Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Hawaii should watch Copenhagen

by Larry Geller

Since Hawaii has been selected to host the APEC Summit in 2011, we might begin to pay attention to how these international conferences are held. Copenhagen is different, of course, in importance, in scale, and in the international attention it is drawing, but nevertheless should be an example.

Our local media are useless for following the action, which is getting hot and heavy both inside and outside Copenhagen's Bella Center.  If you want to follow it, use your computer.

As world leaders converge, NGOs are being expelled—literally escorted out of their seats by security personnel. Check, for example, Climate Crackdown: UN Bars Friends of the Earth and Other Environmental Groups from Climate Talks on today’s Democracy Now, either on your TV or at

Here’s a snippet of what you can find on the web that won’t make the newspapers. The full story is at the above link, check it out, this is just the intro:

Democracy Now! caught up with Nnimmo Bassey, the prominent Nigerian environmentalist, just as security was removed him from the conference. Nnimmo Bassey is the chair of Friends of the Earth International. As Bassey was being expelled, the European Union Parliamentarian José Bové attempted to intervene.

Yes, people’s participation inside the conference center has been cut off as Barack Obama and other world leaders arrive.

Outside things are getting rough. Google News isn’t instantaneous, but does a good job of bringing stories together. It appears that Danish Police are peremptorily arresting and detaining potential protestors, later releasing them without charges. Sound familiar? When there are clashes, the police are smacking heads with their batons.

And the clashes are beginning. Here’s a Reuter’s account hot off the web: Danish police hold 240 climate protesters. It is reported that protestors stormed the barricades. And then:

Police, some with dogs, used truncheons and pepper spray to keep back the hundreds of protesters who gathered outside Copenhagen's Bella Center, where world leaders are meeting to try to broker a new deal on global warming.

For ongoing news-style coverage of the conference, Democracy Now is still the best I have found, though there are other in-depth analyses out there from media and advocacy groups. Democracy Now reports points of view that the US mainstream press usually declines to bring its audience, for example, in a news conference today  Bolivian President Evo Morales: "Shameful" For West to Spend Trillions On War and Only $10 Billion For Climate Change.

To follow action both inside and outside, you have little choice but to rely on Internet news in real-time and afterwards. Our newspapers are too thin to carry much, and will be selective in presenting stories. TV has a better chance, we’ll see how they handle it (if at all!).

APEC won’t be a Copenhagen, but it wouldn’t hurt to watch international conferences to see how they transform host cities into security fortresses and how little attention is paid to civil liberties and police abuses. Will Hawaii benefit from APEC? If delegates simply come, do their thing in the Convention Center and pay their room taxes, great.

Quite possibly Hawaii’s fusion centers, police, military and certain business leaders are already planning “security” for 2011. This means infiltrating peaceful advocacy groups, planning police actions, and preparing for demonstrations, including determining detention facilities and how far they will go as they violate the rights of protestors. These days it means armor and weapons as well. It is only a question of time before protestors are killed at one of these conferences.

Who knows what issues will be hot in 2011. Perhaps APEC will be a ho-hummer. But what will be the cost to Hawaii in economic terms as well as to its world image if HPD starts cracking heads in Waikiki?


Thanks so much Larry for addressing this issue.I have been watching Democracy Now. The police, of course, have the wrong perception as usual. They should be present to protect the innocent and to provide an avenue for the citizens to address issues with the so called leadership. The police should not allow themselves to be used against the people who ELECT the leadership.Violence is unacceptable. The industrial nations response to Global Warming is unacceptable! The police must help the citizens to be heard on this crucial issue!

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