Action Alert: Khimki Battle Solidarity 17-20 September

Tord Björk | Uncategorized | Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

To all friends of forests and people worldwide!

Support Russian activists September 17-20

In a historically courageous struggle people in Russia have been able to halt the construction of a high way through the Khimki forest. While the forests were burning all over Russia the authorities started a wave of detaining, torturing and harassing people in movements defending the Khimki forest close to Moscow. They need our solidarity.

We call upon the whole international environmental and social justice movement and all wanting to stop criminalization of protest to support our friends in Russia. Take action on 17-20 September! Follow the call enclosed below issued by The Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages for making actions at embassies and other places representing Russia.

Immediate actions are necessary. The decision by president Medvedev to halt the construction of the high way is only temporary. The heavy repression of the protest movement and especially the antifascist activists makes no halt. Environmentalists, human rights activists, journalists fighting corruption, Anarchists and other antifascists, alter globalization movement, Liberal, Communist and Left wing parties have been able to struggle in solidarity in the midst of heavy repression achieving this first victory. This in spite of different ideological positions and views on tactics. Their unity is an example for the rest of the world and needs support.

The Khimki forest conflict have become historically important and of global concern. Behind the destruction of the forest in Russia is a neoliberal development model which do not care for the environment. Three years ago the federal forest protection service was closed down and 70 000 workers mainly working in the field fired and replaced by 12 000 bureaucrats supposed to see to that others should do what the workers had done earlier. The result is a reduced lack of capacity to halt fires when the weather gets warmer and warmer. At the same time is dismantling of public services and support of privatization also at the core of construction of roads and cities were private profit becomes more important than protection of nature or the interest of people in common. Through the Khimki forest is the first toll high way in Russia between Moscow and St Petersburg planned making an odd detour through the green belt. Road construction is highly lucrative in Russia with its added possibilities for exploitation of land beside the road. Close ties between economic and political interests makes it possible to use any means against those opposing this neoliberal development model, a reason for why those openly criticizing the corruption in Khimki are murdered or maltreated followed by no serious investigation by the police.

Those making much profit out of the environmentally destructive development model are European banks and corporations. The high way is planned to be financed primarily by European banks and the French construction company Vinci is a main contractor. When our Russian friends are struggling to defend the Khimki forest they are also struggling against a neoliberal development model making Russia into a profitable market for Western corporations.

The Russian movement to defend the Khimki forest is a movement defending all forests. If corporations and politicians working in the interest of a global neoliberal and environmentally destructive model is able to exploit the Khimki forest and continue repressing the activists in spite of a historically broad and strong movement in Russia defending the forest, than it can be done anywhere. Solidarity with the activists is the only way to both stop repression and to save the Khimki forest more permanently. Please join the action called for by our Russian friends!
Badrul Alam, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh

Patrick Bond, Centre for Civil Society Environmental Justice Project,
Durban, South Africa

Mark Barrett, Climate Justice Action London, UK
Mark Brown, Art Not Oil/Rising Tide, UK

Carmen Buerba de Comite de Defensa Ecologica Michoacana, Mexico

Nicola Bullard, Focus on the Global South, Thailand

Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth Sweden

Joshua Kahn Russell, Ruckus Society, USA

Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain

Maduresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements, India

Marea Creciente Mexico

Adriana Matalonga, Miguel Valencia y Mauricio Villegas from Ecomunidades and Klimaforum10, Mexico

Tannie Nyböe, Climate Justice Action, Denmark

Uddhab Pyakurel, South Asian Dialogue on Ecological Democracy, India

Josie Riffaud, Via Campesina, France

Marko Ulvila, Friends of the Earth Finland

Thomas Wallgren, Democracy Forum Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Finland

You find information and the call for action September 17-20 issued by Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages in many languages at Below you find the text in English, Spanish, and French and more links on the issue.


A Call for International Days of Action in Support of Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov

September 17–20, 2010

On July 28, 2010, more than two hundred young antifascists and anarchists carried out a spontaneous demonstration outside the town administration building in Khimki, a suburb of Moscow. They demonstrated in defence of the Khimki Forest, which was at that time in the process of beings cutting down for the needs of big business. The demonstration, during which several windows were broken, received a great deal of public attention. The authorities responded with a wave of repressions. The day after the demonstration, two well-known social activists, Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov, were arrested. They are now threatened with up to seven years in prison for disorderly conduct, although there is no evidence of their complicity in illegal activities. Meanwhile, the police continue to hunt down and harass other activists, especially those involved in the antifascist movement.

