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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Belgium - On Friday, September 30, the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) launched weekly protests called ‘Fridays of Rage’ (Vendredis de la Colère) against the government’s failure to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis. Protests were held on Friday in the cities of Kortrijk and La Louvière with the call to bring down the prices of food, energy, and other essentials. Along with activists of the PTB/PVDA, cadres of youth and student groups like COMAC and RedFox took part in the protests. The protesters also demanded that the government tax the energy multinational that they say is benefiting from the crisis. More protests have been scheduled for October 7 in Liege, Saint Nicolas, and Genk, in Gare du Nord and Ghent on October 14, and in Namur and Antwerp on October 21.
The ManiFiesta 2022 festival, organized at the Wellington racetrack in the Belgian city of Ostend from September 17-18, concluded with a resolve to mobilize for alternatives for the future. The 12th edition of ManiFiesta was organized by the Solidarity magazine and Medicine For the People (MPLP). Over 14,000 people participated. Around 160 events including political discussions, speeches, debates, book fairs, exhibitions, a food festival, and 35 concerts were organized as part of the festival. Raoul Hedebouw, president of the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA), Bolivian Vice-President David Choquehuanca, Chris Mitchell from the Enough is Enough movement in the UK, Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, Holocaust survivor Simon Gronowski, British economist Grace Blakeley, author and PTB leader Peter Mertens...
After sixty-one years, the gold tooth of the assassinated Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba has been returned to his family and laid to rest. It is the only part of him that remains. After his brutal murder in 1961, Lumumba’s tooth was pocketed by a Belgian police officer and later held captive by the Belgian government. Its repatriation was preceded by a grotesque ‘colonial guilt’ show, in which Belgian King Phillipe expressed his ‘deepest regrets for those wounds of the past’. The King of the Belgians did not go so far as to formally apologize, nor did he offer reparations for the devastation inflicted upon Congo by Belgium. These two events so close in proximity illustrate clearly that despite supposed ‘decolonization’, Congo continues to be ensnared in the grasp of its colonial oppressors.
MPLP was established in 1971 by a group of physicians who were also members of the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA). They did this because they felt the need to translate words to action, to ensure that healthcare is accessible to the people who need it, and this included a way of providing people free health consultations. They started the first health house in Antwerp, and since then, we have managed to establish 10 more health houses, guided by the same ideals from more than 50 years ago. There are many more health workers working with MPLP now, too, and not only physicians: nurses, psychologists, they’re all part of our teams now. But of course, during this time, a lot of things changed: the impact of social determinants of health developed in one way, the pharmaceutical industry changed a lot, and so on.
Around 70,000 Belgian workers marched through Brussels on Monday demanding government action to tackle sharply rising living costs, as one-day strikes at Brussels Airport and on local transport networks nationwide brought public travel to a near-halt. Protesters carried flags and banners reading "More respect, higher wages" and "End excise duty", while some set off flares. Some demanded the government do more, others said employers needed to improve pay and working conditions. Unions said about 80,000 were present. Police put the figure at 70,000. Brussels Airport said it could not allow passenger flights to depart because the industrial action extended to security personnel, and most arrivals were also cancelled.
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels in support of Julian Assange, Belga News Agency reports. The demonstrators called on the United Kingdom to come back on its decision to extradite Assange to the United States, where he could face a 175-year prison term. “What is happening to Julian Assange is an attack against freedom of the press,” Marie-France Deprez of the Comité Free Assange Belgium said. Assange is wanted in the United States for leaking secret documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. US authorities also consider him responsible for the deaths of informers for the US Armed Forces.