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Belgium

Belgium’s PTB Kickstarts Campaign With Pro-People Action Plan

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) has kickstarted its campaign for the 2024 Belgian federal election with a conference in Brussels on Sunday, March 10. In the gathering, party leader Raoul Hedebouw officially released its program for the upcoming federal elections scheduled for June 9 this year. The party has charted out 150 meetings across the country from March 10 to May 29, to elaborate on their election manifesto and policies with their cadre and the broader population. PTB has prioritized the fight for fiscal justice, strengthening of purchasing power, formulation of social climate policy, and the fight against politicians’ privilege in their election manifesto.

Citing World Court, Japan Firm Cuts Ties With Israel Arms Maker

A major Japanese industrial conglomerate is cutting ties with Israeli arms maker Elbit, citing the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel may be committing genocide in Gaza. Itochu Corporation said its aviation division would terminate its partnership with Elbit by the end of February. Tsuyoshi Hachimura, Itochu’s chief financial officer, said that his company’s partnership with Elbit was “based on a request from the Japan’s defense ministry for the purpose of importing defense equipment for the Self-Defense Forces necessary for Japan’s security, and is not in any way related to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine.” But the decision to end the relationship clearly is.

Are Europe’s Farmers Protesting Green Reforms? It’s Complicated

Across France, Italy and Belgium last week thousands of farmers descended on capital cities to express their deep discontent with the European food system. The scenes were dramatic. Parked tractors brought traffic to a standstill in Paris, and on Thursday burning piles of hay and debris sent up huge, dark plumes of smoke in Brussels. The protests show no sign of slowing down and are expected this week across Italy, Slovenia and Spain. Farmers’ demonstrations have been portrayed as a revolt against net zero, by the media and far-right groups. This is the message received by governments – and they are acting on it. So far, the farmers have won key concessions.

Israel Bombed Belgian Aid Office In Gaza

Belgian officials expressed outrage Thursday after Israeli forces reportedly bombed the office building of the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation in the Gaza Strip, an attack that came after Belgium declined to join the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries in cutting off funding to the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency. "The offices of Enabel, the Belgian development agency in Gaza, were bombed and destroyed," Hadja Lahbib, Belgium's foreign affairs minister, wrote on social media. "Targeting civilian buildings is unacceptable." Lahbib and Caroline Gennez, Belgium's minister of development cooperation and urban policy, posted photos of the destroyed building and demanded a meeting with Israel's ambassador envoy to the country to discuss the attack, which took place on Wednesday.

Workers’ Party Demands Respect For Farmers Across Europe

All across Europe, farmers are making their voices heard. In Belgium too, actions and blockages have been taking place across the country. The movement, which started from the base, is supported by agricultural unions, both in the south and the north of the country. “It is not normal that farmers cannot make a living from their work, we support their mobilization,” declares PTB president Raoul Hedebouw. For the agricultural world, the cup is full and the anger is deep. The reasons for this are numerous. Production costs have increased sharply for farmers in recent years, as have prices for the consumer. However, farmers do not sell their products more expensively.

Activists Block Several Airports In Belgium – Ground Private Jets

On Saturday 16 December, supporters of campaign group Code Rouge-Rood from several European countries entered Lìege Airport in a peaceful direct action to denounce the injustice and climate impact of aviation and demand a drastic reduction of flights This happened just after hundreds of activists were arrested around Antwerp, while preparing to block Antwerp International airport, one of the biggest private jet airports in Belgium. Despite police targetting activists, a large group managed to enter Antwerp Airport and achieved success: no private jets took off from Kortrijk or Antwerp today.

European Trade Unions March To Protest The EU-Imposed Austerity

On December 12, trade unionists, political parties, and other working-class sections from around 30 countries participated in a major demonstration led by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) protesting the EU-imposed austerity in the region. The march was organized against the backdrop of the summit of EU leaders in Brussels on December 14 and 15 to find a consensus over a controversial reform of the EU’s economic governance rules called the ‘Stability and Growth Pact.’ Around 15,000 people marched in Brussels behind the banner Together Against Austerity sending a clear message to leaders that there must be no return to austerity.

Dock Workers Refuse To Deal With Weapons Ships Heading To Israel

Workers at the Spanish port of Barcelona announced their refusal to allow any ships carrying weapons to operate inside the port, rejecting the violence practiced by Israel in the occupied territories, and accusing the UN of failing to carry out its role. The workers said in a statement to their association that it is their duty to adhere to and defend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at a time when the signatory countries have forgotten about it. The statement continued: “We decided within the association not to allow ships containing war materials to operate in our port, for the sole purpose of protecting any civilian population, regardless of their location, as there is no justification for sacrificing civilians.”

