Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists

Men on their way to beat up people protecting the Khimki forest, some with right wing extremism symbols on their clothes.

More than hundreds activists have gathered at Eda climate camp North of Stockholm 2-8 of August  organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden and educational organizations.  Here we were reached by the news from Moscow. Right wing extremists have been used to attack environmental activists protecting the Khimki forest and protesting against a high way project. The police who came late to the site reacted by arresting the environmental actvists. Two environmental and anti-fascist protesters are now also facing severe charges for continued protests. Thus we issued a solidarity statement see, below. There are many ways to make international protests both against the repression and against the European investment Bank and EBRD who are possible funders of the toll high way project. See links below.

Transportation and urban planning is at the core of the climate issue. Emissions from ever increasing road transport is frequently addressed as the main problem for solving climate change in industrialized countries and targets set for diminishing the climate effects of transportation is  as frequently among the biggest failures in climate politics. The present development model built on increasing social injustice domestically and internationally needs ever increasing transportation and urban planning segregating people to maintain its dominance and continue exploiting nature and human beings. Thus it is no coincidence that some of the severe environmental conflicts concerns road traffic and urban planning.

Furthermore we see a growing convergence of different movements in a time of stronger repression. This calls for solidarity between different movements and internationally. The growing repression we face have resulted in a volatile situation for protesters and big fluctuations in the ability to mobilize. Popular movements needs not only mass support in their own countries but also that simultaneous struggles goes on in other countries as well as at times international solidarity. This has been especially hard in Central and Eastern Europe where people in common have lost much of their faith in collective protests. Movements work under extreme conditions with lack of visible popular support confronted by severe repression and violence from civilian supporters of a strong national state or corporations. Thus one activist was killed in an environmental camp against a uranium processing plant in Siberia by right wing extremists attacking the small camp beating most of the people in the camp in 2007. The authorities responded by accusing the camp organizers for provoking the attack.

The situation in Moscow is similar. Very few dare to take up a fight and when they do so they get easily beaten or murdered. At the European Social Forum 2010 Rule of Law Institute from Russia organized a seminar on right wing extremism in Russia showing how more than a hundred persons get killed each year due to the right wing violence. When the former leader of the Rule of Law institute, the social democratic lawyer Stanislaw Markelov who often defended antifascist anarchists came out from a press conference on the crimes made by Russian military in Chechnya he was together with Anastasia Baburova gunned down on the footsteps of the building in the middle of Moscow.

One year later a mass manifestation in their memory of the two murdered activists was organized on January 19. It was the biggest demonstration in Moscow for four years with one thousand people attending from many different strands in the movements in Russia with the police harassing the demonstrators and anarchist antifascist as a strong component. In many political struggles in Russia as the environmental or violence against migrants or people from the periphery of the Russian federation antifascists are the main organizers of solidarity and the strand of the movement that do not give up neither in front of right wing extremism or repression. This is of utmost importance in times of lack of visible mass support. The unifying event on January 19 made it possible to gain strength and renew efforts to confront strong economic interest as in the case of the Khimki Forest. Earlier the exploiters closely linked to the local Khimki government had succeeded in stifling the movement by violent attacks on one of its voices, the journalist Mikhail Beketov. The attempted murder in 2008 did not succeed and there are no official results of the investigation but many Khimki residents believe that the local authorities were involved in the attack.

A strong force behind the exploitation is the Transport Ministry and the “non-commercial organisation”, Avtodor which combines the functions of a government agency and a business. The project is planned as the first large-scale public-private partnership with the involvement of western investors – the EBRD and European Investment Bank. The intermediary link will be the North-West Investment Company, backed by the French firms Vinci and Eurovia, who have extensive experience of attracting European investments. But the environmental laws were in the way.

Protesters tried to stop the illegal cutting of the forest for the road project but were confronted by a combination of forces. One was the police who helped the illegal exploiters in spite of a court ruling in favor of the protesters.  Another was the general lack of trust in protesting collectively in Russia which makes the number of protesters small in spite of a very broad support ranging from liberal party leaders, the alternative globalization movement going to European Social Forums, a famous  rock stars to Anarchist and traditional environmentalists and local citizens previously not engaged in conflicts. Finally when the protests continued right wing extremist were called in to beat up the protesters followed by the police arresting the protectors of the environment.

In response to the repression of the movement some 90 or 300 activists anonymously attacked the municipal headquarter smearing it with stones and graffiti. None was arrested at the occasion but afterwards Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov got arrested. As both are publically known spokespersons for the Anti-fascists they are easy to find for the police who needed result in their reaction to the direct action against the symbols of power in Khimki. There is serious questioning against the claims made by the police as there are no proofs of their presence and that it is hard to see a reason the very few persons known by the public and the police should have participated in the action. In the general “anti-extremism” change of laws the action against the municipal building is claimed to be very serious and can result in 7 years of imprisonment. 

The following violent arrest of the leader Yevgenia Chirikov of the Khimki protest movement on August 4 shows clearly that the authorities are lying and playing a political theatre orchestrated by other interests than protecting law and order. She has been contacted by the police at several occasions and appeared at voluntarily police stations as a witness in the case of the murder of lawyer Stanislaw Markelov and the assault against the journalist Mikhail Beketov. Now she was arrested in speculative and brutal manner by the special police force OMON used against riots and terrorists directly after a press conference against the arrests of Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov .  A spokesman for the Moscow Region Directorate of Internal Affairs (i.e., the police for the region around Moscow, not the city itself) later claimed that Chirikova was detained because she had failed to respond to a summons in connection with the investigation of the attack (allegedly by anarchists and antifascists) on the Khimki administration building. But Chirikova was never given a summons and thus not given the possibility to voluntarily come to the police station as the system chose to organize a political theatre instead based on false claims of the refusal of Chirikova to appear voluntarily. She commented afterwards that her arrest resembled a “demonstrative action” directed against environmentalists.

Was it at stake is not only the Khimk forest and profit interest high up in the local and national government linked to abuse of the police to protect those interests. It is also the question of the legitimacy of the present development model in Russia which is much based on the same kind of close linkage between private exploitation interests and the government keeping people in common passive with the help of mass media and a combination of police and right wing extremist violence. As this authoritarian system lacks a belief in its capacity to get spontaneous support for their exploitation they see any kind of protest also when it only concerns a local matter as a threat to the whole system.  This makes it utterly dangerous for those that are organizing protests.

What is at stake is the future of the whole international/translocal climate justice and other system critical movements. We are not stronger than our weakest links. Furthermore the growing repression we see in Russia is also taking place everywhere. With authorities that are given ever increasing juridical means to stop any kind of protest as being caused by “extremism” leaving all traditional juridical ideas of individual responsibility and evidence behind. The Khimki protests against exploitation is a case were especially the accusations against  Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov are crucial to challenge by combining environmentalist and social justice concerns in a joint struggle against repression.

What is remarkable is that  those promoting the toll high way through the Khimk forest refuses any compromise with the wide spread environmental opinion against the exploitation in spite of that they are in a politically fairly vulnerable position. 2/3 of the investments is planned to come from Western funding through EBRD and the European Investment Bank, both known to keep an eye on the environmental impact at least when the negative effects are too obvious and concentrated. They also do not like to be connected to projects that becomes too controversial including violent repression. In spite of this political vulnerability those in power have chosen to continue escalating the pressure against the protesters in an attempt to split the opposition hoping for creating an image of violent aggressive activists working against society and peaceful but harmless opinion makers. Thus the exploiters are challenging the whole European environmental opinion trying to establish a de facto acceptance of European Bank support of any environmentally destructive project regardless how easy a better alternative could be chosen which should save the forest but not the highest level of profit. If the exploiters win and are able to get the financial European support they need it would be a historical defeat for the European environmental opinion.   

The Russian opposition has chosen to show its strength by sticking together. The protest leader Chirikova who by all means can be described as a main stream environmentalist with modest and well informed arguments was among the speakers at the press conference to defend the arrested anti fascists Solopov and Gaskarov. It is hard to believe that the spectacular arrest by special riot and anti-terrorist police force of her directly after this press conference is anything else than an attempt to put a violence stamp on the whole environmental protest and create fear. But those in power failed to split the Russian movement. The 19 of January committee which is the result of the unification of forces during the comemoration of the murder of Markelov and Baburova calls for solidarity. It is now up to international movements to show that the provocation against the European environmental opinion in completely disregarding the local opinion against building of the toll high way through the Khimk forest and still believing in financial support from Europe is met by a strong no. It is even more up to the whole global environmental justice and all popular movements to show that the attempts at using right wing extremism combined with repression against a movement is not accepted in Moscow or anywhere else.

The growing repression we have seen at the Climate summit in Copenhagen, against the landless movement MST in Brazil, against migrants and protesters of all kinds not only in impoverished countries but also the rich and industrialized must be confronted by common efforts. The authorities start to leave all earlier notions of freedom of expression and individual evidence for committing a crime behind.  The heavy possible and necessary involvement of EU funding in the project through EBRD and the European Investment Bank makes it also possible to mobilize substantial protests against the project. We have to join hands across borders and movements to build solidarity.

Tord Björk

 

Protest against the arrests of Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov

We are protesting against the arrests of environmental activists in connection with protests against highway construction around Moscow at Khimki forest. We look with concern on how both the right wing extremist violence and state repression is used against the protests. Everyone’s health and the right to a living nature for future generations are at stake in environmental conflicts. The authorities ignoring the right-wing violence and repression against the protests are unacceptable.

 

Participants at the Climate camp in Eda organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden and educational organizations.

