PGA Conference Daily Newsletter 2
Tuesday September 3, 2002

Tuesday Programme Additions

Womens struggle Southern Africa
Koppenhinksteeg . . . . . . . . . 11:45-13:15
Indigenous existance and resistance
Boerhaavelaan . . . . . . . . . . . 11:45-13:15
Discussion Turkish Prison Regime
Boerhaavelaan . . . . . . . . . . . 14:30-16:00
Reclaim the Streets
Bakkerij . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14:30-17:00
Indymedia Israel
Bar en Boos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18:00
Consulta Meeting
Weggeefwinkel . . . . . . . . . . . 19:00
Practical Plenary Meeting
LVC attic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20:30

House announcements

Plenary Session

If you have any specific points for the agenda for the Plenary Session, please come to the Practical Plenary Preparation at 8 o'clock LVC attic. This meeting is not to discuss the decision-making process. This will take place in the PGA-process working group, Haagweg at 14:30-17:45. Any concrete proposals for decision-making procedures to be done at this processmeeting.

Convenors: PGA is 'desperate'!

Candidate Convenors can make their interests known at the beginning of the PGA-process working group. Also, groups that want to participate more in the evolving PGA process, please discuss the possibility of doing work on maintaining and extending the European and Global PGA network and make your conclusions know at the Plenary Session.

Facilitation Group Announcement

We need more people to help make the plenary session more pleasurable, with door-keeping, stewarding (ie. to give standing people a microphone), co-facilitators, translators and similar support tasks. Please sign in at the info-point and or report at 9pm Wednesday morning. We need as many people as possible so we can share tasks. The more people can help, the less the burden of all.

Organise! Clean up rubbish!

To our amazement, many participants are unable to clean up. Please bring back cups and plates to where you got them from. And please do not lose your newspaper. Organise yourself!

PGA heading towards change in its process

PGA participants have argeed to exend the networking process. This situation is tightly balancing between having centralised structures and the present situation where information is not spread widely enough, and where there have been accusations of informal hierarchies. The working-group saw the need to create more visibility of the network.

The working-group also reached consensus on how to prepare proposals to take to the plenary. These should include a wide variety of perspectives, focused around the European PGA Conference and proposed structures that may facilitate an improved organisational process of PGA within that. To widen the PGA process and make it more accessible, it was proposed to start a decentralised PGA processes. After long discussion on these points consensus was reached.

The PGA Infopoints can give visibility to the PGA process without representing it. They can convene regional meetings, produce articles and publications, can network and inform interested people 'inspired by PGA', without aiming to represent the network. (PGA has no membership, so the infopoints are not members, nor representatives of PGA)

  1. Groups that endorse the PGA hallmarks are called upon to take on work as PGA 'infopoints' which means they spread information on PGA in their local movement. Infopoints can be physical spaces as well as just a (digital) contact.
  2. These groups are not labelled as 'PGA' groups but are already existing groups that want to do PGA activities next to their other activities.
  3. These infopoints can organise regional PGA meetings inspired by PGA [changed during the process discussion of the day!] to discuss proposals related to the European conference. They can also start autonomous regional initiatives (not labeled PGA). There is no respresentative structure from the regional to the European or Global PGA conferences.
  4. Infopoints cannot represent PGA, nor are they members of PGA, they are autonomous initiatives to spread information.
  5. The infopoints can be started autonomously, so consensus for their formation does not have be reached for the European plenary. Infopoints that violate the hallmarks and principles of the PGA will be noticed, and other infopoints and convenors can decide to no longer work with them (ie they are no longer part of the process).
  6. At every conference there will be an open meeting of infopoints where groups that want to become an infopoint can introduce themselves and get to know the other groups involved.
  7. All these local points together will form what is now known as the 'support group'. [deleted during the process discussion of the day!]

Whether regional actions can be done in the name of PGA will be discussed on Tuesday. It will be discussed if the European PGA network in general can initiate actions and campaigns or if it is just a network for communication.

'The Support Group'

Consensus was reached on the following points: There will be one general email list where support work will be coordinated and information will be spread. One general email list will ensure clarity and accessibility; The group will be accessible through open meetings at every conference where interested groups can join the process.

The Convenor

Consensus was, again, reached on the following points: There are three main tasks that need to be done: Organisation of the European Conference; European networking and maintenance of infrastructure (email, web, not sure on finances); Global Contacts (Global networking, work with convenors from other continents); There will be at least two convenors. [from here on no more consensus!] After organising a conference, the old convenor will help the new convenor to organise the next conference. And this convenor will help the next one and so on. So there will be at-least be a dual convenorship. It is not defined whether there will be a convenor for global contacts. It was proposed to have an international working group, this group is to be open and transparent. But this remains to be decided at the Global Contacts meeting, Tuesday 10:00-13:15 in the LVC foyer.