Manifiesta To Kick Off A New Political Year For The Left In Europe

Left-wing forces in Belgium are unofficially kicking off a new political year as thousands of people pour into the coastal city of Ostend to participate in yet another edition of Manifiesta, the fest of solidarity, scheduled for the weekend of September 9-10. Launched for the first time in 2010, Manifiesta has evolved into a gathering of at least 15,000 people who convene not only for discussions and debates but also for bonding and evenings of music. The festival provides passersby with a glimpse of the diversity of left-wing movements. The program is shaped to address pressing topics such as workplace rights of health personnel and the climate crisis, while also emphasizing the significance of feminism, anti-imperialism, peace advocacy, and solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and the Cuban Revolution.

Belgian City Of Verviers Cuts Ties With Israel’s ‘Apartheid Regime’

The Belgian city of Verviers has become the latest city in Europe to cut its ties with the Israeli “apartheid regime” to “strengthen its support for the Palestinian people,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. In its meeting, Verviers Municipal Council discussed a motion introduced by members of the Socialist Party (PS), the Labor Party (PTB), and the Ecologist Confederation (ECOLO) that says that the City of Verviers wants to strengthen its support for the Palestinian people by cutting its ties with the Israeli apartheid regime. The draft proposal said that the municipal council of Verviers undertakes not to open relations with the state of Israel and its institutions as long as the apartheid system persists and the violation of international law by the Israeli authorities.

Left Parties, Unions Oppose Bill To Ban ‘Rioters’ From Protests

A controversial bill proposed by Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne calling to ban ‘rioters’ from participating in protests has drawn widespread criticism. Working class sections and rights groups claim that provisions of the bill can be misused to brand trade unionists and activists as rioters and curtail their freedom to participate in protest and strikes. Earlier this week, due to fierce opposition from legislators of the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB-PVDA) in the Justice Committee of the Chamber of the Belgian Parliament, Quickenborne backed down from asking for an immediate vote on the bill.

Massive Rally Demands More Staff In Health And Non-Profit Sectors

Brussels - On Tuesday, January 31, workers from non-profit sectors in Belgium demonstrated in capital Brussels to defend the futures of the care, culture, and welfare in the country. More than 20,000 people participated in the march, which was organized by trade unions such as the Union of Employees, Technicians, and Managers (SETCa), General Labor Federation of Belgium (FGTB/ABVV) affiliate General Union of Public Services (CGSP), and Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC)’s affiliate CNE, along with organizations such as La santé en lutte and Medicine for the People (MPLP). The participants in the march demanded an increase in wages, better staffing, and refinancing of the health and non-profit sectors. Activists from the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB), Communist Party of Belgium (PCB), and others also participated in the protest and extended their support and solidarity to workers.

Progressives In Belgium Protest Detention Of Migrants

On Saturday, December 24, progressive groups in Belgium protested at the Vottem detention center in Liège, denouncing the state’s unfair policy on migrants. The protest was organized by the Collective of Resistance to Centers for Foreigners (CRACPE). Hundreds of people including Wallonian MP Julien Liradelfo from the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) and activists from the PTB and the Communist Party of Belgium (PCB/CPB) participated in the protest. The protesters asked the federal government to close down migrant detention centers across the county and release and regularize the incarcerated migrants. Progressives and migrants’ rights activists have gathered and protested in front of the Vottem detention center on every Christmas Eve over the last decade to express their opposition to the opening of the detention center in 1999.

We Defend A Socialist Society Where People And Planet Come First

Belgium - An acute cost of living crisis marked by soaring food and fuel prices has hit working class households across Europe. In Belgium, students have been standing alongside workers at the forefront of protests demanding effective measures from the government to tackle the crisis. Peoples Dispatch spoke to Sander Claessens, president of the Comac student movement in Belgium, about their involvement in the protests against the cost of living crisis, political interventions in campuses and society, and the policies of the government towards education, among other issues. Comac is affiliated to the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA). The name Comac is an abbreviation of the goals of the movement itself: Change, Optimism, Marxism, Activism and Creativity.

Inflation Strikes Disrupt Trains, Flights In Greece, Belgium

Athens, Greece - Workers walked off the job in Greece and Belgium on Wednesday during nationwide strikes against increasing consumer prices, disrupting transportation, forcing flight cancellations and shutting down public services in the latest European protests over the rising cost of living. In Greece, where workers were holding a 24-hour general strike, thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki. Brief clashes broke out at the end of demonstrations in both cities, with small groups of protesters breaking off from the main march to throw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. The clashes were over within minutes.
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