Links

The Battle for Khimki Forest, Yevgenia Chirikova, 17 March 2010

http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/yevgenia-chirikova/battle-for-khimki-forest

Another Beautiful Day in the Russian Capital: Khimki Forest Defender Yevgenia Chirikova Kidnapped by Police after Press Conference

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/another-beautiful-day-in-the-russian-capital-khimki-forest-defender-yevgenia-chirikova-kidnapped-by-police-after-press-conference/

The Kidnapping of Yevgenia Chirikova (4 August 2010, Moscow)

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/the-kidnapping-of-yevgenia-chirikova-4-august-2010-moscow/

Yevgenia Chirikova on Her Kidnapping by Police

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/yevgenia-chirikova-on-her-kidnapping-by-police/

Khimki: Police Repression as an Aid to Deforestation, On the arrests of Max, and Alexei.

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/khimki-police-repression-as-an-aid-to-deforestation/

Khimki: Territory of Lawlessness with more links to Khimki articles

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/khimki-territory-of-lawlessness/

Antifascist Russian news in English regularly updated about the Khimki protests:

http://www.avtonom.org/en/khimki

 Links to articles in different languages:

http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?mot6748

Take Action!

Send protest letters or go to the Russian embassy or consulate to demand the realease of Gaskarov and Solopov. For arguments see the facebook group below-

Join the protests on facebook:

Freedom for Russian antifascists Alexei Gaskarov & Maxim Solopov! 483 members August 5.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123233894390151

Khimki: Save The Forest! A newly started facebook group. 17 members August 5.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=133292676712838&v=walli

Put pressure on the European banks:

Sign the online letter below and ask the European Investment Bank and the European bank for Reconstruction and Development to condemn publicly illegal acts of deforestation and violence against peaceful demonstrations.

http://bankwatch.org/involved/index2.shtml?x=2237867

Put pressure on the Western European corporations:

Greenpeace Russia: Help Defend the Khimki Forest!

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/greenpeace-russia-help-defend-the-khimki-forest/

Send protest letters to European banks and President Medvedev:

 

Protect Moscow’s Khimki Forest—the land, the trees and local environmentalists desperately need help

http://www.earthaction.org/2010/07/protect-moscows-khimki-forestthe-land-the-trees-and-local-environmentalists-desperately-need-help.html

 

ESF-6 Istanbul 1-4th July 2010 Final Assembly of Social Movements

ASM – Assembly of Social Movements

EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM
ISTANBUL 1-4th  JULY 2010

FINAL ASSEMBLY
(Notes taken, documents organized by Mariangela Casalucci and Elettra Anghelinas)

The final Assembly has been divided in two parts:

10 – 11.40        Information about the ESF, presentation of final declaration  and debate
11.40 – 13.00  Outcome from thematic assemblies and debate

It was significant to have an ESF in Istanbul, 3000 people participation, 200 meetings between workshops, seminars and assemblies and a very successful demo with more than 5000 people participating
We have held this ESF in the framework of the crisis. There were a lot of seminars and workshops focusing on this. All seminars have brought similarities and differences.
What is clear is that we want to work together and go further together without letting anybody destroying the wish of networking mobilizations all around Europe.
So we are here together to find spaces to coordinate our effort to struggle against the attack we are facing. There will be concrete actions and in the framework of the ESF we are going to join our forces

Final declaration

From the Final Assembly of the 6th European Social Forum
1- 4th July 2010
We, the participants at the Istanbul ESF, affirming that we have a strong  engagement against all war and occupation  and that we are for a political resolution of the Kurdish issue, have made the following resolution :
Act together in Europe against the crisis
In the context of a global crisis and faced with the EU, the governments and the IMF offensive to impose austerity and social regression policies, the social movements which have gathered in the ESF in Istanbul issue a call to act together in Europe.
Mobilisations and resistance movements are developing across Europe to challenge these policies. It is urgent to build, on the long term, a convergent struggle in Europe, which brings together social movements, trade unions, associations, organisations, and citizen networks. This is why we issue a call for a first step on the way to developing mobilisation across Europe, on the 29th of September and the surrounding days.
We must impose alternative policies, which enable us to fulfil social needs and ecological requirements.
All social movements call for a European assembly on the 23-24th of October (or 13-14th of November) in Paris to further our mobilisation and the coordination of our movements and also to make valuation and discuss the future of the ESF.

Outcome of the thematic assemblies and networks
held in the frame of the European Social Forum on the 3rd of July 2010
(please notice that the summaries are followed by the final declarations of each assembly in which are listed all the calls, the proposals and the appointments for the following months)

We are the people, women and men participating to workshops, seminars, assemblies and networks in the European Social Forum in Istanbul, 1st – 4th July 2010 and we call on social movements to participate and networking for the concrete actions which were discussed, proposed and now listed in the final declarations of the assemblies at the forum

Assembly on Freedom of movement, right to stay

We, the people and activist groups participating in the workshops, seminars and actions organized by the Migrant Network call on fighting for the freedom of movement and the right to stay. We call on movements, organizations, individuals all over Europe in order to struggle against the murderous European border regime in which Frontex is the driving force and for the closure of all detention centers.
We call on movements, organizations individuals all over Europe to support the struggles of workers focusing on the ones without papers and rights and to fight against the racism and the precarization and exploitation of migrants, increased in the context of the global economic crisis.
We support all the campaigns, initiatives and struggles and we call on people here on continuing and strengthening networking and proceed in common transnational struggles.

Antirepression network

We, the people involved in the initiatives of the antirepression network believe that the repression issue will be of much bigger importance in the near future because of the crisis and the social struggles emerging from this crisis. Intensify and special measures will be taken against those who right for their rights, their social security and diversity. Despite our different political opinions we call on the release of all the political prisoners, the closure of the black lists and any other measure of the global war against terror. We claim to shut down all the migrants’ detention camps and any kind of guantanamos.

Climate justice Network

We from climate and social justice movements who gathered at the European Social Forum in Istanbul call for system change not climate change for a just transition towards a good life for all. Social and ecological justice, do not contradict each other. They are and have to be complementary. We are calling for a just transition in the way we work, in the structures of production and consumption.  We need to expand community-controlled renewable energies, food sovereignty as well as public services. This would create millions of socially and ecologically useful jobs.
We in Europe are only now starting on the road towards climate justice, creating and resisting in many different ways, such as direct action, the building of local alternatives, civil disobedience or public campaigning to name a few. We call upon social movements, trade unions and civil society in Europe to engage in the struggle for a good life for all.

Education Assembly Rise up! An other answer to the crisis is possible: Public Education

We, people of the public education, gathered in Istanbul for the sixth European Social Forum call for a period of mobilization next autumn
We want to use  the 29th  of September, a day of demonstration and trade union actions across every country of Europe and the surrounding dates, to extend the mobilization and  to act together in Europe on our platform.
During this period, from the end of September to the beginning October, we call for mobilizations,  strikes, demonstrations and actions all around Europe to reaffirm the right to free public education for everybody and to defend and increase  workers and unions rights on the basis of our platform.

War and peace Assembly

The war and peace assembly denounces that at a time of economic crisis, European states are increasing their military budgets and trade of weapons. The European Union  is not the “soft power” it meant to be. To protect peace and social needs, we call peace and antiwar movements to join the trade unions protest on the 29th of September and the Week of Action against the NATO summit of 15-21 November 2010 in Lisbon.  We call for an immediate end of the war in Afghanistan and we will mobilize for the tragic anniversary of the invasion on October 8-9. The assembly strongly supports the mobilization of Kurdish and Turkish movements for a peaceful and democratic solution of the Kurdish issue, and endorses the Palestinian civil society call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with Palestinian rights based on international law. There is no military way out of these conflict. We  support the demilitarization of Cyprus, the whole Caucasus and we stand in solidarity with the Iraqi civil society that is struggling to protect its people. All these causes and campaigns will be celebrated in the International Day of Peace, 21 September, and in the Thematic Social Forum for a Culture of Peace in Santiago de Compostela on 9-12 December.

Assembly on Labour

We call for support workers and TU in Turkey who are struggling for their rights against the severe oppression by the government and the huge attack of the transnational companies, information campaign all over Europe in order to strength unity and solidarity and prevent workers from being played out against each other; support across Europe the workers struggle against austerity programs and attacks on wages, working conditions, pensions and social programs; debate in European TU and social movements about how to adopt more aggressive initiative and strength the international prospective and coordination; the demonstrations planned for the 29th of September and surrounding days should be organized as European events in Brussels and general strikes where possible

Assembly “Solidarity of the East and the West

With regard to the upcoming European mobilisations it was said that it is preferable to develop simultaneous activities against crises, poverty, unemployment in many countries during the time of the big demonstration on 29th September in Brussels. The slogan ”Human beings are more important than banks” was suggested as well as the integration of our struggle against racism and xenophobia.
The open All-European Mobilizing Committee should support the co-operation and participation of CEE movements for the next EPAs and ESF, based upon the good experience with frequent Skype conferences.
The open-esf website should be renewed and continued with a better balanced participation of women and of CEE movements.
Everyone is invited to participate in the network “Prague Spring II” and to integrate other issues into its work, e.g. women’s issues, sustainability or social issues.
The next ESF should take place either in a CEE country or in one of the neighbouring countries like Austria.

