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

Right wing extremism in Romania

Tord Björk | ESF,political culture,Repression,right wing | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Presented at the Prague spring conference 2010: Alternatives to right wing extremism in a time of social and ecological crisis

BEYOND THE TRUTH – AN ANALYSIS OF RIGHT WING EXTREMISM IN ROMANIA

1. AN INTRODUCTION

In a time of trouble when xenophobia and racism are soaring in many European countries, Romania seems to remain an oasis out of the revival of the Far Right. Such typical traits of Right Wing Extremism are presently to be found and documented neither as social phenomena nor as organized movements.

On the contrary, Romania has lately opened its borders to immigrants from African countries to the Middle East and even to countries from the Far East as China and Vietnam, and there are dozens of documented cases that prove the kind, open and hospitable manner these people have been treated and helped integrate into the society. Prior to the EU accession, legislation has also been adjusted to the new reality and to comply with the European standards.

The tradition of welcoming people from afar and not showing xenophobic and racist attitudes towards them dates back long before 1989: members of the Greek ‘Eteria’ (that reads ‘Brotherhood’) liberation movement found refuge and support in Romania in the 1820s, Armenians, Jews, Italians, Greeks, Albanians and others came in waves as migrants mostly in the interwar period establishing flourishing businesses in trade, banking and sweets manufacturing, Polish refugees were offered aid and temporary home from 1939 to 1940 when fleeing from the Nazis and their national thesaurus was safeguarded until it was shipped to the US, to end up with the many thousands of Arab, African and South American students throughout the 1970s and 1980s who, after graduating, chose to remain, married with Romanian women and settled down in Romania.

Nevertheless, Romania is a case of a different kind in terms of what is being labeled as ‘Right Wing Extremism’: unlike in most European countries, the vectors of the Far Right are neither xenophobia, nor Islam phobia, nor racism, nor fascism, nor neo-Nazism, but extreme nationalism, ethnocentrism, traditionalism, conservatism, patriarchalism, and a broad intolerance toward gay phenomena.

2. AN EXPLANATION

The explanation of the aforementioned is, at least, threefold.

Firstly, historically and psycho-socially speaking, the innate structure of the Romanian people proved to be hardly tractable along the lines of xenophobia, fascism and racism.

Secondly, historically speaking, the genuine Romanian Right Wing Extremism has naturally died out.
The members of the notorious ‘Legion of Michael Archangel’ originally founded in the 1910s, and later renamed ‘The Iron Guard’, could not fully pass on their legacy to a new organization. It was the legacy of a paramilitary structure which had its heydays during the 1930s and 1940s and did contain elements of violent xenophobia, racism against the Roma and anti-Semitism. Their doctrine relied heavily on exacerbated nationalist feelings and Orthodox religion. It is notorious that combining extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism with Orthodox religion is a method of manipulating people in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, people who proved to be tractable along this course since times immemorial – the Civil War in Yugoslavia is probably the bloodiest and the nearest example in time in this respect.
The ‘Iron Guard’ spread terror throughout the country and carried out pogroms and individual executions of respected scholars, politicians, and even of prominent members of the Government.

“They murdered an entire series of former ministers (60 ministers and high officials were murdered at Jilava, in November 1940)” [Djuvara, Neagu, page 248].

The ‘Iron Guard’ had rather good connections with Hitler and even managed to rule the country for a brief, chaotic and bloody period of time between the close of 1940 and early 1941. After a two-day civil war waged between the Army and the ‘Iron Guard’ in the end of January 1941 the latter were defeated and its top leaders found refuge in Germany thereafter.
So feared and undesirable was the ‘Iron Guard’ that Hitler would occasionally resort to recall their potential menace in order to blackmail the Romanian Government and force them taking certain decisions.
The ‘Iron Guard’ was eventually dismantled and outlawed by the newly installed Communist regime in 1945-1946. Its members were declared enemies of the people, of the State and of the new social order and were hunted down ending either killed or in extermination prisons. The forty-five years of Communist dictatorship, as well as the generation gap that has gaped in time between them and any potential followers, took their toll and made their ideological legacy fade away.

Thirdly, and most importantly, both historically and psycho-socially speaking, Romanians are tractable along other vectors of the Far Right than xenophobia, fascism and racism, namely extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism.

3. THE FAR RIGHT EPIGONES

Albeit after 1989 until the late 1990s the last elderly surviving members of the ‘Iron Guard’ who escaped from the Communist Gulag tried to make a comeback and recruit new members whilst the new political regime was showing tolerance and permissiveness towards them, the Legion has never recovered. Petty bickering and long-repressed disagreements on the would-be political doctrine split the movement into several political groups, each claiming to be the one and only holders of the true legacy of the Legion. Obviously, such groups of very old men were mere shadows of the past and their Right Wing extremism would be expressed only in discourses attended by few believers and some curious people.

Even if some of the members of the Legion, particularly poets and priests, have been somewhat rehabilitated, their works published, their tombs turned into shrines, and their sufferance and endurance in the Communist extermination camps have been turned into heroism mostly to comply with the political needs of the new political System-Machinery, the public appeal of the ‘Iron Guard’ doctrine has come to naught.

The attempts to found a New Legion in the image of the former glorious one with young people fell short because of the lack of the unity of the surviving patriarchs, of the generation gap and broken continuity, of the new political and legislative conditions, and because of lack of financing.

The only epigone organization that maintains partly the legacy of the ‘Iron Guard’ is the ‘Association the New Right’. Strangely enough, they have been legally registered as an NGO and thus they must walk on a thin line that separates the realm of Law from the realm of offense and crime. Consequently, the organization is not officially labeled as of ‘Extreme Right’. Nevertheless, they do have the features of Right Wing extremism at least in terms of ethnocentrism, extreme nationalism and intolerance towards sexual minorities. They would rise to the occasion and organize counter-manifestations against Hungarian ethnic minority and against homosexuals and lesbians, but they try to keep their actions non-violent and merely at the level of aggressive political discourse. They are battling against the claims of the Hungarian ethnic minority particularly from the districts of Harghita, Covasna and Mures in Transylvania, and, particularly, against the Hungarian ‘HVIM’, a Right Wing extremist organization that has established a branch in Transylvania and militates for border changes and re-annexation of the territories Great Hungary possessed before the Trianon Treaty.
The ‘Association the New Right’ is led by some young intellectuals and students. It is striving hard to gain an image and legitimacy both inside the country and across the borders. The organization’s financing sources remain a subject of speculation.

4. ABOUT NATIONALISM AS PILLAR OF THE FAR RIGHT

Nationalism, according to Albert Einstein, is a childhood disease of the human society, like measles is in case of the individual. In other words, the more exacerbated and virulent the nationalism, the less developed the society, and vice-versa.

“Albert Camus […] correctly noted that nationalism is a pathologic form of national identity.”  [Keane, John, p.118].

Since this is a critical work, we will not insist on the merits and benefic aspects of nationalism, elements which should have already ended their historic role in the consolidation of the nation and of the state throughout Europe.

In Romania, similarly to other European countries, the first notable turn of the nationalism that played a constructive role in the formation of the Romanian nation state during the first two decades of the 20th century into extreme, aggressive and violent nationalism appeared in the early 1930s and continued up to the end of the Second World War. Not by chance, it was a period of global crisis that ended in a world scale war.

There are four elements that may be regarded as being amongst the most negative features of nationalism.
Firstly, nationalism creates Myths and fosters Mythical Thinking in the terms of Ernst Cassirer. We believe the time of myths has gone and the 21st century should not be a time of the creating Myths and of Mythical Thinking.
Secondly, nationalism helps spreading neoliberalism and populism with the creation of so-called providential Father Figures and grand Saviors of the Nation. Thus, it helps the maintaining of the self-entitled ‘Elites’ in Power.
Thirdly, nationalism seems to have a natural tendency of combining with religion, which, more often than not, has led to social, cultural and economic catastrophe.
Fourthly, nationalism is being used to manipulate and divert the attention of the public opinion from real issues in the state during times of political and economic crisis.
In real life, these four features of nationalism appear blended and have always been harnessed by those in Power to extend, deepen and prolong their domination over the masses.

Nationalism and its extreme forms are, along with Religion and its extreme forms, ways of venting out Weakness and Fear, Failure and Frustration by means of inventing a non-existent reality that satisfies the expectations of the ego of the individual and of the group. Both Nationalism and Religion heavily rely on Myth production and Mythical Thinking that involve taboos, rituals, and worshipping God-like founding heroes and past embellished events. The pattern has been similar all over the world since ancient times.

“For Armstrong, the group identity named ‘nation’ is simply a modern equivalent of the pre-modern ethnic identity which existed throughout the entire recorded history. […] Following Barth’s analysis concerning the social organization and group boundaries, Armstrong sees the set of perceptions called by us ‘ethnicity’ forming and dissolving in each period of history. Some of these, supported by various myths and symbols resisted for centuries and constituted the foundation for the emergence of the ‘national’ identities later on. […].” [Smith, Anthony D., p.174-175

5. THE NATIONALIST STRUCTURES AFTER 1989 AND THEIR LINKS WITH THE PAST

In a strange and ironic twist of fate, the Far Right legacy in the form of extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism contributed, along with other factors, to the establishment of dictatorial Communist regime in Romania and, thus, to social dissolution, cultural decay, and oppression of the people.
A relevant argument in favour of this thesis lies in the fact that many prominent historians refer to certain stages of Communism by using the term ‘National Communism’.

An even stronger argument lies in the emergence after 1989 of a number of political structures and personages which promote extreme nationalism, chauvinism, ethnocentrism, intolerance and hatred directed against ethnic minorities, parties and individuals which emerged directly from the former dictatorial Romanian Communist Party (PCR), from amongst the circle of court poets, as well as from the former the top State apparatus.

“Ever since the ‘velvet revolutions’ of 1989-1991, the nationalist card has been played not only by the communist parties and by the organizations struggling to maintain their power – Milosevic in Serbia, Kravciuk in Ukraine, and Iliescu in Romania are but a few examples.” [Keane, John, p.124].

5.1. THE TRADITIONAL NATIONALIST STRUCTURES

The Party of the National Unity of Romanians (PUNR) was founded in mid-March 1990 on the basis of a so-called civil organization called ‘Vatra Romaneasca’, that reads ‘The Romanian Hearth’, which, at its turn, had been initiated by an obscure Orthodox priest. Once again, the link between nationalism and Orthodox religion inevitably leads, like a déjà vu, to the model of the ‘Iron Guard’.

An objective analysis of the bloody inter-ethic conflicts of 15th of March 1990 that caused many casualties on both sides as well as a serious damage to the international image of the new-born Romanian State could not dismiss the role these extreme nationalist organizations played in its ignition and fueling.

Official historical versions insist in explaining its emergence as a genuine popular response to the allegedly rising danger of the Hungarian ethnic minority backed up by the Hungarian State claiming rights and liberties that would, allegedly, jeopardize the national unity of the State by the separation of Transylvania from the motherland. Some of them even went that far to declare that the events in Transylvania had been an experimental embryo for the operation of dismantling former Yugoslavia the following years, experiment carried out by the powerful Western States that did not want Nation States in the region.

The PUNR used to promote a nationalist discourse mainly directed against the Hungarian ethnic minority living in Transylvania.

“The jingoistic discourses are meant in the best case for ‘internal usage’, if one may still be hoping that they can cover the deplorable state of the Romanian society. But they do not help at all abroad. On the contrary, this is precisely the kind of discourse which discredits.” [Boia, Lucian, p.388].

The PUNR has become lately a mere shadow of what it used to be in the turmoil of the early 90s, undergoing some obscure period of transformation. Some of its top leaders left the party for the Great Romania Party and, eventually, it seems it was, in the early 2006, silently absorbed into the Conservative Party whose discourse became imbued with stronger nationalistic tones.

The Great Romania Party (PRM) is a notorious Right-Wing party that used to promote in the past an ethnocentric, anti-Hungarian ethnic minority, anti-Roma ethnic minority and anti-Semite political discourse. Their European political family is composed of the French Le Penn, the Austrian Haider, and the like. Presently their discourse shifted to milder tones but nevertheless, elements of ethnocentrism, extreme nationalism combined with populism remained obvious.

“The Grand Romania Party is a nostalgic party […]”. [Gusa, Cozmin, p.32].

It is relevant to remark that the founder and the president of the Great Romania Party was one of Dictator Ceausescu’s court poets and shared all the privileges of the Nomenklatura, though he presently denies it. This confirms again the inseparable connection between the present-day nationalist structures and the former dictatorial structures.

Both the aforementioned parties are infested with retired Securitate and Army high-ranking officers, with Ceausescu’s former henchmen, and with priests, in the attempt to psychoanalytically exploit primeval drives of the individual and of the group.

At the last Euro parliamentary elections of 2008 the president of the Great Romania Party (PRM) managed to get a seat in the EU Parliament showing that the nationalist and tough redeeming political discourse is rather appealing and dear to the Romanians. Beyond that, such a high score indicated the need of Romanians for healing, for Justice, Truth, and a Better Life, ultimately, the quest for an alternative.

Article on the left wing nationalist attack on Romanian Social Forum

5.2. A CASE STUDY: THE RIGHT WING EXTREMISM OF THE RADICAL LEFT

The Socialist Party of Workers (PSM), later on turned into the Socialist Alliance Party (PAS), is a case of a different kind and requires an attentive analysis since it is the only party in Romania that declares itself as Radical Left.

The party was initially structured on the traditionalist hard-liners of the former dictatorial regime and some top former apparatchiks in the 2nd and 3rd echelons of the PCR. The passage of time has proved that their only supporters remained the nostalgic, the frustrated who could not adapt themselves to the new dynamics in politics and lost their positions as strongmen, few of the workers and peasants, some of the poor, some of the older generation, and, unfortunately, lately, some opportunists and upstarts.
They managed to get access into the Parliament only in the very first period of the 90s, gradually fading away since then. The PAS tried hardly to catch the new and democratic European Left Wing political style and pace by joining the European Left Party (ELP) in 2004 in Rome, but they could not reach the political honesty of publicly denying Stalinism and Ceausism.

