From owner-labor-l@YORKU.CA Mon Dec 10 18:00:18 2001
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 18:11:25 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Groucho Marx <grok@SPRINT.CA>
Subject: Fwd: Homeless/Unemployed demonstration in Finland
Comments: To: Labour Left Opposition <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 15:37:36 -0500
From: Bob Olsen <email@example.com>
Subject: Homeless/Unemployed demonstration in Finland
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2001 00:34:47 +0300
Antti Rautiainen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [MAI-NOT] Finland, Party of uninvited guests—a short English summary
Sixth party of the uninvited guests, organised in Helsinki, Finland against independence day banquet held in president's palace became the propably the first time since the general strike of 1956 when a mounted police attacked a demonstration in Finland.
Cops raided one of the buses travelling from Turku already on its way to Helsinki. March gathered in the Rautatientori square, and splitted to three blocs—green, lilac and pink, in order to surround president's palace from three directions and to blockade travelling of the ruling class to the banquet. Political took up slightly different political demands for example lilac bloc demanded end to deportations and rights to immigrants.
Police tried to block all of the groups to Rautatientori square, but all three blocs managed to pass police lines and proceed. Cops managed to attack lilac and pink bloc, trashing windows and stealing keys from the sound system cars.
Green block managed to leave without trouble, but two other blocs had to proceed without sound systems. Lilac and Pink bloc united later on the way, and marched through Kaisaniemenkatu street and Liisankatu street to Mariankatu street, in order to block way to palace from northside, where Green block aimed to block Pohjoisesplanadi street in the southside. Demonstrators did not managed to block Aleksanterinkatu street in the middle, but blocking two out of the three ways already considerably disturbed the party.
In Meritullintori, east side of the palace, 10 mounted polices assaulted pink bloc which had to retreat retreat to Mariankatu. Mounted police attacked also Green block in the southside of the palace. However it seems like aim of the police was not to injure but to scare people, since no-one got seriously hurt.
Some taxis speeded up towards demonstrators, and some people were about to get seriously hurt. As a result, some demonstrators attacked taxis and some scuffles with the drivers followed. Police claims to have arrested people who damaged taxis, but according to eyewitnesses police was nowhere around when scuffles with taxis took place, so they just randomly picked few dozen persons. Most of the demostrators had strictly Gandhist line that point was not to stop prevent from participating the banquet but to send a strong symbolical message, thus many participators who stepped out from taxis and decided to walk were let through the lines of demonstrators. Yet there is no information about charges against demonstrators, last year there were some outrageous felony charges which were later dropped.
Demonstrators managed to block some streets up to half an hours. After police had cleared the streets, all three blocs united again and marched back to Rautatientori square. I have not seen a single good estimation about number of demonstrators, I am sure 450-500 mentioned by police and mainstream media is underestimation since last year it was twice more.
Prisoner solidarity demonstration had been decided beforehand, since everyone expected that arrests will take place. Some 20 persons gathered in Kisahalli police station in order to demand liberation of the prisoners. Suddendly special anti-riot force Jouha showed up and arrested 6-7 of the demonstrators. Jouha was dressed with ski masks without helmets in order to avoid personal identification, after militant police riots in Black & Green days of 1998, when police attacked peaceful anarchists and destroyed their property, police was ordered never to wear ski masks without helmets but seems like these police orders may be scrapped as any other regulation on the use of force by the state against demonstrations.
Mainstream media either ignored this biggest civil disobedience action in Finland for decades, or distributed outrageous mudslinging. For example biggest Finnish paper, Helsingin Sanomat claimed that demonstrators had tried to seize guns from police officers. Most of the participators who wrote to indymedia seem to be content of the action which was clearly more radical than any of the previous ones, but many are also very shocked for the police violence.
Finnish indymedia has published few pictures at http://www.vaikuttava.net/article.php?sid=1507&mode=thread&order=0 and announces that more is to come. Unfortunately no cool horse pix yet.
I also added the declaration of the party, altough it was distributed to the lists already before.
Uninvited guests 2001 is a demonstration for social justice. As such it is a continuation of several previous manifestations, both on the Finnish and on the European level. The demonstrations of the unemployed and of the homeless, the large events against neoliberalism in Amsterdam, Köln, Prague, Gothenburg and Genova, the celebrations of the uninvited guests since 1996 and countless other smaller events have aimed to bring forward the silenced features of the social reality and to appeal for social justice.