Antimperialist Assembly (see the final declaration in the following part)

Final declarations
of the thematic Assemblies
held in Istanbul
on the 3rd of July 2010
VI European Social Forum

•    Education Assembly
Rise up! An other answer to the crisis is possible: Public Education

•    Migrants Assembly
“The freedom to move, the right to stay”

•    Assembly
“Solidarity of the East and the West”

•    From the network Climate justice
“System change, not climate change! A just transition towards a good life for all”

•    Assembly
“Peace and War”

•    Assembly on Labour

•    Antimperialist Assembly

ESF-6: System change, not climate change! A just transition towards a good life for all

From the climate justice network
“System change, not climate change!
A just transition towards a good life for all”
6th ESF Istanbul, 3rd  July 2010

Presenting the climate justice network statement to ASM

The newspapers may speak of financial and economic crises, but when we look around ourselves, we don’t see derivates and financial markets – what we see is the destruction of communities, of our social and natural environments, of our relations to each other. What we see is capitalism destroying us. Against this destruction, and the austerity that follows in its wake, people are resisting, people are fighting back, people are beginning to create the new worlds we know to be necessary: from Ghana to Greece, from Copenhagen to Cochabamba, from Bangkok to Brussels. We from climate and social justice movements gathered at the European Social Forum in Istanbul, are a part of and inspired by these global processes of resistance and creation, but also realise that we need to fight where we stand: to create another world, we also need to create another Europe and tear down the walls of the fortress that surround it.
Against those who try to create divisions between social and ecological justice, we assert that they do not contradict each other. They are and have to be complementary. Our vision is of a good life for all, not a nightmare of authoritarian eco-austerity.
Against those who oppose people’s desire to have good and well-paid jobs and to move beyond the madness of infinite growth on a finite planet, we are calling for a just transition in the way we work, in the structures of production and consumption. While there are many things we need more of, there is much we need less of. For example, we need to stop the destructive energy production practices involving coal, oil, nuclear and hydropower, or to end the madness of building individual cars for everybody. At the same time, we need to expand community-controlled renewable energies, food sovereignty as well as public services that contribute to our goal of a good life for all, like free public transport, health, housing and education. This would create millions of socially and ecologically useful jobs.
This is what we mean by just transition, by climate justice: it does not mean having the ‘right’ position on what is being negotiated at UN-climate summits. It’s not about parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. Although it is important to change our individual behaviours, climate justice is about fundamentally changing our model of production and consumption of food, goods, energy, of our entire lives. It is about finally making amends for the ecological debt we owe the rest of the world.
We in Europe are only now starting on the road towards climate justice, creating and resisting in many different ways, such as direct action, the building of local alternatives, civil disobedience or public campaigning to name a few. There are many opportunities already such as:

–    26/8: solidarity actions coinciding with the trial in Copenhagen of Tash Verco and Noah Weiss

–    Summer 2010 : Climate and No Border camps are happening all over Europe

–    29/9: European trade union day of action

–    between the 10th and the 17th of October, different networks are calling for action on climate justice: the 12th will be a day of direct action for climate justice; the 16th a day of action against Monsanto

–    From the 29th of November to the 10th of December, the 16th UN-climate summit will be held in Cancun, Mexico: we will be creating a ‘thousand Cancuns’ to protest their false solutions and point the way towards real climate and social justice

French rural activist exchanging experience at one of the seminars on just transition

ESF-6: Anti imperialist Assembly

Tord Björk | class struggle,ESF,global crisis,International action,Uncategorized,war | Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Anti imperialist Assembly
6th ESF Istanbul, 3rd  July 2010

The Anti-imperialist Assembly gathered on the occasion of European Social Forum, with 300 participants from Nepal, Greece, Turkey, Kurdistan, Palestine, Germany, Italy, Basque Country,   Britain, Croatia, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Mexico, Denmark, Cyprus, Switzerland, Catalonia, Portugal, Norway and Belgium declares the following points:
-That without struggle against capitalism, a consistent fight against imperialism is not possible;  since imperialism is the highest stage of the capitalist world system. We call all anti-imperialist forces to raise their efforts to topple the capitalist order which is in a deep and historical crisis. Socialism is the sole alternative against the capitalist system, and revolution is the only way to transform this system. “Another world” is socialism.
-That the social liberation struggles and the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations are parts of the same front against imperialism. Chauvinistic nationalism is not anti-imperialist, on the contrary it divides and clashes the peoples and in this way it serves imperialism. Imperialism cannot be advocate of any oppressed nation, what it pursues is only to be the new dominator of those oppressed nations. Anti-imperialist struggle should be waged with an internationalist perspective to unite the peoples and oppressed nations of the world and regions.
-We declare our support for the national liberation struggles/resistances going on in Basque Country, Kurdistan, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and all others oppressed nations; and the social uprisings, revolutionary processes, worker strikes, popular resistances, youth movements and mass mobilizations going on in Greece, Nepal, India, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Latin America and other countries. We strongly condemn all the attacks against these movements and external meddling in the internal affairs of individual countries. We condemn the Gaza Blockade of Israeli Zionism and call for the total boicott of the Israeli Racist State. We stress the vital importance of solidarity.
-That imperialism means poverty, violence and war to the women. Women’s liberation struggle is a part of the anti-imperialist struggle, and without the active participation of women’s masses the anti-imperialist front will be weak. The patriarchal system is basing itself on gender inequality, and a new society without exploitation can only be possible with full gender equality.
-The anti-imperialist unity can only be realised on a practical political basis. The peoples struggling against imperialism should come together. We call all progressive, democratic, patriotic and religious movements who fight against imperialism to form a broad anti-imperialist front. In a crucial moment of crisis of the imperialist-capitalist system, we call all the anti-imperialist forces to raise their efforts to develop revolutionary internationalist unity to fight imperialism internationally.
-We propose to the Final Assembly of the ESF;
-to decide a common day of action of the ESF to unite the labouring masses of Europe in such a deep moment of the crisis, to reject paying the bill of the capitalist crisis.
-to practise international solidarity against the war policy of the Turkish government, handling the Kurdish question with military measures instead of discussing it with popular representatives; and solidarity with the Kurdish politicians and freedom struggle activists, who were imprisoned depending on the so called ‘Anti-Terror’ Law and will be brought to their first trial on the 18th of November in Diyarbakir.

ESF 2010 – Old surface, young undercurrents

Singing in the ESF demonstration

The European Social Forum in Istanbul 2010 was fun. As the practical capacity has weakened as shown during the ESF in Malmo 2008 and even more so in Istanbul 2010 there is no host organizer or European Preparatory Assemblies able to provide political direction or a market place of interest to NGOs. The old leadership building its strength on a costly model for participating in the preparatory process have lost its appeal and there is no alternatives in sight. In this situation of uncertainty there is space for experience exchange on agricultural farming in the Mediterranean, initiatives against the repression of climate justice organizers or establishing systematic knowledge of the consequences of the crisis in Central and Eastern European in a way that can influence the total outcome of ESF in spite of being in the periphery. There has always been space at ESF for a myriad of activities, the difference now is that there is a loss of one hegemonic mainly Western European radical mainstream left wing predicable outcome.

ESF 2010 began with a seminar on the future of ESF. There were 3 speakers introducing the subject and 15 making interventions, in total 18. Out of these speakers 2 came from Central and Easterna Europe including Turkey, one from Russia and one from Mesopotamian Social Forum, 16 from the West. One was young, the rest were old, mainly 50 years and above. 4 women were speaking. 6 of the contributors to the debate came from France, 2 from Italy and Belgium and 1 each from Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the two Eastern countries already mentioned. Many were left wing trade unionists including the two introductory speakers from the West saying things which everyone could agree to as there is a crisis in Europe not only for the society but also for the social movements. The speaker from Mesopotamian Social Forum included the ecological crisis but was fairly alone. Among the audience there was none from rural or peasants movements and maybe 4 out of 80 environmentalists. Among the more odd left wing syndicalist analysis of ESF was the point made that small NGOs at ESF with lobbying as their main poliical tool was a problem. Such organizations have become very rare in the process at least since ESF in Malmo. More important was the notion that there is a need for more general debate on the linkage between different issues, a proposal made by Via Campesina ahead of ESF 2008 and then rejected by a French trade unionist but now when it is put forward by trade unionists might be excepted. The class, gender and ethnic conscious methodology of the two recent successful US Social Forums was rigthly promoted by several speakers as inspiring and one of few challenges for the ESF future put forward which was concrete although limited to form.

Instead of a lively political reference to a common platform as the World Social Forum declaration or addressing the problems in the region were the global financial crisis is hitting harder then anywhere else in the world which is in Central and Eastern Europe the reference is instead ”the left” and Western European problems which should be addressed at ”the European level”. What this omnipresent term left is or how this European level looks like is not very well defined. Except by the only young voice in the debate coming from Germany and the trotskyist 5th International. This international organization is extremely small and specialized in producing youth activist speeches proclaiming the same solution to every problem, mass mobilization at the European level on whatever opportunistic left wing issue that seems of current interest for the moment, a mass mobilization that should be carried out by others, mainly trade unions. Others at this debate on the future have not much more to offer for the role of ESF than being this left wing support to convince big trade unions to act although using another language.

Young undercurrents beneath the old surface

Struggling collectively for better and cheap or free public transport was one of the answers on the problems of cars dominating the cities and causing environmental problems. And what a struggle. Students from Istanbul showed us at a seminar and asked us all to join. It was a street theatre they performed to make people aware of the problems for students with longer and longer travels by buses they cannot afford.

It all started with an explanation of the situation for students in Turkey and the daily struggle to get to the university. In a corner the music started and suddenly were we all encompassed by the atmosphere of lively streets, moving bodies and the daily controversaries to get on board on the bus. Four green banners demarked the inside and outside of the bus, a driver stopped the students from entering whenever there was something missing, and there was often something missing. But the collective helped and argued and somehow it seamed as if the male bus driver always lost the battle against the mostly female students. Chanting, singing and arguing the student collective and their driver moved on and we all were moved, by the energy of the political statement, the music and the laughs and the joy.

In the next room the Russian Institute of Law had a seminar on right wing extremism. The daily struggle was as present here, in an even more physical form. First they came and beat us with the fists and we had to learn how to fight with fists to. Then they came after us with knives and we had to learn to use knives to. Now they come with pistols, first using rubber bullets and them live ammunition. The leader of the Institute of Law was shot down and killed together with a young journalist right on the doorsteps in the middle of Moscow one and a half year ago. Both participated at ESF in Malmö and were involved in exposing Russian crimes in Chechenya.

