Asian Solidarity Delegation Mission to Canada: Global Demonstrations
Dec 10: Protest March and Demonstration in Mumbai photos from Pralhad Malvadkar
Dec 9: Action in Manila, Philippines report based on email from D M Tuvera
In conjunction with the demonstration in support of the Asian Solidarity Delegation to Quebec, trade unionists delivered to the Canadian Embassy a statement condemning the mining and export of asbestos by Canada (see: Canada, Stop Exporting Chrysotile Asbestos to Asia).
According to TUCP Campaign Officer D M Tuvera, representatives from the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), ALLWEIS (informal sector workers organization) and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) hoped to obtain a brief response from Embassy officials.
In the event, after lengthy negotiations, two people were allowed in to deliver the statement. They were led to a gloomy reception area five levels below ground and instructed to poke the statement through an opening from which they received a receipt for the document. That was it. As in the past, Canada stayed silent on the havoc wreaked by their deadly asbestos exports.
Dec 9: London Day of Action Laurie Kazan-Allen
Even as the capital geared up for one of the country's biggest demonstrations, stalwart ban asbestos campaigners, asbestos victims, trade unionists and representatives of civil society made their way into central London to begin a day of activities aimed at highlighting the scandalous plans by the Quebec Government to support a new asbestos mine.
We gathered in front of Canada House, a building well-known to ban asbestos campaigners. The presence of some very important people brought a seasonal atmosphere to the draughty experience of mounting vigil in central London on a freezing winter's day. Father Christmas made time in his busy schedule to join protestors. He showed his support by donning a death head's mask and holding up protest signs.
After remarks by key organizers of the event, asbestos victims spoke out about how their loved ones had died from asbestos diseases. They were united in their determination that this mine would not go ahead.
The activities in front of Canada House were so lively, colorful and noisy that we attracted a crowd of passers-by who stopped to film the event. At this point we were engaged in a "die-in", during which white-suited demonstrators laid down on the ground, amidst sacks of asbestos to represent the thousands of people dying every year from asbestos disease. It would be remiss not to mention the sterling performance in this role of Ms. Hilda Palmer from the Hazards Centre in Manchester. After some while, Hilda was heard to call out, somewhat plaintively, "Can we live again." They could, but many can't.
To reinforce the Christmas spirit, we sang special Carols written by Rory O'Neill with some fundamental alterations. As we got better with each attempt, we repeated the Carols a few times. All the while, people were blowing their whistles and shouting out.
Did I mention that at some point Mr. Jean Charest, Premier of Canada turned up. Not really, but a mask of Charest, ably worn by Mick Holder, was paraded into the ring. Charest was indicted by an asbestos widow for his crimes against humanity. He was handcuffed and led away accompanied by the boos of the crowd.
At this point MP Simon Danczuk from Rochdale addressed the crowd and indicated his support for their action. He later submitted a letter to the Canadian authorities expressing his position.
Having finished the demonstration at Canada House, we paraded through the streets to Pall Mall where the office of the Quebec Government is located. Protestors once again lined up and displayed their banners and placards to the public. Sacks of asbestos (full of paper and not the real stuff as asbestos is banned in the UK), were left on the doorstep of the Quebec offices. An official agreed to come out of the office to accept a letter handed in by Tony Whitston and several asbestos widows for delivery to Pierre Boulanger, Agent-General at the Quebec London offices.
The weeks of planning and organizing which went into the day’s activities benefited from the input of a range of organizations and groups amongst which were the Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the Construction Safety Campaign (CSC), the General Municipal and Boilermakers Union (GMB), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Union (ATL), the Hazards Campaign and Save Spodden Valley. Speaking outside of Canada House, the CSC’s Tony O’Brien reminded protesters of the continuing risks faced by workers in the construction sector from asbestos products hidden within the UK infrastructure while the ATL’s Hank Roberts highlighted the ongoing epidemic of asbestos disease amongst UK schoolteachers. The GMB’s John McClean was of major assistance with the logistics of the day while the turnout by 5 Members of Parliament illustrated the serious concern felt in Parliament about plans to open a new asbestos mine in Canada. Of paramount importance to the success on the day was the presence of family members, some of whom had been traveling since 5 a.m., to get to London in time for the demonstration. Holding a-loft the photos of those they had lost to asbestos disease, they reinforced the cold reality that asbestos exposure can kill. The heartfelt words expressed by Jean, Jayne and Barbara and the enthusiasm and energy of Vera, Ann and Colin remain an enduring memory of the day.