The PAS leadership still publicly claims that Ceausescu’s dictatorship had in fact been a ‘Nationalist Communism’ and an ‘Illuminated Communism’ for the benefit of the Romanian people. One of the satellite NGOs of the PAS, the Association ‘Genius of the Carpathians’, bears one of the worshiping addressing names imposed to Romanians by Dictator Ceausescu.
Many a time, PAS revealed that it relies on and it employs extreme nationalism as a manipulating political tool, the same way as the Ceausescu had been doing. Populist demagogic Right Wing phrases embellishing the past such as ‘the grand Romanian people’, ‘our grand nation’, ‘our grand past’ and ‘our grand heroes’ are permanent ingredients of their so-called ‘Left’ political discourse.

Presently the importance and influence of the PAS in Romanian political life has become practically insignificant, and their political chances are close to naught, most likely because of the presence in the party of nostalgic followers of Ceausism and Stalinism.
The proof lies in the disastrous scores the PAS obtained in the 2004 and 2008 elections when they hardly managed to get 1% of the votes in certain ‘red’ areas of the country like the Southern Counties. Rotaru Constantin, president of PAS, scored rather poorly when running for the Presidential elections of 2009 only to finish before the last. Such performance and scores dismiss their political approach and signal the historical need for the emergence of a completely different Left Party in Romania.

In spite of all the political failure, the president of PAS, Rotaru Constantin, is a well-to-do businessman who holds the monopoly of flag manufacturing in the country and has founded a Media trust. His company ‘Rotarexim’ has a publicly declared an annual turnover that exceeds 1,000,000 Euros. In such circumstances, the Media is not far from the truth when writing that his businesses may well keep the flag up but Capitalism does not match with Left ideology.

On 26th January 2008, the Association for the Development of the Romanian Social Forum (AD FSR) and the Romanian Ecological Action Foundation (AER Foundation) were the only to legally organize a social-environmental and cultural event in Romania in the frame of the series of events of the Global Day of Action launched by the World Social Forum.
Rotaru Constantin, president of PAS attacked the event, the participants, and the organizers in a libeler newspaper article that had all the characteristics of Right Wing Extremism: extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism, ethnic discrimination and chauvinism, intolerance and hatred discourse against the Hungarian ethnic minority, political harassment, populism and inciting authorities to take action against innocent people.

Consequently, the president of the Romanian Socialist Alliance Party (PAS) was sued for the offence of publicly promoting Right Wing Extremism in the form of multiple discrimination, political harassment, and hatred discourse.

In his sole written defence, Rotaru Constantin insisted that ‘that was a political position’ and ‘he did not express himself a private person but as political leader’. It is beyond any doubt that such statement made a very bad impression on the Judges because it implied that a political leader may have immunity to do whatever he wants against people. Moreover, the statement confirms once again that the Left Radical Socialist Alliance Party admits that they promote Right Wing Extremism in the form of extreme nationalism, ethnic discrimination, and hatred discourse.

During the trial, the High Court admitted as proof a document that consisted of a newspaper article according to which the Socialist Alliance Party (PAS) has close connections with the Great Romania Party (PRM) with which they were to establish an electoral alliance in the autumn of 2008. It appears that one of the common denominators of the two parties is extreme nationalism and ethnic discrimination targeting mainly the Hungarian ethnic minority in Romania.

After more than a two-year long legal battle, the Highest Court of Justice in Romania (ICCJ) ruled in early February 2010 that the sentence of the High Court of Appeal of Alba County in the case no. 292/57/2009 was right and legal.

Therefore, Rotaru Constantin, president of PAS, was sentenced for promoting  multiple discrimination and political harassment as offender of Law no. 137/2000 corroborated with Recommendation no. R (97) 20 issued by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the hatred discourse, as well as with the judiciary practice of the European Court of Justice. The president of PAS was also sentenced to pay a contravention fine. The judgment of the Highest of Court of Justice in Romania is final and irrevocable (see: http://www.scj.ro/dosare.asp?view=detalii&id=100000000209313 ).

This judgment puts the European Left Party in an unprecedented embarrassing position since one of their founding party members has been sentenced for publicly promoting Right Wing Extremist policies directed against innocent citizens and social actors engaged in the WSF and ESF processes.

24th-26th of March 2010
Aiud, Romania

Petre Damo

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Crisis, nationalism and revolutionary possibilities: The case of Eastern Europe

Tord Björk | ESF,global crisis,political culture,popular movements,right wing | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Crisis, nationalism and revolutionary possibilities: The case of Eastern Europe

This paper by Andrejs Berdņikovs and Steffen Böhm was presented at the Prague spring conference. It was also presented at Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, 29-31 March 2010.

It includes such critical remarks as:

“We see obvious signs of the rise of ultra-right wing and fascist movements all
around Eastern Europe as well as parts of Western Europe, and what we hope to show is
that fascism is a ‘logical’ successor of neo-liberalism, the way it has been practised as
‘transition’ in Eastern Europe.”

and

“This is precisely the weakness of the theoretical oeuvre of Ernesto Laclauv as well.
Writing in the post-Marxist tradition, his theory of hegemony and populism seems to be
based on the explicit or implicit ethico-normative belief that socialist revolution is part of
culture, history and political goal of social movement organising. What is less theorised
in his abstract theoretical framework is the possibility of social movement organising
leading to anti-emancipatory, right-wing and even fascist forms of ideology that,
nevertheless all legitimate capitalism, yet in different ways.

Let us therefore outline a theoretical framework that distinguishes between three politico-
ideological regimes of capitalism, which can exist side by side. It is our argument that
what we are currently seeing in many parts of Eastern Europe is not necessarily the
starting point of a socialist revolution but, on the contrary, the restructuring of capitalism
and the movement from one capitalist politico-ideological regime to another one.”
Author: andrejs.berdnikovs (at) fulbrightmail.org

Right-wing and extreme right-wing groups in France

Tord Björk | ESF,political culture,right wing,Uncategorized | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Luis Weber and Ewa Ziolkowski at the Prague spring conference

Right-wing and extreme right-wing groups in France

About the latest regional elections in France

by Luis Weber

Regional elections took place in France on March 14th and 21st, 2010. With regard to the subject of our conference, two remarks should be emphasized, in my view :

−    the huge rate of abstention, over 50%, very high in the French context and which expresses, among other reasons, the lack of interest in the big «traditional» parties.
−    the score obtained by the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen, about 11,5 %, to which we should add the results of the other extreme right-wing lists, generally born of splits of the NF itself (about 1 %). Certainly, these results are lower than those the National Front and the other extreme-right candidates got at the beginning of this century: more than 19 % for example in the presidential election of 2002. And about 15 % in the regional elections of 2004, if we want to compare with a ballot of the same nature. But, meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP had made a lot “to siphon” the electorate of the NF – I will return to this matter – with certain results: in the presidential elections of 2007, Le Pen lost more than a million votes and fell again back to 10,5 %. The fall seemed to accelerate when the lists of the NF obtained only 6,3 % in the European elections of 2009, passing from 7 members of the European Parliament in 2004 to 3 in 2009. What led the medias to emphasize two facts after the regional of this year: the victory of the Left and the “bounce” of the NF.

From there, I suggest making at first some reminders on what represent regions in the French institutional context and to say how far it can influence the elections at this level. Then, in brief too, I will propose some thoughts about the place of the extreme right in the French political context. Finally, I will propose some considerations on the possible reasons of the “surge” which I have just evoked.

Regions are a recent creation in the French institutional architecture. Historically, France has been a very centralized country. Since Napoleon, the State was dominating, being the only level holding the legislative power, the only one collecting taxes and consequently having resources. Municipalities, which are very numerous, and especially departments (around one hundred) had thus hardly any consistent autonomy. Regions (they are 22 in continental France, to have an element of comparison with departments) were at first purely administrative groupings. It was only in 1972 that they were endowed with elected assemblies. Their competences have been will been actually widened up from the so-called decentralization laws, the first of them having been adopted in 1982, a short time after the election of the first left president of the Fifth Republic, François Mitterrand.

Since then, there has been more and more devolution of competences to the regions:

– In the economic field, through the elaboration of regional plans of economic development,
– For transportation, with a regional plan of infrastructures and of transports,
– For education, culture and, especially, vocational training

These competences are consistent, they allowed the left in the electoral debate to campaign on the theme: “voting for the Left is giving regions the means to become a social shield “, that means for the people, by opposition to the decision of the government, after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, to establish a ” fiscal shield ” for the rich, limiting their fiscal contribution. But, according to an argument moved by the Right to justify the very high level of abstention in these regional elections, regions would be still too recent to interest the population, who hardly knows about their very role and doesn’t even know the name of their presidents, as diverse polls have shown. This explanation is obviously a little bit short-sighted. It seems to ignore that abstention increases in all the elections, with the exception of the presidential one. And especially that it is particularly important in what we call in France the “sensitive areas” (that means where most people are poor, at least socially disadvantaged) within the  big cities and their suburbs. And that this abstention also expresses the depreciation which strikes today politics in general and the “traditional” political parties more specifically.

The place of the extreme Right

One should not make a mistake, this place has existed for a long time. Since the end of the 19th century, there have been in France populist politicians whose influence sometimes threatened the very republican institution, at that time still fragile. They were supported by all those who had not really agreed, a century later, to have been the losers of the French Revolution or those who, later, were going to be, from another point of view, the losers of the Industrial revolution, mainly the tradespeople and the artisans in the cities.

In the 1930s, influential groups in France looked with sympathy at what took place in Germany and in Italy with the rise of fascism. During the 1929 crisis, of which middle classes became the main victims, the believers in an authoritarian regime, a “national” extreme-right groups rather than “fascists” one, in the Italian or German way, leaned on the widespread antiparliamentary feelings, fed by some financial scandals and the ceaseless changes of government, to organize real riots in February, 1934. The parliamentary Left, then in power, denounces it as an attempt of fascist coup d’etat. The result was however going to take away the danger for a while: labor unions, which had divided in 1921, reunified ; the Popular Front Left won the 1936 elections. But the war and the invasion of the country were going to allow the extreme-right leagues to take their revenge in 1940, with the end of the Third Republic and the coming into power of marshal Pétain. I do not insist here on what in France we call the collaboration, which was going to allow the extreme-right not only to serve as auxiliaries to the Nazis but, as it is revealed more and more today, to play an active role in the deportation of the Jews and the gypsies, as well as of the political opponents, the communists, the socialists but also many right-wing people refusing  fascism.

One can understand that, under these conditions, the extreme-right seemed to disappear, with the exception of some very tiny groups, during the decades which followed the Second World war. For example, when Le Pen decided to stand for the 1974 presidential election, as a representative of the then very young NF, he got 0,75 % of the votes cast (to compare with the about 15% he obtained in 1988 !). But the recollection of the dark years of the occupation and the treason of the “national Right” does not explain the whole situation. We can add some other factors:
– The strong economic growth until the middle of the 1970s, which led to speak of the Thirty glorious (years) to indicate these three decades. The considerable increase of the average standard of living, alomost no unemployment, deprived the extreme-right of one of its favourite arguments: to denounce ” the system “, ” the profiteers “, “the politicians”, ” the parliamentarism”, etc.

– The strongly nationalist character of the Gaullism, which satisfied the ” national right “, not so much inclined under  these conditions to adopt extreme-right views.

On the other hand, the decolonization (around the early 1960s) meant for France  the loss of its colonial empire and, consequently, of its influence in the world. It allowed the extreme-right to lean on a feeling of frustration and the demonization of those, the  Arabs in particular, who became some years later most of the migrants. If the decolonization process was almost peaceful in Africa, it was very violent in Indochina (today Vietnam) and, especially, in Algeria. Whole generations of soldiers were sent into this ” dirty war ” which, furthermore, did not want to say its name. Officially, the matter was only to “pacify” Algeria !

All this was going to give to Jean-Marie Le Pen (who went himself as a volunteer to Indochina and to Algeria, where he has been accused of having practised torture) and to the National Front the main ingredients for their political emergence.

The National Front defines itself at the same time as being a part of the “national Right” (which may explain its trend towards xenophobia and even racism, with the motive that the French identity would be threatened), as being populist (The NF criticizes elites and advocates appeal to the people, which must obviously be embodied in a charismatic face, the leader) and sovereignist (the NF thus refuses any transfer of sovereignty, it is against Europe and fustigates globalization). We shall note however, it is a tradition in the French radical right, that it does not consider itself as an extreme right-wing party!

The deterioration of the economic situation from the 1970s, the rise of  unemployment and then poverty, was going to feed the populist discourse of the NF. According to its leaders, it defends the poor people, accuses the rich and the political and economic elites, without moving back from the resumption of the old anti-semite slogans, taking so up another solidly anchored tradition of the ” national right “. This populist discourse does not hesitate to denounce – just in semblance, the economic and social programme of the NF being indeed properly reactionary – the consequences of the liberalism, which will deeply affect people from the early 1980s. It meets all the more success as the relinquishment from 1983 of the policy of “breaking off with capitalism” promised by the Left and François Mitterrand upon their arrival into  power in 1981 allows the NF to appear as the only “anti-system” party, the communists being from these years identified with the Union of the Left which discredited lastingly itself among popular classes by this “turning point to rigor “.

One should add to this the fact that from the same time, most immigrants settled down durably in France, in particular through the possibility of “family regroupment”, supposed to be the counterpart of the end of immigration announced in 1974. For the NF, the immigrants become the cause of all the troubles. “They take the work of the French people “, when ” they do not eat their bread “. They “Islamize” France. In that time, immigrants came indeed mostly from North Africa and, gradually, from sub-Saharan Africa. This rhetoric finds thus considerable echo in regions, particularly in Southern France, where those we call in France the “Repatriated” from Algeria, having left this country when it became independent in 1962, have started a new life.