The immediate threat of violence is not only present when the young antifascists speaks, Anarchists rather than Communists or Social democrats. It is also very present in an exhibition made by a young artist on antifascism. Here violence is also very present, and the need to fight back. The rebellion in the Sobibor extincition camp in 1943 is a starting point in this presentation of anti-fascism. Some 300 death camp prisoners rebelled under the leadership of the Communist Aleksander Pechersky. One of very few rebellions in the death camps and the most successful. Most of the escapees were hunted down by the Germans and their Ukrainian helpers but more than 50 made it conquering freedom. In total between 150,000 and 250,000 jews losts their lives in Sobibor, 50 survived the war. In the exhibition is also the 150,000 volunteer partisans mobilized to defend Moscow from the enclosing German troops presented as an example. Ulriche Meinhof is also presented as an example of how the children of the Nazis generation rebelled in Germany. But the main focus is on today’s antifascism. The Russian antifascists that get killed, people willing to fight back. The statistics is also there, being an antifascist in Russia is risky. The exhibition ends with a statement on sorrow and pain. The picture that the organizers liked the most was a a human being with the back against the viewer and the muscles without skin upon one of the shoulders with the message under: ”And if somebody says to me: we are the wall. I’ll say I am the shoulder.

The official image in Western Europe of Russia is that it is fixed to the history of World War II as the result of manipulation by the authoritarian government. The maker of the antifascist exhibition cannot be accused of hoping for the Russian or any government to come and help people. It is up to ourselves also in the worst conditions. And in spite of this perspective far from giving up in front of authorities the theme is partly the same as that promoted by official Russia, the efforts made to stop fascism during World War II. But with another focus that both governments and their allies in media industry have in both Russia and the West. That of activists willing to fight voluntarily, often young activists and often if not totally left out in the history making especially in the West. Millions are spent on how horrible the Nazi death camps and war was, but what do we know about the most successful violent revolt in the death camps? The antifascist story does also not end there. It continious until today when the struggle is also a question of life and death.

Statistics on number of people killed and injured by fascists in Russia the last years.

One of the criticism against the Istanbul ESF states:  ”For us the greatest criticism of this forum was its failure to provide non-hierarchical, participative, polycentric spaces in the meetings themselves. With notable exceptions, every seminar or workshop (there seemed little difference between the formats) was conducted in the same way: the ‘experts’ sat at the front, the floor listened to them reciting what they already knew. This series of laborious, monotonous monologues would come to an end, after two and a half hours, to allow for ‘questions’ – and a further 30 minutes of non-sequiturs. Even when direct questions were asked, the sessions were so poorly facilitated that those asked the questions were rarely given the opportunity to answer. All this made engaging and productive dialogue a practical impossibility”. (From Red Pepper, link se below).

This was not a problem for the seminar on right wing extremism. The atmosphere was young, sincere and open minded. An exchange of experience took place and different means of communications including both speaches, videos and the exhibition filling the walls and giving a different character of the space then that of an academic setting. All were young, the organizers, the speakers and almost all the audience. And the speakers did not comment on antifascism, they were antifascism. There also lacked afraidness for being intellectual. The exhibition started with a quote from John Heartfield: ”One has to make an antifascist exhibition, not an exhibition about antifascism. You see the difference?”

Climate justice transition and food sovereignty seminar making the room more suitable for horizontal experience exchange

Many of the environmental workshops and seminars were also vital with many young participants, a lot of experience exchange and young leadership of the political merging process towards a common statement on just transition to solve the climate crisis. The seminar on sustainable transition lost most of the speakers due to misunderstandings and that it was taken out of the Turksih version of the programme. The hieraric way the room and furniture was arranged did not encourage much vital discussions either. But these disadvantages was turned into its opposite. Among the participants there was a lot of experience from both small farmers, trade unions, and environmental activism to turn the seminar into inspiring each other while finding ways to address ways to strengthen direct producers in agriculture and industry  as well as building new ways of direct relationships between producers and consumers promoting both sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty and more power to direct producers and consumers.

The climate justice drafting group in a successful attempt to occupy a piece of grass

The strength of ESF showed itself when an open drafting committee met to discuss the formulation of a climate justice statement from the seminars to be presented at the final Assembly of Social Movements. At such occassions one have to count on very different backgrounds of the drafters, very limited time with few of any more chances to meet, practical problems of finding a place to meet, write a draft, copy and distribute it. The climate justice movement have been bogged down after the successful mass actvities in Copenhagen during the climate summit in a lack of making a difference between defensive and more forward looking strategies. The movement have to a large extent avoided combining a system critical direct action resistance with a broad appeal for sustainable transition addressing questions of interest for people in their daily life. In this way the movement have been caught in either demanding every action and alternative programme to be equally radical and denouncing every bit of defensive actions within the present system as least say the UN negotiations or issues of interest to main stream trade unions as green jobs or environmental NGO pragmatism losing the system critical goal out of sight. Instead of struggle ideology has a tendency to become the most important, to some anarchists the question of work has been seen as adjusting to the system and instead of a constructive program that can give jobs to many access to resources has been seen as the only demand that the movement should put forward. Other see clear ideology as the most important step at the moment, be it degrowth or ecosocialism.

All these dead end streets were avoided quickly. Degrowth was seen by all from very different backgrounds as an important topic to discuss but not to use to frame the whole statement. Instead the issue of work and social revolutionary perspectives were put forward as most important. The issue of the need for broad social alliances was also something that was not necessary to discuss. Within the ESF frame work what can take time in other situations is immediately avoided here as cooperation between social movement is at at the core of ESFand thus a starting point for discussion, not a point to get bogged down by. All reports from different seminars also pointed in the same direction, there is a need for both strong resistance and alternatives. Thus contrary to many other arenas ESF was very useful for finding common system crtitical common ground without getting trapped in one or another mainly ideological main point. The resistance against the main proposed outcome of the ESF Assembly of Social Movements, a call out for participating in the mobilization on the 29th of September against poverty was also clear and yet not secatarian. The slogan made by the European Trade Union Confederation for this event is to demand jobs and growth, soemthing that is contrary to the social-ecological concerns of the climate justice movement. The point was made hilw at the same time the main focus is on establishing own actions in October for System change – not climate change and hopefully influence also other social movements to become more ecologically conscious while promoting a just transition for both rural and urban areas which cannot only solve the climate cirisis but also be a tooo  for social justice and thus provide a much needed alternative vision for the future of Europe.

Parts of the Swedish ESF delegation

There were of course a lot more young undercurrents. To my surprise the Swedish delegation was dominated by many young people interested in environmental, urban agriculture movemnts, trade union issues and the financial crisis. One aspect was that some of the present young researchers were involved in finding out more about agriculture and the situation for the rural population. This young and often female intellectual energy going into issues of less interest to young actvists in earlier times is an interesting phenomena. More predictable was that the visible and vocal youth presence came from small left wing radical groups which is not so much an undercurrent but part of the old ESF pattern. But it is of special interest when it reflects new mass mobilizations as that among students in many countries.

How important are the young undercurrents?

Other observers seems not to notice the young new undercurrents that here is described. One can ask how important they actually are. Before more extensive reporting from ESF in Istanbul is accessible, specially from young activists themselves it is of course har to make a good assessment. But some notions can be made.

Turkish left wing group not afraid of new global environmental and other issues. To a large degree were young activists in Turkey involved in both social and ecological struggles on water, climate, agriculture and public transport.

Firstly it seems as at least among the Western participants the young currents can be divided into those that are fully noticed by observers from small left wing groups and those that are not or rather indirectly seen as a threat to making something mobilizing out of ESF. (See links below) Thus the vocal 5th International trotskyists highlights the strong anticapitalist and antiimperialist messages from the antiwar and education networks during ESF while for the rest sees ”bland NGO” politics in other issues. The young new undercurrents that are involved in system critical agricultural, climate, public transport or antifascism conflicts are disregarded or maybe seen as part of the bland NGO politics to be criticized. A member of the German trade union youth is taken as an example of how bad influence there is from less radical groups not believing in the possibility of ”the idea of developing from the social forum movement, a movement to change the social system.”

So those that take notice of young participation seems unaware of the new system critical undercurrents at ESF. To some degree they have always been there and may not have more weight then earlier. Two factors may show that there is a difference and the young undercurrents goes beyond occasional presence in some seminars and other activities at ESF. One is that the strength of agricultural, rural, water, climate and other envrionmental or social ecological issues to much a degree is built on youth participation and have maintained it steps forward after ESF in Malmö. This interestingly in spite of that central actors in Malmö as Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina promoting these issues was much less present at ESF in Istanbul. The other factors is the central role played by open minded Central and Eastern European youth. There were also quite large youth participation from some Western European countries. The difference is two folded. Altough the CEE participants are involved in many different issues as the social and ecological crisis, antifascism or feminism and come from different at times opposing ideological trends they tend to see themselves more as part of a joint alternative movement and furthermore come more collectively organized often brought by some of the social forum cooperation. While some Western youth seems mainly focused on one aspects as the need for a new methodology at ESF or avoiding or letting small left wing groups dominate CEE youth have a more general view integrating both methodological and political concerns while at the same time being more central in the delegations from their countries. They seem also to have less problems with the old ESF leadership from their countries and in some cases like Ucraine be totally dominated by young activists from different strands.

Your observer resting for a while at a seminar photographed with his own camera by some anonymous activist interested in complete documentation of ESF. The T-shirt states in Finnish We snowmen against global warming.

Conflicts

Under the circumstances of and old left wing and trade unionist leadership in decline and yet still able to make ESF happen according to the ideas of an open space to anyone willing and resourceful enough to make it while new young undercurrents yet has not formed a strong self understanding and presence the conflicts that occured during ESF in Istanbul are to a large degree obscure and short lived though at times disruptive. The visible predictable conflict is between different parts of the left mainly sharing the same urban and trade union bias in loocking at how to move forward while strongly disliking each other. Different trotskyist groups of the smallest kind tries to convince a smaller and smaller number of ESF participants to mass mobilize on an European scale against the social crisis, left wing trade unionists do the same but with less anticapitalist and antiimperailist slogans. The weakness is there for everyone to see. The main outcome at the final Assembly of Social Movement is not to call for a coherent systemcritical mobilization on the issues discussed at ESF with success, but to call for participation in a mobilization called for by ETUC without having an own agenda.