The campaign to save the Khimki Forest has been going on for the past three years. The authorities had decided to build a segment of a planned Moscow–Saint Petersburg toll highway, the first of its kind in Russia, through the forest. This would lead to the deterioration of environmental conditions in the region, and local residents and Muscovites would be deprived of yet another recreation zone. Despite the availability of alternative routes that would not require clear-cutting the forest and vigorous protests by environmentalists and ordinary citizens against the planned route, the authorities f0r a long time ignored the voice of society and on several occasions took measures to suppress their critics.

Khimki authorities and the highway project contractor have used violence and other tactics against Khimki Forest defenders. They refused to give permission for protest demonstrations, recruited nationalist thugs to break up a peaceful protest camp organized by environmentalists and local residents, and illegally arrested and beat up journalists covering the story. Nearly two years ago, Mikhail Beketov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda and a critic of the local administration, was severely beaten by persons unknown; the attack left Beketov permanently disabled. Sergei Protozanov, the layout designer of another local opposition paper, was murdered in similar circumstances six months later.

After the July 28 demonstration, the Russian police and secret services unleashed an unprecedented dragnet against antifascists. People who had even just once come to the attention of the Center for Extremism Prevention and FSB for their involvement with the antifascist movement have been forcibly taken in for questioning. In several cases they  have been subjected to harsh physical coercion in order to compel them to give the testimony required by investigators. In addition, illegal searches have been carried out in their apartments. All these actions on the part of law enforcement authorities are violations of Russian and international law.

Frightened by the numerous and growing protests against the clear-cutting of the Khimki Forest, the authorities have finally made concessions by agreeing to review the advisability of the planned route for the toll highway. But this does not mean victory. Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov are still in police custody for no reason at all. They are hostages of the authorities.

In late September, the next hearing in their case will take place. The judge will decide whether to keep them in police custody pending completion of the investigation and trial. Everyone who cares about the fate of these two young men must do everything in their power to see that they are set free. The Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages calls on people around the world to organize days of action on September 17, 18, 19, and 20 to pressure the Russian authorities to release Alexei and Maxim.

We ask you to hold protests outside of Russian Federation embassies, consulates, trade missions, and cultural centers, as well as at public events and concerts connected to Russia. We also ask you to send faxes, e-mails, and protest letters to the court, the prosecutor’s office, and the country’s political leadership. In the very nearfuture we will inform you of addresses where you can send these protests as well as more details about the ongoing repressions in Russia. Look for this information on our website in English, German, Russian, and French.

Join our campaign!

Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages

+7 (915) 053-5912 * *


Back ground information:

Chtodelat news, Khimki Territory of Lawlessness
Khimki: Territory of Lawlessness

Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists

Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists


Below the call issued by Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages also in Spanish, French and Russian:

Llamamiento a acciones internacionales en apoyo de Alexei Gaskárov y Maxim Sólopov del 17 al 20 de septiembre de 2010.

El 28 de julio de 2010 en frente de la administración municipal de Khimki, una ciudad en las afueras de Moscú, más de 200 jóvenes antifascistas y anarquistas mantuvieron una manifestación espontánea en apoyo del bosque de Khimki que en aquel momento estaba siendo talado para las necesidades de grandes empresas. La acción, durante la cual varias ventanas fueron dañadas, recibió una amplia publicidad. Por su parte, las autoridades respondieron con represalias. El día después de la manifestación dos prominentes activistas de un movimiento social – Alexei Gaskárov y Maxim Sólopov – fueron detenidos. Los dos jóvenes podrían ser sentenciados a siete años de prisión por vandalismo mientras que no existen pruebas de su implicación en las actividades ilegales. Otros activistas, en particular los que están involucrados en el movimiento antifascista, siguen siendo objetos de una cacería policial.

Ya hace tres años que la lucha por la salvación del bosque de Khimki continúa en esa pequeña ciudad rusa. La intención de las autoridades locales es utilizar el terreno para la construcción de una autopista de pago – la primera en Rusia – de Moscú a San Petersburgo, que finalmente conduciría a un deterioro de la situación ecológica en la región y privaría a la población local y los moscovitas de una zona recreativa. A pesar de la disponibilidad de rutas alternativas que no requieran la tala del bosque, y las protestas rigorosas de ecologistas y ciudadanos de a pie contra el trazado elegido, las autoridades no quieren escuchar a la población. Por el contrario, las autoridades muchas veces han tomado medidas para silenciar a sus críticos.

Las autoridades de Khimki, junto con la empresa constructora más de una vez han recurrido a la violencia contra los defensores del bosque de Khimki: varias veces han desestimado la opinión pública, se han negado a ponerse de acuerdo sobre las protestas, han recurrido a los nacionalistas para disolver protestas pacíficas de ecologistas y de la población local, han detenido ilegal mente y golpeado a periodistas. Desconocidos mutilaron al crítico de la administración municipal, el editor jefe del periódico “Khimkinskaya pravda” Mikhail Béketov, y mataron al compaginador del otro periódico de oposición Serguei Protazánov.

