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NEWS: Five arrested at protest outside the World Water Forum

The Associated Press reports, “Shortly after the World Water Forum opened Monday, five protesters were briefly detained after a group of activists caused a disruption by playing dead near the entrance, police said. The five were released after their documents were checked. The activists were trying to call attention to the thousands of children who die every day from lack of access to clean water and illustrate what they say is a moribund effort by years of Forum gatherings to produce solid solutions.”

Attendance at the World Water Forum down by more than half
“Protesters say the Forum views water as a commodity instead of a human right, and hail signs that attendance is down at this year’s gathering. Chief Organizer Benedito Braga said 9,000 to 10,000 people had signed up so far, down from 25,000 at the end of the last Forum in Istanbul in 2009.”

Austerity for people, more money for private water corporations
“The World Water Forum’s Braga is proposing a government-fed fund that private companies could tap to help them invest in water infrastructure, services and jobs in poor countries. …While Europe’s financial troubles are weighing on the Forum, Braga says now is not the time for austerity. ‘Economic crises, there are two ways to solve them. One is to restrain spending be very conservative. The other one is to move forward,’ he said, citing infrastructure investment in the United States during the Great Depression.”

“Whether water should be declared a human right?”
“Sharing rights to rivers that cross boundaries is expected to be a thorny issue at this week’s talks, along with a dispute over whether water should be declared a universal human right.” The United Nations General Assembly recognized the right to water and sanitation on July 28, 2010, more than a year and a half ago.

Council of Canadians chairperson and Blue Planet Project co-founder Maude Barlow arrived in Marseille, France yesterday evening to challenge the World Water Forum and participate in the Alternative World Water Forum. For daily blogs on our intervention in Marseille, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/.