ICC participates in Left Radical anti-EU demo in Cologne

The left radical movement in Cologne mobilised to a demonstration and a counter-Summit on the actual days of the EU Summit (June 3rd-4th). After difficult negociations the police and the demo organisation finally reached agreement a route. However the police insisted that the two cars with loudspeakers had to be fully searched. The Police presence was higher than during the Euromarches demonstartion on Saturday May 29th.

Even though the police was permanently escorting the demonstrators, stilll some Police PR people were spreading leaflets saying :„Everyone has the right to come together and to express one’s opinion, in peace and without weapons. It is a task of the police to guarantee this basic right. (...) Ihre Kölner Polizei."

Arriving at the meeting point in Ebertplatz, the ICC group was enthusiastically received by the crowd which reached 3500 participants. Some speaches through the loudspeakers were arranged for some ICC participants Gopal (Nepal), Popodu (Karnataka), Diana (Mexico) and the two women from Bangladesh. In Germany you can be charged for things that you say during a demonstration. This was one of the reasons why the cars windows were covered to make it more difficult for the police to identify the people speaking.

Some of the speaches of the ICC participants were so energetic that people often didn’t even need translation to start applauding or whistling. The ICC expressed their solidarity with the large diversity of european struggles present at the demonstartion and called for a global resistance against the current world economic order. One of the most powerful moments was when one of the women sang a song of resistance which has been prohibited in Bangladesh.

The demonstration gathered many people from all over Germany and other parts of Europe. The demonstartion was mostly targeted against fortress Europe and the problem of immigrations. A very hot topic in Germany for the moment as the German police killed a Sudanese refugee a few days ago when forcing him into a plane back to his country. Three different Caravans were present at the demonstartion: the ICC, the Geld oder Leben Caravan and the Caravan for the rights of migrants and refugees, which have started a fast in protest against the death of the sudanese refugee. The Dutch delegation had showed up with the by now famous „EU-Rot op !" banner. The demonstartion was also characterised opposition to the war, to the high police repression and the capitalist supranational project called EU.

The people from the ICC were very tired and went out of the demo a little before the end. At the very end of the demonstration the police provoqued the demonstartors by arresting one person. Everyone stopped in the middle of the street shouting for this person to be released. The situation seemed to be about to escalate as several hundred policemen surrounded the street in a matter of seconds. Eventually the police showed a bit of intelligence for a change and released the arrested person, allowing the people to finish the demonstartion in peace, with music, and nice food. So contrary to many specualtions the demo didn’t turn into riots in a city filled with 12.000 policemen.

A meeting of revolutionary sisters

After the demo (and despite their fatigue), the women went to the Alte Feuerwache (the location of both the Anti-Summits) for a women’s meeting. As we had lost every-one after having left the demo, I took them there, not having a clue about where, what and why. Fortunately we found Chis there, who fetched them some food. Trans-lators in Bengali, Kanada and Spanish were organised, and we found the room. Not bad.

Although I did not plan to stay - "frauen-veranstaltung" did not sound particularly exciting to me (o prejudices!)- I did hang around for a bit and ended up having one of the best evenings so far!!

Anita Sahai had come especially from Aachen to talk about the situation of women in India. She explained about the differences between the North and the South of India. In the South, women generally have more rights than in the North, and they have better access to education. In both North and South, women of higher castes are more restric-ted than women of lower castes. In some cases, women of a very high caste are not even allowed to enter their own living room when there is a visitor.

Generally, the situation of women has become harder. The economic situation forces them to work outside of their homes as well. However, this does not lead to a process of emancipation; it merely contributes to the amount of work women have to do, as men will not share in the household chores.

Parvati Kalasannavar (Karnataka) spoke about the struggle, also of women, against seed multinationals on Indian farmer families, and about the health risks of genetically modified food products.

Salomi Mathew (Karnataka) explained that women in India are suppressed first by their parents, then by their husbands, and when they are older by their sons. She also said that this is the general picture, and that there are fortunately also good men. "We need to fight for our rights; not only in India!"

According to Bahnishikha Jamali (Bangla Desh), women in Iran, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh all share the same problems, and are the slaves of their fathers, their husbands and their sons. Despite the female leadership that Bangla Desh has known (two prime ministers), this has not improved the situation of women. The same goes for the involve-ment of many NGOs, who have not been able to get to the heart of the problem, and have not increased the power and the economic emancipation of the women in Bangladesh. The process of globalisation, on the other hand, has increased the economic and sexual exploitation of women.

After greeting her revolutionary sisters, Shamsun Nahar Khan (Bangladesh) explains that women in her country do not possess the economic means to fight. Women sometimes even have to ask permission from their husband or mother-in-law to get a glass of water or some food! They can be chucked out of the house by their husbands, being forced to leave the village without her clothes, without money. However, she said, the harshness of the oppression caused the harshness of the resistance; in this respect, the colonial period is an inspiration for this struggle.

Diana Damian (Mexico) told about how the participation of women in the Zapatista Movement brought them more respect from men. These are only the first steps however; women who first fought for democracy are now fighting for equal rights between men and women. She made a special remark about the situation of lesbian women, that they should not be pushed back in closed rooms to live the way they want to live, but should be able to express themselves and move around freely.

In between the talks had been music, indian dances and a great vocal contri-bution from 3 Karnataka women!