Thursday, September 19, 2013

Murder in Athens

Around midnight  in the popular working class district of Amfiali in the region of Piraeus, a young man, age 34, was brutally knifed  to death by a gang of neo - Nazis, members of Golden Dawn.  Pavlos Fissas, deceased, was an active member of the local community in the anti-fascist movement of his neighborhood. The present Greek government is obliged to pursue in every possible way the fulfilment of the law so that the present increasing danger of neo - Nazism is marginalized. The “Greek Troika” government is also trying to pursue a propaganda of total distortion in order to somehow portray SYRIZA as the one “extreme” in the political geography of the country and on the other extreme, "Golden Dawn”.

SYRIZA has declared in every possible way that the democratic rights and laws of Greece are constantly being attacked by the brutal effects of the neoliberal policies of the Samaras government with the total support and “know-how” of the Troika.

The “theory of the two political extremes” is part of the government agenda, so as to achieve a dangerous and criminal counterweight to the increasing peaceful role of the trade union movement, the solidarity and social movements, etc.

We call on all progressive, parties, democrats, and personalities, to condemn the brutal and mafia practices of the Golden Dawn in Greece. A real threat to democracy not only in Greece but in Europe as a whole cannot be tolerated. The political and social “vacuum, being created by neoliberal policies, the incredible number of unemployment specially among youth, the racist  and xenophobic policies of the mainstream media and conservative political parties and organization are harvesting neo  -  Nazism. Syriza, the left as a whole are in the forefront of protecting democracy at its fullest.

We will continue on the road of peace, solidarity and social justice for the Greek people and the European peoples with our social and political partners in the social and the political left and the progressive and democratic movements.

Foreign Policy and Defence

tel: ++30 210 33 78 523
1, Eleftherias Sq., 105 53 Athens, Greece

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Monday, September 16, 2013

The Conquest of Happiness - A Play

The Conquest of Happiness is based on the writings of renowned intellect and pacifist Bertrand Russell, and is the first work by leading Bosnian artist Haris Pasovic to be performed in Ireland.

The play will open in Derry-Londonderry on September 21 for two nights as part of the UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations, before embarking on a tour of Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia, concluding in a spectacular finale performance in Belfast.

The unique collaborative production is spearheaded by Belfast’s Prime Cut Productions and co-produced with Pasovic’s East West Centre in Sarajevo and The Mladinsko Theatre in Ljublana.

As part of The Conquest of Happiness 200 performers from various choirs across Derry-Londonderry will form a magnificent chorus, representing through song the voice of the people as we follow various iconic world events. The choir will sing songs from the countries and cultures that are explored during the piece, from Germany to Israel and from Palestine to Chile, and rehearsals are currently taking place in the city.

The drama itself will be played out by an international cast of actors and dancers from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Bosnia, Belgium and England who will use dance, theatre and live music to bring the drama to life.

The play is based on Russell’s premise that the secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is essentially a horrible place, and the drama sets out to examine some of the most horrific acts of war in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Talking about the production Pasovic revealed: “Despite the dark subject matter, The Conquest of Happiness considers the beauty of the human spirit amidst the world’s horrors. This project brings together people from across civil, racial and economic divides. Its message is one of hope but also warning: happiness is not a right, but something to be worked at, earned but never at another’s expense.”

Despite the challenging concept, the performance itself promises to be one of the visual highlights of the cultural programme, as it resurrects first-hand accounts of real life events and attempts to explore the human capacity for both horror and love, even in the most desperate circumstances.

Executive Programmer with Culture Company 2013, Graeme Farrow, said the performance would push the boundaries of drama in terms of its visual approach.  “This unique collaboration incorporates the work of 50 artists from seven countries who have drawn on their own first hand experiences of conflict to produce what promises to be an explosive dramatic work,” he explained.

The play is one of the highlights of our arts programme for the autumn, and as Pasovic’s debut work on this island it’s a fantastic opportunity for theatre goers to come and enjoy the work of one of Europe’s leading artists. Ebrington Square is the ideal arena for such an epic and innovative performance piece. It's fantastic also that a journey which begins here will take in Mostar, Zenica and Ljublana." 

Roisin McDonough Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

"The arts as a transitional and transformational tool have power of epic proportions. We believe a healthy society is one where engagement with the arts is at the fore. The Conquest of Happiness is a wonderful example of the healing that can occur through the artistic process. It also provides a platform for discussion and the exploration of what it is that makes us happy. We look forward to the production that we have watched evolve and flourish over recent years."

Tickets are available from the Millennium Forum and are priced £12.50 and £8 concessionary. The production is not recommended for children under the age of 12 due to upsetting scenes and strong language. - the link to Youtube for the trailer.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Arms fair challenged with daily direct action - get involved!