Further issues that need to be discussed at today's sessions (Process and Global Contacts): Communication: email lists and websites; Relation to global network; Decision making process at this conference plenary and in the European PGA in general; Can PGA initiate actions and campaigns or is it just a network for communication?


Globalisation in Africa

Workshops on the War in Congo - the involvement of western society, and the Globalisation and Congo, Sudan and Angola.

The civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which declared independence in 1960, officially ended in 1999 with the Lusaka treaty. However, it still goes on in a more diffuse way.

During the war Congo, whose main resources include copper and uranium, was backed by Angola and Zimbabwe, countries that still have troops in the Congo. But troops from Uganda and Rwanda also invaded Congo, and are still present in the east of Congo.

The United States supplied Uganda and Rwanda with arms and military training. Rwanda, especially, spends a lot of money on weapons. There is no ban on weapon deliveries to Uganda and Rwanda, even though these countries are involved in war activities in Congo.

In Congo there are many small weapons available, originating still from the Cold War, plus weapons originating from China, Russia and Israel.

After the genocide in Rwanda, large numbers of hutus (including members of death squads) fled to the eastern part of Congo. For this reason, Rwandese troops occupied east Congo.

The situation in eastern Congo is very worrying. Human Rights Watch reports numerous violations of human rights. There is hunger and malnutrition. Many women are raped and are then rejected by their communities.

Among the export of resources to the west, tantalum ore is crucial to the process of globalisation. This is a rare metal which is used in camera lenses, x-ray film, ink jet printers and as powder in capacitors for electronic circuits in medical appliances such as hearing aids, pacemakers, airbag protection systems, ignition and motor control modules, GPS, ABS systems in automobiles, laptop computers, cellphones, playstation, video cameras and digital still cameras. And 60 % of the ore mined in Congo comes from the east.

Children work hard to dig tantalum ore for pitiful wages.

Globalisation impacts on Congo, and on Sudan and Angola, by unequal exchange (products from the south are undervalued, while the price on the world market of western produced goods is getting more expensive) and disparate exchange (countries in the south are pushed to have an export-oriented economy; with the money they make they buy weapons in the west).

Unequal exchange takes place because the World Bank and IMF stimulate the production and export of raw materials and in this way, just like in colonial times, poor countries stay dependent on cheap products for the export market.

Before the creation of the WTO unequal exchange was seen as an important problem, addressed for example by UNCTAD. In the neoliberal ideology adapting to the free trade system is emphasized as a way for poor countries to get out of poverty.

Countries that are dependent on mineral raw materials and basic agricultural products receive less and less money. Prices of cotton and copper, for example, on the world market have collapsed. In countries that are dependent on these products, poverty is increasing.

In the bourgeois press, it is often stated that poor countries have to join the globalisation process, in order to escape from poverty. Poor countries are already joining the globalisation process however: allthough the value of the export in Africa in world figures is negligible, if you look at the percentage of the national product, it is huge.

Disparate exchange in Sudan, which has suffered civil war since 1983 (at the moment there is a fragile peace treaty), resulted from the building of a pipeline, running south-north, in 1999.

Before 1999 Sudan was an oil importer, after the pipeline was placed, Sudan became an exporter.

Two areas in the south have been depopulated to make oil exploitation possible. Sophisticated weapons such as attack helicopters and missiles are bought with oil money and used against the people.

The organizations ECOS and Amnesty International have published reports criticizing the human rights conditions in Sudan, and the role of the oil exploration. This disparate exchange of oil and weapons is not only to be seen in Sudan, it also happened in Saudi Arabia and Iran in the 1970s and also goes on in Angola.

A participant from Angola argued that the speaker emphasized too much the world economic structures, and did not give enough attention to national /ethnic /religious problems involved in the creation of poverty.

The speaker admitted that this is true. However, he said, in the western media cultural/religious/ethnic factors are always emphasized in explaining poverty. The speaker wanted to get away from this and highlight the consequences of globalisation.

INFO: and

Media Day

Workshop on Media Democracy
Day - October 18, 2002

Media Democracy Day (MMD) is an occasion to push for a media system that informs and empowers all members of society. It offers an opportunity to create and link grassroots media and build alternatives to the present media monopolies. It will connect existing pockets of critical and creative media projects with broader social movements. Media Democracy Day is a day for promoting the work of independent, radical and community media projects, while also protesting against the corporate media and restrictions on the freedom of communication. Events including workshops, conferences, publicity distribution, sub-vertising and protests are being planned now in several European countries as well as in Canada, but there is room for plenty more!

In the weeks up to October 18, Indymedia and other media activists plan to promote MDD and network it across their local contacts, with the goal of building a much larger mobilisation in October 2003. Then in December 2003, in Geneva, the UN will hold the World Summit on Information Society (see Media Democracy Day is an ideal opportunity to mobilise grass roots media projects together with other social movements in advance of the Geneva Summit, which some are already calling the "Media's Seattle". There will be a short MDD presentation during the Culture Jamming evening on Tuesday at 20:00 at the LVC venue. For more information see:


People from six magaznes got together to discuss exchanging material and publications. It was suggested a link is made to the PGA website, with the contact addresses of anarchist and radical left magazines and newsletters.

