report from the demostration the last day of the PGA conference 08

Submitted by vlanto on Mon, 2008-10-13 14:58.

On 24.08.2008, in the greek city of Alexandropoli , there has been a demonstration against the planned oil pipe-line Burgas-Alexandropolis and the gold-mine construction project. The main organizers were the autonomous groups “AnarchistResistance” (Sofia), Utopia A.D. (Komotini), as well as some activists from Turkish collectives.

The demonstration was organized here, despite the fact that none of the collectives is from the city, for the following reasons.
Firstly, the oil pipe-line will end precisely in this city, therefore it will be the one that would be affected mostly, from the negative effects of the project. Secondly, the anarchist movement in Alexandropolis is very weak in the city, and with one demonstration we can support it. Lastly, the the meeting of the global activist network – PGA(Peoples' Global Action) had just ended in the same city, so we decided that some of the remaining foreign activists will be able to attend the demo.

Now we would have to pinpoint what links the already mentioned collectives, and why they are the organizers of the demo. It is true that some of us are directly affected from the pipe-line and gold-mine projects, such as Utopia A.D. (Komotini is in the vicinity of Alexandropolis), but more importantly it is the closesness of the political and practical understandings among the collectives. We think, that all social struggles are interlinked, in one way or another, and it is of immense importance that we help with each other, even if we are not directly affected. Let's stop repeating words like “solidarity” and “internationalism”, as if they were some kind of a mantra/spell, and to put them into practice instead. We have to acknowledge the fact that we have good mutual relation and that with we trust each other. We met the people from Komotini in person this week, but our communication with them pre-dates this meeting, thanks to the PGA mailing lists. We have known some of our turkish comrades in person for quite some time now, much before this meeting now. Nearly an year ago, they helped us make a turkish-language section in our web-site.

The preparation for the demo started several days in advance. We collectively put down some money for printing of the propaganda. We started with the details. One day before the demo a group of six people was formed – two from Bulgaria, two from turkey, a boy from France, and a woman from Greece. They stuck posters informing about the coming event, all over the main street, and handed our small leaflets. Under the poster text, the names of the collectives organizing the event were put down. We had put several hundreds posters and we handed out more leaflets.

The demo started 7 p.m. We never asked anyone for a permission. We were around 50 people. Apart from the already mentioned 3 countries, there were people from Germany, France, Lithuania and so on. We carried flags, as well as a banner saying - “Oil, State, Death” in Bulgarian, Turkish, and Greek. Apart from that we handed a newly made leaflet, explaining the problems in detail. We stayed near the light-house for about an hour. During this time lots of TV camera-men came to film. The Greek comrades told them directly that they can film only the banner and that if they see that their faces had been filmed on tv, the next day they will be infront of the TV station and the people that were filming will be in some trouble. Soon we realized that a police van had parked down a block nearby, 6 policemen in uniforms were outside, possibly inside there were more. They never intervened during the evening, only some civil cops that were hanging around were recognized. After this around 100 military passed by us, training for an army parade. We met them with raised flags and laughter. Around 8pm we decided to start the actual demo on the main pedestrian street. It went on for an hour. We chanted many slogans, mainly in greek and english: “Build more hospitals, because cancer comes from the mines”, “Our passion for freedom is stronger than your prisons”, “No Oil, No Gold – our lives cannot be sold”. The most important english language slogan was - “No pipeline, no gold-mine, its a crime, don't be blind”. The people from Greece said there were many turkish and bulgarian speaking people in town, as well as a lot of russion tourists, who understand the bulgarian words. This was confirmed when an aged couple (woman and a man) stoped us and started speaking Bulgarian. We explained them shortly, what the problem is.

For us from “Anarchist Resistance, this demo is effective in every respect – accumulated international experience is always useful. Officially we never took responsibility for the international event – the No Border between Greece and Bulgaria in 2005. On the Greek side it was possible to see some disappointment. The demo was small for the greek standards, but historically it is the largest anarchist event in in Alexandropolis. But this is not improtant and it is not this that disappointed the people from Greece. 50 or 500 does not matter, as much as a few Greek anarchists were from Alexandropolis itself. Apparently until the people from the city do not solve their internal problems, for which we found out in the final days, it will not be easy to strengthen the movement. Nevertheless there is optimism – the town people around were really interested in the problems arising from the development projects. For example when were were at the light-house many cars pulled over to ask us for a leaflet. Many young people and kids saw living anarchists for first time, and who knows, they might get interested in our ways of direct action.

We are certain that this will not be our final joined action with our friends from Turkey and Greece, and we are already considering new ideas. Our struggle is common and we are firmly decided to stick with it.

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