Protest film screened as U.S. preps for war

As America edges closer to another war in the Middle East, a globe-hopping activist will be debuting a film in Honolulu tonight that he hopes will illustrate the “pure naked greed” behind the current U.S. stance. “Berlusconi’s Mousetrap” is a feature-length documentary on the July 2001 protests at the G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy, which erupted into a cloud of tear gas and violence. One of the producers of the film, who worked with others from Indymedia Ireland, will be screening it at the UH Art Auditorium at 6 p.m.

The producer, known only as Kevin or “Suburban Rhizome,” has taken the film to cities around the world, from Wellington, New Zealand to Urbana, Illinois. He was in Genoa for the protest, in which as many as 300,000 people participated.

“I went to Genoa because I was protesting against the greed of the G8,” he said. “I want to see all third world debt dropped now. The G8 has consistently failed to keep its promises on debt aid, and could easily bring pressure on organisations such as the World Bank yet chooses not to do so.”

Also known as the “Group of Eight,” the annual G8 gathering brings together leaders from eight nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Russian Federation — as well as the European Union. Although described as an “informal” assembly, the G8 regularly engages other groups, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Shot mostly from the perspective of the protesters, “Berlusconi’s Mousetrap” documents the incident from build-up to the city-wide lock down. In the two days of fights and raids, hundreds were arrested, many were injured, and one protester was killed. The film includes footage of police brutality, and suggests the melee was planned by the Italian government.

While resting with friends in Waimea over the weekend, Kevin said the anti-globalization movement has a lot in common with the anti-war movement, especially given the current U.S. movement toward an attack on Iraq.

“Most people would agree this coming war will be waged over the oil reserves in the north of Iraq,” he said. “If the U.S. Government was serious about disarming what it considers to be rogue states, then they could easily take a look to the east of Iraq, e.g. Pakistan or North Korea.

“This war is all about the greed of capitalism once again,” he said.

With this being his first trip to Hawai`i, Kevin said he was also struck by how vulnerable the islands could be in wartime.

“I wouldn’t be too happy about the large military presence here,” he said. “I can’t see any reason for the U.S. to be occupying Hawai`i other than strategic importance for refuelling and stopovers for a war against an Asian state, and that of course would also conversely mean that Hawai`i would be the closest USA target for an attack.

“Personally I think if I lived here that would scare the shit out of me,” he added.

Although not fond of the term “anti-globalization,” Kevin concedes it’s the theme of the movement in the eyes of the media.

“Now, the mass media would have you and I believe that the steam has been taken out of that whole movement, but it is still very much alive,” he said. “Protests and campaigns continue all the time.”

On the local anti-war front, as many as 2,000 people participated in an anti-war rally and march last month, in conjunction with demostrations on the neighbor islands and across the country. Another demonstration is planned for Saturday at Pearl Harbor.

The Honolulu screening of “Berlusconi’s Mousetrap” was organized by the Hawai`i Independent Media Center, the local chapter of the worldwide Independent Media Center network.

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