The meeting agreed that articles about struggles in the different countries should be written for each others' magazines. More information is expected before the end of the conference.

Eastern Europe


EU expansion was seen as unavoidable. The main issue is globalisation, not opposition to the EU.

When east Europeans propose concrete proposals instead of revolutionary tourism, such as bordercamps or prisoner support, there is little echo in the west. See forum in the conference website for more info.

Israel/Palestine Action Workshop

Following the general political discussion on Sunday of the conflict in "that lump of land west of the Jordan river", activists from Palestine, Israel and international activists met on Monday for an extremely productive discussion of action plans.

The first session focused on the creation of a strong networking infrastructure between Israeli, Palestinian and international activists. Over the past few months there has been a rise of activism in the area. Local people (Jewish and Arab) have formed a growing radical peace movement and many international activists are arriving in the occupied territories for solidarity actions.

The intensity of the conflict in this period made it difficult for the two groups to create strong links, and so the participants began the session by drawing up a 'wish list' of things they would like to do for each other. Among these: international participation and support for actions in Israel; financial and resource sharing; news and media exchange; and local help for international activists coming in or out.

This was followed by a brainstorm session to come up with tools for making these things happen.

Among these: a list of people who can meet, house and help international activists; a shared action calendar; an information kit; and a permanent 'combo' that would deal with the nuts and bolts of visas, legal aid and communication. A meeting was set for tuesday at 10 in the evening in the freeplace Boerhaavelaan to further define these tools. The planned international mobilisation to defend the olive harvest in Palestine in October can be an opportunity to test these tools.

In the second session, there was a discussion of some very high-profile international actions that could give visibility to many issues and opinions, and send a strong political message going beyond what the politicians are talking about.

Among these were the idea of having a boat of activists and Palestinian refugees trying to enter Israel, an international womens' human-rights march in Palestine/Israel with related actions, a mass demo at the port in Marseilles calling for boycotts on Israeli products, an International Kaffieh (Palestinian scarf) Day, and the Abraham's Alliance project of meetings among Jewish and Muslim religious figures.

Finally there were suggestions to have action-workshops at the autonomous space during the European Social Forum in Florence, and to create a radical alternative news agency to counterbalance the information which the Israeli government and army feed to the mainstream media.

Droits Devants! on a European sans-papiers network

Droits Devants!, the French collective by and for refugees started by a brief explanation of the links between sans-papiers organisations. During the Strasbourg No Border camp, a common statement on migrants and sans-papiers has been prepared.

The demands are: "freedom of movement, unconditional legalization of the Sans Papiers (undocumented people), defence of the right to asylum , an end to all deportation , the closure of all detention centres and freedom of those imprisoned, an end to the dispersal system and any restrictions on residency (such as in Germany) , the removal of conditions on permission to stay (such as a contract for work), an end to precarious and short-term legal permits , the abolition of any restrictions on movement or association . abolition of the double penalty (as exists in Belgium and France) , the right to dignity and a decent life for all."

On a European level, the main similarities on refugee-policy are a Europe-wide increase of repressive legislations turning refugees into criminals and a growing amount of detention-and deportation prisons. Paradoxally, the business sector and politicians in Europe are increasingly stressing the economic and demographic need of immigrants, often in relation to pension funds. Hence, Droits Devants! feels the need for:

The testimonies of Mamadou en Moussa showed the way in which basic human rights as well as the Geneva convention are being neglected by the French government. People spending months, if not years in jail before beings sent back to a country in war, bigoted judges, racist police and legislation were elements familiar to all participants. Thus, the need to join forces and link-up on an European level, a global scale currently being too far-fetched, was shared by the group. Practical agreements between a.o. Droits Devants! and Publix Theater Caravan have been made at the end of the workshops.

Trade agreements and access to healthcare

Central in this workshop were the presentation of the Women's Global Network and People's Health Movement, the definition of reproductive health and the impact of globalisation and privatisation on women's health. Reproductive health entails more than access to abortion. It is also about access to services, prevention health policies, access to clean water and the presence of reasonable environmental factors. Decisions made in the frames of WTO, GATT, World Bank and IMF have a great impact on these factors. These institutions have gradually taken over decision making power from national governments. They have pushed national governments to decrease funding for health services and make room for privatised health care. According to this paradigm charging fees and competition in the market will increase efficiency. The reality is different: poor people do not have access to health care anymore. Prevention is not encouraged anymore, but there is plenty of room for multinationals to make money selling the cures. These corporations also try to patent the knowledge of local women. The collapse of publicly funded health care also encourages a massive brain drain of doctors and nurses who find that one way of making a living is to emigrate.

Info: or visit


Direct democratic organisation and discussion on repression

How do we organise in a direct democratic way and build up counter power?