Después de la manifestación del 28 de julio de 2010 la policía rusa y las fuerzas de seguridad iniciaron una cacería sin precedentes a los antifascistas. Las personas, una vez hayan sido detectados como antifascistas por el Centro para la lucha contra el extremismo y el FSB, – contra todas las normas jurídicas – están siendo detenidas y transportadas a la fuerza para ser interrogadas mientras que sus apartamentos son registrados sin ningún orden judicial, y en algunos casos en los interrogatorios se recurre a la violencia para extraer declaraciones necesarias.

Asustadas por muchas protestas contra el talado del bosque de Khimki que cada vez ganaban en fuerza, las autoridades finalmente hicieron concesiones, dispuestos a comprobar la ruta elegida de la autopista. Pero esto aún no significa la victoria. Alexei Gaskárov y Maxim Sólopov continúan en custodia sin ningún fundamento, mantenidos por las autoridades como rehenes.

A finales de septiembre está programada una sesión judicial donde se decidirá sobre la medida preventiva contra Alexei y Maxim. Todos los que se preocupan por su destino deben hacer todo lo posible por su liberación. La campaña por la liberación de rehenes de Khimki llama a organizar acciones internacionales y realizar presión sobre las autoridades rusas del 17 al 20 de septiembre de 2010 para lograr la liberación de Alexei y Maxim.

Hacemos un llamamiento para celebrar mítins cerca de las embajadas, consulados, misiones comerciales e culturales de la Federación Rusa en el mundo, en los actos públicos y conciertos relacionados con Rusia, así mismo enviar faxes y cartas de protesta al tribunal, la fiscalía y el gobierno rusos. Las direcciones para enviar las protestas y la información detallada sobre las represiones en Rusia serán enviadas más adelante. Próximamente serán disponibles en nuestra página web en inglés, alemán, ruso, francés y español.

La campaña por la liberación de rehenes de Khimki

Contactos: +7 (915) 053-59-12

Appel à des Journées d’action internationales

Liberté pour les ôtages de Khimki!

Appel à des Journées d’action internationales pour Alekseï Gaskarov et Maxime Solopov

Les 17-20 septembre 2010

Le 28 juillet 2010 plus de 200 personnes, jeunes antifascistes et anarchistes ont mené une manifestation spontanée devant la mairie de Khimki (la banlieue nord de Moscou), à la défense de la forêt de cette ville qui a été abbattu au profit du grand business. L’action lors de laquelle plusieurs vitres ont été brisées, a trouvé un large écho. De leur côté, les autorités y ont répondu par des répressions. Au lendemain de l’action deux militants des mouvements sociaux connus, Alekseï Gaskarov et Maxime Solopov ont été arrêtés. Ils sont menacés de 7 ans de prison pour vandalisme bien qu’il n’y ait pas de preuves de leur complicité à des actes illégaux. D’autres militants, surtout des antifascistes, subissent des poursuites policières.

La lutte pour la conservation de la forêt de KhimkI dure déjà depuis trois ans. D’après les projets des autorités, c’est à travers de cette forêt que doit être construite l’autoroute à péage Moscou-St-Petersbourg, la première de tel type en Russie; ce qui menera à une dégradation de la situation écologique locale et privera les moscovites et les banlieusards d’une zone de recréation en plus. Malgré l’existence des plans alternatifs pour l’autoroute qui permettraient de se passer d’une déforestation et au dépit des protestations actives des écologistes et de la population locale, les autorités ont refusé d’y prêter l’oreille. Au contraire, elles ont fait plusieurs démarches visées à imposer le silence aux contestateurs.

Plus d’une fois les autorités de Khimki (en concertation avec la compagnie de bâtiment chargée des travaux) ont recouru à la violence contre les défenseurs de la forêt de la ville: en négligeant l’opinion publique, en refusant de permettre des actions de protestation, en appellant les nationalistes à disperser les piquets des écologistes et des habitants de la ville, en arrêtant illégalement et en attaquant les journalistes. Les “personnes inconnues” ont mutilé le rédacteur en chef du journal local “Khimkinskaïa Pravda” Mikhaïl Beketov qui avait âprement critiqué les autorités, et ils ont assassiné le metteur en pages d’un autre journal d’opposition, Sergueï Protazanov.

