Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rioters in Istanbul call for IMF to get out

As the World Bank and IMF continue to meet in the $220 million bunker of a conference centre in Istanbul, protestors have taken to the streets to show their anger and hostility towards the international financial institutions, which have imposed harsh and undemocratic conditions on Turkey as part of a typical neo-liberal restructuring process.

While some of us were sitting in an office downtown, strategising over how to campaign on issues like debt, conditions, and the need for global economic transformation, the rioters outside were making their point more directly. We could smell the tear gas and hear the smoke bombs the police used to disperse the protestors, and later walked through streets covered in broken glass and puddles left by water cannons.

The eruption of protest here in Turkey goes to the heart of the matter: the Bank and Fund are meeting here to congratulate themselves on averting global meltdown, and discuss some minor tweeks and requests for more funding, which will allow them to continue to direct and dominate the global economy. Meanwhile the people of Turkey, and of international civil society more widely, are demanding much more radical changes - the end of the hegemony of these institutions and the ideology they represent. The challenge for us in the North is how we can best stand in solidarity with their demands, and work together to see genuine transformation in the way the world economy is managed.

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