This rather complex reality of the National Front in the French political scene from its first big electoral successes (it started in 1983, on the occasion of a municipal but highly mediatized election in Dreux near Paris, then at the European elections of 1984 the NF got about 11 % of the votes, after a quite small 0,75 % in the general election three years previously!) may explain the main features of the NF’s implantation today:

– In regions formerly industrialized as Lorraine or the North of France, where the crises of the mining and of the steel industry dislocated totally the economic structure and, consequently, the social structure. They are also regions where these industries, operating with lowly qualified workers, attracted many immigrants, in particular of North Africa after the Second World war (before, they came rather from Poland, from Central Europe or from Italy). They are established today since two, even three generations and are French. It does not prevent the NF from stating that they remain immigrants and Muslims, what allows it to play upon the fears already mentioned.

– In the South of the country, in particular along the Mediterranean Coast, the strong presence of the “repatriated people” from North Africa allows the NF to exceed there also 20 % of the votes in the last regional elections. In this region, the NF was even able in the past to govern relatively important cities.

Certainly, this very simple scheme (with a Southeast / Northwest bow where the NF  exceeds everywhere 10 % of the votes and sometimes 20% as in Marseille in the South and in the region of Lille in the North; a sharply lower presence in the rest of the country) does not exhaust the reality. The National Front is sometimes very strong in cities of Côte d’Azur the population of which is rather wealthy. Also, it happens that whole villages of the rather rich region of Alsace vote mainly for the National Front. But, globally, this image is however rather close to the reality.

The dangerous game of the Right

Historically, the border between the right and the National Front has always been rather permeable. When the National Front obtained more than thirty members of Parliament in the National Assembly in 1986, most of them were formerly lected as candidates of ordinary ight-wing parties.

With Nicolas Sarkozy, the ambition became quite different: he would have wanted to attract the voters of the National Front not so much through  policies  capable of ending the disparities which are preying on the country and which add fresh fuel to the NF vote, but by taking back some of the themes which made the success of the NF:

– a bit of populism (” I listen to you, contrary to the other politicians who do not”),

– a big emphasis put on the matter of security (Sarkozy was Minister for Home Affairs before becoming President of the Republic and election campaigns have been for years opportunities to display police forces and to focus on well chosen criminal affairs such as assaults on elder people, etc.)

– and a relatively new form: the theme of national identity.

Some words on this matter. From the formation of the first government under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, an important institutional innovation was introduced with the creation of a Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Jointly liable development. This last element – Jointly liable development – was lately added, in order to calm down the outcry of indignation against the three first ones and their amalgamation. From a symbolic point of view, the association of national identity and immigration made indeed a strong gesture, making clearly of the immigration a problem for the national identity. We were thus very close to the usual rhetoric of the NF on this matter. This ambiguity was going to be stressed by the initiative of a ” debate on the national identity ” taken in November, 2009 by the Minister concerned, one of the former leaders of the Socialist Party Éric Besson. To tell the truth, he just endorsed a promise made by Nicolas Sarkosy during the presidential election campaign. But the dates finally chosen are blurting out the real objective pursued: the debate had to end with a national colloquium two weeks before… the regional elections of March, 2010. In fact, the debate started very badly. As many observers forecasted it, it quickly  turned into a debate on immigration and not around national identity. Which opened a boulevard for the most extreme opinions, so much that the government was forced to bury rapidly the debate itself in oblivion. The real winner was thus the NF, the favourite themes of which came back onto the front of the stage, this time even without any initiative of its own. But, as it was said on other occasions in France, ” the voters prefer generally the original to the copy “. This episode thus very probably restored some legitimacy and voters to the NF and to its ideas, without any benefit for the President’s UMP.

By way of (a brief) conclusion

The crisis and its consequences on the population, in particular on the most fragile groups, maintains the fear of the future and the loss of confidence in the capacity of the political elites to bring up long-lasting solutions. This provides credibility to the populist themes developed by the extreme-right, including xenophobia and racism. In a country like France, this “refusal of the other one” has privileged targets, in connection with the history of the country in the 20th century. For years, these targets have mainly been the “Arabs”, and more generally the Muslims (islamophobia), including their children having been French for one or two generations. But the changes of geopolitical nature and the new flows of immigration which result from it (Eastern European countries, Turkey, the Middle East and Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, etc.) create new tensions. It is an issue the Left and the anti-globalization activists cannot ignore today.

COP15: The main demonstration 12th of December

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeacefinland/ / CC BY 2.0

The huge square in front of the Danish parliament Christiansborg was from the very start filled with the flood and more and more people poured in. The official programme of the joint mass manifestation was supposed to start. Few could hear and even less could see the speakers in spite of effective loud speakers. There were simply too many people and very many things and messages to look at. A forest of yellow placards filled the air stating “Nature does not compromise”, “There is no PLANet B”, “Bla Bla Bla .. Act now”, “Change the Politics not the Climate”, and “Climate Justice Now”.

These were messages that people had stated as important when Greenpeace made the unusual experiment and asked people to suggest slogans via their website and then produced the most popular.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

A gigantic Karl Marx roomed around with the message It’s the economy stupid, an angry mermaid together with children dressed up as mermaids was swimming in the air and the banners of climate movements, environmental organizations and political parties filled the cityscape. Many had creative dresses of varying sorts which they had done themselves while the resourceful organizations made their stunts with equally dressed people and professionally designed banners and other material.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Flood, the churches and the Christiania feed in

The flood starting at Halmtorvet.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It all started at Halmtorvet close to the main venue of the Klimaforum. Here thousands of activists dressed up in blue ponchos, some as polar bears, penguins or plain clothes demonstrators. It was the flood action organized by Friends of the Earth International with the support of Via Campesina. The two thousand FoE members coming from abroad had been supplemented by many more Danes and fellow activists making the march lively with some 5 000 participants.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nios/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

The sun was shining, the mood creative and the message clear, not to false solutions! No to offsetting with global carbon trading! It all ended in front of the former castle Christiansborg and now parliamentary building with speeches by Henry Saragih, general secretary of La Via Campesina International, Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International and the participants making a Mexican wave to flood the temporary carbon trading exchange which could not resist the pressure from the people.

Climate Justice action at Vor Frues church. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Other feed in activities contributed also to the mass demonstration. “What do we want? – Climate justice! When do we want it? – Now!”. This was the chanting when World Council of Churches gathered with cooperation partners eported on a Swedish Diakonia activist blog. ”It was a nice feeling of inspiration that was spread in my body when we yesterday met at the Vor Frues Plads, here in Copenhagen, for the big demonstration. People from different countries who all were involved in the Countdown to Copenhagen campaign. Now it was finally time! Placards bearing the campaign slogan “High time for climate justice” in a variety of languages had been printed up. So began the long journey to the Bella Center.” From the Bottom meeting Windows of Hope at Christiania people joined the demonstration later in Christianshavn.

The flood taking centre stage were soon the main demonstration starts. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Speeches and chanting

Vandana Shiva speaking from the demonstration stage at Christiansborg. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Hajeet Singh from Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke/ActionAid Asia, India, started by presenting climate witnesses from Samoa, Indonesia, Colombia og India.. The first speaker was Rahul Bose, a Bollywood artist followed by Vandana Shiva who explicitly pointed to capitalism as the source of the current environmental crisis, telling demonstrators: “This is what democracy looks like, and the COP15 is trying to kill democracy.”

Kumi Naidoo from Greenpeace and the tcktcktck campign. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

The chair of the Danish Social Democratic party followed, Helle Thorning-Schmidt and the Danish artist Thure Lindhard and Helena Christensen, a model and photographer. Kumi Naidoo, international general secretary of Greenpeace and chair of the tcktcktck campaign from South Africa made a speech and presented climate witnesses from Uganda, Bangladesh, Tibet and Kiribata. Singing and speaking was also Angelique Kidjo born in Benin in West Africa, ”a Grammy award-winning music recording artist deemed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time Magazine.” according to the official web site information.

People were chanting, singing and dancing. Not many could here the speakers but there was very much other things to do. Hundreds and hundreds of different messages on banners and huge stunts of different sorts ranging from NGO lobbyists to anticapitalists.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Say hééé! Say hooo! Say Climate Change has got to go!” characterized the atmosphere among the young greens from all over Europe who met and protested together ”for a fair, ambitious and legally-binding agreement.”

The protest involved mainly youth. Jubilee South and Action Aid called for reparations from the First World to repay their ecological debt and aid sustainable development in the Third World.

Green Left Weekly reported vividly from the ”carnival-like atmosphere”:

”An Australian contingent highlighted the issue of global dependence on fossil fuels for power, chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, quit coal now!”

A satirical contingent of green capitalists raised the issue of greenwashing —dressed tastefully in white, they carried platters of grapes, glasses of champagne and placards reading “Greed is green“, “Bangladesh: buy rubber boots“, “Stop global whining”, “We heart green capitalism” and “We love green, but we love fossil fuels more”.

The lead banner screamed, “Carbon trading: the final solution”. One faux banker urged the crowd to “go home and buy some carbon offsets”.

Protesters chanted: “Carbon trading: big lie.”

Despite the widely acknowledged, clear failure of the COP15 talks, the sentiment among protesters was jubilant, positive and determined. Protesters chanted “Our climate — not your business”, “Our world is not for sale” and “Change the system, not the climate” — in fact, radical politics dominated the crowd, if not the platform.”

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

The start, NTAC and the police provocation

The demonstration was on the move. Tens of thousands followed the indigenous in the front along the stock exchange and across the bridge towards Christianshavn and the South. 41 different blocs were in the demonstration but the decided order was seldom followed. After the indigenous came a banner stating Politicians talk, leaders act with the Greenpeace bloc including both a huge snowman and a globe with a lifebuoy. Then followed the rest of the tcktcktck campaign with 350.org and a van for the Socialist People’s party surrounded by blue balloons with the party logo. After a while followed a new van surrounded by lively social democratic youth from Sweden singing Bella ciao socialists sons from Italy. Soon after Lega Ambiente from Italy and others proudly carried the yellow Don’t Nuke the Climate banner. Spread out were peace organizations and supporters of liberation of countries as Tibet or Iran.

Belgian trade unionists. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Especially popular was the union bloc with a front banner stating Just transition and people all dressed in green including green helmets. Their popularity along the road was raised as they stopped and then started running quickly. After the union came a banner stating Greenwash warning – Stop false solution made by Friends of the Earth Sweden and then a variety of messages including Radical Climate policy – now or never! WWF followed between red flags with the message Vote Earth for a real deal. A van stating system change not climate change and a banner long after stating the same followed with Socialist parties as the red Green Alliance and the New Anticapitalist party NPA from France. Soon after Attac came carrying a banner saying “Don’t let corporate lobbying destroy our climate” together with groups from everywhere including the libertarian socialist bloc. In the end came development organizations as Action Aid and others. Thus the march had started in a bit of chaos but anyway managed move forward to the South.

Meanwhile at Højbro plads, gathering place announced by Never trust a COP, many hundreds or almost thousand was faced by many policemen. The police started to ask if not NTAC wanted to go along with the march that was not far away but in the opposite direction from what was stated in advance.

Many pictures from the 12 December demonstration including Never trust a COP you can find at gipfelsoli.org here 1, 2, 3

When unwillingly moved towards the main demonstration the black dressed people from the NTAC gathering got a bit dispersed. One bigger part came straight into the Action Now bloc consisting of left wing parties as Red Green Alliance, New Anti Capitalist Party from France and other like minded organisations walking in front of the Climate Justice Action bloc. This caused some confrontations including an incident when one person dressed in black was beaten to the ground by someone in the Action Now bloc. The black dressed newcomers were not especially welcome and able to create disorder in the bloc partly separating it. Soon also stones were thrown at windows at the stock exchange. 9 double windows were broken. Soon after passing a bridge one window was also broken on the foreign ministry at the Christianshavn side of the harbour, a police van was hit and things like firecrackers fired in the direction of the police but no reports state that this did any harm. After these incidents the situation calmed down and the police did not intervene here or later against this part of the demonstration.

Socialist libertationist bloc starts walking. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Another black dressed group that all along had planned to participate in the main demonstration walked far behind at the end of the large joint system change not climate change section starting with the CJA bloc. After CJA followed among others Friends of the Earth with a sizeable delegation, Via Campesina and movements from the South, Attac and a socialist liberationists bloc were some were dressed in black. From somewhere in this last part of the demonstration one bank window was smashed at the central square in Christianshavn.

The mass arrest of the 918

The police kettle at Amagerbrogade from the Northern side. Photo Avenirclima.info

Half an hour later after passing one more bridge leaving Christianshavn and walking into the Amager district this part of the demonstration was seeing themselves surrounded by heavy police equipment on the Amagerbrogade. The more experienced were able to escape in advance suspicious about the many police vans around. Soon the whole part was stopped very fast by police vehicles that blocked the demonstrators from leaving both from the back and from the front. Only one way was open seemingly without any police in sight. Here a black dressed group started to move quickly soon to be trapped by the police.

Inside the kettle at the beginning. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Amagerbrogade many people were in quite a good mood as they believed the demonstration only was temporarily stopped by the police as none had seen any immediate reasons for the police to intervene and very few any unruly things happening in their part of the demonstration all along.


At the frontline. People and a public transport activist group from Sweden inside the kettle. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Soon all the rest also on the main street one by one got handcuffed and put into degrading positions shaping line after line in so called fishbone rows. People who had escaped into shops and restaurants were dragged out and all arrested. Some very few were allowed to leave as TV crews and a few other special cases.