Après l’action du 28 juillet 2010 la police russe et les services secrets ont déclenché une chasse aux antifascistes sans précédents. Les personnes une fois signalées à l’attention du Centre anti-extrémiste et du Service fédéral de sûreté (l’ex-KGB) en tant qu’antifascistes, sont amenées de force aux interrogatoires, les visites à domicile illégales se tiennent chez eux; il y a des cas des pressions physiques atroces pour arracher des dépositions dont l’instruction a besoin.

Ayant peur d’une vague montante des protestations contre la déforestation, les autorités ont enfin reculé en exprimant la volonté de reviser le projet de l’autoroute. Mais il n’y a pas lieu de crier victoire. Alekseï Gaskarov et Maxime Solopov sont toujours en prison sans droit, pris en ôtage par les autorités.

A la fin septembre se tiendra la prochaine audience pénale qui devra prononcer sur une mise en liberté d’Alekseï et de Maxime dans l’attente du jugement. Tous ceux qui s’inquiètent de leur sort, doivent faire tout leur possible pour les arracher de la prison. La Campagne pour la mise en liberté des ôtages de Khimki appelle à des Journées d’action internationales les 17-20 septembre 2010 pour mettre de la pression sur les autorités russes en vue d’obtenir la libération d’Alekseï et de Maxime.

Nous appelons à organiser des manifestations devant les ambassades, les consulats, les missions économiques et culturelles de la Fédération de Russie, aux événements publics et culturels qui ont des rapports à la Russie, tout comme d’envoyer des télécopies et des lettres au tribunal, au Parquet et au gouvernement russes (la journée principale de la campagne fax sera lundi le 20 septembre). Les adresses nécessaries et les détails supplémentaires sur les répressions en Russie seront bientôt communiqués. Vous pouvez les trouver aussi sur notre site web: en anglais, allemand, français et russe.

Unissez-vous à l’action!

Campagne pour la mise en liberté des ôtages de Khimki

Tel.: +7 (915) 053-59-12

Two ways for ESF and the 29th of September mobilization

Tord Björk | Action,class struggle,Economy,global crisis,International action | Monday, September 6th, 2010

“Is it about time to abandon any timidity and intellectual subalternity to crack ideas”

Marco Berlinguer at Transform! website summer 2010

How shall we best support the trade union initiative for an international action on 29th of September? A discussion has emerged in the ESF Prague Spring II network were two alternatives for a call have been put forward. The decision is to merge the two. There are some problems in merging the two proposals. Both are relevant and address the crisis and what to do to go forward. But partly they are contradictory. Both also at least in their will to promote solutions address social and ecological concerns. Both are also of interest for the future of ESF. The original proposal was written by Matyas Benyik (Attac Hungary) and Tord Björk (EU Committee – Friends of the Earth Sweden) commissioned by the Skype chat meeting. In the following text I will call this proposal the first proposal. The added call was written by Elisabeth Gauthier (Transform! European network), Frédéric Viale (Group Europe – Attac France), Louis Weber (Espaces Marx – France). It was issued in April 2010 originally for other purposes. In the following text I will call this the French text.

It is seldom there is a chance to discuss the general strategy of how different movements in Europe best can unite their efforts against the crisis. A general political discussion on strategic differences in the way we see the future of ESF is at times also missing. As both issues now are put on the agenda a discussion on the differences between the two texts on how to solve the crisis might be of wider interest. This is why I send my critical remarks to a broader ESF constituency.

The starting point for the discussion in the Prague Spring II network was the general part of the Assembly of Social Movements statement in Istanbul:

Act together in Europe against the crisis

In the context of a global crisis and faced with the EU, the governments and the IMF offensive to impose austerity and social regression policies, the social movements which have gathered in the ESF in Istanbul issue a call to act together in Europe. Mobilisations and resistance movements are developing across Europe to challenge these policies. It is urgent to build, on the long term, a convergent struggle in Europe, which brings together social movements, trade unions, associations, organisations, and citizen networks. This is why we issue a call for a first step on the way to developing mobilisation across Europe, on the 29th of September and the surrounding days. We must impose alternative policies, which enable us to fulfil social needs and ecological requirements. Read more at:

The first proposal for a call made by Benyik and Björk was titled Call to Action against the Crisis. You find the text at the bottom of this blog post.

The added French text was titled The peoples or the Financial markets? The governments and the E.U. must choose! It was issued in April and you can find it on the Transform! Website.

Politically there are some differences:

The first proposal is confronting the ETUC 29 September call for ”growth” by claiming that we instead should “stopping the rich from accumulating a larger and larger part of the wealth in society”. The main call of the French text to merge with is a call against the banks: “It is time the governments of the European Union stopped the plundering of their population by the banks!”.

