have many memories of the demonstrations in Genoa,
of the sheer brutality of the state, of the tanks
and armoured vehicles moving in and attacking peaceful
people. I remember the tens of thousands of police
and troops deployed, battering peaceful protesters,
including church groups to a pulp. Also of those swimming
for their lives and being hammered under the water
by those in the gunboats and I remember also of the
still disappeared. I remember the first day a peaceful
colourful demonstration in support of asylum rights
and the machine gun posts, accompanied by tank and
helicopter machine guns trained on the protest as
the war ships looked on, so setting out their stall
for the next few days.
most vivid memories though were of the hundreds of
thousands marching in a sea of red flags, of the oneness
and collectiveness of trade unionists, of human rights,
race and anti-poverty groups. Seeing working class
people from all over Europe, of the tens of thousands
of Italian people who made their way to Genoa after
the state had brutally murdered a young protester.
Seeing the people wave from their balconies or hosing
us with water due to the heat. Looking up at the banners
that hung from their homes stating 'welcome workers
of the world' or the chanting as we marched, although
in many different languages, it was as one.
remember us trying to reach Genoa with both Italy's
borders and the internal transport systems virtually
shut down. So we had to travel from village to village
and we always found help and methods of transport
to take us ever nearer Genoa. I remember when we 'boarded'
a train for the last leg of our journey after being
through isolated villages, over mountains and though
forests. All of us were from Belfast, sitting in 'our'
train, and I remember people looking at each other
with a sense of pride that despite all that was put
against us like many others we had made it to Genoa.
also it is what people say that sticks in your mind.
I remember Barbara, a political and trade union organiser
losing her clothes she had been carrying and all her
money. Although upset I remember her stating through
her anger, that she hoped that 'at least it fell into
the hands of those that needed it most'. I remember
also before the Friday protest when we were asking
for volunteers to go 'Front line', that Rita, a community
worker from West Belfast, said ' try and stop me'.
I remember then just after the SWP contingent had
been water cannoned, gassed, baton charged, then again
attacked by police and right wing paramilitaries on
the Friday protest, Andrew a Belfast civil servant
making a comparison with 'Ruck' tactics used in the
those who paricipated will all take away their own
memories and understandings. Yet what is clear though
is that Genoa brought together people from all over
Europe and further afield who believed in a better
world. Now many of those people shall meet again in
Florence to discuss many such issues in relation to
putting people before profit and also the way forward
in attempting to bring about change. The European
Social Forum (ESF) was called after the world social
forum which had 70,000 people in attendance. This
one should be bigger with the first collective European
march against the oncoming war in Iraq. Although apart
fom the march and the fact that this event will be
mainly meetings and forums, there are now, however,
suggestions that just like Genoa the Schengen agreement
of free movement may be lifted to attempt to prevent
many attending the forum.
ruling classes will use many different methods to
continually attempt to prevent such meetings and demonstrations.
That is why it is even more vital for all those who
believe that people and planet should come before
profit and war should be there. If you wish to go
from Belfast contact the Irish web site: www.irish2esf.webworld.org
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