Arrested at Amagerbrogade. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Outside the police cordon the reactions were different. At the Bella Center for the first time the TV monitors showed constantly for many hours pictures from the outside world from above on the mass arrested hundreds and hundreds of demonstrators sitting in their fishbone positions hours after hours while delegates looked upon the presented situation. On the street the police had cut the demonstration so both parts of the Attac and the socialist liberationist bloc were trapped but also very many demonstrators of all other kinds as some members of Friends of the Earth, young conservationists, people’s high school students, Hare Krishna nuns, well dressed concerned climate protesters in suits belonging to no group, people from all parts of the world etc. What kept the spirit high was the samba orchestra. Let them go! Let them go! Let them go! the chanting sounded across the police vans between the walls while the drumbeat was shaking the bodies and warmed the hearts. The organizational flags most present outside the police lines were from Attac. Quite a group stayed behind to show their solidarity with those inside the police kettle.

The CJA loud speaker van tried to return to the spot of the arrests but were forced by the police to leave and continue with the main demonstration towards Bella Center. The very last end of the demonstration was directed outside the kettle and joined with the main demonstration. The main demonstration in the hands of the Danish organizers did not bother. On the contrary were the only reported appeals against the mass arrests made by the CJA van outside Bella Center.

Candlelights at Bella Center and vomiting and urinating at Amagerbrogade

Instead the demonstrators were welcomed by disc jockeys and a speech by Mary Robinson, who also started the candle light sea as a sign of hope. The crowd was so huge that most could not see the platform or hear the speakers — instead, the demonstration became a candlelit street party.

At the Bella Center. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Speakers following Robinson were Deepa Gupta, from the lobbyist group inside the Bella Center, Indian Youth Climate Network made her speech before Tom Goldtooth from Indigenous Environmental Network in the US made his contribution. After him followed three Danish parliamentary speakers; Margrete Vestager from the social liberal Radical party, Villy Søvndal, party leader of the Socialist People´s Party and Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, from red Green Alliance. The parliamentarians were followed by João Felicio, from the trade union CUT in Brazil, speaking on behalf of ITUC, Helen Caldicott, anti nuclear power veteran from the US, Ian Terry, Vestas-worker from Isle of Wight, Lidy Nacpil, from Jubilee South and the Asian Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, the Philippines and ending with Nnimmo Bassey, chairman of Friends of the Earth International, from Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Nigeria. Finally a reused sail with climate messages was delivered to the negotiators represented by the head of the UNFCCC secretariat, Yvo de Boer.

At Amagerbrogade. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Meanwhile the front of the demonstration celebrated its political awareness and peacefulness while sending signals to the politicians inside Bella Center at Amagerbrogade the part of the demonstration left behind in the hands of the police were more and more treated in a degrading manner. ”People fainted, vomited, lay in their own vomit and urinated on themselves when they were refused to go to the bathroom. One guy was unconscious for an hour before he got help. The atmosphere was very unpleasant, and those who stood up because they were unable to sit anymore were brutally suppressed. Victoria and Olof had to stay tied on the icy sidewalk in very uncomfortable positions for more than 4 hours and Olof then transported to jail (as one of the policemen called “Denmark’s Guantanamo”) where he was forced to sit in the intolerable position in several more hours, still without food, water or access to toilets.” – Witness report from Anton Törnberg, Siri Sandin, Viktoria Viklander, Olof Öhrn.

Countless reports made similar statements. In total 918 people were detained. The police had problems transporting the detained into the special prison set up for the occassion at Valby with cages inside a big warehouse. People were thus forced to sit on the cold ground for 4-5 hours.

Also the media was more severely effected then normally. Main stream press and TV reported that unnecessary violence was used when they were taken away from the scene, that policemen consciously blocked the possibility also to cover what happened with tele lenses and that camera equipment was broken by the police or even that journalists were beaten by the police.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, head of the Danish Union of Journalists, demanded a meeting with the chief of police, and says in a statement that he’s never seen so much criticism of the police at the same time.

The head of the police operation Per Larsen told the press that he was sorry if some innocent people have been subject to mass arrests, but that a rapid and consistent effort had been necessary. In a press statement the police explains the reason for the mass arrest: “As a background to the decision to detain the violent group of demonstrators was also to be taken into account the great importance of the large popular demonstration to not be disturbed by people with another agenda,” Thus the police claimed that it was unfortunate that some innocent were among those mass arrested as those detained was a violent group that was a threat to the great demonstration, or as Larsen put it on TV, the dignified manifestation in contrast to the violent group that was necessary to detain to maintain order. The situation was open for the organisers of the demonstration to state if they shared this opinion of a mass arrest of almost one thousand demonstrators.

Mobilization outside and inside the prison

At Christiania on a distance from the demonstration route and after the mass arrests took place some confrontations started with the police. One policemen was hit by a cobble stone but it soon became clear that he was not seriously hurt contrary to some first speculations in the media. One Swedish activist was also slightly injured as a two-inch firecracker he was carrying exploded. Four cars were set on fire. 55 people were arrested in these confrontations.

The strongest response on the mass arrests came inside the prison. ”Suddenly we heard from the room next to us, protesters who are locked in cages and shout ’Let us go, let us go’ and ’no justice no peace fuck the police’. Rapidly the morale increased and the chanting really made an echo, when hundreds join in the choir inside the warehouse. We are denied water and the room fills up more and more.”

Outside the prison there were also protests by people following the call of CJA and some Danish youth left wing organizations. 250 demonstrators demanded free the political prisoners and were met by a strong police force that used their sticks only once keeping the demonstration 300 meters away fro the prison. One person was arrested.

Tord Björk

Content 12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Success or failure?

Uncertain preparatory process

The global climate day of action 2009

The main demonstration

Three left wing parties supporting the police perspective

December 12 in the media

Movement analysis

A demonstration split twice

You find extensive more material on the lack of left wing collective response to the repression December 12 – 18 and analysis at: The ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost left wing possibilities.

COP15 ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost possibilities

Content
The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting, see below.

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Activist setting up ALBA meeting posters. From ALBA meeting website

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

Seldom has so many organisers been misusing a great opportunity for political intervention to support climate protesters and democratic rights in general as at the mass meeting at the Valby hall on December 17 at 16.00 in Copenhagen during COP15. What could have been a strong left-wing contribution to the climate justice struggle became more of an exotic political show for Western Europeans to hope for other parts of the world to bring about change. I will come back to these critical remarks in length at the end of this article but first a regular report from the meeting.

As such the meeting was predictable. It filled its purpose well of being a unique chance to meet many presidents or vice presidents from progressive regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean from the so called ALBA countries. Sometimes the feeling of being many at the same place sharing a hope together is of importance for sustaining everyday struggles. The role these countries have made it relevant during the Climate Summit to invite their leaders to share a moment of hope that it least somewhere changes can takes place in the whole society of social and ecological importance. Cuba for being the maybe best example on earth on practical transition to a sustainable society. Bolivia for being an example for promoting climate justice demands. In general all ALBA countries for being examples of creating better conditions for the majority of people bringing hopes for alternatives. As the title of the meeting stated: ALBA a solidarity and sustainable alternative.

The meeting started in traditional working class movement style with the Red Horn orchestra followed by welcome speach from the initiator Danish-Cuban Association and Anders Olesen, chair of the Danish Construction Workers Union, an organization also providing security guards. The Danish well known Savage Rose were playing as well as the protest singer David Rovics from the US who celebrated ”St.Patricks Brigade”, Irishmen who fought on the loosing Mexican side in the war against US 1846. Other musicians performing were Wayna Rap, Los Alejandros and Tamra Rosanes. There were almost 4 000 participants according to the organisers, 2 500 sold tickets at 100 Danish crowns and as many participants  according to the main stream press and 3 000 to 4 000 participants according to friendly press.

Poster on the ALBA meeting website

At 17.30 Esteban Lazo, vice president of Cuba entered the podium as the first speaker. He greets the meeting by saying that the first five years of ALBA has been celebrated in Havana. A human and solidarity alternative that shows that another world is possible.

The response greetings to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution by the participants of the mass meeting. ”Cuba Si! Yankee No!” is the call from the floor and Lazo answers, I bring greeting from the Cuban president Raul Castro, and the leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro.

ALBA is not an alternative only for Latin America and the Caribbean, but for all people of the planet he continues. The Alba countries are today standing together with the progressive forces in the rest of the world in the struggle for the right of life and earth. We have to salvage this earth because we have no other.

This is why the most important battle of humanity is taking place in Copenhagen these days. Lazo described the problems in the negotiations and the need not to allow the control of CO2 emissions come into the hands of the market. We should not speculate in the future of our and our children’s future. We are fighting not only for social justice but also for human survival. The solution to the climate problems lies in a new economic model that puts people at the centre concluded Lazo.

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos followed him stating that the ALBA countries alternative was the only sustainable. Santos made a similar speech as Lazo but was also responding to a comment from the audience in Spanish saying ”mujeres”, women. As the left wing Nicaraguan government have been accused by feminists movements for oppressive abortion laws the Foreign Minister was well prepared. He informed about free health care for women after and how mother care and family planning have saved many women’s life.

Chavez and Morales in Copenhagen, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tantundem/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The podium became more and more full of a mix of people, diplomats, an admiral in white uniform, security guards; from many members of the ALBA bloc. During Santos’ speech the atmosphere became more tense and people started to wisper that Evo an Hugo had arrived. Than from behind the scene they entered, the Bolivian and Venezuelan presidents that so many had waited for: »Compañeros!«. The cameras were flashing, hands shaken, bodies embraced at the podium and wolf whistling, chanting and applause from the audience at the scene and those sitting at the galleries comes forward to great the socialist leaders. »Venceremos! – Let’s win!«.

The Bolivian president enters the speakers tribune greeted by chanting from the floor:

»Evo – Evo – Evo de nuevo!«

Some presidents do not want to discuss the causes behind climate change, Morales started coming directly from the negotiations. I will tell you the cause: Capitalism. Capitalism is the worst enemy – both for life and the climate. – Let’s unite and defend our earth, Morales challenged the meeting.

Inside the Bella Centret the leaders of the rich countries defend capitalism, a society of abundance for a few and wastage, the president told the meeting.

»We are not alone on the struggle to protect Mother Earth. Only the support from blow can change the world. Help me say loud. The planet or death – Let us win! cried Evo Morales. The audience responded willingly.

Then the Bolivian president Evo Morales surprised by announcing that a popular referendum is underway, and has been proposed for the entire world, to find out whether the world’s citizens would support or reject ideas for saving “Pachamama” (Mother Earth).

His speech was greeted with applause on several occasions. Morales affirmed that even if the governments of the rich nations rejected such a referendum, the peoples represented in the organizations and demonstrations in Denmark had already expressed, with their protests, their initial approval of the initiative.

Evo suggested the following questions for a worldwide referendum on climate change:

“..Do you agree to restore a harmonious relationship with Nature recognizing the rights of Mother Earth…?”

Siiiii  is the positive response in Spanish from the floor.

“…Do you agree to change this excessively consumerist and wasting model, that is, the capitalist system…?”

Si once more.

“…Do you agree that the developed countries should reduce and reabsorb their greenhouse effect gas emissions so that the temperature do not raise more than one degree…?”

Once more the hall is in unity with the speaker.

“…Do you agree on transferring everything that is currently being spent in wars to create a budget higher than the defence budget to tackle the problem of climate change..?.”

Yet again is the answer from the floor Si!

”…Do you agree in setting up a special court to sentence climate criminals?”

The hall agreed loudly. All five proposals had been adopted. Evo Morales had proposed exactly the same demands at the official conference with some minority support (except for the limitation to one degree temperature rise if Fidel Castro’s reports is correct). He concludes that we now finally had agreed to a document at this summit.

As he was finishing his plenary speech for the basis for a world wide referendum Hugo Chavez came to his side. While Evo had used 15 minutes for his speech, Hugo now used two hours.

From telesur

“Long live the young people, the volcano of socialism, the volcano of the peoples!” So did Hugo Chavez start his speech. “On behalf of Venezuela, the Bolivarian revolution, the ALBA, I want to thank very much, the invitation to this event,” he said. It was all on live Venezuelan public service TV.

“Long live Bolivar!” continued the president, recalling that on December 17, but on 1830, Simón Bolívar died. “Bolivar was an example of what should be a young revolutionary”, assured Chavez to those present.

Chavez received his strongest response from the floor in the beginning of his speech when he declared himself a feminist, and said that all socialists and Marxists also must be feminists and support the rights of women.

From telesur

Only unity will bring us victory stated Chavez and quoted or mentioned both the Inca indian leader Túpac Amaru, Rosa Luxemburg, the Cuban revolutionaries Jose Marti, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Nicaragua national hero Sandino, Jesus, Muhammed and the Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard in his speech. He especially praised the activists inside and outside the Bella Centre conference and criticized strongly the brutality of the police.

– I have seen much hard repression on the streets of Copenhagen these days, Chavez cried out, repression that you do not see in Cuba, Ecuador or Bolivia. He specifically gave full support to the attempt by demonstrators to use non-violent civil disobedience to enter the Bella Centre. System Change not climate change, the slogan used by the protesters was many times repeated in his speech.

Chavez addressed the threat from US against the new socialistic revolution in the South and how new military bases are erected. Behind the facade of Obama the imperialists tries to stop this revolution and to threaten all the Latin American people. But we will resist and see to that that the empire will be defeated.

– The revolution in the North is coming. I feel it. People in the north, unite with people in the South and let us together make the great world revolution against imperialism, capitalism and death! The celebration of these words exploded when Chavez resounding voice and fist signaled to the committed mass meeting participants the socialists revolution also in Europe.

Have you red the Communist manifesto? Read it again! It will be relaunched. From Caracas we have called a meeting to establish a 5th International. As Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels established the 1st International, Rosa Luxemburg, was among those establishing the 2nd International, Lenin made the 3rd International and Trotsky formed the 4th International we are of the opinion that it is time to call for, to gather, to start the struggle for the 5th International. An international of both parties, social movements and trade unions building upon Marxism, socialism, communism and the true spirit of Christianity and Islam.

Organize, Chavez challenged the floor and the meeting became excited.

– A united people can never be defeated! Chavez! Chavez! Chavez! was chanted in chorus by the participants.

