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Copyright 2000 Adrian Arbib
Jubilee 2000 march through the streets of Prague. 3,000 turned up on this march to protest against the World Bank and IMF's handling of the world's economy. ISF/Adrian Arbib

Legal Update: Legal Support Web Site

September 26 International Day of Action

On September 26, 2000, about twelve thousand people gathered in Prague to protest the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, demanding that the two institutions be shut down. It was a success - their meeting was seriously disrupted and their exploitative policies were further brought to public attention.

On the morning of Sept. 26, people from all over the world attempted to approach the conference to bring their views directly to the delegates, but were blocked by an army of police. Clashes ensued, and many were arrested. Throughout the following night police retaliation took place. Anyone "suspected" of being a protester was chased down, often beaten, and arrested. By morning 422 people had been arrested, often for nothing more than walking down the street. Police were assisted in their persecution by Czech fascists, who chased and attacked anyone who looked like a protester, and helped to beat demonstrators while they were held in jail.

Arrests continued on the 27th and 28th. On the 28th a non-violent demonstration took place in front of the Ministry of Interior against the police brutality and in solidarity with those arrested. Another 70 people were dragged away. Official police sources reported 892 arrests, and claimed around 230 were foreigners. We can't be sure how many were arrested in total but our figures suggest that the number of foriegners arrested was at least double the official figure. The reports of those detained are disturbing and reveal an ugly part of Czech society that those in power would prefer us not to know about. A brief summary appears below while personal accounts appear in the reports section.

Copyright 2000 Adrian Arbib released were either transported directly to the border or given 24 hours to leave the country. This has made it impossible to monitor the number of those arrested with any accuracy and the recording of their evidence very difficult.

Those arrested were completely cut off from the outside world. Every prisoner we know of was denied phone calls and any access to legal council. Most people were held without charge. The police have refused to release information about confirming names of those arrested and where they are being held. Figures quoted by the Ministry of the Interior have been wildly inaccurate.

And so we need your help. A wide variety of actions from letter writing and phoning to embassy occupations has taken place all over Europe and the USA. We believe this pressure has lead to the release of most of the prisoners. However this pressure must be maintained for the release of the remaining prisoners and for some kind of investigation looking into to the human abuses that have occurred.

So please keep up the pressure, send faxes and E-mails protesting the treatment of those arrested, and join protests, street demos or organise your own. If possible, organize a protest in front of the Embassies of the Czech Republic, the sooner the better. If there's no Embassy in your town, there may be a Czech cultural center.

We thank you very much on behalf of the arrested activists.
Czech President Vaclev Havel fax number: (+420)2 2431 0855 fax:(+420) 2 2431 0851
Czech Minister of Interior Stanislav Gross: (+420) 2 6143 3560 fax: (+420) 2 6143 3552 or 3
Czech Embassy in UK: (+44) 207 243 1115
British Embassy in Czech Republic: (+420) 257 530278 fax: (+420) 257 530296
US Embassy in Czech Republic: fax (+420) 2 2451 1001

No More Business As Usual

Twenty-thousand world bankers, economists and financiers were in Prague for the 55th Annual Summit of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. The IMF itself has said that "in recent decades nearly one-fifth of the world population have regressed in relative and sometimes even absolute terms." And that this is "arguably one of the greatest economic failures of the 20th century." Yet they refuse to see their current lending policies to poverty-ridden countries as part of the problem. In 54 percent of countries borrowing funds from the World Bank, the people experienced stagnating per capita income, rising poverty, declining life expectancy, or a combination of all of the above. Yet the World Bank continues to push export economies and international competitiveness, while sucking money away from social services -- or else, no loan. Rather than working to reduce poverty, as both pledge to do, these institutions are contributing to it, in the name of the free-market economy.

On September 26th, tens of thousands of concerned citizens -- union members, teachers, activists, academics, small business owners, families, pro-democracy groups, church groups -- made their way to Prague to impress upon the IMF and World Bank that they can't turn their backs on the problems of borrowing nations once the bucks have been distributed. Simply: they are part of the problem, and together, we must resolve it. An alternative to economic globalization is possible -- we just have to build it.

See IMF Official Transcript, 4/12/00 press conference on World Economic Outlook 2000; Operations Evaluation Department, World Bank 1999 Annual Report of Development Effectiveness 2000, p. 17. The World Bank adopted the 'overarching objective' of poverty reduction in 1990, while the IMF declared that poverty reduction would be the objective of its programs in 1999.

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We do not support the initiation of any violence against people, animals or property. At the same time we support citizens’ democratic rights to demonstrate. We oppose any measures taken by any authorities to prevent people from exercising this right._________________
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