The day of action ended when a delegation of representatives, joined by several MPs, went to Number 10 Downing Street to hand in a letter drawing the Prime Minister's attention to this very serious matter. Upon completion of this task, we made a hasty retreat away from the smoke bombs and massing student protestors.
Dec 9: From the Barricades in Paris Marc Hindry
Yesterday the weather in Paris was ironically quite Canadian with the kind of snow storm for which the city is ill-equiped. Today the sun started melting the snow, but the streets were very slippery and the city still disorganised. Despite the still freezing temperature and the paralysis of transport, a symbolic group of protesters gathered on the "Parvis des Droits de l'Homme" (Human Rights Square) with a beautiful view of the Eiffel tower on the opposite river bank.
The banner of ANDEVA (Association Nationale de Défense des Victimes de l'Amiante - National Association of defense of asbestos victims) was unfurled among puzzled tourists.
Duly escorted by rather sympathizing police officers, the activists then walked up the posh avenues Raymond Poincaré and Foch to reach the house of the delegation of Québec (66 rue Pergolèse) where posters where exhibited.
Vive le Québec libre d'amiante (with a portrait of General de Gaulle!)
Pas de dollars pour la mine d'amiante
Amiante au Québec assez de mensonge
Quebecois : arrêtez d'exporter la mort
Cheers for a Québec free of asbestos
No dollars for the asbestos mine
Asbestos in Québec : enough lies
People from Québec, stop exporting death
There was no reaction from inside Québec house, were they too ashamed?
Dec 9: Protest in Delhi
An action taken on December 9, 2010 to express solidarity with the efforts of the Asian Delegation to Canada was mounted outside the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi by community activists, representatives of NGOs, and trade unionists belonging to groups affiliated with the Building and Woodworkers International. A protest letter was delivered by the group to the Embassy.
Dec 9: Hong Kong Demonstration
A protest against the new Canadian asbestos mine was held outside the Quebec Immigration Office (Canadian Consulate) in Hong Kong on December 9, 2010 by the Hong Kong Ban Asbestos Coalition, part of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network. This Coalition includes victims groups, NGOs and Hong Kong trade unions. A letter expressing the Coalition's concerns over plans to produce more asbestos in Canada was presented to Ms Joanne Boyer Director, Québec Immigration Office Hong Kong.
Dec 7: Demonstration in Tokyo
At midday on December 7, 2010, members of Ban Asbestos Japan held a protest outside the Quebec government offices in Tokyo. With banners in Japanese and English (“Stop Quebec Death Exports” and “Stop Quebec Asbestos Mine”, the protestors made speeches and engaged in dialogue with members of the public, handing out leaflets and other material.
(To view part of the event online click: Tokyo Demo Video)
Dec 7: Seoul Demonstration against Canadian Mine
As the Asian Solidarity Delegation was poised to begin their meetings in Montreal on December 7, representatives of Ban Asbestos Korea, including co-chairs: Professor Domyung Paek of Seoul National University, Environmental Mesothelioma Victim Hyung-sik Choi and Hye-Kyung Jung, Vice President of the Korean Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions, took part in demonstrations in the capital to highlight concern over plans to develop a new asbestos mine in Quebec.
The protests included a rally outside the Canadian Embassy in the Jung-gu district, during which the Vice President of the Korean Confederation of Labor Unions delivered a press statement and Professor Paek spoke about the situation in Quebec focusing on the government proposal to back the new mine.
The demonstrators then proceeded to the Quebec trade office. It is of relevance to note that the reception protestors received on December 7 was in marked contrast to the hostility they faced in June 2010 when staff were aggressive and threatening. In the more relaxed circumstances, Professor Paek was able to hand a letter to a clerk at the Quebec office with a request that it be sent to the authorities in Canada.
|Domyung Paek and mesothelioma sufferer Hyung-sik Choi present protest letter at the Quebec Trade Office in Seoul|
December 16, 2010