The main political focus in the first proposal is on uniting all social movements across all of Europe. Whether this is local, national, within EU or in all of Europe simultanously on Iceland and in Turkey, outside EU or in countries inside EU they are equally important.  The political focus in the French text is criticizing leadership and safeguarding EU as an institution: ”The attitude of the principal political leaders renewing the legitimacy of the Stability Pact … and of the Lisbon strategy is totally irresponsible and endangers the very existance of the euro and the E.U.” The struggle should focus on EU policies and the alternative is presented as supporting “A ’nationalisation’ of problems” which ”can only give more weight to nationalist trends, to Right wing, populist and extremist forces already present in Europe and to splits between North and South, East and West of the continent.” This ideology giving countries and movements in Europe outside EU the only role of being subaltern to the struggle within EU because this is the only way to avoid split between East and West in Europe is a political contradiction.

It is of course not fair to compare the two texts without acknowledging that they have been written under different conditions and for different purposes. The first proposal had to be only one page long, the French text focus upon one policy field and is valuable on its own merits for this purpose. But both contain also overlapping more general analysis and proposals which can be compared as done above. Both are addressing the crisis in the same region in the world and use some common language.

Concerning the crisis the first propsal is addressing the multidimensional crisis, ” The whole world has been hit by a severe financial, economic and ecological crisis.” The second proposal is addressing ”the crisis” but in practice this is described as a crisis of the financial markets. Both see neoliberalims as the cause of the crisis, while the second focus upon the concept financialized capitalism.

The solution in the French text is EU policies to control the banks and the financial markets. ” The governments must break with the principle “The State assumes the debts, the people tighten their belts and the profits go to the financial sector”. It must be possible to find solutions with other principles and logics.” Included is also a more detailed list how EU can control the European bank etc. The solution in the first proposal is to unite peoples movements in struggling for ”creating jobs and serving common needs”. And more specifically: ”Solutions can be found by simultanously addressing the social and environmental needs. We should elaborate constructive programs for a transition of our societies towards social and environmental justice protecting and develop our commons.” The first proposal thus has more focus on constructive solutions and integrating social and ecological concerns. It calls for confronting the accumulation of wealth among the rich rather than calling for new EU policies. I also calls for struggles beyond the market and the state by safeguarding and develop commons, which can be both public services which are protected at the municipal or national level but also be organized outside state control and market mechanisms. The French text has elaborated EU policy proposals but when it comes to finding other solutions it ends with a mere vague statement that it must be possible to find them.

In relationship with the ETUC 29th of September call for jobs and growth the call for EU policies to control the banks is complementary. Neither the ETUC call nor the French text calling for Bank control is putting the core of the present system in question neither in form or content. The ETUC call for mass actions on a Wednesday is a contradiction and an offence against the people suffering all over Europe in the hands of those in power. A work day is not a day for united mass protest. The ideological content is even worse. To call for growth is to legitimize the present ruling order and shows a total lack of interest in addressing the causes of the crisis by acknowledging the social conflict instead of postponing the issue of power struggle between capital owners and wage earners into a future and replacing this conflict with false promises for growth. The bank control statement is focused upon creating a new EU leadership by getting people to address the problems of a specific kind of capitalism, so called financialized captialism, as if financialized capitalism can be separated from capitalism. The role of the masses is equally diffuse as in the ETUC call. This state-centric policy appeal works very well as a marginal addition to the ETUC call without questioning the core of this appeal in any way.

The first proposal is confronting the basis of the ETUC call by replacing the call for growth with a call for action against the rich accumulating ever growing larger part of wealth. This is a class struggle issue rather than EU policy struggle. It can be carried out on many levels, both social and political, local, national and international or translocal/transnational. The first proposal also differs radically from both the ETUC call and the French text in its way of addressing the ecological issue. The ETUC call is a simple attack on the growing environmental concerns that puts social justice and questioning of the present development model whether it is capitalistic or planned economy focusing on economic growth. Instead of building an alliance with global peoples movements now confronting the present system and demanding constructive programs to solve the social and environmental crisis like trade unions in the South and a few in the North, Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth and the climate justice movement ETUC choice is the devastating social partnership ideology more and more turned into religion which is a threat against wage earner interests in Europe and against the future of our planet.

The first proposal is coherently addressing both social and ecological concerns in its analysis of the crisis and the negative effects of present politics and in putting forward solutions. Rather than a specific growth or degrowth ideology there is a call for united constructive efforts by peoples movements linking evironmental and social justice concerns. This is directly in opposition to the growth oriented solution presented by ETUC and also the way the French text address the environmental issue. In the Bank control text the environmental crisis is not part of the causes of the problems but comes in as something the states have lost the ability to address as ” they have restored the power of the financial markets by abandoning the idea of regulating them”. This have blocked the possibility of ”developing socially and ecologically useful forms of production, research and services”. The direction here is the same as in the first proposal but the cause is not lack of uniting social interests but to get the EU states to regulate the banks again as before. One wonders how in the first place it comes that the states deregulated the banks.