The debate started with two introductions. One was on a communalist project from the Netherlands, the second introduction was held by an initiator from the Consulta group from Spain. The Communalist introduction began with an outline of the inadequacies in the current wave of street protests.

According to one speaker, the movement should develop a constant level of local organisation. Still, institutions are not enough, we need the people on our side. Someone from the audience found the developments in Argentina disappointing, but the presentator reminded everyone that in the French revolution the creation of decent assemblies, with actual influence, took over 5 years. We shouldn't give up on Argentina yet.

They then suggested a division between radical organisations and institutions of direct democracy. Everyone should have a chance to participate in their own way. For more information on the Communalist hallmarks, contact the address on page 11 of the conference newspaper (CBP, second column)

After the second introduction, the European Social Consulta proposed the PGA conference should endorse the consulta process. This sparked a short but heated debate is this discussion on what is the best place to discuss about consulta or PGA process.

A demand was made to link all strategy discussions about direct democracy to the practice of direct democracy within PGA. The motivation for this stemmed from a recognition that we need to avoid getting stuck in hopeless abstractness. Direct democracy is more than democracy. Many people are disappointed about their own lives. This is part of a larger discussion, but perhaps it touches the ancient battle of optimism and pessimism.

A discussion about relations of sudden catastrophes to direct democracy sparked many comments. Both Germany and the Czech republic have faced massive flooding recently, accompanied by a downright failure of the state organisation to deal with the problem. But spontaneous self-organisation and solidarity by people on a large scale didn't emerge. One person said that: 'In Germany they missed an enormous opportunity.'

Another person commented, in relation to the Czech catastrophe that solidarity and direct democracy are two different things. Generalising crises to everyday life is still problematic, but not impossible. For example: we could utilize failures of the voting system (like linking the floods to the dangers and origins of climate change), which now only seem to benefit the far right.

Another discussion was about relation between class struggle and experiments of direct democracy. One person suggested that there should be a possibility to exclude someone from decision-making based upon of his or her class. We shouldn't forget that we're talking about direct democracy in a society full of social antagonisms. Most of the problems we have are not related to undemocratic decision-making, but to the deep-rooted class antagonisms in our society as a whole.

Strategy discussion on international mobilisation

How do we look back on international mobilisations and days of action, and how will we move forward? (Sunday afternoon session) Only a handful of people turned up and informally exchanged ideas and experiences. There were no major differences of opinion. First we reflected upon the big anti-globalisation demo's of the past, summing up both their positive and negative aspects. Next we looked at the future, and tried to formulate concrete alternatives.

Looking Back / Pros and Cons

We agreed that the big anti-globalisation demo's are still a valuable, and even essential tool, because they can serve as an exchange platform between people with different backgrounds, inspire people, strenghten international solidarity,create visibility, expose our perspectives to a wider audience, provide a low threshold for 'newcomers', and they are good fun! Also, public support for the 'anti-capitalist movement' seems to be growing.

However, the big demo's are not sustainable: we don't seem to go forward. They often don't relate to peoples' daily lives, or even alienate people. Sometimes they even result in local activist groups suffering additional repression. There is a lack of innovation and creativity - with regard to strategies and tactics- leading to predictability and the police being one step ahead of us. Certain groups seem to be underrepresented (e.g. people of colour, marginalised groups, lowest social classes of society, etc.). We seem to fall in a trap: our responses are increasingly symbolic instead of confrontational. Is that because the movement is being monopolised by certain groups, or have we become afraid after Genoa? Finally, the diversity of the movement can be a strength, but also a weakness. We might find ourselves lost in a sea of perspectives, ideas and goals, and unable to effectively disseminate a coherent and clear message.

The way forward

We came up with ideas (most of them quite abstract) to address the mentioned problems. The importance of reaching out to a wider audience, and involving a bigger variety of people was emphasized. Also, we have to put more thought into big demo's beforehand, in order to make sure the demo's remain a means to and end (instead of an end in itself). We increasingly have to link the big demo's with local actions and campaigns (see the the 'Anarchist Travelling Circus' initiative,at: We have to diversify and innovate our tactics, be 'braver in our expectations' - and not let police repression dictate our minds.

It might be good to mix up various 'blocs' of people, since the police often tries to play the divide-and-rule game (e.g. attacking the pacifists in order to create animosity within the movement and/or isolate and attack the 'hard core groups', being left behind when the pacifists run off).

Counter state 'propaganda' to inform local citizens about the coming demonstrations would be a good thing. We could increasingly organise our own gatherings, separate from the global elitist fora. It might be useful to increase the level of small affinity-group-based actions, working autonomously but in conjunction with the big demo's.

To prevent the police from 'caging' us, we should be more fluid and mobile. We could also consider sealing off summits, instead of shutting them down, and to go and find the delegates at their cocktailparties and hotels. Finally, we need to improve our knowledge of the legal system, and create more and better legal teams to support us. 'Jail solidarity' could work-depending on the context- when a large number of people gets nicked (if everybody agrees not to give the police any information).

