Famous global landmarks wear giant white bands

Published: 1 November 2005

Some of the world’s most famous landmarks will be adorned with huge white bands on 1st July, as part of a curtain-raiser to a week of global action during which campaigners and the public in 72 countries will use their voices to call for an end to global poverty.

The Global Call to Action against Poverty marks its first global White Band Day mobilization on Friday 1st July

Some of the world’s most famous landmarks will be adorned with huge white bands on 1st July, as part of a curtain-raiser to a week of global action during which campaigners and the public in 72 countries will use their voices to call for an end to global poverty.

As part of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), the world’s largest anti-poverty movement, landmarks including Australia’s Sydney Harbour Bridge, Rome’s Trevi Fountain, a huge mosque in Indonesia, St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and a famous cotton tree in Sierra Leone will simultaneously be wrapped in oversized white bands – the symbol of the global campaign.

Coming just 5 days before world leaders arrive at Gleneagles for the G8 summit and a mere 24 hours before Live8 concerts are broadcast around the world, this first White Band Day mobilization will mark the occasion when millions of people will call on their leaders in developed countries to honor their promises on more and better aid, trade justice and debt cancellation. Campaigners across developing countries will also reiterate demands on their leaders for transparent poverty reduction initiatives and challenge them to aggressively fight corruption.

An eclectic array of events also marking White Band Day will include: a music festival in the slums of Maputo, Mozambique, an open air concert in Lusaka, Zambia, a peace rally in Nepal, a rally in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam and a concert and rally with a human dragon in the Philippines, a peaceful march of 10,000 in El Salvador’s capital San Salvador and beach party in Ghana with farmers groups who will highlight the plight of rice farmers burdened by unfair trade rules.

The anti-poverty coalition is calling on people across the world to wear white wristbands, armbands and headbands, made out of white rags, ribbons and bed sheets, from 1st July until the G8 meeting ends, as an act of solidarity with the global campaign. By wrapping their homes, schools, places of worship and themselves in white bands, people across the world will underline that they are unprepared to accept simple rhetoric in the fight against poverty.

White Band Day 1 kickstarts a week of global action - or White Band Week - during which hundreds of thousands of people wearing white bands will turn out for the Live8 concerts in Johannesburg, London, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome and Berlin, supported by 2 billion more watching the concerts on television and descend on Edinburgh for a rally calling for an end to poverty. The week will culminate with hundreds of people making their way to Scotland, representing campaigns in developed and developing countries, as part of the ‘Long Walk to Justice.’

GCAP Chair Kumi Naidoo said that G8 leaders could not ignore the worldwide call for action when they meet in Gleneagles, Scotland, from 6-8 July.

“Turning a blind eye to the plight of the world’s poorest is an approach that the G8 has routinely taken. This time around, people in rich and poor countries are standing up to say that they will not accept inaction, indifference and timidity – it’s crime against humanity,” said Kumi Naidoo.

“We will be saying to G8 leaders do not look the other way and do not fail millions of people across the world – the lives of 50,000 people who die of poverty daily depend on it,” said Guy Ryder, a spokesperson for GCAP. ”We are stepping up pressure on G8 leaders to mark July’s summit with a commitment to increase aid annually by USD 50 billion – necessary if the Millennium Development Goals and more are to be reached by 2015.”

“We recognize that aid alone will not eradicate poverty but 35 years ago, rich nations of the world committed 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) to international development. Today only 5 OECD countries have met this obligation - not a single G8 country has managed to achieve this goal. 35 years is a long time to wait for less than 1%” said Kumi Naidoo.

Ahead of next week’s Summit, GCAP will be calling on G8 leaders to extend the scope of June’s debt deal. Whilst a small step in the right direction, the package announced by Finance Ministers, failed to grant debt cancellation to some of the world’s poorest countries, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Haiti. “We want to see the same political will which led to Iraq’s debt mountain being written off virtually overnight applied to the world’s poorest countries. When compared to the Iraq debt deal, the deal offered by the G8 Finance Ministers is timid and lacking in courage, to put it politely. Gleneagles is the perfect occasion to redress this," said Coumba Toure, speaking on behalf of the campaign.

GLOBAL HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia will be wrapped in a gigantic white band, with the Australian coalition’s slogan “Make Poverty History” across it.
  • In Mozambique, thousands will attend a music festival in the slums of Maputo to call for an end to poverty.
  • A large mosque in Indonesia will be wrapped in a giant white band.
  • Landmarks across Europe will be wrapped in white bands: in Rome, Italy, the Trevi Fountain will be draped in a huge white band. Iconic landmarks in Germany Brandenburger Gate in the presence of Claudia Schiffer - and in Paris - the Trocadero buildings - will be wrapped white bands. In the UK, the famous St Paul’s Cathedral will be wrapped in a massive white band.
  • In Sierra Leone, the famous cotton tree planted by freed slaves when the nation was founded will be draped in a white band alongside a street party in Freetown.
  • In the Philippines, a people’s summit and concert will be followed by a rally of 10,000 people.

Contact Information

For more information, contact Caroline Green at Oxfam on 1 202 321 7858 or 1 202 496 1174 or caroline.green@oxfaminternational.org
Campaign’s website: www.whiteband.org
The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is the world’s largest anti-poverty coalition, whose organizations together represent more than 150 million people globally. The campaign, bringing together charities, trade unions, faith groups, grassroots movements and women’s groups across 72 countries, is aiming to make a breakthrough on poverty in 2005 and calling on world leaders to honor their promises on combating poverty.