More of a problem is the ideology presented as solution to the environmental cirisis in the French text: ”The E.U. and its member states must act in a united manner at continental and planet-wide levels in favour of a new kind of ecologically sustainable development.” This is a an appraisal of the ideology behind the global neoliberal ideology which was launched at the United Nation Conference on Environment and development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The definition of sustainbale development by the Brundtland report that underpinned the Rio conference and have had a hegemonical position ever since in the sustainable development policy discussions is that sustainable devlopment is achieved through two ways. The first is sustainable growth. The second is to acknowledge that everyone have caused environmental problems and that we now all together have to solve them. This ideology became the basis for a global NGO system and dismantling of mass movements focused on conflicts whether in class struggles or class alliances against the exploiters in ecological struggles. This NGO system focused on win-win solutions and so called stake holder dialogues became a model not only for environmental issues but also social with a brake through at the Social summit in Copenhagen 1995. The ETUC social partnership ideology is one of the roots of this model and shares the growth ideology avoiding addressing social conflicts here and now with the sustainable development concept. There has been some confusion regarding the sustaionable development concept as many NGOs preferred to quote a less specific and more meaningless definition promoted by the Brundtland Commission as this defintion made it possible for many to avoid the conflictual and social side of the environmental crisis. But today the concept is mainly used by organisations as EU, corporations and main stream NGOs without a democratic or active membership to claim a false image of being ecologically conscious. Todays envrionmental movement talks about just transition as at ESF in Istanbul or sustainable societies, not sustainable development. It is a pity that the sustainable development concept is put into a text that for the rest has many better qualities and is more up to date.

There are a number of good specific policy proposals in the French text. But how they could be integrated in a call from the ESF Prague Spring II network call with the condition set that the text should not be more than one page is not easy to see. Under all circumstances is there no possibility of merging the two texts on some principle that they are equally important. On the main strategic issues they are contradictory and it is necessary to make a poliical choice.

These contradictions can hopefully be solved in an open manner. They are to a large extent contradictions that have followed the ESF process from the start. The lack of integrating the ecological and rural dimensions has been a weakness and is here once more explicit. Another is between acting simultainously at local, national or European level in a political similar direction but not necessarily promoting the same policy and the EU policy orientation. This has shown itself in a conflict between on the one side many Central and Eastern European as well as Nordic movements in the marginal and movements in the EU core states. The hegemonic position of the movements in the EU core states has been challenged by the growing concern for an All European ESF process expressed by the establishment of an All-European mobilization committee and the ESF Prague Spring II network established at a meeting in Prague in March 2010 titled Right wing extremism in a time of social and environmental crisis.

It might be no coincidence that contradictions at the core of the ESF process is brought to the forefront by the efforts of the very small and yet broad and different constituency of mainly those in the periphery of the political concerns of the hithertho dominating ESF forces. Whether the contradictions can be solved we will see. But it is hard to see that the ESF process can be fruitful in the future without integrating on equal level the ecological and social concerns.

It is clear that the first proposal is ecclectic and lacks a strong support from a well organized movement as well as institutions. Eccleticism is at times a weakness of those lacking resources. The second can fall back on a well formulated parliamentary vision of politics. The first proposal is going beyond this parliamentary limitation and can even be seen a class struggle oriented as well as confronting the whole present development model including attempting at uniting all movements instead of fragmenting them into separate policy fields. While the French text is explicitly reformistic the first proposal is focusing on uniting struggles going beyond the division not only on issues but also in reformist and revolutionary divisions. As the tradition within the left is to split these to strategies there is little support from the vested interest in left wing groups to allow for going beyond this division or even recognize that it can exist such a possbility, at least when it is put forward outside the context of established left wing organisations and academic discourse. So the possibility to have some influence with a text like the first proposal is limited. ETUC and parliamentarian left wing EU policy strategies have some more at least financial backing. The future will tell what way ESF and the peoples movements in Europe will follow.

Tord Björk


We call upon all social movements in Europe to unite against the crisis and participate in the international day of action on 29th of September initiated by the European Trade Union Confederation. Only together can we achieve the necessary solutions to the social and environmental crisis. We say yes to solutions creating jobs and serving common needs paid by stopping the rich from accumulating a larger and larger part of the wealth in society.

