Belgium: 10,000 demonstrate in Brussels

On 19 January 10,000 people demonstrated in a national anti-war demonstration in Brussels. The collaboration of the Belgian government, by allowing US troops and military transports to use the Antwerp harbour, and the international aspect of the demonstrations (the huge international demonstrations of the 18 January were all over the news), helped to create such a good turnout of protesters.

The demonstrators opposed the war for oil. There were slogans against Bush and Blair, but also against Sharon, who used the excuse of the US so called, ’war against terrorism’, to launch an attack on the Palestinian territories. The demonstrators also opposed the hypocrisy of the Belgian government, which claims to be opposed to war, but also says it might support a war if the UN supports it.

Trade unionists against the war

LSP/MAS (the Belgian CWI section), and International Socialist Resistance, were present at the demo with a lively and very young contingent, including dozens of school students from all over the country. We launched our appeal to build anti-war committees to prepare actions for ’Day X’ (the day the war starts). This idea received a good response. Some 80 youth gave their names and addresses to help build! Besides our contingent, members of our party also took part in the activity of ’Trade unionists Against the War’, an appeal launched by the Movement for Trade union Renewal in Brussels (a campaign started by workers of Forges de Clabecq, where in 1996-1997 an important fight against the closure of the factory took place). We also had members in the demo selling our newspaper. Despite the rain we sold about 100 copies.

The demo was organised by a coalition called ’Stop USA’ which already organised a demo on the 10 November 2002 in competition with the demo on the 17 November organised by a broader coalition of NGO’s, political groups etc. On 15 February there will fortunately be a joint action of both coalitions. The Belgian CWI section is mobilising for that demo and in the meantime we are continuing to build our anti-war committees in different cities, schools and universities. In Gent alone, there are committees in 7 schools. In one school, 25 students attended our committee last week. Some of those attending were 13-14 years old. Once again the international aspect of the activities in preparation for Day X is very attractive to youth.

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January 2003