World Leaders shut down Strasbourg and invalidated international treaties, locally negotiated agreements just for a photoshoot of global leaders on the 60 'BirthDeath' of Nato. More Police were deployed on the streets of Strasbourg than is being promised to Afghanistan.
'The German and French governments’ fear of their own citizens was obvious. It’s the only explanation for the massive obstruction for the people living in this region, the police brutality, the many chicanes, the partial closing of the borders and the invalidation of the Schengen treaty. Basic democratic rights were trampled on. Violence comes from the powerful and ruling. We want the end of the militarization of the interior. We are defending Democracy.'
Other personal accounts of people's experience are available on Indymedia.ie- https://www.indymedia.ie/article/91812
An International congress was organised to offer an analysis of NATO politics and strategy as well as the discussion of alternatives to NATO. This was to serve the peace movement to prepare long term actions. Delegates came from the Irish Anti War Movement, the Campaign Against the EU Constitution and a number of individuals. Michael Youltan spoke about the Lisbon Treaty and raised the growing concerns about the deepening links between Nato and the EU and there was a lot of discussion around how this has happened and the lack of democracy and accountability in this process. Seamas Rhatiggan from the Labour Party spoke on the Sunday afternoon on behalf of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance. A Sinn fein member also addressed the audience.
The counter summit's events focusing on Nato, were over shadowed by the demonstration.
People were horrified by the violence that they encountered. There were over 20,000 police and National guards deployed in Strasbourg. Public transport was shut down. Businesses were forcibly closed by the police from bicycle rentals to camping sites so no one could use them. Schengen was dropped- this is an agreement which allows free movement through Europe. Civil liberties can be dropped with no notice disenfranchising EU citizens. Nato forces were intent on making sure that no demonstration happened. This quite clearly indicates that Nato has no interest in the democratic process and the images beeamed out all over the world show that there is resistance to Nato in the EU.
German protestors were refused entry into France at Kehl Bridge- a symbol of European unity, not by protestors but by the State. There were no Police attacks on this side of the border and hence no response. On the French side, the police were determined to smash any form of protest and to tear gas indiscriminately, divide and trap evryone up. Their tactics were to punish anyone who went out to defend peace by demonstrating.
The Strasburg Prefecture broke the agreement with organisers that demonstrators could get to the starting point and demonstrate. they blocked the road and teargassed everyone. Blac Bloc were well organised, brave and alongside the determination of all at the bridge went through. that was when i saw a crate of Garlic , where the bulbs were ironically used as ammunition. It was quite clear the police had tons of Shock Bombs- very loud cannisters which explode at your feet and can potentially damage your hearing, CS cannisters and little projectiles which would go up into the air, explode into several parts and rain down yellow clouds of smoke.
There were very few arrests. And unlike Genoa where Carlos Giuliani was shot dead by a young Caribinieri, no major injuries- indicating that there was a policy that this counter Nato summit would not create Martyrs. I saw no baton charges but people were scared by the amount of teargas, and quite frankly, I had not experienced this level of CS gas before.
The part of Strasbourg where the protest happened was a poor run down part. The Hotel Ibis was burnt down as was the only Pharmacie while a petrol Station some bus shelters and bizzarely the Post Office were smashed up. As John Rees from the Stop the War Coalition in the UK said at the meeting of the Assemblies at the anti-nato summit the following day, the Hotel Ibis is hardly a symbol of global imperialism and people who use buses are those who can't afford cars, why bother attacking these, and this was a general sentiment.
A medical student who was doing first aid from the camp where the blac bloc was based came to the conference and tried to but a context on events. He described how the police kept trying to attck the camp even before the demonstration and how a surgeon based on camp had to remove shrapnel from peopl's legs from new weapons that had been used on some people that had not been witnessed before. It is clear that there are many debates happening within blac bloc with regard to strategy and tactics and how to relate to those that the demonstrate with, namely everyone else. Demonstrations are based on solidarity and some participants at the conference, quite vociferously, expressed condemnation of the blac bloc, mostly those who hadn't experienced tear gas before.
It was quite clear that the French State would do evrything it could to marginalise and neuter the demonstration against the 60th anniversary of Nato, but they did it with incredible force and brutality, without baton charging and shooting people so as to minamise the creation of future support and sympathy as what happened in Genoa in July 2001.
The question of increasing militarisation in the EU through the Lisbon treaty and nato have not gone away, they are very much at the heart of last weekend in Strasburg. but they don't want you to know about it or hear about it so you can do nothing about Nato. Just look at an image of a smashed bus stop and get angry with some kids just so you can't see their weapons of mass distraction and destruction.
More pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/friekoop/sets/721576163433...0335/