Lacy MacAuley

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a home for my pen, projects, and passions

My report on the G20 Summit, published in Foreign Policy In Focus

My piece on the G20 Summit, titled

“The World’s 20 Largest Economies Just Met, and the Media Reported on Cats”

was published in the fantastic publication, Foreign Policy In Focus. In this piece I present the voices of resistance to the G20, as well as my own assessment of the G20’s statement and polices. I emphasized that “thousands of government representatives from the 20 nations met recently to deepen neoliberalism and kick the can on climate change, and all we got was another viral cat video.” Cats. Lots of cats.

Doesn’t the Internet have enough cat videos?

News of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, which concluded a few days after the Paris attacks, focused predominantly on discussions of the violence, along with the response of the G20 on Syria — and yes, cats. Videos of stray cats who wandered onstage as the press awaited remarks from Presidents Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly went viral.

I get it. From my hotel room in Antalya, Turkey, I also wept, messaged friends, and obsessively monitored the news following the attacks in Paris and Beirut, and then Syria, throughout the G20 summit. Although I was here in Antalya to engage with the voices of protest during the summit, and to monitor the G20’s actions, I couldn’t get these tragedies off of my mind.

The cats were some welcome comic relief. But they seem to have snatched more headlines than the actual decisions made at the G20, a forum of the 20 most important economies in the world that meets at least once per year.

Together they constitute about 60 percent of the world’s population and emit the lion’s share of global carbon emissions. Since its beginnings as an emergency response to economic crises, the G20’s agenda has broadened to encompass a variety of issues, such as corruption, food policy, taxes, youth employment, and especially the expansion of economic growth.

I summarized the Turkish protesters who were in the streets opposing the G20:

Out in the streets, young Turkish activists marched against the G20, holding signs that called the G20 a “killer, colonist, imperialist” organization.

Several organizations participated. The Türkiye Gençlik Birliği (TGB), or Turkish Youth Party, held an orderly march which began with a rally of hundreds inside a fenced-off “protest zone.” When I entered this zone through a security gate, police checked not only my pockets but also carefully read each one of my signs to vet for content.

The group symbolically threw shoes at Obama’s effigy as an act of street theater, then marched as they held aloft posters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secularist founder of the modern Turkish republic. They marched with anti-U.S.-imperialism signs, including a 15-foot-long banner that read, “Yankee Go Home!”

“For this protest, we are mostly focused on Obama and U.S. imperialism. When we think of America, we think of blood and tears,” said Sinan Sungur, the TGB’s assistant general secretary. Sungur complained specifically about NATO military bases in Turkey, as well as U.S. interference in the Middle East more broadly. “We follow Atatürk’s way in Turkey. The model is to open towards socialism. We take our power from the people.”

Hundreds more marched without a permit, getting into scuffles with the police as they held banners that read, “G20 go away!” These were the Öğrenci Kolektifleri or Halkevleri, the People’s Party. In total, 30 people in total were arrested from the People’s Party. Four were arrested as they attempted to walk to the security barricades to deliver letters to President Obama and other leaders.

“Why do we protest the G20? The G20 is imperialistic,” said Kutay Merig, a university professor marching with the group. He added that they also “make war and hunger, are anti-democratic, and serve the interests of rich people. Totally abolish imperialism.”

I’ve been personally present at five G20 Leaders Summits now, and this is the smallest crowd of protesters I’ve seen. This is no doubt because of the extreme censorship and repression here in Turkey against anyone critical of the dominant paradigm, the government’s repression of the Kurdish population, or President Erdoğan.

I was told by many that it was illegal to protest at all, and warned that even getting caught with a G20 protest sign by police might land me in jail. I took these words of caution seriously, as local police had prepared an additional detention center for the summit with space for 500 protesters. I didn’t want to occupy one of these 500 cells.

And I discuss the G20’s actions on climate change, its IMF links, and its infrastructure development master plan, a scary new system for funding infrastructure called the “Global Infrastructure Hub.”

Take a look at the rest of the article here!

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