Thursday July 19 9:33 AM ET
Hanged Effigies Kick Off Expected Wave of G8 Demos
By Jeremy Gaunt
GENOA (Reuters) - Five hanged effigies, hands bound behind their backs, hung from a crane in a Genoa square Thursday -- part of a carnival of protest planned by thousands of demonstrators to greet world leaders in the Italian city.
Around the corner, at the main train station, trains disgorged hundreds of anti-globalization activists eager to condemn the leaders of the Group of Eight nations, who are due in Genoa for a three-day summit starting Friday.
The first major protest march of the summit -- for migrants' rights -- was to begin later Thursday, winding its way through the historic city but steering clear of a central ''red zone'' sealed off to protect the G8.
Italian activist group ``Tute Bianche'' (White Overalls) has vowed to try to break into the zone, which is surrounded by concrete barriers and wire mesh fence, during protests Friday.
But police said Thursday they had barred any protests from the strategically placed Piazza Verdi, adjacent to the red zone, because a high concentration of Tute Bianche there would effectively constitute an invasion.
The zone was largely deserted Thursday except for police and a few stunned residents. One old woman with a dog plaintively asked a ``border'' guard if she could go home.
Sporadic demonstrations were already beginning around the city -- almost devoid of traffic as many Genoese stayed home or headed out of town fearing clashes between police and demonstrators.
The hanging protest, organized by opponents of the Iranian government of President Mohammad Khatami, attracted about 1,000 demonstrators.
Below the ``bodies,'' half a dozen mock condemned people stood below a makeshift gallows in black and white prison garb.
``The toll of the Khatami government -- 950 public executions,'' read a large banner surrounded by a sea of Iranian and resistance movement flags.
Although not tied to anti-globalization protests, the organizers had their own gripe with the G8 -- the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Russia -- urging it not to back Khatami, seen in the West as a moderate.
``He is the smiling face of a repressive regime,'' one said.
The migrants' march later Thursday was expected to focus on what demonstrators say is a denial of rights by rich Western countries to immigrants from poor nations, and on the G8's perceived exploitation of the Third World.
The case is made poignantly around Genoa by a poster showing an emaciated black woman attempting to breast-feed a chubby white baby.
One migrant leader arriving in Genoa late Wednesday with a group of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi protesters said the subcontinent had been ravaged by colonialism and was now at the mercy of the G8.
``These eight countries are responsible for our economic position,'' he said.