November 9, 2009 / 1:49 PM / 10 years ago

Activists bury heads in sand in G20 beach protest

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - Twenty activists donned suits and ties and buried their heads in the sand on a Scottish beach on Saturday to protest against a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20 powerful nations.

The protest on West Sands, where beach scenes in the 1980s Oscar-winning movie “Chariots of Fire” were filmed, began a peaceful march that attracted more than 200 people.

Demonstrators will be holding a rival People’s G20 in St Andrews, a few miles from the hotel where finance ministers and central bankers of the world’s most powerful developed and emerging nations are meeting to discuss the global economy.

“The G20 keeps meeting year after year and making promises that they are not keeping and not realizing that we are in a financial and environmental crisis,” Juliet Swann, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, told Reuters.

“Because they are ignoring what is going on in front of their faces we thought of burying our heads in the sand,” added Swann, who was dressed in a neat black pin-stripe suit and still had sand in her hair.

To prevent suffocation, the protestors from environmentalist and other groups buried buckets in the beach and then stuck their heads into them.

G20 meetings often attract protesters but Saturday’s peaceful events contrasted with the violence that has marked some meetings, including the London summit earlier this year.

Police were on the streets of St Andrews in large numbers on Saturday to deal with any potential violence later in the day.

A second demonstration, which will bring St Andrews students and residents together with anti-war and socialist groups, will start in the town and march toward the resort where the G20 officials are meeting.

On Friday night, five protesters cut off the main road between St Andrews and the resort by locking their arms together with metal tubes.

Reporting by Lin Noueihed; editing by David Stamp

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