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(en) Czech, Prague antiNATO summit overview

From edwardcz@volny.cz
Date Sun, 24 Nov 2002 05:34:57 -0500 (EST)


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Summary :
What's been going on this past week in Prague with the various events 

Article :
The NATO summit in Prague (November 21-22) has been met with a week of 
protests under a broad  platform. Thankfully peace was maintained at all times.
Respekt magazine, a left-wing newspaper, stated that there are 8,000 
policemen in Prague, with an additional 3,000 riot cops in Darth Vader 
party suits on standby to protect the Congress Centre, where Thursday 
and Friday delegates from 50 odd countries (including George Bush and 
his cronies) are meeting for the official NATO summit. Respekt also 
noted that 2,000 people are under surveillance. 
The corporate media has done a disgraceful job of creating a tense atmosphere on 
the streets, so much so that public fears of violence have risen from 30% a few 
weeks ago to 80% now. 
One newspaper also colluded with the police in trying to smear an IMC journalist 
by declaring him to be one of the foreign 'organisers' of the antiNATO 
demonstrations who was here posing as a journalist, even going so far as to post a 
photograph of him. The secret services have been following members of the IMC 
editorial group and cack-handedly listening in at public meetings and internet 
cafes. One cafe owner was approached by two men who flashed CIA badges and 
offered a cash sum of 50,000 Kc (1,700 Euros/Dollars !) if he would supply all 
the information handled by the IMC journalists. 
Meanwhile in many places in the world, countries like Angola and Colombia, this 
sort of situation continues to be normal. For us this is just a taste of what 
militarism feels like, here on the streets of Prague. 
Meanwhile, a huge red neon heart hovers above the city beside the castle. It's an 
insult, it feels like the city council is welcoming NATO with open arms and this 
heart which says 'we love militarism', whilst its citizens found themselves in a 
police state for a week. Unsurprisingly, the antiNATO convergence centre was 
quickly closed down, after the owner received a visit from the authorities. 
Meanwhile, the average response of the Czech on the street is 'I don't care'. If you 
ask people their views on militarism and the impending war in Iraq, this same 
answer comes from  sixteen-year old school kids, thirty-year old businessmen and 
grizzly old ladies, even though, as Nelson Mandela has said recently "If you look 
at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United 
States of America is a threat to world peace". Further, NATO is of course one of 
the military tools at Bush's disposal. 
Still, in the face of general apathy, the antiNATO summit has gone very well. It 
started in Prague on Sunday (November 17, also International Students' Day ) 
when a group of 300 people followed the route which students took in 1989 as 
they marched in protest against communism. This event was generally considered 
one of the triggers of the Velvet Revolution. Despite the presence of lots of cops 
and a understandably nervous air at the beginning of the march, this time around 
to protest against thirteen years of capitalism, proceeded without incident, setting 
the tone for the rest of the week. 
On Monday 18 November, the IMC Prague group held a film night at the Jeleni 
arts centre, which was very well-attended. They showed three films, one about the 
CIA-sponsored School of Americas, the other two giving different views on the 
World Bank / IMF meeting (2000) protests in Prague. Next, on Wednesday, the 
NATO delegates arrived in Prague to a lavish dinner at the Obceni Dum. Outside, 
Food not Bombs distributed free food to an estimated 300 people, and the 
numbers swelled to 500 during a spirited noise demo. They served 'Bush goulash 
with a hint of revolution', washed down with Afghan tea. 
Then came the main demonstration, which met at 14.00 on Thursday (November 
21) at Namesti Miru and drew about 1,300 protestors, who marched in good 
spirits despite the cold. Again there were no violent incidents, although some 
were unhappy at the rather intrusive behaviour of photographers from the 
corporate press and it seems there were attempts at sabotage (eg a police car 'lost' 
in the middle of the crowd, although others would said that a dozy policeman 
really did manage to be in the wrong place at the wrong time !) 
Finally on Friday (November 22), there was another smaller march and in an 
indication of how calm things had become, the police allowed it to go ahead even 
though it was illegal (normally routes must be agreed with the police beforehand). 
Other events included a netstrike, internet radio, and some heavily policed affinity 
actions. 
It's been reported that over 300 people had been turned back at the borders, but 
this was an eventuality that had been prepared for, so there were border solidarity 
groups in Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia to help those refused entry to 
the Czech Republic. In terms of arrests, contacted on Friday, OPH (the Czech 
legal observer group) say they are not aware of any arrests, although a group of 
Polish and German activists were checked by the police and two were declared 
persona non grata. 
So, it would seem that the antiNATO campaign has been carried out with a fair 
amount of success, withstanding various attempts at harassment and sabotage, 
with the message of peace conveyed to all who are interested to listen. 

Nonviolent direct action works ! 

Solidarity actions have been held in Brno (Czech Republic),Jihlava,(Cz) New 
York City (USA),Vienna (Austria), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Bratislava (Slovakia). 

Further info : 

AntiNATO 
http://www.antinato.cz

Student 'Independent' Reporting 
http://www.skylined.net/nsir

ALARM (in Czech only) 
http://www.alarm.solidarita.cz

Netstrike
http://www.geocities.com/nomorenato2002 

Internet Radio 
http://www.radiojeleni.cz

CSAF
http://www.csaf.cz/english.php

Prague Indymedia
http://praha.indymedia.org


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