After his speech Chávez went down to Morales and put his arm around him on the podium.

– ¡Viva el socialismo! – Long live socialism they cried out.

– ¡Viva!, – Long live!, the floor responded.

”¡Hasta la victoria, Siempre!” – Towards victory always!
”¡Patria, Socialisme o Muerte! Venceremos!” Fatherland, socialism or death!

Shouted Chavez and he and Morales jumps down from the podium to reach out to all the outstretched hands in the front row. With them came rather surprised and not very pleased security guards and some somewhat lost Danish policemen while Hugo and Evo now slowly went along the barrier shaking hands and talked to people taking a good time doing it for almost half an hour. The band Somos una Venezuela could finally start very late after schedule while many now were leaving enthusiastic about their experience according to many reports. As one report concluded: They went from there with a hope in their hearts: Another world is possible.

The lost left wing opportunity

The mass meeting in the Valby hall 17th of December was a lost left wing opportunity to support the climate justice protesters. One can wonder why. In scale it had only two indoor competitors. Al Gore was supposed to speak at an indoor mass meeting organized by Berlingske, the most conservative daily in Denmark since 250 years. 3 000 tickets were sold but refunded as Al Gore chose to not come. The main stream climate campaigners gave walk over to the left. The other competitor was the other mass activity in Valby during COP15, the so called climate prison with the infamous cages were the detained got pepper sprayed by the authorities if they protested to much against their degrading treatment. In total almost 2 000 were detained during COP15, most of them in this Valby temporary prison. According to reports the protest spirit in this prison were at times as high as in the Valby hall, and maybe more lasting.

The ALBA mass meting on December 17 waspart of a dynamic between three other mass activities, see: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=742

The ALBA mass meeting was perfectly timed and placed in relation to the political process of inside and outside activities during COP15 7th to 19th of December 2009. In Copenhagen four mass activities were organised to politically intervene in the climate negotiations and/or build an independent climate justice movement. All four complementing each other both in form and their political direction. The December 12 demonstration built on the idea of a low common denominator and large variety of expressions, even contradictory. A market place for demands mainly to put pressure on governments for a ”real deal” and thus state centric in its dominant appeal. The Klimaforum starting on December 7 with a political unified goal to challenge the ideology and practical proposals followed by the dominant forces inside COP15 more focused system critique and on movement building and diverse local solutions. The Reclaim power mass action on December 16 challenging the official conference directly by attempting at disrupting it during a day of mass civil disobedience. And finally the mass meeting on December 17 with presidents from Venezuela and Bolivia supporting sustainable alternatives to the present model of development promoted by COP15 with a socialist state centric tendency at the bottom.

The mass meeting came the day after protests reached a peak when civil disobedience activists both on the outside and the inside demanded system change not climate change in the Reclaim power action. The mass action could succeed in political practice. Although the action was violently stopped by the police when the two groups were less then 50 meters from each others the protesters got full support from the tribune inside the general assembly of UNFCC by the president of Bolivia and Venezuela. What the mass action failed to do physically against a violent police force it succeeded by building a political alliance across the wall around Bella center.

Thus the presidents of the ALBA countries and those Danish organizations that arranged a mass meeting with them the following day had the best of opportunities to take initiatives for moving the struggle ahead. Morales or Chavez would certainly not stopping the Danish organisers to take such a political intiative. On the contrary they supported the protesters goal of system change as well as protested against the heavy repression. The situation was considerably helped by the facts that for the first time ever the police of a host country of a UN meeting had been violently attacking accredited UN delegates when they wanted to leave the official venue and furthermore that 918 demonstrators had randomly been arrested during a mass demonstration some days earlier in an act of police violence against democratic rights which probably lack any precedence in Europe the last 50 years. People from almost any kind of movement, young conservationists, Hare Krishna, Friends of the Earth and Attac members, Socialists and people’s high school students. For some reason had the Danish organisers not acted collectively defending their demonstrators. Some actually supported the police as the Social Democrats while the spokes person for the organisers made a press statement about disproportionate police behaviour as if these acts of diverging messages to the media was sufficient reaction on the massive degrading and anti democratic treatment of demonstrators.

The political content was already worked out in unity at the Klimaforum in the declaration process ending in the demand System Change – not climate change, something that all actors agreed to from the Climate justice bloc that was attacked in the demonstration on December 12 to the Reclaim power action to the ALBA presidents. The title of the mass meeting in the Valby hall fitted well in – ALBA a solidarity and sustainable alternative. A politically better situation for a system critical movement of movements had not occurred in many years when peasants, environmentalists, indigenous, women, workers, antiimperialists, pacifists and above all young people were building a long term political program for climate justice. The great obstacles had been differences in  tactics and the extreme level of repression.

Formal Danish organisation whether left-wing, environmental, trade unions or others had all with one exception been advocating that the problem were activists and especially activists that wanted to use civil disobedience at the official COP15 venue. This in their eyes would result in immediate violence which had to be avoided at any cost. In Denmark the formal system critical organizations stated in chorus it is impossilble to defend any civil disobedience at a legal assembly as the UN. Thus the Danish activist network that jointly organized the Reclaim power action together with global mass movements as Via Campesina, Jubilee South and People’s Movement on Climate Change was isolated by all formal organisations in Denmark as a threat to mass mobilisation in the form of a broad demonstration together with NGOs and celebrities as speakers.

Many actually accused the Reclaim power action for the new laws and extreme repressive police tactics that emerged in Denmark,. This trend has been going on for many years in Denmark both during the present right wing governments and earlier during the centre-left governments. By challenging this trend towards escalating repression those claiming the need of non-violent actions at Bella Center was accused of causing growing repression and thus also threatening the necessary large scale mobilisation for the broad December 12 demonstration. If only people stayed away from any confrontational actions, maybe did some civil disobedience far away from the politicians, police repression would be so much less was the political thinking behind this attitude. For many people from the third world this kind of Danish thinking was completely impossible to understand as if repression is the result of that some organizes non-violent direct actions and confrontational protest and not the result of social relationships and material conditions in society.

By December 17 there had been all chances to discuss the matter with the movements from the rest of the world willing to take part in the Reclaim power action as they had been in Copenhagen for more than a weak. The Danish system critical organisations whether ecological or left wing had all chances to have a dialogue with their international cooperation partners. After all the Climate Summit was not only a Danish business.

Preparing for anti repression demonstration at Klimaforum December 17. Photo Tord Björk

By December 17 it was also obviously clear to everyone that the Danish formal organizations were wrong. No violence was caused by the activists during the December 16 action at all. The very little bit of violence during COP15 had taken place on Saturday outside the demonstration close to Christiania when a policemen was reported being hit by a stone although no reports claimed any serious harm. Property damage was also not the case during the Reclaim power action and very little on December 12, a dozen windows broken by demonstrators who were forced into the main demonstrations contrary to their plans to go elsewhere. The repression excesses by the Danish state were completely exposed as outrageous to anyone able of doing some political work.

It was with other words a perfect situation to make a collective support for democratic rights against the governmental and right wing xenophobian and climate sceptical Danish People’s party to drastically raise already extreme repression laws and police tactics against protesters. 918 people had been arrested for doing nothing in a normal demonstration and then had the police used many kinds of violence to prevent a joint inside-outside People’s Assembly close to the fences of the Bella center area. If there was any chance to revert this drastic attack on democratic rights in Denmark with great risks for the rest of Europe and the world it was now.

There was certainly a sufficient number of left- wing organizations arranging the mass meeting. They included five local trade unions, four communist parties and the red Green alliance, Friendship organisation with Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and Bolivia as well as some solidarity organizations with Latin America and the world and Artists for Peace.

Many of these organizations of course produced individual statements as did any serious environmental organisation or Amnesty protesting against the mass arrests. But to do something in common was far beyond what the Danish left-wing organizations thought of as necessary. Collective action and mass movement is a common word in the language of these organisation, but when this collective action is needed and the mass movement exist and is under attack the response from these formal left wing organisation is a refusal to do anything about it.

This extremist position to allow the police to freely use the new anti democratic laws which the Trade Union Central in Copenhagen  called police state laws needs an explanation. Why can we not anymore in a common European state trust the left-wing to defend popular movements, let alone their own interests anymore?

The resources were at hand. One of the Communist parties arranging the mass meeting publishes a daily, actually the only daily linked to any left wing party in Denmark. The parliamentary Social democrats, Socialist People’s Party and the Red Green Alliance long ago let their dailies and even weeklies sometimes pass away and lack own strong media to reach out with their message. But Arbejderen, The Worker, exists and reaches out to quite a few as it is the only left-wing daily in the whole country with more than 4 000 subscribers. Furthermore has most of the Communist parties as well as the Red Green Alliance youth groups that are quite a lot involved in the street actions going on and do not lack organizational capacity if needed. There is capacity to mobilize in Copenhagen among the left. Some hours after the police struck against oil war refugees from Iraq and violently started to deport them from the Brorson church in Copenhagen half a year ago 20 000 demonstrated in a fast reaction.

But this time the leftwingers chose to avoid initiating a Danish collective action to protest against the heavy repression in spite of that it would have been very simple to get broad support also from organizations as Friends of the Earth International and about any international organisation present. The only thing needed would actually have been to join the initiative on the way already for a demonstration the next day on December 18. The Valby hall meeting would be an excellent opportunity for Danish organizations to take a lead in mobilizing the Danish people against the degrading treatements and arrests. After all Danish organizations can better mobilize people in Copenhagen and follow up on the necessary anti repression work in this country than international organisations can do.

But the Danish left-wing rather clapped their hands when Chavez and Morales protested against the repression on the streets of Copenhagen than wanted to do something about it themselves with the support of the ALBA presidents.

So why did they chose to stay passive against their own self interest and against the need of the global mass movements that they so much talk about in their newspapers?

There are at least some factors behind this lack of solidarity. One is isolation. The formal left wing in Denmark had chosen to organise their own activities far from any interest in cooperating internationally or as a force inside movement building mass activities as the Klimaforum or Climate Justice Action. Only the cooperation with main stream NGOs who chose celebrities or party leaders as speakers for the demonstration was to them of interest as they could use this lowest common denominator activity to brand their own organization rather than to contribute to building a mass movement.

Thus contrary to e.g. Sweden during European Social Forum did the Cuban friendship association state that they were only interested in making their own activities at Klimaforum and not as the Swedish Cuban association state that they wanted both to make their own activities and contribute to the common work during ESF. In Sweden the Cuban association representatives became a coordinator of the program group and did many other tasks for the common good, in Denmark the main initiator behind the ALBA meeting, which officially was part of the Klimaforum program but placed elsewhere due to lack of sufficiently big hall, was the Danish Cuban Association who chose to isolate itself from any common responsibility for the Klimaforum.

And so did all their left wing cooperation partners that arranged the ALBA meeting. Why do something to enable a mass movement to evolve when one can sit in isolation to clap the hands in hope that people on the other side of the planet shall make the revolution for you or walk in a demonstration branding your organization were the media message is to a large degree controlled by NGO celebrities?

Furthermore the Danish organizers had no links to their international counterparts. The kind of traditional state centric left wing politics which dominates the organisers of the ALBA meeting have its strong counterparts on the international arena in the People’s Movement on Climate Change as well of course in the ALBA countries. PMCC was the most loyal of all international networks towards all mass activities in Copenhagen not imposing it own will but giving strength from the very beginning to common efforts thus uniting the Danish and international partners. While many other international networks had much of their own agenda and only slowly started to be interested in such an initiative as Klimaforum PMCC was there from the very start to the end. They insisted on the need for stating that the economic system have to change and national sovereignty as important but for the rest they at many times in the Klimaforum declaration process could contribute with consensus formulations from their long time work with mass movement cooperation mainly in the South and with migrant communities in the North. When I in October informed them about the ALBA meeting they knew nothing about it although it had been initiated already in the summer and PMCC had been clearly visible at the international CJA preparatory meetings in Copenhagen. But the Danish left wing is primarily internationalist in words and primarily with those in power at state level it seems. Internationalism in practice in the climate justice movement was not what interested the Danish Left wing 2009.

Reclaim power banner during the December 18 anti repression march, Photo Avenirclima.info

Another reason for the lack of interest in solidarity with the international movement in Copenhagen was that many left wing organisations in Denmark had been strongly advocating against the reclaim power action and instead promoted the December 12 demonstration. Their argument was that it would be impossible for the public to understand why a civil disobedience action took place to establish a People’s Assembly inside the Bella center area. If the mass movements from the South as Via Campesina which most of these left wing organisations strongly claim they support as long as they organise heroic struggles far from Denmark saw such a need, that was not of interest to discuss. Danish organisations are primarily Danish organizations and as such racist. It is useful to use Via Campesina as an exotic example in their propaganda but not as a cooperation partner then maybe something is at risk. The control freak of any Danish organization seems than to become a maniac against even his own interest with the exception of very few individuals or organisations that alone have to carry the burden of the many.

The daily Arbejderen was one of these left wing spaces used by representatives of the Communist party owning the paper to state that the Reclaim power action was bad and the demonstration on the December 12 was the good alternative. The chair of the construction workers union in Denmark who was the only Danish key note speaker at the ALBA mass meeting had the same opinion in a letter published in a few Danish dailies signed also by a fisherman and a peasant, both chairpersons of other social movement organisations. It took a very long time before any system critical formal organisation made their strong opinions against the Reclaim power action public but once they did so it seems as if nothing anymore can change their mind, even when it is clear that they were wrong.

The Danish super model that was selected speaker at the December 12 demonstration was on one main Danish television channel the only political messenger of the 100 000 voices in the demonstration. Between pictures of her catwalking in her model career she stated that there are quarrels in any family and so there is at COP15 but in the end the problems will be solved. The message of how police were beating UN accredited persons on their way to the People´s Assembly December 16 could not be misunderstood, the claims by some or many formal Danish organisations that the activists would become violent was shown to be completely false and the action got full support from Morales and Chavez from the inside. But why bother.