A key event for the international arms trade is taking place in London this week: the DSEi arms fair which hosts 1500 arms companies and 30,000 arms buyers and sellers. The UK government's invite list is a roll call of authoritarian regimes and human rights abusers. But the fair has been challenged by daily direct action disrupting and blockading its business. A few highlights below...

Sunday: Hundreds of people 'Occupy the arms fair', blocking both entrances. Occupy camp is set up.

Sunday's Occupy vs. the Arms Fair action blocked access at both entrances to the arms fair
Following a musical protest at the ExCel on the Saturday, hundreds of people disrupted the set-up on Sunday as arms dealers arrived and equipment was delivered on the eve of the drones conference on the Monday. Protesters stopped vehicle access to the Eastern entrance. Blockades also obstructed access at the Western entrance. An exorcism was performed by priests and activists from Christianity Uncut.

'Occupy vs. the Arms Fair', was called by Occupy London as part of Stop the Arms Fair's week of action. It is supported by Campaign Against Arms Trade and solidarity protesters from Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil and Turkey.

Eighteen people were arrested for obstruction of the highway, after refusing to leave the road to allow vehicles access to the arms fair. The Occupy camp established on the day has continued as a visible challenge to the arms fair at its Eastern entrance throughout the week.

Monday: World's largest arms company blockaded for four hours and direct action at the ExCel centre. Silent vigil attracts hundreds of people. Welsh protest challenges drones link.

Activists blocked access to Lockheed Martin for hours before being arrested.
In Central London campaigners superglued themselves to the entrances of the offices of Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms company, which is exhibiting at DSEi. They prevented access for several hours. Police arrested five people who were not released until the following morning.

At the ExCel centre, tens of campaigners gathered to challenge the drones conference taking place that day. In Wales, over a hundred people gathered at Aberporth to challenge drones too. Activists stopped an armoured vehicle from entering the ExCel complex by sitting in the road.

Hundreds gathered at the arms fair on Monday night for a silent vigil – a powerful moment on the eve of the official opening of the fair.

Tuesday: Christian activists prevent main visitor entrance opening for over an hour. Cheeky 'meet and greet' actions send arms dealers in all sorts of directions (apart from towards the fair). The opening night reception at the Cutty Sark was blockaded.

Arms dealers were delayed for over forty minutes by this blockade at Custom House as the fair opened.

On the day 30,000 arms dealers arrived in London for the official opening of the arms fair, campaigners were there to meet them at London City Airport: to help them find their way (the long way round!) and point them out to fellow passengers. See the video of this action here.

The main entrance for visitors to the fair was obstructed for over forty minutes by Christian activists who superglued themselves together, causing a huge backlog of arms dealers arriving to Custom House station. Five people were arrested.

Meanwhile protesters in Bath and elsewhere have challenged the arms fair exhibitors on their doorstep.

Campaigners discovered the location of a dinner for the opening night of the arms fair, where senior civil servants from the governments' arms sales unit, UKTI DSO, were in attendance: at the Cutty Sark. Activists were there first and blocked all four entrances. Arms dealers eventually had to enter via a fire exit and were 'escorted' to their cars with protesters pointing out their profession at the end of the night.

Wednesday – Rooftop action lasts for 40 minutes. Protesters hold wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the arms fair. Noise demo invades BAE Systems' offices.

Noise demo at BAE Systems
An activist climbed on the roof of the ExCel at Prince Regent station, while others challenged the arms dealers below.

See the livestream here. A journalist had his press credentials removed for using the hashtag '#stopdsei' and filming the protest. The NUJ have condemned the decision.

Campaign Against Arms Trade has commented: "It's no surprise that the DSEi are willing to block journalists who report critically on the arms fair. Democracy is not on the agenda at an event which invites military delegations from authoritarian regimes to buy more weapons. The arms fair has been challenged daily by people willing to take direct action to intervene in its business - no wonder it's not keen that the scale of opposition to its business is reported."

Activists from the Black Katz Collective occupied the foyer of BAE Systems for a noise demo, before moving on to other sites as well.

There's still more to come!

MPs are set to debate the government department which co-organises the arms fair on Thursday this week, so campaigners will be at Parliament for a visual action before the debate begins.

A critical mass cycle ride to the arms dealers' Thursday evening dinner is also planned.

There's a box of fancy dress fun at the info point at Garden Cafe and the Occupy camp keeps up a 24-hour presence at the fair.

Can't make it to London?
Why not ask your MP to challenge the arms fair when the government's arms sales unit is debated in parliament on Thursday.

Or pay a visit to an arms fair exhibitor near you...

Keep an eye on Twitter for updates on direct action and more as we hear it: @wwwcaatorguk and @stopthearmsfair #stopdsei #occupydsei #beatdsei

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