LCR-SAP denounces lockdown in Belgium

The Ligue communiste révolutionnaire-Socialistische Arberjderspartij (LCR-SAP), the Belgian section of the Fourth International, issued the following statement on the third day of the “Brussels lockdown,” as the government’s “level 4” alert was known.

BRUSSELS— The LCR/SAP has sounded the alarm over the anti-democratic procedures that have been introduced in the name of the fight against terrorism. For the LCR/SAP, it is unacceptable that the Security Council can hide behind opaque feedback of OCAM [Belgian security services] to impose a state of emergency, without being subject to any democratic control.

On Monday [Nov. 23], the Prime Minister announced the continuation of this state of emergency for a period of at least 10 days. On behalf of the government, he refused any explanation. We are supposed be content with the fact that members of the executive say they are acting “in good conscience.” It opens the door to abuse, in the opinion of the LCR.

For the LCR/SAP, the [Charles] Michel government is cynically exploiting the feeling of horror provoked by the ignoble DAESH [ISIS] attacks to impose a climate in politics and the media of ultra-security, where any challenge to its unjust neoliberal policy is pointed to as being the playing game of the enemy. The incoherent decision to reopen schools and the underground despite the level-4 alert illustrates the cynicism of this political exploitation of the situation.

It is not insignificant that on Monday, Nov. 24, the date of the 24-hour strike against the antisocial measure of Michel 1, the [Interior] minister [Jan] Jambon called on the unions to “be responsible” in the framework of combating terrorism, so to stop anything that disturbs the current climate. Nor is it insignificant that Joelle Milquet of the CDH, considered as the “left opposition” to the government Michel, also launched an attack against the unions.

Under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, the right, the NVA in the lead, is seeking to create a strong state. It wants to change the relationship of political and social forces in its favour, especially in pushing the trade union movement into a corner. It is encouraged by the fact that all the parliamentary opposition, led by the PS and SP.a, is giving its support in principle to national unity and strengthening law enforcement. [1]

There is reason to fear that the government will use the current climate to force through, in the near future and without much debate, its attacks against trade union rights, together with a new package of anti-social measures.

The LCR/SAP welcomes the common front of FGTB-CSC [trade-union federations] in Hainaut, which did not yield to pressure and maintained its strike on Nov. 23. It calls on the left not to fall into the “security” trap. For more than 10 years, the “war against terrorism” has only fuelled an escalation of terror. The right to live in peace and security is inseparable from a radical turn, at all levels, to social justice, equal rights, the satisfaction of needs, the sharing of wealth, and respect.

In the days and weeks ahead, we cannot just make statements, we must also show in the street, in the public space, that we continue these struggles, we do not accept our rights and democratic freedoms being taken away either by terrorists or by governments.

Secretariat of the LCR/SAP, Brussels, Nov. 23, 2015

A correspondent from the LCR/SAP adds:

After the banning of the Climate demonstration of 29th of November in Paris, the Belgian coalition asked for permission to have a demo in Brussels (more then 9000 people from Belgium had planned to go to Paris by train or by bus). With “Fase 4” and the banning of all big (and small…) public events in Brussels, this has been refused. As “Plan C”, permission was asked for a demonstration in Ostend. Today this has been refused as well, with the excuse that the strengthening of security in Brussels (500 police officers from all smaller towns have been called to go to Brussels) this week, means no demonstrations can take place in safe circumstances. So, we are now seeing a de facto total banning of demonstrations in Belgium…

25 November 2015

Footnotes

[1] The NVA is the largest centre-right liberal party in Flanders. The PS is the Francophone Parti Socialiste. The Flemish Socialists changed their party’s name to Socialistische Partij Anders (SP.a) in 2002.

Photo: The Brussels Metro system is cordoned off under the lockdown. From AP.

 

Meeting on Syria banned in Belgium

On Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, the Socialist Party mayor (burgomaster) of Saint-Gilles, Charles Picqué, decided at the last minute to ban the conference “Wars and revolution in Syria,” organized in Pianofabriek by the Léon Lesoil educational foundation.

The 80 people present met as a decision-taking general meeting and initially decided to hold the conference outside, in spite of the police threat to arrest an organizer and a speaker, the only Syrian present. But the police then prevented the meeting going ahead. Those present then withdrew to a nearby establishment where they could hold the meeting.

The SP burgomaster of Saint-Gilles and the police thus decided unilaterally to ban a debate, without any preliminary contact with the organizers. This ban was not based on any threat or risks public disorder, but simply the topic of the evening. The purpose of the conference organized by the Léon Lesoil foundation was to discuss the cruelty of the Syrian regime and Daesh, the popular uprising in Syria and building solidarity with the democratic and anticapitalist currents there here ([Belgium] and of there [Syria].

The planned speakers were: Joseph Daher, doctoral student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS – London), and assistant at the university of Lausanne, member of SolidaritéS (Switzerland) and the Current of the Revolutionary Left in Syria; Sophie Aujean, specialist of the Middle-East with Amnesty International and member of the citizens’ collective “Syria Action;” Pascal Fenaux, journalist with Courrier International and the editorial board Revue Nouvelle; and Rhodi Mellek, committee for Rojava (Kurdistan Syrian), Brussels representative of the PYD (Left the democratic union).

The LCR strongly denounces this ban and considers that it is censure and a breach of the rights of free meeting and association.

The Belgian State, the government and the local authorities want to lock up the population at home and stop it discussing and mobilizing. The answer to the terror of Daesh cannot be a limitation of democratic rights and freedoms.

The LCR invites the social movement and the anti-capitalist left to reject the traps being set for us, from national unity to ratcheting up national [… ], through a “truce” in social fightback. It is more important than ever to consider the origin of this extreme violence. And to understand that the only way out is the unity of the popular classes and a continuation of the determined struggle against our ruling classes, for equality and against imperialist wars.

The emergency today is democratic, social, and ecological!

Secretariat of the LCR/SAP Nov. 21, 2015