The following summary deals with the fourth question in the strategic discussions, how do we react to repression? The meeting, held on sunday, had representatives from Droits Devant!, Sans Papiers, Indymedia, WOMBLES, Social Centres Network, Federation Anarchiste, and NO BORDER. Issues discussed included the legitimisation of political repression after September 11, international legal cooperation, immigration and repression world-wide, and a theoretical analysis of social control.

Repression in society includes jails, surveillance, police violence, but also schools, mental hospitals, and social institutions. Political repression includes riot police and governmental discrimination against groups. Linked to the international question of criminal (in)justice and social control is migration control on the national level; this form of repression entails the stigmatisation of certain groups, criminalising them to keep the wider society quiet and afraid. The creation of a moral system (good versus bad) divides populations and groups to set up people against each other. Repression is the visible manifestation of the invisible, ubiquitous system of social control, which is reinforced by the paranoia and internal divisions among activists who wish to remain within the rubric of 'civil society'.

There is a mechanism for removing a society's sense of responsibility. The first step is fear of the monstrous 'other', whether that be criminals, foreigners, poor people, terrorists, mentally ill people, or any other group. The second step is that the society becomes incapable of making rational decisions as to who fits into the category of 'the other', and so society considers itself to be the victim. Society refuses to take responsibility creating this 'other', and hands off its undesirables to technical institutions to be handled by the experts (jails, mental hospitals, schools, etc.) After September 11th, all of society and government considered itself a helpless victim, leaving responsibility to the military.

Historically, the final step is the 'humanisation' of repression, via prison reform, educational reform, psychiatric reform, and so on. Stigmatised people are to be 'rehabilitated, for their own good'. The job of the police and the army is now done by civil democratic society's army of social workers, priests, teachers, social agencies and institutions, and so on. Repression is total.

So the discussion looked for a wider definition of repression. One of the activists stated that we should not argue against unjust repression or unfair persecution, as there is no such thing as just repression or fair persecution. In this sense, all prisoners are political prisoners. Therefore, we should not limit ourselves to activist self-victimisation (ie. people feel as though they are victims of persecution because they are subversive). In truth, we are all victims of persecution only because society needs someone to persecute to reinforce social control.

What can we do against repression?

To combat this culture of culture of social control and paranoia, Indymedia UK created links with mainstream civil liberties groups and trade unions. Now it is time to expand those networks of solidarity, to get the mainstream groups who are in solidarity with Indymedia to support the more marginalised groups that Indymedia also supports. There are many other organisations (,,,, corpwatch. org,, Fortress Europe, that deal with the documentation of repression on a daily basis. We need to establish co-ordination among these groups so that they do not create unnecessary work by repeating each other. We also need to establish networks of coordination among the various protest-specific 'legal teams' and among the various national support groups for the defendants after global summits. This international anti-repression collaboration can be coordinated under the rubric of the European Association of Democratic Jurists. We cannot organise the whole world, but we can create the resources and support platforms to provide a context for activists so they can act more effectively. The second discussion on this subject (the afternoon session) was mainly about a number of concrete examples of repression experienced by the people involved. The summary of this discussion is published on the PGA-forum. Solutions sought in this session are in the sphere of international solidarity and the organisation of juridical support groups.

Strategy debate on alternatives

In yesterday's edition we printed the minutes of one of the discussions focusing on alternatives for the present system. Apparently we missed the notes sent in from the other meeting on alternatives taking place on Sunday. In the following we provide an account of the main conclusions drawn there.

Alternatives are a major issue for many people as we try to move beyond protest. Alternatives have to be connected to society. They have to bridge the gaps to mainstream society and create alternative structures for production and distribution, not just little partial projects outside that mainstream. Using existing structures of the system to create a niche (like squatting) is just a temporary solution, not a revolutionary activity.

Different suggestions to find broader support for alternatives were done, one of which is reaching out to other groups and subcultures like children, women's networks, minority groups. A societal structure which traps people into a nine-to-five job and a mortgage is perceived as the core problem frustrating the involvement of more people: indeed exactly the things we are trying to find the alternatives for. Another possibility to involve more people is to open up existing alternatives to wider participation (and understanding) by getting rid of exclusive activist identities. This separation from society by creating strong sub-cultural identities can be seen as a self-imposed problem. But it could also be argued that society is mostly populated by conservative racist bigots. Although one might hold that they are also victims of the system, it does bring tension when trying to have and create mutual understanding and trust. But ... it can be argued that it is in conflict zones where change will magically appear!

To create understanding between activists and 'the people in the problem' we need to present analyses that generate empowerment and activate those affected by the issues, so people can come up with initiatives themselves, built on mutual trust between 'us and the civil population'. Outreach should be based on rediscovering shared human bonds, rather than preaching radical ideas. Using art and music to visualise the existing alternatives can play a central role. Over the last years this has been successfully practiced but has failed in overcoming a consumer attitude and to feed the energy from these explosions of creativity back into sustained processes.

