INDEPENDENT NEWS

Auckland APEC Clean-Up Deja Vu For Choudry

Published: Wed 1 Sep 1999 10:00 AM
Auckland APEC Clean-Up Deja Vu Experience For Anti-APEC Organiser
APEC Monitoring Group organiser Aziz Choudry says the current makeover of Auckland for the upcoming APEC Leaders Summit follows in the footsteps of controversial "clean-ups" at previous Summits.
He has been in Osaka (1995), Manila (1996), Vancouver (1997), and Kuala Lumpur (1998) at the time of APEC Leaders Summits, participating in alternative meetings opposing APEC and its global free market economic approach.
"From the social cleansing as police target the homeless in the Domain and Downtown just outside the APEC Monitoring Group office, to the looming traffic chaos and confusion, from the build-up of military and police to the sealing of manhole covers in Aotea Square, from the "beautifying" of the airport to the tax- and rates–subsidised pro-APEC banners and billboards - it's all grimly familiar,” he said.
"Wherever APEC has been hosted the story has been similar. Human rights violations and massive disruption to the lives of local citizens are synonymous with APEC Leaders Summits - and always justified in the name of "security""
"In reality the cleanup aims to disguise the free market's failure to deliver benefits to the vast majority of New Zealanders. In every city to host an APEC Leaders Summit, the homeless and the poor - many themselves casualties of free market policies - have been harassed by police and security forces and even forcibly moved from areas near official APEC venues. In Manila, the shanty dwellings of some 33,000 squatter families were demolished, the people removed by force and abandoned in a drive to create an "eyesore-free zone" Similar crackdowns against the homeless were visible in Osaka and Vancouver”.
"While APEC insulates itself from negative social and environmental consequences of the policies it promotes, the Auckland clean-up aims to render invisible anything which does not fit the image of a New Zealand market 'miracle'".
"The government is going to great lengths to present a false, sanitised image of New Zealand and the local impact of the past 15 years of radical market reforms to international delegates and media.
"Local citizens' lives and livelihoods are given a low priority in planning for the annual APEC made-for media circus, as governments strive to impress upon visitors what a model of free market model of prosperity and success the host country is."
"Jenny Shipley wants a poverty- and dissent-free, "eyesore-free zone" for APEC, too. She badly wants a pre-election photo op from APEC to boost her support. That will be especially difficult now that APEC itself is virtually paralysed".
"Part of the Summit takes place in the Domain, "home" to a number of homeless people. That these people are being forced out just for APEC is a powerful symbol of the failure of the government's free market approach. Its only solution for social problems is to pretend they don’t exist. Anything that threatens to expose the truth about the high human costs of free market, free trade and investment policies will be swept under the carpet or airbrushed out of the picture," he said.
ENDS

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