In the seminar on how to struggle against right wing extremism a conflict occured that highlights the problems of ESF and the European social movement. Here mainly Central and Eastern Europeans came together but also Western Europeans to discuss and make contributions from different parts of Europe and different perspectives. In the exchange of ideas a young women from Ukrainian Social Forum came to notify the audience about a climate change meeting that will take place in Kiev. It was clear that the audience had very different back ground from strong antifascists struggling daily to defend their lives to more broad campaigning for tolerance against racism or antifascism seen in the light of the social and ecological crisis and possible to put i a wider context. A German journalist and expert representing a trade union made an excellent overview of the European situation. The diverse discussion though annoyed him so much that he angrily had to state why he left before the seminar closed. The discussion in his view had not at all been about what he had come for addressing the struggle against right wing extremism at the European level. The petty national and diverse contributions did not impress upon him. He did represent a trade union with many million members and he had expected a lot higher quality we understood. At the surface he was fully correct. The discussion had been diverse. The problem is simple. In most countries in Europe the number of actvists and resources are so small that an issue as right wing extremism has to be put into context. Whether this is how right wing politics is part of nationalism with neoliberal practice selling out the national naturqal resources to Western capital causing social and ecological problems like in Southern Caucasus, or that right wing politics is the main force behind climate scepticism and denial of environmental concerns. Many in the audience are well aware of that what they say may not be highly relevant immediately to the topic. But they are also aware of the limitations of the movements and countries they come from and fully willing to learn and see if it is possible to connect experience from different countries, get inspire and do something in spite of not being a trade union with millions of membersor being payed for coming with well researched material on the situation at the European level of right wing extremism.

Turkish activist agricultural action in the ESF demo

Another conflict which I heard about from different sources with very different interpretations seems also interesting and have bearing on the way ESF is heading. Young Turkish activists claimed that rural issues were blocked from becoming important in the Assembly of ecological crisis. The group that especially blocked this Turkish intervention was Anarchists from Germany. The other version was that Turkish activists were unable to understand how their specific national concerns had to put into a wider European level to be of interest in a common statement. In one version the conflict is about disinterest for rural issues, in another version the difference is between more narrow minded national understanding and a more higher European level of thinking.

Thus what we have is an old left calling for action at the European level, seemingly opposing each other whether they are main stream trade unionists, left party of some kind or sometimes even anarchists, all from Western Europe. The mindset seems often to be that of either organization with plenty of resources to have experts on European level negotiations and issues or specialized in European rhetoric and little action. On the other hand we have a more lively participation especially from Central and Eastern Europe. Thus a young women from Armenia can get inspired by the concrete experience of repression during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen last year refering to here many arrests by the police herself back home. National and local experience can be part of a vivid international exchange of ideas.

Dancing during the ESF demo

Conclusions

Politically what we see is a conflict between periphery and center of Europe. Issues, countries and movement regraded as of less importance for the power positions of the European left are systematically and mainly without intent marginalized. With a hard defensive struggle ahead left wingers and trade unionists cling to each other more and more desperately hoping for that well informed, well organized mass mobilization at the European level meaning under Western European leadership with very little interest of rural or environmental issues.

This position in all its forms, from trade unions the left wing parties of all sorts are now disintegrating. New movements like the climate justice movement is no alternative. While the environmental movement with it s long time social justice concerns ir of vital importance for carrying forward a just transition alternative equally important for solving both the ecological and social crisis there are strong deficits. To a large degree the climate justice and environmental movement is a movement without theory with problems of becoming relevant for people in common in their daliy life.

Climate Justice speaker at the final assembly from the UK climat camp movement discuss with Swedish actvist after ESF

The situation is thus more open than ever, and maybe more hopeful for ESF than one could think. The World Social Forums have similar problems but is more vital. It is no coincidence that when Europe failed to support the CEE participatiion substantially it was WSF that in the last minute put forward some resources to enable a larger presence in Istanbul from the region most severely hit by the global financial crisis. The US Social forum is an excellent example on how the forums can be used for social movement experience exchange and mobilization. The advances with the Mesopatiam Social Forum and other forums in the Maghreb region is also signs that the social forum might have a future also in Europe. Because what is the alternative? Where else is all social movement challenged to participate in a common exchange of experience and assemblies to mobilize. The decline of ESF might therefore be a good sign. To at least social forum organizers in CEE coutries Istanbul showed some strenght. For the first time an All-European Assembly could be arranged at ESF with a balanced participation both from the West and the East. Mirek Prokes from Czech Social Forum was pleased with that 21 countries were present and finally 150 participants came from CEE countries in the last minute in spite of that there were only 60 announced some weeks before. The strong young leadership in the CEE delegations is also a positive sign for the future as well as the ideas to continue follow-up by organizing regional events in the All European process and the Prague Spring II network against right wing extremism. Many at ESF from different strands seams also to agree on the need for avoiding the same old formula hoping for an evermore larger ESF but rather becoming more diverse and strengthening both intellectual and mobilizing activities in a joint ESF process. Such a transition period might lead to disintegration but also result into something new more capable of overcoming the mehodological and political problems of the ESF to face the social and ecological crisis and being a mobilizing strength for popualr movements.

Tord Björk

Friends of the Earth Sweden, coordinator of the EU committee

Some links to articles on ESF:

Sad Spectacle in Istanbul
08 July 2010
By Boris Kagarlitsky

The Sixth European Social Forum ended in Istanbul on Sunday. For those who had attended previous forums in Florence, Paris, London and Athens, it was a sad spectacle indeed. There were few participants and the speeches of the delegates resembled a superficial retelling of the discussions that took place at similar meetings in previous years.

There was genuine enthusiasm after the first Social Forum eight years ago.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/sad-spectacle-in-istanbul/409968.html

Report from the ESF in Istanbul

The sixth European Social Forum was dominated by bland NGO politics and obfuscatory Maoism, about 3,000 people participated in the sixth European Social Forum (ESF) in Istanbul. There were 200 seminars about the economic crisis, climate change, students’ protests and many other topics.

http://www.permanentrevolution.net/entry/3099

Parteien & Demokratie  Montag, 05. Juli 2010
Organisierungsschwäche und relative Orientierungslosigkeit
Das sechste Europäische Sozialforum in Istanbul. Ein Resumee von Urlich Brand.

Im Mittelpunkt des sechsten Europäischen Sozialforums in den ersten Julitagen in Istanbul – nach Florenz 2002, Paris, London, Athen und Malmoe 2008 – stand natürlich die aktuelle Krise. Schwerpunkte waren die Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise, dieses Mal besonders prominent die Klimakrise und, bedingt durch den Austragungsort, Energie- und Wasserkonflikte.

http://www.rosalux.de/themen/parteien-demokratie/nachrichten/nachricht/datum/2010/07/05/organisierungsschwaeche-und-relative-orientierungslosigkeit/thema/sprachen/parteien-demokratie/priorisierung-regional.html

ESF 2010: Das Europäische Sozialforum am politischen Abgrund        PDF         Drucken         E-Mail
von Martin Suchanek, www.arbeitermacht.de        06.07.2010 – bisherige Aufrufe: 651

„Das Sozialforum ist noch nicht tot, es vermodert nur am eigenen Laib”, so fasste ein Teilnehmer ironisch-verärgert, das Europäische Sozialforum (ESF) 2010 zusammen. ….. Auch wenn es momentan der einzige „Raum” auf europäische Ebene ist, wo Tausende zusammentreffen und hunderte VertreterInnen verschiedener Organisationen die Koordinierung des Widerstandes vorantreiben können, so zeigte sich in Istanbul auch, dass eine große Mehrheit der informellen Führung des ESF, der dominierenden Kräfte aus linken Gewerkschaften, von attac, auf Vereinigungen, die der europäischen Linkspartei nahe stehen usw. das einfach nicht wollen.

http://www.linkezeitung.de/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8996&Itemid=1

Why Low Turnout at ESF March?

Bianet has asked international and Turkish activists why so few people joined the march of the European Social Forum on Saturday.
Istanbul – BİA News Center
05 July 2010, Monday

On Saturday, 3 July, around 3,000 people joined the march of the European Social Forum (ESF) in Istanbul.

http://bianet.org/english/world/123174-why-low-turnout-at-esf-march

European Social failure?

The sixth European Social Forum took place in Istanbul at the beginning of July. Sophie Haydock and James Robertson found it left something to be desired

What location could be better for this year’s European Social Forum (ESF) than historic Istanbul – where, in tourist-brochure lingo, ‘East meets West in spectacular style’. What a fantastic opportunity to explore Turkey’s domestic issues: the Kurds, relations with Greece and the Turkish military presence in Cyprus – and perhaps, most crucially, how the people of Europe should respond to the financial crisis and get the P.I.G.S out of the IMF/EU pen?