Today at least the statistical facts about the condition of our
society are generally known. During the recent 10 years Finland has
been a precursor of neoliberal policies in Europe. The level of our
social security has dropped under the European average, the working
hours are the second longest among the countries of the European
Union. Work exhaustion and stress, constant insecurity and the
enforcement to be flexible according to the demands of the employer
have placed their mark in the lives of the most. Income disparities
have increased in an enourmous speed and public services have been
reduced. The receiving of social benefits has constantly been made
more difficult, and more and more people have been displaced out of
its range. The inequality between different areas is increasing and
marginal areas are becoming poorer.
All this has been realized simultaneously as politicians have been talking about defending and maintaining the welfare state, and promised in their election speeches to support the causes of the poor, the unemployed, the pensioners and the workers. According to all researches the opinion climate among the citizens has nearly completely been against the increasing income disparities and the cuttings of services and social security, but this has had no practical significance in the eyes of the decision makers. As the political system has such completely failed to represent the opinions of the citizens it is no wonder that especially among those who have a low income, the belief in the political system has collapsed and in effect voting has decreased in many areas even to under 50%.
We simply want general security and equal basic rights. We want an end to the constant increasing of insecurity in our lives. We want a guaranteed, unconditioned income, housing and functioning public services for everyone. We want civil rights to everyone who wants to participate in our society.
Every human being should have the right to make him/herself heard. In the citizens' square of the odyssey of uninvited guests a chance to speak is given to all those who can't get it otherwise: the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the diseased and the displaced. The social multitude can be witnessed in the citizens' square. There is something to tell also in other areas than the mainstream of public discussion, everyone has an interesting story.
On the 6th of December the political decision makers of Finland and the other successful people of our society will gather to their annual meeting in the castle of the president. These celebrations and their spectacle most largely represent inequality and the silencing of the multitude. This celebration is the triumphant party of the elites celebrating their success. Despite the speeches of independence those celebrating in the castle are rather the executors of the global neoliberal strategy—just like we are are a part of the global resistance waked by neoliberalism—than representatives of the citizens.
This year our intention is to occupy the streets around the castle of the president. We will place our voices, music, creativity, demands and bodies to stop those entering the party. We want to make visible and audible all those who neoliberalism wants to make voiceless and invisible. We want to stop the increasing inequality and injustice by stopping those who constantly promote neoliberalism with their decisions. By stopping the road from the celebration of inequality we want to open a road to the discussion and action for a more just society.
On the global level we have seen how e.g. the central trade union of the United States, AFL-CIO, and the Italian union of metal workers, FIOM, have made coalitions with the movements of the multitude in the streets of Seattle and Genova, how the workers' organizations e.g. in South Korea, Mexico and Bangladesh have talked about the same things with us in the same events and struggles. Simultaneously we have been able to observe the Finnish trade union movement isolating itself within work places and its endless retreating in front of neoliberalism. We are inviting the Finnish labor movement with us to the road on which millions of the members of the trade unions around the world have already began to travel. To take the supervision of interests on the streets, to attach the struggles in the work places to common demands of guaranteeing basic rights.
Over one thousand guests have been invited to the castle and there are people from varying sectors in this group. We are not argumenting that they are all supporters of neoliberalism or responsible for the current direction of social progression. However, by participating in the celebrations they are all part of the great spectacle of inequality. Is the current condition and progression of Finland something that is worth celebrating? Does it have such value that you are ready to walk over us in order to enter the celebration? Do you maybe wish the police to clear demonstators out of your way with a truncheon, on behalf of you? We wish that all those invited who want to support equality and democracy to not go to the celebration and to state this publicly.
We are aware that troops of police will be sent against us, equipped with varying armament and protection. Our methods of action will not be violent. However, on the European level we have unfortunately seen and experienced brutal violence realized by the police and this has taken away our trust on the possibility that the police would act in a civilized and lawful way and by minimizing violence. Nevertheless we hope that the police who are confronting us in the indepedence day understand that it is not the interest of either the demonstrators or the police to make the conflict more critical. After our experiences in Gothenburg and in Genova we are asking the police the following things:
1) Non-violent activity is not reacted with violent or otherwise unlawful methods
2) Demonstrators are not attacked without a cause, and accommodation and meeting places are not terrorized
3) The police who are confronting the demonstrators do not carry guns
We want to act non-violently, but if the police destroys the possibilities for organized activity and uses as violent methods as in Gothenburg or Genova, no one can really guarantee the non-violence of all the demonstrators.
The uninvited guests 2001