The activists had objected to the wise persons in the formal Danish organisations and thus had both them and all the 918 mass arrested in the December 12 demonstration broken a golden Danish rule, always trust a COP and their definition of what is violence. What the Danish left-wing might do is issuing individual press releases, but more cannot be expected. After all, heavy repression with targeted arrests of almost all spokespersons of a non violent civil disobedience action, is what one deserves if one have gone against the advice of all formal Danish left wing organizations and dared to unite with mass movements from all over the world in front of the nose of the hitherto monopoly actors in Danish radical solidarity work.

The organisers of the ALBA meeting had of course different possibilities of doing something. The organization that seems to have been most positive towards Reclaim power was a communist party still looking upon Stalin as an important ideologue.  Their capacity to mobilize many was limited both in terms of Danish support and any links to central international climate justice organizations. The Red Green Alliance had the opposite position and actually excellent possibilities both in Denmark and the rest of the world. They had the chance as a modern radical left-wing party and one of the few that at least for a while even had a proper agricultural programme strongly present in Summit protests since Amsterdam 1997 and in the global justice movement. They also played a central role in organizing of the December 12 demonstration, or at least one of their International Socialist members. On photos from the preparations for the ALBA meeting one can see Thomas Eisler from Red Green Alliance, member of the national board of the party and active in the Fourth international as well as European Social Forum last year.

Especially interesting it is that in 2002 the Red Green Alliance did a very good anti repression work from the early start of the preparations ot the EU Summit protests in December that year. Together with representatives from the Socialist People´s Party they acted as parliamentary shields when activists crossed the borders and at street actions constantly using the parliament as a tribune for the movement. The autonom or what also can be labelled libertarian leftist movement coming from the house occupation and anti fascists action networks used the opportunity for organizing a non-violent civil disobedience action at the Bella center. People dressed up in protective gear with some 700 supporters were able to push themselves into the Bella center area a little bit, a political statement was made and the political action dissolved without any escalation of violence. Thus the statements by formal Danish organizations that such a kind of non-violent action at a legislative assembly was impossible in Denmark without escalating into violence was false. It had been done before with a similar right wing government. and that time without governmental spokes persons inside welcoming the content and the form of the protest and full support from some global mass movements more than fully possible.

But not to the Danish formal left. It was not so that key organization did not know of the good experience from 2002. On the contrary. The organisation that arranged the action in 2002, Global Roots or Globale Rødder do not exist anymore. But many of the organisers of the action in 2002 are still politically very active. Quite a few are now employed at the parliamentary office of Red Green Alliance. Palle Dragsted, earlier international secretary of the party, now media secretary is one of them.

So how come than that the Red Green Alliance did not use the great opportunity to initiate broad protests together with many other Danish organizations and international networks on December 18 to free the climate prisoners and protest against mass arrests? The structural reason is simple. Since 2002 the party have drastically changed. Not on the surface but in the core of its way to act politically. In 2002 the party put a lot of energy including staff into be part of movement mobilisation. Now the same resources are instead put into media communication. Movements are interesting if they can deliver sound bites that the party can use occasionally in the parliament or in their press releases. It is not any longer of interest to be loyal to a movement and part of their daily struggle. Thus Red Green Alliance spokes persons can talk about in the media that it would be better if the police used the dialogue tactic which successfully was used to avoid escalation of repression in 2002, not to be self critical about the change of the way the party itself relates to movements in risk of getting repressed.

One of the actors in this change of the political culture of the Red Green Alliance are the organisers of the autonom non-violent action in 2002. Once they themselves were able to achieve a professional career in the party they seem to gladly abandon the solidarity character of the party that once helped them when they were movement activists and instead making the party more integrated to professional media and parliamentary arenas.

They are still able to mobilise. Many of the old global roots people have been behind the massive mobilisation against the deportation of the Iraqi refugees defending church asylum. But doing action during COP15 the old global roots activists saw as not useful as there were to many policemen to challenge. Rather contribute to such actions as Shut it down against the coal power plant in Copenhagen in September last year or actions after COP15 but not during was their mantra among them. They were quite a few, often male, half cynical, and always well informed about the latest thing to know for a radical belonging to a common culture in many different left wing organisations in Denmark. Interestingly this seems to include avoiding mobilisation against repression.

Thus what we see in Denmark is that all strands of the formally organised left wing are equally passive when it comes to strengthen the climate justice movement and the general struggle to protect democratic rights for everyone with the exception of individual activists in Klimax and Climate Collective and to some degree left wing youth organisations. Some of these youth organizations linked to political parties were as one could expect part of organising ad hoc protest at the Valby climate prison on December 12. But these left wing youth organisations were not organisers of the Valby hall mass meeting and seems in general be regarded by their parent parties as marginal youth phenomena not to be taken much seriously.

The different communist parties are mainly competing with each other. The trade unions whether social democratic or not are stretched between a perceived importance of good relationships with the government and the daily struggle against the further brutalisation of working conditions. They experience how their pickets against privatization of services are broken by the police with false promises of releasing an arrested picket leader. They criticized the hooligan law package as an attempt to repress all popular movements and non-violent actions, whether pickets, strikes or environmental protests and stated that they were expressions of a police state mentality. All social democratic and other trade unions in Copenhagen protested but the Social democrats seemed not impressed who supported the mass arrest of more than 900 innocent people to not talk about the government.

The Socialist People’s Party spokes person also supported the police and only after many protested withdraw the support somewhat for the police. The Red Green alliance with its two minority trotskyist fractions and a main stream that do not know what to do is at the moment not much of a party, more of a branding operation to support differing professional careers with the help of much volunteer work but little coherent strategy.

The autonom left is interestingly also very central in the lack of the support  against repression of the climate justice movement. The same kind of Danish mechanism that we saw in the case of the Communist party owning the daily Arbejderen and the construction workers union seems to be working also here although the arguments against direct action at Bella center are the opposite. We do not support the actions so we refuse also to protest against repression of the actions. The autonom left did to a great part avoid supporting action during COP15 due to an analysis based on the pragmatic idea that the police force was to strong to be able to win any substantial victory. As isolated in its Danish box as the rest of the left in Denmark to establish a discussion in solidarity with movements coming from abroad was uninteresting. To win a struggle in action was mainly seen in physical terms and numbers of participants, not political terms and ability to create new political horizons and alliances. Thus in their international contacts with their allies in other countries they put forward their scepticism including sharp criticism on how weakly CJA actions were prepared. Something they, with their sometimes longer experience, could have positively improved but chose not to. It was more interesting to be a clever observer than to intervene side by side with people from other countries coming and taking the risks these Danish autonom did not want to take. And as they did not support the actions they as many other Danish left wingers tend to avoid the immediate necessary strong anti repression response needed in December during COP15.

The result of the lack of leftwing support for mass mobilisation against repression of COP15 protests can be seen in such things as that Greenpeace activists in prison after a Gala dinner action get a very high degree of support and attention while the rest of the climate protesters get support to quite a large extent in falling degree due to if they have organisational backing or not. The massive mobilisation to support all repressed climate activists have lacked were it is needed most, in Denmark thanks to the lack of formal organisations supporting such a mass mobilisation.

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Protest outside the Danish parliament December 17. Photo Avenirclima.org

Decisive in the struggle against state repression by criminalisation of popular movements, beating demonstrators and putting them in prison or by other means is political mobilisation. Historically the left have been an important force in this anti-repression work together with solidarity between all kinds of popular movements whether defined as left or primarily by other categories as Christian or other faith groups, the environmental movement, radical pacifists or the feminist movement.. Also liberal and conservative forces defending the rights of the individual have sometimes played an important role.

All these anti-repression forces were strongly present at the protests at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. The issue as such have provided a basis for broad alliances often on a system critical platform. Especially privileged were three left wing and one social liberal party as key note speakers and among the organisers of a mass rally with 100 000 participants on December 12. The parties have strong organizational resources, a member base and easy access to media. Almost one thousand of the demonstrators got arrested and put in a special prison and a thousand more during the time of the UN conference. There was a great need and possibility for defending the freedom of assembly and speech in Copenhagen.

The historically interesting during the protests at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 is that the formally organized left was the first political actor that aggressively supported a police perspective on attacks against the main demonstration. They also refused to support any collective response to the repression. Instead the left wing parties used the occasion to gradually differ in their position towards the demonstrators, the police, the laws and the right wing government to compete with each other on harmless policy differences and avoiding doing politics to challenge in common power relations that curtails freedom.

International social democratic youth bloc December 12. Photo IUSY

In terms of members the formal left wing organisations and their sympathizers extremely outnumber those supporting left wing forces in the Climate Justice Action in Denmark. The two biggest besides trade unions are the social democrats with 50 000 members and the Socialist People’s party with 17 000 members. The third left-wing parliamentary party is Red Green Alliance with 2 000 members. Their position one could claim was such that they all could have used the occasion for strengthening their role as political opposition in Denmark supporting freedom of expression. They to a large extend did the opposite. How they did this can be described day by day.

Tord Björk

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

Happy environmentalists on their way to the 12December initiative march. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nios/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Prior to the demonstration December 12 the organizers had stated that it would be safe. Come safely to peaceful demonstration was one title on an article about the preparations. The article continued: “On 12 December is the great popular demonstration on the streets of Copenhagen – with 499 organizations from over 60 countries. Despite the many participants should there be no difficulty – the organizers have a grip on security.

The people behind the demonstration on 12 December has done a great job to avoid confrontations with police.

’We believe that the demonstration is in good order. We have among other demonstration guides from the union, and we have held several meetings with police,’ says Knud Vilby, press spokesman for the demonstration on 12 December.

The demonstration is divided into different blocks, each receive a series of demonstration guides. Many of the guides are from the Construction workers union MS, who also stood for the demo Safety, at the EU summit in Copenhagen in 2002. Moreover, the organizers of the rally, “12th December Initiative “, held meetings with all the more radical and potentially violent groups that have promised high and holy to remain at rest.”

The two most left wing parliamentary parties were the first to stand up on the side of the police version of what have happened on Saturday evening and thus legitimating the arbitrary mass arrest during the December 12 demonstration. They together with the right wing xenophobian and climate sceptical Danish People’s Party could together put their immediate efforts in favour of the police while the right wing governmental parties and the social democrats except for the Conservative minister of Justice did not need to do anything as the left wing parties did their job. It is more convincing if the organizers of the December 12 demonstration supports the police views against the demonstrators than if the right wing governmental parties which were not among the organizers would have supported the police repression of the demonstrators.

First to act was the Red Green Alliance, the most left wing parliamentary party of Denmark born out of the former traditional communist party, a trotskyist party and left socialist party. This party issued a press release already on the same day of the demonstration with the title: The Red Green Alliance denounces riot in connection to climate demonstration. The official party message continued by beginning to state:

”Red Green Alliance condemn the group of “activists” who used the main climate demonstration as a cover for throwing stones at windows and police. Hence they assume a heavy responsibility, if people in the future abstain from participating in peaceful demonstrations, because one cannot know for sure what smaller groups might abuse these demonstrations for and what consequences this may have for ordinary demonstrators” said Per Clausen, climate spokes person for the Red Green Alliance.

In contrast to the claimed riot makers attacking the police with stones the press release continued by appraisal of  ”the impression of a great and beautiful manifestation of 100,000 participants” which according to the party ”showed us how we can involve many people in a way that sends a clear signal to those in power that we are many that require a fair and effective climate treaty.” and concluding:  ”This is the way to create positive change”

The press release also mentions in the end that: ”Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that many completely innocent demonstrators were detained by police and they arrested unnecessarily came to sit three to four hours on the icy ground. Together with that the police apparently played an active role in pushing troublemakers into the peaceful demonstration this points at a need for an investigation of the role of police.”

The most left wing parliamentary party here sets the tone by adopting a description of the course of events which puts the main emphasis on creating a picture of one group violently attacking the police and the police that unfortunately does mistakes. The identification with the police has gone so far that even the chronology is rearranged to fit into the picture of inherently violent troublemakers on one side, from the outset peaceful police that might do some mistakes on the other side but never have a role that needs to be put into brackets and finally demonstrators with the role to always be peaceful and send signals to those in power.

The correct order of the course of events was that no stone causing any harm to the police was thrown at all from the demonstration. What happened was that a police man was hit by a stone after the mass arrest had taken place, without being seriously hurt and at a long distance from were the mass arrest took place and far away from the demonstration. By changing the order of events main stream TV managed to make the massive police arrests more acceptable, a falsification of history in favour of the police that also the Red Green Alliance decided as important to endorse. A main stream right wing organisation could not have done it better.

Per Clausen. Press photo Mads Nissen

While Red Green Alliance was busy telling the world a story favouring a police perspective built on rumours arrested demonstrators were in deep trouble detained in the Valby special prison for climate protesters. Organisations and friends were worried about their comrades and members. The Socialist Justice party of Sweden belonging to CWI approached Friends of the Earth Sweden to get information on what was going on and what to do. 40 of their party activists from all over the world had been arrested. FoE Sweden decided to initiate a press conference together with as many concerned organisations that could be reached. Within less than half an hour it was possible to find out that any kind of organisation had their members in prison. Nature and Youth Sweden, the youth environmentalist organisation connected to the Conservation Society, Attac, Hare Krishna, Friends of the Earth from at least four countries etc. None had seen any attacks on the police or windows smashed were they had been walking in the demonstration. After a while some of the detained were released and we could meet them. One girl had a more than two inch long and deep broad wound on her wrist. The plastic straps had been put on so hard that first her hands got swollen and then when the police should cut them off they had to cut into her body to get it done. When it was possible for a few Swedish organisations to find out in such a short time about many cases there must be many more.

What was now needed was capacity to organize a press conference, a room, international press lists, ability to contact each other from our very different places were we stayed and have sufficient common message and people that had been arrested to make the press conference fruitful. The most relevant organizational actor to ask was the Danish demonstration coordinators. They if anyone had the self interest in protecting their demonstrators.

