70,000 demand cancellation of Third World debt

May 27, 1998

70,000 demand cancellation of Third World debt

Around 70,000 people gathered on May 16 in Birmingham, where the Group of Eight countries met, to press for the cancellation of the debts owed by the poor nations and which they have little hope of repaying.

The slogans "Break the debt chains" and "Debt steals lives" were displayed on banners carried by the protesters, who formed a 10-kilometre, four people-deep human chain around the International Convention Centre, the venue for the G8 summit. About 1.5 million signatures were handed over to the summit representatives, to the roar of an 8000-strong crowd in St Phillip's Square.

Ann Pettifer, director of Jubilee 2000 — a coalition of the Trades Union Congress, Christian aid and other charity and non-government organisations — said, "70,000 people in the streets of Birmingham were as important as eight men in a country house".

The G8 have been supporting debt relief for certain heavily indebted African countries, but participants in a poor nation summit coinciding with the G8 gathering described the G8's initiative as inadequate, excessively strict, limited to a few countries and not able to deal with poverty eradication.

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