. Just give me a chance. Doesn’t anyone care that I’m an
No prisoner in Guantanamo
will see a judge any time soon. On Monday, military judges threw out the
charges against the only two prisoners actually charged with crimes. As a
result, their trials are on hold and no one else’s will start.
Sadly, there is no question that
trials in Guantanamo will be
unfair. The judges can hear evidence gained from torture. They can sentence
someone to death based on hearsay evidence – second, third or even fourth-hand
information. The prisoner is not allowed to see the evidence against him. It’s
like shadow-boxing for your life.
But despite the patent illegality
of the trials, in the bizarre universe of Guantanamo,
many of the men actually want to appear before a military commission. The
prisoners look at David Hicks, an Australian citizen who pleaded guilty to
supporting terrorism and was sent home to Australia
to serve a nine-month sentence. They see this result, and they see hope. Maybe
they too could cut a deal, whether they are guilty or not. They too could go
home. The hell of Guantanamo would
end. Then they learn of a ruling like the one on Monday. They are happy,
because the process masquerading as justice has been exposed. But at the same
time, it means yet another door has slammed shut. And as it does, it crushes
that kernel of hope.
Have your hopes dashed enough and
you start to question if there is ever a way out. Three men apparently took
their own lives last year. Days ago, another man was found dead in his cell;
the cause of death is unknown, though he had been on hunger strike for an
extended period. Virtually all my clients have told me they have thought about
Despite the fact that they
desperately want to be home with their families, despite the fact that Islam
prohibits suicide, many have tried. I am a lawyer, but far too often, my role
when I visit Guantanamo is social
worker and psychologist. I am a poor tool in this regard, but I am all the men
Ahmed Belbacha seems to shrink a
bit every time I see him. We meet alone in a claustrophobic, windowless room,
monitored constantly by a video camera. You can hear the camera shift to track
us if we change position. As he sits across from me, shackled to the floor,
Ahmed is despondent. "My cell is like a grave," he said to me four
weeks ago. He tells me how everything echoes off those steel cell walls. Doors
slam constantly as guards come and go. Large fans drone and screech. Even
footsteps seem cacophonous. There is no such thing as quiet in Camp 6. There is
no peace. "If I could just sleep…"
Ahmed has never been charged with
a crime. He has never been before one of those military judges. Yet, finally,
after five and a half years, Ahmed has been cleared to be released. He should
be celebrating. But his nightmare may just be beginning. Ahmed is originally
He fled there to the UK,
seeking asylum after he was threatened repeatedly by Islamic extremists because
he worked for a government-owned oil company. But now, the UK
is washing their hands of him, refusing to help because Ahmed was a resident,
not a citizen. As a result, the United States
wants to send him back to Algeria.
The Algerian intelligence
services have told Reprieve that if Ahmed returns, they cannot ensure that he
will be safe – from their own personnel. And so Ahmed sits in that steel box,
freezing in the constant flow of air-conditioning. The only things in his cell
are a Koran and an inch-thick mattress. He is denied even a pen. He has nothing
to do but contemplate his fate. Does he resign himself to the likelihood that
he will go back to abuse and torture in Algeria?
Or does he let himself believe the British government might change its mind,
that Gordon Brown will have the courage to act where Tony Blair has not? Can he
allow himself to hope?
The writer is senior counsel for