The opening ceremony on the Wednesday 30 June certainly showed that some of this initial optimism was not unfounded, featuring a large Kurdish delegation performing a traditional dance. Under normal conditions, that action would have resulted in the swift and heavy-handed arrest of those involved. What’s more, the 2010 European Social Forum took place just five weeks after Israeli soldiers shot dead nine Turkish activists on board the flotilla bound for Gaza. Surely Istanbul would be the place to unite those wishiing to work together to end the siege of Gaza and challenge Israel’s impunity?

http://www.redpepper.org.uk/European-Social-failure

ESF Istanbul 2010
Another Social Forum was possible

www.socialistworld.net, 07/07/2010
website of the committee for a workers’ international, CWI

Support for European-wide protest on 29 September

CWI reporters

With Europe in crisis, and Turkish undergoing deep changes, the European Social forum was merely business as usual, with a declining number of participants. The summary of the forum merely made reference to the European-wide day of action on 29 September, rather than discussing and developing a strategy for the movement.

http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/4389

VI. Európai Szociális Fórum – Isztambul 2010. július 1.-4.
A harc folytatódik
Minden szervezési probléma ellenére az isztambuli fórumot sikerült megrendezni, amelyet pozitívumként kell értékelni, mert kb. 3-4 hónappal ezelőtt úgy látszott, hogy a fórum elmarad. A rendkívül szűkös anyagi háttér és humán erőforrás ellenére a VI. ESZF lehetővé tette az európai baloldal képviselőinek, civil csoportjainak az ismételt személyes találkozókat, a véleménycserét. Találkozhattunk a török szociális mozgalmak különböző áramlatainak aktivistáival, megismerhettük a Törökországot alapvetően foglalkoztató kérdéseket: a kurdok szabadságtörekvéseit, a gázai flotilla szomorú ügyét, a török szakszervezetek követeléseit.
Beszámoló az isztambuli ESZF-ről

http://attac.zpok.hu/cikk.php3?id_article=1191

Some more pictures from  ESF in Istanbul

http://www.flickr.com/search/?s=int&w=all&q=Istanbul+ESF&m=text

http://www.flickr.com/photos/onesolutionrevolution/sets/72157624451945052/

Life in movements and commemoration of Jyri Jaakola

How can you come from Mexico? Do they not murder everyone there? This was the question I was asked by children at the activist community Annikinkatu in Tampere when I told them that I just arrived from a social forum in Mexico.

I came to late to Jyri Jaakola’s funeral in his hometown Tampere in Finland followed by a commemoration among friends at Annikinkatu collective in the center of Tampere. Jyri Jaakola was murdered together with Beatriz Carino on April 27 while being human rights watchers to defend an indigenous autonomous commune in Oaxaca in Southern Mexico.

My work in Sweden stopped me from coming in time. But there was a commemoration also during the Tampere Social Forum later the same day were I finally could join in. As traditional in Finland a minute of silence was capturing our souls in memory of an activist that so many knew and respected. But there was also as so many times in Finland a throughout analysis of the situation for indigenous people in Oaxaca, Mexico, and other places as India and Brazil.

Outi Hakkarainen to the right and Ville Veiko Hirvelä to the right at Tamoere Social Forum commemoration of Jyri Jaakola 20th of May 2010

Outi Hakkarainen who have been many times to Mexico highlighted the polarized conflict in Oaxaca and in general the indigenous conditions in Mexico. Clarissa Abreu from Friends of the Earth in Brazil brought up the Amazonian problems and Ville Veiko Hirvelä the conflicts for Adivasis, the largest group of indigenous in the whole world with some 80 million people facing similar problems as in Mexico and Brazil. Living on land rich of natural resources and often without Western kind of formal ownership of their land they are faced with severe threats against their livelihood and the future of their people. In many places on earth the violence against indigenous peoples are increasing, and so sometimes as well against those that commit themselves to defend their rights.

In few or no other Western country is the closeness between practical commitment, intellectual efforts and politics as close as in Finland. Jyri Jaakola belonged to this tradition. It is no coincidence that he was willing to take risks to support the building of alternatives in Mexico. He did the same in Finland contributing to the solidarity efforts of the Finnish alternative movement.

Direct action against dam building at Koijärvi 1979

The alternative movement struggling for solidarity across all borders and ecological awareness came late to Finland. But when it came it all happened at the same time. It was heralded by a Gandhian style direct action to prevent the building of a dam at Koijärvi in 1979, a breakthrough for civil disobedience in the consensus oriented Finnish political culture. Soon followed occupation of houses and a music movement, mass peace movement, trade union revival and a strong movement in solidarity with the third world. In a year or two a political campaign had gained momentum gathering hundreds of people at seminars on the third world issues while activists showed their naked ass towards politicians at the step of the parliament in disgust of political unwillingness to raise the development aid.  Huge part of the population was soon informed about every popular movement aid project and given the possibility to voluntarily tax themselves of 1 percent to any of the projects. An initiative that soon gathered millions of euros each year in stable income for a wide range of projects and formed tha basis of a new organization, the Service Center for Development Cooperation with both the churches, trade unions and most other mass movements joining it making the sum of added members exceeding the total number of inhabitants in Finland. As one can imagine the campaign was a success and was able to double the amount of Finnish development aid but also became a NGO which made it necessary to also establish more radical organization as Ympäristö ja Kehitys, Center for Environment and Development. It was from this third world solidarity movement that the radical Finnish environmental movement emerged that already 1990 put the issue of climate justice on top of their agenda with people from India leading marches against the building of motorways and coordinating climate action days in 1991 in 70 countries. And thus it was no coincidence that Jyri Jaakola not only was a strong third world solidarity activists but also active in Climate Justice Action.

Estelle

Important was that the organizational efforts was backed by strong practical initiatives. Three were central with Jyri Jaakola engaged in the foremost symbol, the fair trade sailing ship Estelle. It started as the other two in the mid 1980s with an effort of building on the old sailing traditions in Finland, the last nation to have shipping companies with sailing fleet until the 1930s with their main headquarters on Åland islands. An old ship was rebuilt in Turku and finally after very many years it could sail and participate at many campaigns and summits starting its first long trip if I remember correctly at the EU Summit in Amsterdam 1997.

Jyri Jaakola belonged to this special activists community of sailors and made it to the European Social forum in 2008 were indigenous people had a special place to be at Estelle in the harbour and many sailors from neighbouring countries and more far away had their gatherings.

Peace Station in Helsinki

The two other practical Finnish initiatives from the mid 1980s has the same stubbornness stamped on them. One is the Peace station, which is exactly was it says. One of the central railway stations in Helsinki was to be teared down, one of the last traditional wooden stations in the capital surroundings. Now the station was surrounded by only new huge modern houses and no traditional wooden houses were more to be seen. So what did the Finnish movements do? Well they put the house into parts, moved it some 500 meters and put it up again as a center for all peace organizations in Finland, and still it is.

Annikinkatu in Tampere

In the mid 1980s there was also a fight in Tampere, the second biggest city in Finland and the most working class town of them all. Here as in Helsinki modern times brought the idea to destroy any sign of the working class poor past and tear down every wooden house bloc in the city center. But people started to make resistance. In the Annikinkatu bloc the residents were able to influence the selection of those renting the apartment. While all other wooden blocs in the city with people living in them disappeared this bloc is still standing.

The threats against the collective have been numerous and the rights of those living there insecure. But finally after 25 years there now seems to be a solution nearby.

It is at Annikinkatu the activists gathered to commemorate their fellow Jyri. Here the spirit is kept alive in what is labelled sometimes as the inland harbour of Estelle. Here children and grown ups are living while activists from the neighbouring community and from far away can gather strength. The future of Estelle is uncertain. The costs of maintaining the ship is very high and it is hard to make longer trips anymore. But Peace station and Annikinkatu is alive and so are we on visit.

Two days after the commemoration of Jyri Jaakola a new child with parents living in Annikinkatu was celebrated in the midst of the wooden house bloc. Flowers and presents were carried forward and there was singing. New life was welcomed.

The Mexican filt that I brought with me from Mexico was also well received among the Annikinkatu children. After the first mystery was solved, that not everyone visiting Mexico was murdered the Mexican colours was something to hug dearly. Lets hope that the Mexican rug gets a long life at Annikinkatu helped by the solidarity of Jyri Jaakola and all his likes in all the world.

The commemoration at Tampere Social Forum ended in a Mexican way. Contrary to the Finnish tradition of being silent in memory of a person the Mexican way of doing the same thing at the social forum in Mexico City was adopted. Thus the commemoration ended by a minute of applause for Jyri Jaakola and Beatriz Carino, a ceremony that was well adopted and did not only make the hands warm.

Tord Björk

Listen to their voices:

Jyri Jaakola interview 01.02.2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMy7yTvFiNU

Discurso de Bety Cariño. Tecuán News – Kolectivo Azul. Embajada de canada, 3 de diciembre de 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWPkLcoVoaI

About the murder: Mexico’s state of impunity

http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/2349

SIPAZ Peace blog posts about the caravan attack with many links:

http://sipazen.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/oaxaca-information-update-on-observation-caravan-attack/

http://sipazen.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/oaxaca-the-peace-network-condemns-armed-attack-against-observation-caravan-in-san-juan-copala/

http://sipazen.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/oaxaca-attack-on-observation-caravan%E2%80%942-dead-and-4-missing/

Open letter to Latin American organizations on cooperation towards COP16

Mexican flag above the Thematic World Social Forum at Zócalo in Mexico City 2010

Open letter to Latin American organizations on cooperation towards COP16
Cc Concerned Mexican organizations, CJA and CJN.

As Latin American organizations you have in an open letter addressed the issue of cooperation towards COP16 and especially pointed at Mexican organizations involved in the Pintale las rayas al cambio climatico campaign as your prefered cooperation partner while opposing the Mexican grass rooot organizations supporting the Klimaforum10 initiative.

This choice of cooperation partners and criteria chosen for making the choice between the two is of global interest. COP16 is a challenge after the failure of the official process and the successful combination of mass activities in Copenhagen as well as the Cochabamba meeting to protect mother earth. Both the mass activities carried out by Climate Justice Action, Klimaforum09, and Climate justice Now with the common demand – ”System change – not climate change” and the Cochabamba meeting was a major step towards marginalizing the role of professionalized often Northern based NGOs in world politics, groups like Greenpeace and Oxfam with their main cooperation partners in Climate Action Network and the tcktcktck campaign.

Your proposal for carrying forward these alliances that marginalized the professional NGOs makes it necessary to put some questions.

