European Theater

Srebrenica: 18 years later, quest for justice goes on

Thousands of Bosnians again marched cross-country on July 11, along the path that refugees took when they fled the massacre at Srebrenica on that day in 1995. They arrived at the ​Potočari memorial cemetary outside the town for a ceremony where 409 more bodies were laid to rest. Among the interred remains were those of a baby girl who was born during the massacre; the mother took refuge at the Dutch-run UN "peacekeeping" camp outside the town, and gave birth there. She was told the baby was stillborn and would be buried; then the beseiging Serb forces overran the camp, meeting no resistance from the "peacekeepers." The baby ended up in a mass grave—one of several used to hide the bodies of more than 8,000 of Srebrenica's men and boys, summarily killed by the Serb rebel troops.

'Carlos the Jackal' loses French conviction appeal

Convicted terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as "Carlos the Jackal," on June 26 lost an appeal of his conviction for taking part in four bombings in France in 1982 and 1983, including two that took place in Marseilles on New Year's Eve in 1983. A total of 11 people were killed in the bombings, and approximately 140 were injured. In denying his appeal, the anti-terrorism court upheld Ramírez's life sentence. Ramírez has called himself a "professional revolutionary" and has claimed to have been involved in dozens of attacks which have killed and injured hundreds of people. Despite these claims, Ramírez has continued to deny any involvement in the four bombings. Ramírez's lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre stated that her client would appeal again.

Bulgaria protesters say 'NOligarchy!'

Over the past 10 days, thousands of protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets of Bulgaria to oppose the Socialist-led coalition government of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, which is accused of corruption. A popular slogan is "NOresharski! NOligarchy!" While a generalized anger at the country's political elite animates the protests, the spark that set them off was Oresharski's appointment of MP Delyan Peevski as director of the State Agency for National Security (SANS). Peevski is a leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which advocates for Muslims and ethnic Turks in Bulgaria—pointing to a xenophobic element in the protest movement. Bulgaria's parliament revoked the appointment of Peevski, but protesters continue to call for the government's resignation. 

'Lukashenko Busters' protest London stock exchange

A group of activists calling themselves "Lukashenko Busters" held a demonstration outside the London Stock Exchange June 7 to protest the trading in companies that do business with state-owned enterprises in Belarus. Ruled for nearly 20 years by Alexander Lukashenko, "Europe's last dictator," Belarus faces sanctions in the US but not the United Kingdom. The protesters pointed out that London-traded firms ENRC, METINVEST and Ferrexpo all do business with Belshina, Belarus' parastatal industrial giant. "Do the millions of pension savers know that their pensions funds Lukashenko's war on the opposition?" organizers asked in a statement, charging that Belarusian state companies fund Lukashenko's KGB, which has overseen a wave of harsh repression since contested elections in December 2010.

The London attack: context vs. apologia —again

Here we go again. Following the 2005 London Underground bombings, we had to call out the depressingly polarized media reactions—voices on the anti-war left making the point that such attacks are a reaction to the counter-productive "war on terrorism," and voices from the right or fashionable post-left urging that militant Islamism is a totalitarian threat. All these years later, the slaying of an off-duty soldier on the streets of London by two young men who apparently spewed much extremoid jihadist verbiage elicits precisely the same reaction—as if these two theses were mutually exclusive. The choice of target this time—a soldier—should dampen the usual chorus that such attacks aren't about "foreign policy," as if the anger that animates Islamist militancy were merely arbitrary.  But the voices that emphasize imperialist wars as the context for such attacks are often equally problematic—offering little and lukewarm recognition, if any, of the deeply reactionary nature of contemporary jihadism, and sometimes bordering on actual apologia for the attacks. Two depressing cases in point...

Spain: demand justice in 1976 Vitória massacre

The Association of Victims of March 3 in Vitória, Spain, marked the 37th anniversary of the massacre at the Basque Country city with a public demonstration demanding that the Madrid government officially recognize the facts of the incident, which they say have been excised from the history of the democratic transition after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. The demonstration was coordinated with protests against Spain's pending neoliberal education reform, which brought 3,000 to Vitória's streets. Similar numbers were reported in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country, or Euskal Herria.

Anti-fas versus neo-Nazis in Dresden —again

In what has now become an annual ritual, a group of hundreds of neo-Nazis attempted to march on Dresden's city center to crash commemorations of the 1945 Allied bombardment of the eastern German city, and were blocked by a human chain of thousands of anti-fascist activists. Some 13,000 anti-fascists linked arms in a chain stretching form the Elbe River to the city's historical city center, preventing an estimated 800 Hitler nostalgists from proceeding with what they billed as a "funeral" march, with propaganda about a "bomb holocaust." An estimated 25,000 people perished in 37 hours of Allied aerial boming that started Feb. 13, 1945. The official commemoration was presided over by the Dresden mayor and Saxony governor, both of the center-right CDU, and attended by US, Jewish and church representatives. It ended in a march to the city's Heide cemetery, where white roses were laid on the snow-covered ground for all victims of the war.

Greece: thousands march against Golden Dawn

Some 3,000 marched in Athens Jan. 19, parading the coffin of a Pakistani immigrant who was stabbed to death earlier in the week by suspected right-wing extremists. The anti-racist demonstration gathered in the city’s central Omonia Square, holding banners reading "Neo-Nazis out" and "Punishment for the fascist murderers of Shehzad Luqman!" Immigrant Luqman, 27, was assaulted by two men on a motorcycle as he rode his bicycle to work in the Athens neighborhood of Petralona in the early hours of Jan. 16. Police discovered dozens of pamphlets from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party in the home of one of the two men who confessed to the attack.

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