The whole world has been hit by a severe financial, economic and ecological crisis. Globally is the region most severly hit Central and Eastern Europe. But all over Europe from Latvia to Iceland, Russia to Romania and Greece to Spain we can see social and ecological problems growing and we are sure that the worst of them are still to come. Today’s crises are  systemic ones driven by the neoliberal ideology that have sold out long-term investment, jobs, wages, the environment and the general well-being of the planet and its people for the benefit of a few.

The representatives of the social movements of Europe gathered in Istanbul between 1st and 4th July 2010 explored the effects of these crises on the lives of people. They came to the conclusion that the EU and the IMF with the complicity of the governments impose austerity and social regression policies, which cause serious social degradation and make people fall into poverty. The global crises are spilling over into our lives, threatening jobs, savings, pensions and public services and environmental protection everywhere!

To challenge these policies it is an urgent need to build an European wide struggle, which brings together social movements, workers, peasants, women, youth, environmental and others organized in associations, trade unions or networks of different kinds. Solutions can be found by simultanously addressing the social and envrionmental needs. We should elaborate constructive programs for a transition of our societies towards social and environmental justice protecting and develop our commons.

We call upon all peoples movements in Europe to act against the crises and struggle for solutions that give jobs and make the rich pay. What we need is a massive mobilisation across all of Europe on the 29th of September 2010.

16th August, 2010.Prague Spring II Network

Prague Spring II: Call to Action in Europe September 29

Tord Björk | Uncategorized | Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Italian poster for the Manifestation on 29th of September


We call upon all social movements in Europe to unite against the crisis and participate in the international day of action on 29th of September initiated by the European Trade Union Confederation. Only together can we achieve the necessary solutions to the social and environmental crisis. We say yes to solutions creating jobs and serving common needs paid by stopping the rich from accumulating a larger and larger part of the wealth in society.

The whole world has been hit by a severe financial, economic, social and environmental crisis. Globally, the most severely hit region is Central and Eastern Europe. But all over Europe from Latvia to Iceland, Russia to Romania and Greece to Spain we can see social and environmental problems growing and we are sure that the worst of them are still to come. Today’s crises are  systemic ones driven by the neoliberal ideology that have sold out long-term investment, jobs, wages, the environment and the general well-being of the planet and its people for the benefit of a few.

The aggressive principles of financial capitalism are building up threats to democracy and peace.  Nationalisation of problems caused by the multiple crisis leads to divisions and hunt for scapegoats within the various societies, as well as to splits between North and South, East and West. We can see the advance of Right wing, populist and extremist forces as well as the state repression of progressive movements in many parts of the world.

The representatives of the social movements of Europe gathered in Istanbul between 1st and 4th July 2010 explored the effects of these crises on the lives of people. They came to the conclusion that the EU and the IMF with the complicity of the governments impose austerity and social regression policies, which cause serious social degradation and make people fall into poverty. The global crises are spilling over into our lives, threatening jobs, savings, pensions and public services and environmental protection everywhere!

To challenge these policies it is an urgent need to build an European-wide struggle which brings together social movements, workers, peasants, women, youth, environmental and others activists organized in associations, trade unions or networks of different kinds. Solutions can be found by simultaneously addressing the social and environmental needs. We should elaborate constructive programmes for a transition of our societies towards social and environmental justice, protecting and developing our commons.

We call upon all peoples’ movements in Europe to act against the crises and struggle for solutions that give jobs and make the rich pay. What we need is a massive mobilisation across all of Europe on the 29th of September 2010.

3rd September, 2010                                                    Prague Spring II Network

More information about 29th of September mobilization at:

The meeting in Prague March 2010 that initiated the Prague Spring II network.

Read more at:
The Alternative to the Right-Wing Extremism in the Time of Social and Ecological Crisis
And more contributions to the conference Prague and the activities of the network at ESF in Istanbul here:

Historic COP15 victory against summit repression

Tord Björk | Uncategorized | Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Tash & Noah: Freedom speech at city court from Climate Collective on Vimeo.

The court has found climate activists Noah Weiss and Natasha Verco from Climate Collective in Copenhagen innocent to all charges made by the state prosecutor. Among the charges was incitement to violence against police and disturbing the public order. Both were arrested in connection with protests during COP 15 in Copenhagen, at different dates that were not linked to the demonstrations.

Noah and Tash with the infamous bolt cutter

Trials have been a tragicomedy. The two were initially accused of guilt for almost all actions taken during the Climate Conference. This after the same pattern causing ten-double penalties for protests at the EU summit in Gothenburg 2001, where all the accused were considered to have collective guilt to all riots that motivated extra heavy penalties. In Denmark, however, some of the most extreme unreasonable charges of terrorism against the accused were dropped early in the process but the accused were anyway faced with the possibility of long prison terms according to the new Danish law against civil disobedience.