1. The climate campaign Pintale las rayas al cambio climatico you state as a main Mexican cooperation partner. This campaign is dominated in my opinion by Greenpeace, Oxfam and Mexican organizations funded by the Boell foundation linked to the German Green party. This means a strong European influence in the climate cooperation towards Cancun you prefer. The promoters of the Klimaforum10 initiative are indepedent Mexican ecological grass roots organization as Ecomunidades and Cambios that do not have international funding for their daily work or are part of transnational organizations with the leadership in the North. Why do you criticize Klimaforum10 for being strongly influenced by European interests when in fact it is rather the cooperation you prefer who can rightly be questioned for the same thing? Why do you put geograhic critieria as a main argument for your position rather than political arguments?

2. The Mexican grass roots organizations are firmly against all false solutions on climate change and support fully the Climate Justice Now platform. The organizations you prefer have stated at the Foro Social Mundial tematico that they want to combine both CJN and Climate Action Network positions. Why do you prefer to disregard the steps forward taken in Copenhagen were Klimaforum09, CJN and CJA jointly were able to marginalise the CAN professional NGOs and replace their lobbying with a joint System change not climate change message?

3. Greenpeace, Oxfam, Iniciativa 350 México, (Initiative 350), Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Oficina México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Boell Fundation – Mexican office for Central America and the Carribean, Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, (Mexican Center for Environmental Rights) Presencia Ciudadana, (Citizens presence) and Pronatura have in a joint Mexican position paper on REDD, reduction of emissions from deforestration and forest degradation, and other COP issues declared their positive affirmation of this instrument if it is not funded by market mechanisms and indigenous peoples rights are respected. But the concerns raised by many mass movements completly rejecting REDD like in India or among system critical organizations following the process are not only an issue of financing mechanisms and rights. It is also that in practice rights are quite often not followed  and the general push for saving the climate through monoculture plantations. Critical concerns about REDD that is also reflected in the statements made by the Cochabamba Climate Conference. The Klimaforum09 declaration does the opposite from what the Mexican NGOs prefer to do. In the declaration REDD is denounced  and instead a call is made for ”An immediate ban on deforestation on primary forests and the parallell initiation of an ambitious global tree-planting program based on native and diverse species in partnership with indigenous peoples and forest depedent communities.” These ideas are shared by the Cochabamba meeting as well as the Mexican grass root groups supporting the Klimaforum10 initiative, groups that have a long standing record of being indepedent from the envrionmental NGOs participating in sustainable development lobbying within the system. On which side are you politically in the conflict between main stream environmental NGOs like Greenpeace, Boell fundation and Oxfam and grass root environmental groups as Ecomunidades and the consensus reached in Cochabamba?

4. The Klimaforum09 did not allow political parties being members of the host committee although they in their own name could organize activities during the forum. The Mexican grass root organizations behind the Klimaforum10 are also sceptical towards political parties as members of a host committee. Is this a problem for you or your Mexican cooperation partners?

Tord Björk

On behalf of myself

Member of Friends of the Earth Sweden climate working group and the Peasant and indigenous committee

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=1607
Report from Mexico by Christophe Aguiton and Nicola Bullard: http://www.climate-justice-now.org/the-mobilisation-for-cancun
Píntale las rayas al cambio climático: http://pintalelaraya.org
Mexican NGOs on REDD and other COP issues in Spanish: http://www.boell-latinoamerica.org/web/117.html or direct link to pdf file: http://www.boell-latinoamerica.org/downloads/10_puntos_Esenciales_Copenhage_final.pdf
A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09: System change – not climate chnage:
http://declaration.klimaforum.org/declaration/english
Peoples Agreement, Cochabamba: http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/peoples-agreement

Mensaje de organizaciones latinoamericanas sobre Klimaforum10

Climate panel at the Foro Social Mundial tematico seen as a model for Cancun by some Mexican actors as RMALC opposing Klimaforum10. To the left Alejandro Villamar from RMALC, in the middle and to the right Francois Houtart. Tord Björk was the fourth participant in the panel here taking the photo.

La Alianza Social Continental, Jubileo Sur/Américas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC), REBRIP, RMALC, Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI), la Convergencia de los Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas (COMPA) y CADTM Abya Yala estamos comprometidos en la construcción de un proceso de movilización conjunta en torno a la problemática del Cambio Climático, sus causas estructurales y sus reales soluciones.En este proceso, identificamos algunos momentos importantes en los próximos meses, como la cumbre Enlazando Alternativas, el Foro Social Américas y la realización de la COP16 en Cancún. Dado que el tema de esta última es el cambio climático, será especialmente estratégica para el conjunto del movimiento mundial sobre justicia climática.

Como se mencionó en la carta de la Asamblea de Movimientos Sociales, realizada en el marco de la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático en Cochabamba “Evaluamos que la cuestión del cambio climático es importante junto a otras manifestaciones de la crisis sistémica global. Para confrontar realmente la ofensiva imperialista debemos frenar la militarización de nuestros territorios y la criminalización de los movimientos sociales, toda la agenda neocolonial contenida en los Tratados de Libre Comercio, el endeudamiento ilegítimo, el poder de las transnacionales y especialmente el modelo del agronegocio y extractivo que promueven en la privatización de la vida y la naturaleza”.

Durante la conferencia de Cochabamba discutimos y avanzamos en consolidar las alianzas con el ánimo de afianzar un proceso de movilización hacia Cancún, lo suficientemente sólido para darle continuidad posteriormente. En ese sentido, se resaltó la importancia de  retomar y seguir construyendo a partir de las experiencias anteriores, como la de la lucha contra el ALCA, que permitió identificar puntos de encuentro y luchas comunes entre los movimientos sociales del continente que nos oponemos a este modelo económico y social. Estas luchas han sido visibilizadas de muchas maneras, incluyendo a través de la realización de Cumbres de los Pueblos, que son momentos de resistencia, debate, construcción colectiva y movilización. Estas Cumbres constituyen una tradición para los movimientos de todo el hemisferio y tienen una legitimidad ganada como espacio de lucha frente a las distintas iniciativas neoliberales en contra de los pueblos.

En consecuencia, frente a la COP16 en Cancún, consideramos que es fundamental fortalecer el proceso continental, articulando con redes y organizaciones de otras regiones del mundo, como lo hemos hecho también anteriormente. Si bien respetamos y valoramos la experiencia del Klimaforum, éste respondía al contexto europeo y danés, específicamente. Intentar trasladarlo o importarlo a nuestra región implica desconocer la realidad de nuestras luchas, así como la identidad y la historia de las movilizaciones en el continente.

Reconocemos la importancia de llevar a cabo articulaciones con otras regiones, en especial en torno a este tema, cuyas implicaciones afectan a los pueblos de todo el mundo. De acuerdo con el espíritu de lo acordado en Cochabamaba, la prioridad es nutrirse y articularse con las campañas, redes y organizaciones regionales y globales que en los últimos años han trabajado para enfrentar el cambio climático y defender los derechos de la Madre Tierra, y otras redes, organizaciones regionales y globales sectoriales y temáticas que han asumido el mismo compromiso. Muchas de nuestras redes y movimientos tienen trabajo a nivel mundial. En ese sentido, creemos que la convocatoria y las movilizaciones de Copenhague fueron muy importantes y es necesario darle continuidad a las alianzas que allí se consolidaron y que también venían de procesos anteriores. Sin embargo, ello no puede resultar en un desconocimiento de los procesos nacionales y regionales.

En relación con el trabajo que se está desarrollando en México, consideramos importante plantear algunas precisiones: existen varios grupos de organizaciones sociales de todo el país que está trabajando en consolidar un espacio amplio de convergencia y movilización. Este trabajo es el resultado de una autoconvocatoria de todos los interesados (entre ellos RMALC, las organizaciones mexicanas que forman parte de la campaña “Píntale la raya al cambio” , Otros Mundos, organizaciones de todos los sectores sociales incluidos miembros de Vía campesina, y algunas ONG’s comprometidas con estas luchas). Dado que se está buscando una coalición lo más amplia posible, basada en el trabajo con las organizaciones sociales, se trata de un proceso que requiere su tiempo, en el que es necesario hacer actividades de difusión, formación y discusión para construir consensos de carácter popular en torno a nuestras demandas por justicia climática.

Apoyamos este proceso desde el nivel regional y creemos que el espacio que se desarrolle frente a la COP16, debe ser amplio, tener un carácter político y de movilización, en el que sea posible debatir con las distintas redes y organizaciones sociales a nivel mundial, para alzar nuestras voces de rechazo al modelo económico y demandar justicia climática.

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10

Alejandro Villamar to the left from RMALC, Mexican Network against Free Trade  that have signed the letter from Latin American organization below. In the middle Nicola Bullard from CJN at the discussion on Cancun at Foro Social Mundial tematico in Mexico City before the letter was sent.

The Hemispheric Social Alliance, Jubilee South/Americas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth (Latin America and the Caribbean), REBRIP, COMPA, Jubilee South/Americas, Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI), Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples, the World March of Women and the Mexican Network against Free Trade and CADTM Abya Yala are committed to work  together in the construction of a process of joint mobilization around the problem of climate change, its structural causes and true solutions.  We have identified several key points in the coming months including the Enlazando Alternatives Summit, the Americas Social Forum in Paraguay and COP16 in Cancun.  Since the theme of COP 16 is climate change, it is especially strategic for the worldwide climate justice movement.

As stated in the letter from the Assembly of Social Movements, held during the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba:  “We consider that the question of climate change is important, together with other manifestations of systemic global crisis. To truly confront the imperialist offensive we must stop; the militarization of our territories, the criminalization of social movements, the entire neo-colonial agenda contained in the Free Trade Agreements, illegitimate indebtedness, the power of transnational’s and especially the agro-business and extractive model which promotes the privatization of life and nature”.