The Consulta Process was presented as a practical example of how to bridge the gaps described above. Apart from this there was a general feeling that concrete examples of alternatives were not discussed enough and that there was no time to go in depth into the different issues of discussion. For the following concluding debate on Tuesday morning, we should try to combine this abstract discussion with concrete proposals.


West Papua

Workshop on West Papua Current Actions

There is an international campaign to get Kofi Annan to review the UN's role in the 1969 Act of Free Choice that shamefully allowed Indonesia control of West Papua.

West Papua Action (WPA) need to get as many organisations and individuals, including politicians, to write to Kofi Anan and add their name to a list of supporters.

Following the detention of Benny Wenda WPA are hoping to set up a more long term system of prisoner support.

Money can be sent for Papuans to pay for lawyers and food for prisoners Action to be taken includes phoning police stations when people are arrested.

WPA need computers, phone and internet bills to be paid and people with communication skills. They also need people to spread information and are asking people to host a talk, hold an exhibition (available from, show a film (see, write articles, provide media contacts, distribute leaflets and the NI magazine (available from

AMP (Papuan Students) have written a number of booklets for their people about tactics, threats from western corporations. They need money to print and distribute their booklets. A little $ goes a long way there.

Papuan activists need money to travel internationally, create support networks and learn skills from other activists and other struggles. There are currently many Papauns who want to do this work but need money.

Info Prisoner Support, Communicatiuon, AMP and Papuan Travel:
Info direct from West Papua:
Email news list:

Free Places

Workshop on Free spaces and free zones

About 50 persons, from 13 countries, attended the workshop called by people from the Amsterdam group Vrije Ruimte and a London group who have built up a network of free places in London and want to make it nationwide. In Amsterdam there are about 50 free places (in the Netherlands as a whole about 200). The city council of Amsterdam provides free spaces for creative artists but not for political purposes. Working with the city council is not accepted everywhere in Amsterdam. So Amsterdam is different from other cities, even in the Netherlands. This contrasts with London, where free places are known as social centres, and are either bought, rented or squatted. Property in London, however, is very expensive.

After some discussion we came up with these characteristics of free places:

We were talking about a new network from the different free spaces, but there are many existing networks.


Overview after one and a half hour of the PGA process discussion:

  • 40-50 people present
  • 8-10 women
  • 17 people spoke (1 time or more)
  • Two translators and three facilitators
  • Four women spoke (one was facilitating), two of them only to ask for a clarification

"First, I wanted to put these few numbers on the walls of the debate room as a contribution to the gender debate that was supposed to be transversal to every debate during the conference. But I didn't because these few numbers are partial and the fact that less women than men participate actively to these type of debates is not new. I was first quite happy with the choice made of taking the gender debate as a transversal one that should appear in every debate. I thought that having a separate debate on gender would have easily ended in the usual list of concrete differences between men and women and the statement that those are based on patriarchical cultural representations and schemes.

"Becoming aware of this fact seems necessary to me if we want to struggle against patriarchy. But it's also really limited. We can indeed find an ever longer list of situations and areas where women are excluded or where women do the work and men control and decide.

But these types of list usually only makes me sick and tired of gender-relations and often make me want to stop getting involved in mixed areas and struggles alltogether.

"If we had really questioned ourselves about gender issues inside the different thematic debates on the program maybe it would have given us the chance to get a clearer picture why our different practices are patriarchical.

"It may have given us a better possibility to understand in which values patriarchy are rooted and to go beyond the usual 'men are like this, women are like that'. Maybe we could have started to build different relationship and to think about less oppressive practices.

"A lot of interestings things were to be expected if these transversal debates had ever taken place.

As this was not the case, we're collectivly led to the assumption that we can't manage to go any further than listing facts as 'men speak more than women during debates' and as someone from Rampenplan kitchen told me yesterday '80 per cent of volunteers for the kitchen are women'.

"I don't mean that I get involved in women only things just because I can't stand gender mixed situations. On the contrary I think that it's a good tool and an important choice if we want to liberate ourselves from gender roles (and it's fun!). But actually confronting partiarchical oppression needs the work of both men and women. Indeed, it would be wrong to say that the victims of patriarchy are only women."


[ see also: Sustained Campaign on Water ]

The workshop on water was divided into three parts. During the first part the participants analysed and criticised the manner in which capitalism allows corporations to appropriate water. The detrimental consequences of privatisation of water, for example price increases and the spread of diseases, were discussed. The picture is clear, water flows uphill to money. Interesting examples were the British case in which farmers have to pay for rainwater, or conflict areas like the Middle East, where water is a cause and means of conflict. Participants brought up the cases of Latin American countries where dams inundate areas inhabited by indigenous peoples, sometimes even with consequences that can, legally speaking, be labelled genocide.

