just a little bit over the top?

September 1st, 2007

Y’know, I’m finding the increasing lengths governments are going to to ensure “security” at big events like APEC and WTO meetings more and more…. well, extreme, yes, but extreme to the point of utter absurdity. Take this excerpt from this article on the upcoming Sydney APEC meeting as an example:

This will be made clear in Sydney, where extreme measures have been put in place to protect the city from terrorism and to contain protests expected to attracts tens of thousands of demonstrators.

Although mainstream protest groups have pledged peaceful demonstrations, more radical elements have said they are prepared to break the law and risk violence.

The forces arrayed against them are awesome. In addition to thousands of police, 1500 troops will patrol the streets, supported by Blackhawk helicopters and warships. RAAF F/A 18 Hornet jet fighters will enforce a no-fly zone above the city.

Police have been given extraordinary powers and water cannons to deal with protests, jails have been cleared of criminals serving periodic detention to free 500 places for Apec arrests, a secret list has been compiled of people banned from downtown Sydney, and a massive 2.8 metre wall will isolate Apec from the world.

Jet fighters, warships, troops on the streets- yeah, because the protesters have followed the Tamil Tigers’ example and built their own army, air force and navy, right? I can understand clearing space in jails- be prepared, and all that- but a secret list of people banned from downtown Sydney? Did I miss something? Has the Commonwealth of Australia become the Banana Republic of John Bloody Howard? I thought Australia was one of those relatively free, democratic societies.

Oh, sure, there are going to be people itching for a fight with the police. But aren’t the people best placed to deal with such threats the police? Do New South Wales and Australian Federal police forces not have plans and methods and training and equipment for riots? Shouldn’t the regular police method of dealing with a protest gone nasty already be perfectly adequate?

But here is what I think is the key phrase- and a key phrase for all similar meetings in this “modern” world:

a massive 2.8 metre wall will isolate Apec from the world.

That sends a clear enough message, and a message that explains perfectly the reason for the ridiculously over the top security: None of the leaders inside the wall care about us ordinary folks and nothing that happens in the meetings is done with our benefit or welfare in mind.

Well, maybe that’s overly cynical on my part, but in my defence it is Saturday morning and I woke up too early for a Saturday morning and I’m going to have to go back to work in a little more than a week. Anyway, overly cynical or not, that is the message I get from these “security” arrangements.

And there is a very good reason why I put “security” and “modern” in scare quotes.

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