I went to Jörn Andersen, the organiser that had been most visible to international organisations during the whole preparatory process. Andersen represented the Climate Movement Denmark but was also a member of the Red Green Alliance. He had a key position as he also belonged to the International Socialist fraction in the party, a fraction linked to Socialist Worker´s Party in the UK who were the key organisers of the Global climate action days both December 2009 but also earlier. He if anyone ought to be able and interested in helping us. But he was the opposite.

The first thing he said was in a rejecting voice, did I have some facts. That I had a lot of facts about what had happened to quite a few demonstrators that were in need for solidarity and anti repression work by the demonstration coordinators did not impress upon him. He did not believe that the Danish coordinators would act and coordinate any solidarity work for the detained demonstrators. It was up to us and others to help ourselves the best we could. His party had already chosen without us knowing it and without Andersen informing us to act collectively in immediate support of false facts favouring the police. To make extreme demands on facts supporting the demonstrators was than appropriate to support the version they already had given to the press.

So Andersen’s prediction was probably correct. As the most well connected organisation in both Denmark and internationally the Red Green Alliance had chosen what side they were on and what role they claimed the demonstrators had in the immediate reaction. And to his own trotskyist fraction at the core of the whole Global Climate Action Day internationally it was more important in practice to be servile in relationship to the alliance partners than to act in solidarity with the invited demonstrators. After all the demonstrators go home afterwards but the allied main stream left wing parties and NGOs behind the tcktcktck campaign continues to be a force to take into consideration is the thinking behind this kind of reaction. To change such a first position from the Red Green Alliance needed careful attention and then there was not time for any solidarity work for those that had been degradingly treated by the police with the exception of the youth wing who protested at the prison but waited many days until the party had changed their first position to comment upon what had happened.

Klimaforum offered help instead, a computer could be borrowed at their office for some minutes, the press room could be used, the press people kindly asked by the press staff to leave a room or stay to listen to the press conference, a cell phones could be recharged at a luxury hotel by a member of a main stream Swedish television crew that were upset about the exaggerated police activity. In some way Danish Attac, Nature and Youth, Friends of the Earth Sweden and Socialist Justice party were able to get our act together precise in time in spite of cell phones lacking sufficient payment for getting on the air, internet connections getting down, email lists missing and arrested people already gone home. Somehow in spite of lack of systematic press contact work the press conference room was more than full when we started. Le Monde, L’Unita, Main stream TV from Denmark and Sweden and a lot of other media were there and the message got out.

Meanwhile had the political line by the Red Green Alliance paralysed the whole demonstration committee. It was now time for any Danish organiser of the demonstration to act on their own against the demonstrators and support the police to strengthen their perceived image among the population via mass media. Thus was the first Red Green Alliance press release followed by a statement from the justice affairs spokes person of the Socialist People’s Party, close to midnight when still many were in prison. On her party blog under the title What happened at the climate demonstration? Karina Lorentzen presented the same false story as Red Green Alliance, this time with an additional touch to exaggerate the story further. People had chosen to throw cobble stones at the police  – or others who may happen to be in firing line.

Her conclusions was clear: ”When such an incident occurs, I think we all have an expectation that the police intervene and stop such incidents. The alternative could be a smashed city, people randomly hurt or that the large demonstration was stopped and the important message to politicians not delivered. I therefore fully support that the police intervened. It meant that most of the demonstrators could continue peacefully to the Bella Center which they should be thanked for.”

Here we can see the socialist future: If we as organisers of a demonstration do not fully support police intervention we would see how the whole demonstration would need to stop, the whole city being destroyed, anyone being hurt, to not talk about the message to the politicians not delivered.

Lorentzen started her statement by describing how ”wildly fantastic” it was to walk with 100,000 other in the demonstration meeting among others a panda, a horse on a bicycle, a giant snowman, and many other funny contributions.

She also addressed after fully supporting the police intervening in a sudden questioning mood that ”Nearly a thousand people were detained. It is quite a lot and now it seems also as that the complaints from people who feel wrongly arrested, are coming in. Only 4 charges are currently been raised and it may indeed be said to be negligible among one thousand people. It could provide for a good reflection on whether the police have gone too far. The Socialist People’s Party have against this background asked the Minister to explain the course of events – now we have to get identified what happened and criticism should be used to work forward looking to ensure that innocent civilians in the future not will fall foul.”

Lorentzen than explained why her party had been against the new hooligan law package that gave the police the possibility to intervene as they did. The party warned against preventive arrests and would like to have ensured the possibility that citizens could get a chance to escape and avoid incurring a withdrawal.

The juridical spokes person of the Socialist People´s Party ends with making clear were her main sentiments are directed: ”My final reply must be that I’m fucking tired of activists who use violence and vandalism in order to draw attention to their cause. Frankly, there is no justification – and it’s wildly unsympathetic that you hide among peaceful demonstrators to perform your misdeeds. Stop it, it does not benefit the cause and it shifts focus in the most annoying way from what is important – namely a good, binding climate agreement.”

The immediate response on this blog post was sometimes overwhelmingly positive, but to a growing degree critical. “Your entire second paragraph in your blog post have a problem – primarily because the facts are not okay. We know that the black group would not ’break into the peaceful demonstration’ as you write but that they were pushed into the demonstration by the police as they would go from Højbro Plads, although it was not their intention to go along. Already here all your arguments go wrong and hence your conclusion ”you hide among peaceful demonstrators to perform your misdeeds”.

With the two most left wing parliamentary parties decided to act individually and siding with the police the rest of the Danish organisers chose the same method, avoid any collective responsibility and at times make their own isolated statement to the press to wash their hands. Knud Vilby, the spokes person of the demonstration. stated to the press that the police had acted disproportionate.

Everything was by now very clear enough to act collectively in defence of the rights of the demonstrators and against the escalation of repression. The two main newspapers in Denmark had revealed in their immediate reporting that it was the police that pushed unwilling Never trust a COP activists in black clothes into the main demonstration. These activists had published plans on the internet that they wanted to protests in the city centre and not walk with the march to the South. When this group of activists according to the advice by the police came to the demonstration some windows at the stock exchange, one at the foreign ministry and one at a bank were smashed along the demonstration route. 1 km from the stock exchange and more than 0,5 km from the bank more than 900 people were arrested and detained in a specially prepared prison half an hour after troubles started. Jyllandsposten, the biggest pro-governmental Danish daily reported that ”It was an apparently well-prepared and rehearsed policing plan, which resulted in one of Denmark’s largest mass arrests”. After the mass arrest almost 1 km away at Christiania were four cars burnt and a policemen was hit by a cobble stone without being seriously hurt.

In spite of that it was clear that the Danish state had made a massive attack on democratic rights and the police according to the pro-government daily apparently organized an ambush against the demonstration the organisers chose to act individually as persons or organisations. The strong wording among the organisers were still directed against the non existent people in the demonstrations that had thrown cobble stones hurting a policeman, not to protect their own demonstrators.

The left wing cover up

Solidarity banner at the front of the social democratic youth bloc in the 12 December demonstration. Photo IUSY

The numerous witnesses about the abuses during the mass arrests made it soon necessary to shift tactics among the Danish organisers of the demonstration. This was done in an odd way. If the first statements had been the result of the risk of not having the full picture the day after this was not the case anymore.

The way the 12 December Initiative acted was to avoid any collective responsibility and instead give free possibility to Danish organisations in the initiative to use the situation as they liked. It would last until January 7 for the main spokes person Knud Vilby of the 12 December initiative to make a stronger call for critical discussion of not the role of the organisers of the demonstration but how Denmark had acted. So many weeks after he promoted the basic police perspective story implanted by the left wing parties and media together keeping it alive, a story that directly links the police intervention with cobble stones against a policemen getting hurt. The ”fantastic experience … was only marred by members of the ’black block’ who behaved, in particular with throwing cobblestones in Christianshavn. One policeman was wounded, and I know from demonstrators – including a group of college students – that they were glad when the police intervened.”

Instead of reacting collectively against the politics of the Danish state to organize mass escalation of degrading treatment of demonstrators individualistic competition in promoting diverse policy proposals via mass media started. The extreme support by the most left wing parliamentary parties on Saturday of a police version making repression in a scale not seen in many countries against a demonstration understandable, had to be replaced by something else. And why not with a quarrel among all left wing parties on different policy proposals. Here each party could raise its profile making some discrete retreats from the mistakes the first day in a clever cover up operation in close relationship with the media.

Why should the reporters ask troublesome questions to the parties that organised the demonstration why they not together with others in the Danish 12 December Initiative collectively defended their demonstrators. It was so much more politically uninteresting to promote a politically powerless quarrel on policy details between individualistically acting parties. Popular movements and an interested public in many countries all over the world would really have been interested in why the Danish organisations that had invited 100 000 demonstrators to come to Copenhagen did not want to collectively defend them. That was the politically interesting question that the Danish media and the Danish organizations in unity avoided.

Sunday 13th of December

Waiting fr transport to the cages in the climate prison. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Sunday December 13 the papers were full of reports how the Socialist People’s Party together with the Danish People’s Party were the strong supporters of the police action against the demonstration. Lorentzen from the Socialist People’s Party continued to back the police by stating to Ritzau, the Danish news agency, that it is difficult for the police to see who is violent and who is peaceful. “- Police have a very difficult task. When they block a street off, there might be some who may not have anything with this to do.”

“Both Socialist People’s Party (SF) and Danish People’s Party (DF) supports the Police”. Ritzau December 13
(National news agency)

Troublesome for the Socialist People’s Party was a growing negative reaction at both the blog of the spokes person of justice affairs and the facebook group of the party leader Villy Søvndal. Hundreds of people reacted often very strongly against the position of the party and many questioned their membership.

Later on Sunday Lorentzen issued a press release in which she expressed that it is wrong to arrest people before they have committed any wrongdoing. “When the hooligan package was adopted, we very much pointed at that preventive arrests are problematic because it is an interference before people have committed a crime. This means of course that you might get some in the net who have not intended to start a turmoil”.

In the Red Green Alliance it was not the spokes person for justice affairs that acted but the spokes person for climate Per Clausen who continued to intervene. In a press release on Sunday the party clearly distanced itself from any form of setting the streets on fire during the climate summit, and continued in the words of Clausen that:

”It is however also necessary that the demonstrators who not have a desire to set the streets on fire, have the opportunity to make actions. Unfortunately, it appears that police arbitrarily arrested trying to prevent this. We therefore require an examination of police use of preventive arrests and other use of force in connection with the climate summit. Particularly, we think the police attempt to prevent the press’s work must be investigated”

The original version mainly condemning people using the demonstration for throwing stones at the police had changed and the focus was now on fire in the streets and that it ”appeared” as if the police had stopped people from using their right to express themselves. For some reason the party shows special interest only in one group were they ask for extra attention in the investigation they want to be conducted, the press.

When it seemed as a slight difference between the position of the Red Green Alliance and the Socialist People’s Party emerged Clausen was not late in using it. In the press he stated that the competing left wing party was embarrassing as it did not take a clear distance from unreasonable police preventive arrests of people who have done nothing illegal. It is important both to distance oneself from violence and vandalism and the police state, he concluded.

“Broad political support for the police”. DR, (Danish public service media).

The Social liberal non left wing party in opposition to the right wing government also expressed their concerns. They accused the government for the law that had permitted the police to make the mass arrest: This law ”made it easy for the police to detain people preventively. So before they ever have done anything.” The spokes person of the social liberal party continued about the law ”We were violently opposed at the time, and we are still.”

So what many left wingers would describe as a bourgeoisie party made the opposite to the left wing parties in three ways. Firstly attacking the government and not the police or other oppositional parties to the left. Secondly focusing on that it is wrong to detain innocent people. Thirdly using emotional wording as violently not from a police perspective but rather from a democratic giving emphasis on the concern the party had from the beginning and now even more had against the law and its consequences.

This made it obvious that it was possible to mobilise a broad alliance far beyond the left wing political culture to defend the democratic rights against the new mass arrest practice. The problem was not that it was impossible in Denmark to formulate the basis for collectively denouncing the attack on the integrity of the 12 December initiative mass protest. The problem was that both the left wing parties and the Danish organizing committee were unwilling to mobilise any collective response but preferred individualistic and disperse reactions.

During Sunday almost a whole demonstration was mass arrested on the way to the harbour were a non-violent action had been announced.

Monday 14th of December

“Socialist People’s Party (SF) wriggles in the case of mass arrests”, Politiken (Social Liberal press)

The course of events threatened the position of the Socialist People’s Party which presents itself as both environmentally more concerned than other parties as well as more concerned about democracy, most often also with social justice concerns. The conservative press noted with some malicious joy correctly that many of the arrested demonstrators were members of the party that now had supported the police in their action against the members. In the middle of the day on Monday Lorenzen made one more press release to explain herself with the title: SF supports neither mass arrests of innocent, or inhumane treatment of detainees. The emphasis in the beginning is now on how the party ”fought a brave battle against both ’the Hooligan package’ and preventive arrests, which are the tools used by  Police on Saturday.”

The emphasis also have changed in such a way that it is now the government rather than the police or activists which is criticized. The blame is: ”first and foremost on the responsible government politicians …. With their constraints and the Hooligan package they have whipped up a mood and clearly signalled to police that they should keep quiet in the streets at any cost. Even at the cost of freedom of assembly.”

She continues: ”we must focus on the perpetrators, rather than uniquely focusing on the police, who simply carried out what resembles a political order. Thus it is the police who carried out many arrests, but it is the government and the Danish People’s Party, which has shed the bullets to arrest disproportionately many innocent people.”

The rest of the press release is understanding the problems of the police when 100.000 are on the streets and ”mistakes” are bound to occur. It is the law which has a too ”broad scope” that is the problem and to this end the party demands an explanation from the police and the minister of Justice. She ends by a more strong emotional language:

”I would also like to stress that it was undoubtedly necessary for the police to act against those who threw the firecracker and cobbles in the middle of an otherwise fantastic and peaceful demonstration. This behaviour is in no way an expression of democratic sentiment. We have also previously seen some cities being totally devastated by the violent protesters: Berlin, Seattle and many more. Copenhagen should not be in this row.