During the Cochabamba conference, we discussed and advanced in the consolidation of alliances to build a process of mobilization for Cancun which is sufficiently solid to have subsequent continuity.  In this respect, the importance of building on pervious experiences such as the struggle against the FTAA, which enabled us to identify points of convergence and common struggles among the social movements of the continent opposed to this economic and social model.  These struggles are made known in many different ways including via Peoples’ Summits, which are moments of resistance, debate, collective construction and mobilization. These Summits are a tradition for the movements of the entire hemisphere and have earned legitimacy as spaces for struggle in the face of a plethora of neo-liberal initiatives against the peoples.

As a result, in the face of COP 16 in Cancun, we believe that it is crucial to strengthen the continental process, coordinating the efforts with networks and organizations from other regions of the world, as we have done in the past.  While we respect and value the experience of the Kilmaforum, it responds to the European and more specifically, Danish context.  An attempt to transfer or import it to our region would not respect the reality of our struggles, the identity or history of the mobilizations in our hemisphere.

We recognize the importance of joint actions with other regions, especially related to this theme, in light of the implications that affect the all of the peoples of the world.  In keeping with the spirit of agreements reached in Cochabamba, the priority is to strengthen ourselves and link eforts with the campaigns, networks, regional and global organizations that have worked in recent years to confront climate change and defend the rights of Mother Earth, as well as other regional and global sector networks and thematic organizations which have made the same commitment.  Many of our networks and movements are working at a global level.  In this respect, we believe that the convocation and mobilizations in Copenhagen were very important and it is necessary to continue the alliances that were consolidated there, and emerged from previous processes. However, this must not ignore national and regional processes.

In relation to the work that is happening in Mexico, we think it is important to make a few observations:  there are a number of social organizations around the country which are working to consolidate a broad space of convergence and mobilization. This work is the result of a call which went out among interested groups (including RMALC, the Mexican organizations which are a part of the “Drawing the line for Change” campaign, Other Worlds, organizations from all social sectors including members of Via Campesina and some NGOs which are a part of this struggle).  Given that the goal is the broadest possible coalition, based in the work of the social organizations; it is a process which requires time. Activities that provide information, formation and discussion must be carried out in order to construct popular consensus around our demands for climate justice.

We support this process from a regional level and we believe that the space being developed in preparation for COP16 must be broad, have a political character and be oriented towards mobilization, where a debate can be held with networks and social organizations at a global level, to raise our voices in rejection of the economic model and to demand climate justice.

Towards COP16 in Mexico

The discussion the second day at FSM tematico on Cancun initiatives

Five Mexican movement initiatives towards the Climate summit in Cancun were presented at two meetings during Foro Social Mundial tematico 2-4th of May in Mexico City and at an ad hoc meting during WSF international meeting. Partly the initiatives were linked to each other. Political content and what organizations actually backs which initiatives was somewhat unclear. Partly because some were not present at the first meeting as Klimaforum10 and Via Campesina, partly because what to do and what demands to put forward is still to be discussed. The five initiatives were:

Sandra Luna from CEMDA speaking and Jorge Villareal from Boell foundation charing the meeting during the first day of the discussion at FSM tematico on cooperacion towards Cancun

1. The meetings without a name, afterwards others have labeled these meetings Frente amplio, broad front, a classical Latin American left wing concept. 6 such meetings has taken place. Participants are networks cooperating internationally with Latin American movements on anti neoliberal and other issues, NGOs as Greenpeace and other rather main stream environmental organizations as well as ecological grass roots groups.

Alejandro Villamar from RMALC to the right together with Christophe Aguiton and Nicola Bullard during the second day of the Cancun discussions

2. Climate justice campaign towards Cancun, a Latin American campaign also still without a name supported by Mexican organizations as RMALC, the network against free trade that grow out of the struggle against NAFTA. This group  participates in the broad meetings and describes its purpose as participating in the open meetings to come to an agreement with the bigger environmental NGOs, often having international funding, on a common platform towards Cancun. (these environmental NGOs are sometimes mentioned as important as they are organizing the climate campaign “Pintale la Raya al Cambio Climatico” – http://pintalelaraya.org. It should also be noted that in general main stream environmental organizations and Climate Action Network (CAN) groups in Latin America are more radical than in the US or Europe but of course still far from the position of ecological grass roots groups and a clear Climate Justice Now standpoint, see Pintale la Raya al Cambio Climatico campaign as an example.

Silvia Ribeiro from ETC group at Via Campesina seminar discussing with local activist

3. Organicaciones de base ; almost grass roots organization, and partly or all Mexican Via Campesina. This was presented as a strand that was not completly integrated in the other initiatives.

From the left Eugenio and Ruben from Cambios and to the right Miguel Valencia from Ecomunidades, grass roots promoting Klimaforum10

4. Klimaforum 10 – an initiative by ecological grass roots organizations with social justice concerns on a radical platform similar to the Cochabamba and Klimaforum09 declarations excluding the Climate Action Network and tcktcktck campaigning promoted by Greenpeace and others. Some of the ecological groups behind the Klimaforum10 initiative have more radical demands on emissions, growth and social change than the environmental NGOs or even Climate Justice Now but want to have a broad platform for the Klimaforum10 based on the rights of Mother earth, Human rights and migrant rights and the system change not climate change declaration from Copenhagen.

In general Klimaforum10 people were more open about the content, both their own and what they wanted for a common platform. They stated also where the grass root ecological movements might differ from others. They said: they are for animal rights, and more to the point they are against capitalism but also oppose socialism when it is developmentalist (desarollistas) which is the case with many left wing political parties in Latin America and according to their experience in the Mexican capital region. This is why they are all for the Cochabamba declaration on the rights of Mother Earth with one exception, the notion of socialism. They have been the only force in the climate justice discussions here at FSM meetings on climate justice cooperation that have positively mentioned the Zapatista kind of struggle while being sceptical towards left wing parties. They were also the only ones mentioning the systemcritical Mesa 18 in Cochabamba were indigenous groups and ecological groups met opposing mining and other development projects causing social and environmental problems in Bolivia and ALBA countries. This Mesa 18 was not allowed to be part of the official Cochabamba meeting. That Klimaforum10 mentioned Mesa 18 was not seen positively by some other groups present belonging to the Cochabamba main stream.

Klimaforum10 have 18 people engaged voluntarily and meetings twice a week. They have contacted the foreign ministry for infrastructure support.

5. Local ecological grass root organizations in the Cancun region. Fundacion sin fronteras working on ecological issues and solidarity economy and likeminded small groups in the region presented the situation. Danish Peoples Climate Action (mostly big NGOs of the tcktcktck kind having a coordination during COP15 in Copenhagen) have visited Cancun and a meeting for all interested took place. The local “left wing” government have made and NGO with one person in key position previously in the government. As the local grass roots organizations are sceptical towards the left wing government and its record they have maintained their own cooperation but lack resources.

Discussion during the first day on initiatives towards Cancun

The first meeting was held on Monday. It was chaired by a young person from the Boell foundation which is linked to the German Green party and a main donor to many NGOs and environmental projects in Mexico. The chair intervened quite extensively in the discussion. The main contradiction in the Mexican work towards Cancun was said to be the relationship with government. On what issues was not presented which made the discussion obscure. Centro Mexicana de Derechos Ambientales seemed not against to have some contacts with the government while RMALC was opposed. Both groups participates in the broad meetings without name.

The discussion was extensive but did not make the political content much more clear. There is a strong Latin American cooperation between well established networks that used the meeting in Cochabamba to further develop their work towards Cancun. It was also clear that there were many Mexican grass roots organisations, especially rural, that had their own discussion on their own agenda. All Mexican groups stated that there was a need to develop more consciousness about climate change and climate justice in Mexico.

The most clear political agenda at the first meeting was promoted by RMALC, mainly stating it was climate justice and referring to Cochabamba and some general climate justice agenda as Latin American networks have formulated the issue. It was more presented as something that was well known already and not to be contested rather than in a critical manner showing what the differences could be in relation to other opinions or in relation to possible internal differences.

A more clear political discussion seems to be hard to have as the broad meetings was sometimes presented as only for information exchange and the participants so far in spite of many meetings have not made their opinion clear. At other times the purpose was presented as enabling to come to an initiative later.

The general Picture can be summarized: On the one hand there was a Mexican initiative emerging with RMALC as the key organization within the broad meetings getting their legitimation from their established position as a network working with many different summits and latin American networks as the Hemispheric Alliance. On the other hands Klimaforum10 with Ecomunidad and like minded organization as key groups that have a long term commitment to local ecological struggles also against the left wing regional government that was funding the FSM tematico. These groups lack international experience before going to Copenhagen, have coordinated the ecological part of Mexican social forums earlier when it was not as much in their mind coopted by the regional government. They also never recieved any international funding. Apart from these two groups the third dominant actor are environmental NGOs as Greenpeace and others often funded by Boell foundation who all have a key position in the Frente amplio meetings. These groups stated clearly their undecisiveness, that they wanted to have the situation open including cooperating with CAN and not only CJN. Via Campesina made it clear that they are going to have their own process to find out their agenda in different parts of Mexico.

Nicola Bullard to the left from Climate Justice Now and Focus on the Global Sotuh together with Alberto from Via Campesina Mexico and Silvia Ribeiro from ETC group

A problem seems that many Mexican groups except for the ecological grass roots groups who have for long been working on climate and environmental issues and RMALC who have a long record in international cooperation with other networks are uncertain about the issue and want to wait and see tofind out were possible cooperation partners are. RMALC and their closest cooperation partners seems especially looking at tactics in relation to election that will take place in the whole region of Cancun the following months. Thus a clear political picture is not possible until after this according some estimations. To get support from the regional government is seen as a key element for getting  resources by this group and then go to the federal government. Via Campesina had announced a sceptical meeting in Mexico City in connection to both FSM tematico and WSF International committee meeting. But this was postponed due to Mexican Via Campesina that needs more time to discuss their position.

Tord Björk

Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner, Friends of the Earth Sweden

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