During the second phase we expressed our dreams and ideals and attempted to describe new forms of social and ecological relations around water. We concluded that water is a question of personal and collective autonomy and self organisation and of consciousness and responsible use. The need for a holistic approach, in which humans cease to destroy and exploit nature but accept to live in harmony with their environment, was emphasised. The notion that management of water use and supply should be in the hands of the communities and the people who require this precious resource was emphasised.

In last phase we talked about concrete experiences and future strategies.

Activists from Itoiz [see Itoiz], Aragón, Andalucía and Catalunia have described the struggle against the National Hydrological Plan in Spain. This involves channelling water from the Ebro river towards the Mediterranean region and requires around 100 dams.

Osvaldo from Bolivia reminded us of how the people of Cochabamba defeated the multinational Bechtel which had privatised the water. As a consequence of the popular uprising the company now demands compensation of 25 Million Dollars. A proposal was made that the European PGA conference adopt a declaration that people have the fundamental right to an adequate supply of good quality water, which only can be guaranteed by local management.

[ see also: Cochabamba Water Battle ]

We heard how, in Columbia, the communities who have opposed dam-building have become the target of paramilitary groups. Other peoples are also threatened by huge hydrological projects, indigenous peoples from Chile, Argentina, India, Turkish Kurdistan and many other places. We were reminded of the importance of documentation in order to confront the lies and the public relation campaigns and multinationals. In this sense, there was the proposition to open a webspace for water; a possibility is on the PGA website with the function to strengthen the networks and collect possible information. What is more, there is a proposition to produce a video on dam building in the world.

Afterwards, there was a debate that water is not only a social but also an ecological good. Here, the clear difference between the need for water and speculations on water was highlighted. We agreed that free access for all to enough good quality freshwater is a basic right that cannot be guaranteed by governments or multilateral institutions but has to be reclaimed from them. Hydrological projects that promote boundless consumption and inequitable development were denounced.

From here, a group was started to work out a document that will be elaborated in the coordination of solidarity between already existing struggles and others that may appear all over the world.

In 2000 the population of the Bolivian city of Cochabamba began a protest against the privatization of drinking-water. The consortium of enterprises who wanted to incorporate the drinking-water company - lead by the American corporate Bechtel - claimed, as a consequence of the protests, $25 million compensation money. In this affair the Dutch bank ING plays an important part because it is the official place of registration of IWH, International Water Holding b.v. (limited), the holding company which owns the majority of the shares of the privatised drinking-water company. This is an administrative trick for Brechter, which allows its compensation claim of $25 million to be dealt with by some kind of law court constituted by the World Bank.

At this moment Osvaldo Pareja, representative of the "Coordinadora de Defensa del Agua y de la Vida" is in the Netherlands to give information on this issue. The Coordinadora, an association of organisations who fought against the privatisation, succeeding in cancelling the whole operation, after which they forced a democratisation of the drinking-water company.

An attempt was made to organise a meeting between Pareja and a representative of the board of directors of ING Bank. In spite of various attempts, the ING Bank did not respond to this invitation. Therefore, together with Pareja, next Thursday morning we will go to the main office of ING and insist on a meeting. It is hoped many people will accompany Osvaldo.

The main demand is for ING-TRUST to inmediately stop all its services and activities for IWH.

Creating Debate in the ESC

[ see also: European Consulta process | ]

The European Social Consulta (ESC) is an initiative aimed at creating social debate and reflection in European society in a horizontal and participatory way. The idea is to facilitate spaces where people can encounter each other and talk about local (and global) problems and find solutions to them through direct democracy. It does so with a set of hallmarks similar to those of the PGA, yet differs from the PGA in that it offers open space for discussion where it is possible for non-politicised people to participate and contribute to debates on issues that concern their lives. As some people in the workshop put it: The Consulta can create forums where we could comfortably invite our grandmothers and other family to participate, while the PGA which is more action focused could not do so.

The ESC name is derived from the Zapatista mock referendum in 1997 and reflects the experiences of direct democracy such as that practised in Argentina this year. It is a politicising experience because it gives people the power to take back democracy outside the parliamentary democracy which governments use to legitimise continued repression in diverse forms. It will be a place where people can come and join if they are not happy with the more vertical structures offered within other political groupings.

There is an internal consultation within the current networks to structure the Consulta, done on a consensus basis. The set of PGA hallmarks frame the idea of the Consulta and act as a guide to the internal consultation. The Consulta will be facilitated through 'promoter' groups who do outreach in different localities by meeting with other groups, organisations and collectives in different areas, talking and then sourcing responses to the questions how to design the Consulta. The Consulta is at the stage of getting the idea out, receiving answers from groups and looking for promoter groups.

Local groups identified projects, which may be of their interest. The emphasis is upon participatory reflection upon the problems, and upon the alternatives we can and do use to transform society.