Therefore I can not stress enough that we can and must take a deep distance from violent activists. And I’m in short, wildly offended that firecracker throwing troublemakers allows themselves to interfere with the ordinary demonstrators”

It was now necessary for the popular party leader Villy Søvndal to intervene. Two hours after the spokes person made her third statement after the demonstration with shifting focus and different content he wrote on his facebook page under the heading: Nice demonstration – unfortunately too many arrests.

He started by stating that ”we should be happy and proud that we can hold such a demonstration in Copenhagen … that showed Danish involvement in the fight for a fair and ambitious climate agreement” He continued that this impression ”should not be destroyed by a few troublemakers.”

”From my side it can not be said clearly enough: I will by no means accept that a small group of black clad thugs try to create unrest and violence in the shelter of a great peaceful and family-friendly demonstration. For me, democracy is that people can participate in demonstrations with their small children without fear of being recruited into street fighting and stone throwing.”

He continued: ”It is the police’s task to ensure peace and order. And therefore it is of course entirely appropriate that the police intervene if there are people who are rioting. But having said that, I also think that it seems out of proportion to arrest 1,000 people, when you subsequently only bring a handful of them to the court. It is of course quite untenable that the police let people sit for hours on the cold asphalt, so that people pee in their pants, etc. It must be possible to do it better.”

Søvndal concluded by criticising the government and stating that ”My position is that the hooligan package should be abolished under a future government.”

This was news. Before the Socialist People’s Party had voted against the new law package proposed by the government but not promised that if they came to power they would abolish the law, as the Social democrats. Contrary to the social liberal party and the Red Green Alliance they voted against the law package not on principle but to gain some attention while maintaining a wait and see position. Now the party leader had decided that it was the time to declare a more stead fast opposition while the emotional rhetoric still was much in support of the police and mainly directed against activist accused of intending to use the demonstration for street fighting.

During the day the No border demonstration to protect the rights of climate and other refugees went along without problem. In the night the police intervened at Christiania were Climate Justice Action had a debate followed by a party. The police stormed into Christiania throwing tear gas and arrested people meeting some resistance.

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Social democratic youth bloc in the 12 december demonstration.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Tuesday was the time for the third left wing party to intervene, the Social Democrats. They did not see any reason to make much of public statements in the press before this as their positions on policing is very close to that of the Socialist People’s Party. But now their cooperation partner had gone too far.

The press could report that ”There are cracks in the otherwise close cooperation between Social democrats and Socialist People’s Party, when it comes to policing during the climate summit. While the chair of the Socialist people’s Party Søvndal has attacked the police handling during Saturday’s big climate demonstration in Copenhagen, a completely different message comes from the Social Democrats’ political spokesman, Henrik Sass Larsen.”

“We have confidence that the police acted properly. There is not something I would criticize the police for, ” says Henrik Sass Larsen.

Also justice affairs spokesperson Karen Haekkerup distance herself to Søvndal’s criticism.

”The police have done well. They ensured that the vast majority could implement a very popular, festive demonstration, without it being destroyed by the types here, ”

When asked if Søvndal do not understand this, says Hækkerup:

“I will not give character to Søvndal. I just think that we must take care to give police peace while they work and to show that Danes are behind them when they stand here in the extremely difficult working situation where they must provide security to the climate summit, and so that Copenhagen is not set on fire. ”

“Social democrats (S) and Socialist People’s Party (SF) disagree on police critique”, Berlingske (Conservative press)

The pecking order among the left wing parties all speaking at the demonstration was established. The one with the most privileged speaking slot at the best place and time for media attention at the demonstration, the Social democrats, most strongly and consistently in favour of the police attack on the demonstration. The two other left wing parties with less privileged speaking slots, in the beginning in favour of a police perspective making the police attack on the demonstration understandable and then in different degrees opposing the mass arrest and partly the police perspective. All avoiding initiating a collective response from the Danish organisers on the repressive politics carried out by the Danish state against climate protesters in Copenhagen. This new pecking order made it possible for the Red Green Alliance to more and more take the side of the climate protesters.

The most interesting thing with this day is how it is now revealed the way a left wing party and maybe all of them think strategically. One reason why the social democrats do not defend the demonstrators in the manifestation they themselves are collectively responsible for as organisers and among the privileged speakers is explicitly stated. It is not the way the police act against the demonstrators which is the main interest for this party, but the situation the police have when in general they ”must provide security to the climate summit”. A task presented not as related to the demonstration in the past but as a task in the present as the protests at Bella Center are not over.

Tadzio Müller distributing Turbulence at the 12 December demonstration. Photo Avenirclima.org

On Tuesday also the escalation of extreme repression of a new kind not seen for a hundred years under normal circumstances in Europe was put into practice. Police arrested the spokesman of the Climate Justice Action, Tadzio Müller, after he had held a press conference at the Bella Center with several NGOs and organizations.

This kind of targeted arrests was once common in attempting at stopping popular movements. But the experience showed in the long run that it was counter productive. By conflating the role of spokes person for a non-violent action with the possibility that someone in the non-violent action other than the spokes person might harm a policemen the state could put many people in prison. At the same time this was practical in short term as the opinion of the movement got stiffed or silenced and was an effective way to criminalize freedom of expression. But as the underlying causes still existed this caused even more unrest as well as undermined the whole rule of law with its principles of individual responsibility. Thus this extremely repressive politics had to be reconsidered.

Denmark reintroduced this state repression of freedom of expression a hundred years after it was seen as an unacceptable act against freedom and counterproductive way to postpone the solution of social conflicts escalating unrest instead of promoting political solutions. This is remarkable. How can a nation become so democratically backward that such state acts against freedom of expression reemerge without any collective response?

Line Barfod, Press photo Mads Nissen

The Red Green Alliance issued a press release with a protest. That was about all. Line Barfod, the spokes person on justice affairs of the party stated: Arrest of spokesperson is an error.

”- It is quite wrong to arrest the spokesperson from an avowedly non-violent organization. Were are we heading, if we begin to arrest the spokespersons from legal and non-violent political groups.

– Police should instead maintain dialogue with non-violent activists to ensure that their protest tomorrow will take place without violence from either activists or police, as also the activists want.

It is a very unfortunate signal to the world we send in those days. First mass arrests of hundreds of innocent protesters and now arrests of the spokespersons of the protest movement. It does not belong in a democracy.”

The Red Green Alliance also protested this day against NGOs being thrown out of the Bella Center:

It is totally unacceptable that NGOs are largely expelled from the Bella Center on Friday, when it expects to publish the outcome of the climate summit. The consequence is that critical voices will be gone and the world’s politicians will have the stage to himself and have the ability to sell a bad result as a success, says Per Clausen, climate spokes person for the red Green Alliance.

Environmental and global justice organisations made a last attempt at confronting the growing repression. Friends of the Earth Sweden, Climate Movement Denmark and Attac Denmark initiated a debate at Klimaforum with representatives from all continents in the South inviting all Danish parliamentary parties to come and listen to the views of international guests and give their opinion on repression during the COP15. Red Green Alliance turned up and the social liberal party would have liked to come but had problems on such a short notice. No other party was interested. The initiative to challenge Danish organisations to contribute to collective efforts against the repression ended in the same way as earlier, by individual statements and no commitment to act or even try to act collectively neither from a party or other formal Danish organisations.

Activist and police on agriculture protest day. Photo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The protest action on agriculture organised by CJA, Via Campesina, Friend of the Earth, A SEED and others went well.

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

This was the day of the Reclaim power action. Targeted arrests continued against two spokes persons Nicolas Haeringer and Tannie Nybøe of CJA before the call for making the push at Bella center against the police lines were made to establish a People’s Assembly together with people coming from the inside. Mass arrests of almost a whole so called Green bloc took place at Örestad and the bike bloc also had great difficulties. But thousands marched in the main blue bloc steadfast towards Bella center.

In the midst of the preparations for the inside Reclaim power action to walk out the Socialist People’s Party leader Søvndal is interviewed at the Bella center by Jyllandsposten, the biggest and the most right wing daily of Denmark. He supports tough behaviour against violent activists, but called the police preliminary efforts too “imprecise”

“There is ‘no soft feelings’ against the violent elements who come here. It is important that police bank them when encountering them and the police must not be criticized for this. Rather, it is a prerequisite for peaceful demonstrations to be arranged. In return, they are not good at hitting accurately”

Reclaim power action from the inside encounter with the police. Photo Avenirclima.info

Soon a historically new step in the repression against popular movements takes place nearby were the Socialist party leader was interviewed. The Danish police starts to violently bank UN accredited delegates from movements that are participating in the Reclaim Power action from the inside to stop them from reaching those coming from the outside. It is the first time to my knowledge that officially UN accredited participants are beaten by police of the host country when they try to leave the official conference venue.

A People’s Assembly is finally successfully established by those on the outside surrounded almost completely by police and finally a march together to the city centre in good mood ends the mass action. In total 260 people are arrested and detained in the special climate prison in Valby during the day, some 30 pepper sprayed and 10 wounded among the activists. No reports of any harm to policemen or anything else is reported.

The youth wing of the right wing dominating governmental party, Venstres Ungdom, also expressed their concern about what had happened during the summit. The spokes person for Justice affairs of VU, Ida Swan Grevlund, issued a statement on the homepage of the organisation under the title ”The Hooligan package consequences for legal certainty”

”The 12th of December 2009 will be remembered as the day when the rule of law and its basic principles had to give way for each individual policemen arbitrary assessment of how extensively the ’law and order’ were respected. This was the day where up to 700 demonstrators during the climate summit were arrested and taken to the temporary COP15 prison cells where the detainees had to adapt to many hours of waiting behind bars in appalling conditions.

Some of the demonstrators were certainly arrested on a valid basis – it is totally unacceptable to throw paving stones and attacking police to get a political message across. But there was also an unnecessarily high number of innocent people among those arrested as the hooligan package allows the police to make the so-called preventative arrests. It has thus become legal to detain a person for up to 12 hours, only if the police deem that he possibly could jeopardize safety. Man is no longer innocent until proven otherwise, however, you are guilty even before you have done anything criminal.

It is very problematic that the police have increased powers to make far-reaching interventions in the individual’s personal freedom. Detention, as an administrative arrest of course is, requires considerable control and security. An arbitrary discretion from a tired cop is not enough if the rule of law should apply.

There have been several examples where the government has breached the constitution and the rule of fundamental parts to accommodate “’special security challenges.’ Here one can mention for instance terrorist legislation and now the hooligan package. Liberal youth do not think you can combat threats by restricting the individual’s constitutional rights. The end does not justify the means, because no situation should be able to put democracy in a state of emergency. The government’s goal with the hooligan package is to maintain security during the climate summit – but security is in no way created by undermining the rule of law.”

This statement received immediate positive comments from fellow companions:
– I could not agree more – super article!
– It is elegantly written! Unfortunately it seems that the popular mood is happy about the actions, although every third are genuine opponents to the package.
– Frederick: I have heard it and it can be only explained by the fact that some want to give up freedom for security .. It is incomprehensible to us liberals.

The continued comments differed from what happened to the Socialist People’s Party blog posts. The discussion was clearly focused on facts and principles rather than the populistic tone of both the socialist party spokes persons and many of their commentators in opposing directions although of course also here existed discussions to the point. With the statements from the social liberal party and now the more right wing liberal youth it became even more hard to understand why the left wing parties had chosen a far less coherent and at times police perspective in the way of responding to the repression.

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

The party leader Søvndal announces that he will eat breakfast with the Socialist president Evo Morales from Bolivia on his facebook blog. Søvndal especially emphasises that Morales is a winner, someone that is clearly victorious against the right wing in the recent elections. He very much looks forward to meet this winner.

The Red Green Alliance politics now more firm in the hands of the spokes person Barfod for justice affairs do not either take part in collective action but makes something out of a response from the Conservative minister of justice on the hooligan law package. The minister had responded to earlier critical questions from Barfod that ”Of course, detainees protestors would be allowed to go to the bathroom and get something to drink”. Relatives were also assured that they should be informed about the detention. ”It is in sharp contrast to the situation during the great peaceful demonstration on 12th of December, when 968 were detained.” Barfod stated in a press release.

Anti-repression demonstrators from CGT, Spain (No other carried organization banners). Photo Avenirclima.info

Others are more involved in collective organizing of protests against repression including the imprisoned Climate Justice Action spokes persons and the heavy crack down on both the inside and outside Reclaim power action, issues that Evo Morales addressed as speaker at the UN Conference but something Søvndal stays out of doing something about. In front of Christiansborg a fast organized vigil with protesters stating free the political prisoners and     takes place in the afternoon. The action is small, the media interest big.

At Klimaforum a seminar on popular movement cooperation against repression started. It was organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden, Climate Collective and others. A problem was that the Climate Collective preparing the seminar all were in prison.

At Valby hall not far from the climate prison thousands of people gathered to hear the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Morales speak. They mainly addressed climate issues and the need for socialism but also strongly protested against the police repression in Copenhagen. The Danish left wing organisers continued to avoid any collective response to the repression and support the demonstrators as well as the opinion of Morales and Chavez. The biggest indoor mass meeting during the whole climate summit perfectly placed for making a call for action against the repression of the climate justice movement was not used for this at all. The Danish left did see no need in supporting international solidarity in spite of that they had all the chances.

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

December 18 march against repression. Photo here and below: Avenirclima.org

Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! organized a demonstration supported by all the present international popular movements against the repression, the mass arrests and with the demand to release the climate prisoners. 1,500 people participated. The Danish formal organisations were still as passive as ever continuing to avoid collective responsibility for protecting the rights of those that had marched on their invitation in Copenhagen.

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

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