The trials reached one of its tragicomical highlights when the prosecutor pointed out that one of the notebooks seized from one of the accused contained a notice of a bolt cutter. He took this as an evidence of planning violent action in connection with protests against the policies that create climate refugees by lack of fair and effective action against global warming. After the prosecutor’s accusation members of the audience brought the bolt cutter to the court room. It was three meters long and consisted of papier-mâché and is used in symbolic protests against the refugee policies.

RELEASE THE CLIMATE ACTIVISTS – PUT THE COPS IN PRISON, banner at Solidarity action at the Danish embassy in Stockholm by Klimax before the verdict

The trials of the two accused and other preventive arrested or detained during the climate summit, have lined up many similar desperate attempts to prove activists guilt and police innocence. This was also for long the view in the media during the summit but it did not hold in the court. Denmark did not repeat the decay in a judicial system after a summit in the way it was done in Sweden after Gothenburg in 2001. The wind has turned, and the threat of 12 years in prison, hundreds of thousands of Danish crowns in fines and expulsion from the country where the two accused have their daily lives have been turned to the acquittal on all charges. Long live the Danish judiciary’s rejection of the police worldview and freedom!

Tord Björk, active in the Friends of the Earth Sweden


Climate Collective website:

Danish newspaper Politiken on appeal:

Natasha and Noah at the demo, photo Tord Björk

Report on August 18 demonstration in support of the accused and declaring that nothing but acquittal was an opportunity if law and justice should be based on truth, according to Danish tradition since 1243:
Danish law in 1243: Truth! 2010: Power?

On the trials against the police for the detention of innocent people during the climate summit with request for damages:
Final countdown for Political Theater at COP15 Trial,

The historical mass arrest of 918 innocent demonstrators on December 12 without collective efforts by the Danish organizers to act in solidarity with their invited marchers. The Danish courts are now doing what the Danish representative organizations afraid of their reputation in mass media did not do: find the accusations against the non-violent activists and demonstrators invalid.

Background to the trials and the lack of collective protests against Danish organizations repression during the summit:
The Whole World on Trial

Denmark: Letter from two climate activists facing jail for Copenhagen protest

From Climate Collective website, see link above:

Danish Court: Climate activists are innocent
Posted on 31st August 2010

The Copenhagen City Court has today ruled that Natasha Verco and Noah Weiss are innocent. The two climate activists were charged for organizing illegal activities during the COP15 summit in Copenhagen in 2009. But the charges didn’t stand in court. The verdict discredits the violent methods adopted by police during the climate summit, when politically active people were denied their democratic right to criticize the climate negotiations.

Natasha Verco feels that the entire process has been absurd:

There has been a very clear political purpose behind these court cases, and the verdict is totally absurd. In the whole case the evidence has been related to fully legal activities, that the police has tried to manipulate, in order to make them appear illegal. It has been all from prints of posters, to finding parking lots fors sound equipments and participating in open information meetings for hundreds of people.

Both Natasha and Noah feel, that the case should put an end to the police undemocratic methods:

I see this as a victory, not only for us, but for the legal rights in Denmark. And it also means that no longer can the police use manipulation of evidence and lies to repress politically active people. I assume that also Tannie and Stine, who are going to court in October, will be acquitted as well, says Noah Weiss.

2000 people have been arrested during the climate summit in December, and many were preventively arrested during the big climate demonstration on December 12th, 2009. These incidents, has later been criticized, among others, by Amnesty International. Now there are four people charged for having, according to police, planned actions during the summit. Among them are Natasha Verco, 32 years old Australian woman, and the American student Noah Weiss.

Natasha Verco and Noah Weiss are accused to having planned violence against police, disturbance of public order and vandalism. These are the charges, that could lead to several years of prison and deportation.

Action in Sweden in support of Noah and Natasha commenting on the verdict:

Australian woman freed from Danish prison

Copenhagen protesters acquitted
Jessica Mahar, Sydney Morning Herald

“Speaking outside the court, Ms Verco, the co-founder of Friends of the Earth Sydney, said justice was served and called the outcome a win for free speech and democracy.”

Activist prepares to face court in Copenhagen
Amy Corderoy
March 12, 2010

“AN AUSTRALIAN arrested and held for nearly three weeks for organising a protest against the Copenhagen climate change conference has been charged with offences commonly used in terrorism cases.

Natasha Verco – who faces up to 12½ years in prison if convicted – said the authorities had targeted her because she was not a Danish citizen.”

12 December 2004 – Call of the Land

Natasha Verco and others on Australians’ relationship with the physical environment.

ABC production

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