In the session, groups from Barcelona, Lisbon, Stockholm, Berlin, Madrid, Tübingen and Oslo gave examples their experiences of being part of the Consulta. To help groups engaging in the Consulta process, summaries of examples and initiatives from existing promoter groups as well as other experiences of direct democracy will be collected which can be used as possible campaigns.

It was acknowledged that trying to keep the Consulta as open as possible could also be a weakness in that it could be taken over by others interested in undermining the process in order to promote their own aims. Yet, on the other hand keeping it narrow would exclude the many people needed to make it successful if it is to transform society. It is difficult to have a space and letin new people and therefore it must be possible for participants to co-create the space of debate. This space will emerge out of the locality and the situations they are confronted with.

An important discussion covered how to deal with the dichotomy between debate and action relating to other direct democracy experiences. When is it necessary to act and when is it necessary to debate? Which comes first and should they be separate or not. It was realised that other experiences may not be suitable for the European reality and this point needs more discussion to be taken further in other sessions (or over the Consulta email list).

There was not enough time to cover the final discussion point which considered the problem that applicating the Consulta in different social realities would vary differently especially in eastern Europe and as well as in northern Europe where there is a fear that the idea could be taken over by political parties.

There will be a meeting in Barcelona in October 18-20. In February 2003 there will be the first gathering for different groups to talk and try to reach agreement on the Consulta itself, based on the input from the internal Consulta.

There will be an extra workshop on Tuesday at 7pm in Las Vegas to continue the discusion.


Newsbulletin September 2nd, 2002

Rampenplan, the kitchen that provides organic food to the participants, seems to be a little unhappy because not enough people pay for the food, PGA Radio heard as a serious rumour.
The PGA process workshops had, for the second day in a row, heated debates. A letter, written to the conference in advance by the French network Sans Titre, provides an insight with the unease some groups have with the way PGA decision process currently works.
The Dutch group Critical students, participating in the PGA conference, organised an action against the commercialisation at the opening of the new academic year in the Pieterskerk in Leiden.
Hundreds of students, many of them quite conservative, were confronted with a choice before entering the Pieterskerk: The devil and his partners advertised the commercial university and students promoted independent science with a critical point of view to society. In the end the police arrived but did not stop the action.
"What is a boy, what is a girl?", a pamphlet questioned that was found on the doors of both the men and women showers at the campingsite. "Its definitions are made up by society and it discriminates against people 'somewhere in between' like transgender and transinterpeople", the pamphlet stated. It ended with: Act openminded- Queer Up! PGA radio heard that on Monday night at 4.00 a transgender shower will be opened.
The freeshop workshop didn't just discuss whether free shops should be service based or more confronting the consumer attitude, but debated extending the concept of freeshops. Why not try to provide free electricity, free stolen goods or free food?
The workshop on radical magazines was probably the most efficient. Within half an hour the six magzazines sorted out most of the problems they faced.
The European Newsreel will have a workshop tomorrow at 2.30 in the videoactivist room in Eurodusnie, Boerhaavelaan.
"Bring your cameras" the organizers said and PGA radio can add to this that you might be able to film a good fight, since we heard the room is double booked.


People of PGA radio know how to use radio perfectly, but seem to have trouble using computer facilities. A reporter has deleted the daily newsreport twice and had to start all over again. As a result, there was no Dutch report yesterday. Is there anyone who can give him a computer workshop?

After hearing efficieny is a capitalist and patriarchical concept, EuroDusnie has decided to restructure the conference. PGAredactie has heard that from now on there will only be barrio meetings. EuroDusnie embraced the concept of disorganisation and wants to apologise for organising the conference too efficiently.

MRG Catalonia wants to have different regional convenors, yet PGAredactie has not heard of any collective or network that wants to take up next year's convenorship. Presumably, as has been argued in the editors- office, facilities in Leiden are so well organised, no-one dares to take up this task and run the risk of losing face.

"Maybe Ireland is next?" Brendan Behen asked forty years ago, referring to the organisational abilities of the Irish, "what is the first item on the agenda of the meeting?" The answer: "The split!" But the Irish are confident the PGA will not come to Ireland before 2009.

Sources at the campsite have informed us about a dispute that arose over the "utterly discriminating and sexist signs" above the toilets, saying 'boys' and 'girls' respectively. A special commission has now ordered to open a third lavatory, accessible for 'in-betweens' only. According to another rumour, the use of toiletpaper has taken on unsustainably high levels.

Meanwhile, Naomi Klein sent a message through WiFi, saying that she is having a great time at the planet of Wrossjk. It seems to be an utopian planet without injustice, repression, sexism, capitalism and any logo. The only thing she cries on is Prins Willem Alexander. Last night, being in the Editors Office, he said he could not agree with her not being in capitalist society. He gave her the following choiche: either Naomi leaves the planet Wrossjk, or he will end their love-live at once.

European PGA Conference Leiden | |