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Statement from Prague Spring 2 network against right wing extremism and populism

16 November 2013

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Statement from Prague Spring 2 network against right wing extremism and populism Warsaw - graveyard or hopeful resistance

On the day of the inauguration of the United Nations climate conference in Warsaw 11th of November 2013 Neo Nazis organized a violent attack on those defending social rights to housing in the city. Simultaneously the Polish state more aggressively than anywhere else in Europe supports turning both housing and nature into the hands of corporations and privatization helping speculators to make more short term profit.

The Polish state push as host for the UN Summit for a global environmental politics that causes social misery by landgrabbing and authoritarian corporate rule making the voice of people silent. The same politics is used against tenants in Warsaw and city dwellers elsewhere in Poland. More aggressively than anywhere else in Europe the right to housing is abolished. Social housing is replaced by profit making privatization while tenants are forced away by rent-hikes and evictions, very similar to the land grabbing going on globally on the countryside. The polish state threatens to make Warsaw a social and environmental graveyard.

On the 11th of November 2013 the social centre Syrene and the autonomous clinic Przychodnia were attacked when several traditional nationalist demonstrations were held on Independence day. First the police patrolled outside the two places constantly until suddenly they disappeared. Instead a strong group of neo Nazis demonstrators arrived braking the gate and forcing themselves into the two localities. Armed with machetes, bottles, and clubs, they proceeded to attack the people inside. At the moment, Syrena?s quarters held eight children aged 3 to 14, among other persons. The greatest damage was done to Przychodnia ? with cars burned and destroyed, people injured, and windowpanes knocked out. The defenders believe the Neo Nazis were ready to kill and a tragedy avoided only due to the firm self defence.

It is common place in Poland that when aggressive neoliberal politics cannot be forcibly implemented well enough by the help of the authorities other ways are used. Jola Brzeska fought battles in the courts and was the last remaining tenant in her building, that the developer couldn?t remove. She realized that changing the situation would require solidarity and initiated the Warsaw Tenant?s Association (Warszawskie StowarzyszenieLokator?w). On 1st of March 2011 her burning body was discovered in the forest on the outskirts of Warsaw. Her hands were tied behind her back, no petrol can in sight but a verdict of ’suicide’ decreed upon her body.

Politicians directly acting against the forced evictions are repressed by the state. Piotr Ikonowicz was sent to prison in October this year because he engaged as parliamentarian in actions to help the poor and excluded against evictions in 2000. Ikonowicz organized protests that stopped some 200 evictions which caused the court to harass him through the years and finally get him into prison 13 years after his act of civil disobedience blocking the deportation of a retired couple. He was sent to prison after a trial conducted controversially, the withdrawal of one of the judges and the lack of appeal.

The economy in Poland is developing as a whole well contrary to the rest of Europe. At the same time is the number of poor in Poland this year increasing and unemployment rates are very high. Some get the profit while others have to pay. Developers are allowed to buy up social housing in Polish cities with the tenants still living inside. Then what is called a "cleanup " is organized by front companies with the help of money borrowed from big banks. Gas and water pipe lines are destroyed, walls and roofs as well, buildings infested and whatever kind of harassment money can buy is used to force the tenants away while the authorities look the other way. Associations denounce the passivity and even complicity of certain municipal authorities in vain. The profit is very high. Either the property is given away for free with the tenants inside and all reasons to force them to move. Or those that can claim they are owning houses, streets or parks due to ownership before World War II can claim 100 percent market value contrary to standard repayment in other countries were 10 percent is common. A system were the banks and corporations are the winners in a speculation economy unable to promote neither social justice nor a environmentally sustainable future.

The Polish state is now trying to impose the same violent neoliberal politics used against tenants also against small peasants and everybody else standing in the way for turning nature everywhere into a commodity to sell on a global speculation market. The Conference of the Parties (COP19) in Warsaw is the first UN climate talks to have corporate affiliates, with some of the biggest contributors to climate change as official ’partners’, including ArcelorMittal, Alstom and BMW. All industry lobbyists, eager to promote solutions which protect their business interests, provide them with new opportunities to profit and most importantly of all, allow them to continue polluting the climate and destroying the environment for everyone have been given privileged treatment by the Polish hosts. The future of the planet have been sold out by a government that replaces democratic processes and what can be called protection of the integrity of creation with short term profit in the interest of global speculators.

Syrena’s motto to commemorate the fearlessness of Jola Breszka is ’You Cannot Burn Us All’ and ’We Are The City’. This collective spirit is needed everywhere were people stand up for the common good against the makers of profit at the cost of others. Do not let the Polish government, like minded governments and corporations turn Warsaw into a social and environmental graveyard were Neo Nazis and corporations force upon us a future with no hope. Lets unite against the oppression of tenants, small peasants, workers and everyone standing up for social justice and an environmentally sustainable future. Let Warsaw be the beginning of a common struggle locally, nationally and across all borders uniting all people?s movements. In solidarity against attacks from the state, corporations or fascists and in a constructive programme for just transition of society. At the Peoples Summit for social and environmental justice in Rio 2012 trade unions, peasant, environmental and other organizations set the example with demands for a sustainable agriculture, housing, forestry, industry and other important sectors of society instead of a meaningless speculation economy to the benefit of the few. Lets begin here and now and not wait for world leaders and international negotiations or the market to solve our social and environmental crisis.

We demand:

  • Solidarity with Kolektyw Syrena and Piotr Ikonowicz
  • Protect the social right to housing and a healthy environment for coming generations
  • Stop authorities from giving Nazists and fascists free way to attack people
  • Stop corporate capture of the UN and our future
  • Start a just social and environmental transition of societies world

Kolektyw Syrena ? We are the city!

The COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying