Belgium

The Belgian government, together with other EU countries, has declared Iran a "safe country", by which they mean that no-one is in danger of state repression there. This is clearly a manoeuvre. Iran remains one of the most dangerous countries for anyone struggling for genuine human rights, and particularly workers' rights. Support the 250 asylum seekers!

The weekend of 18 and 19 January thousands of people all over the world protested against the impending war in Iraq. In Belgium there was a demonstration with about 10,000 participants that took to the streets on Sunday. Various NGOs, immigrants' organisations, left groups and parties and delegations of trade unions were present.

Filip Staes reports on last weekend's antiwar demonstration in Brussels and on the 'shipspotting' activities of the Anti-War Committees set up by the supporters of Vonk in Antwerp. Antwerp has grown in importance for the war effort as a large part of the military hardware for the Gulf is transported through this port.

Within a few days tens of thousands of workers and young people will come from whole over Europe to Brussels to protest against the EU, capitalist globalisation in Europe and the rest of the world and the new war in Afghanistan. These demonstrations are the next stage in the cycle of mobilisations started in Seattle and which culminated in the 300.000 strong demonstration in Genoa. Erik Demeester from the Editorial Board of Vonk/Unité, the Belgian Marxist paper for labour and youth, looks briefly at what's at stake in these protests.

Misha Van Herck from Belgium explains how the main European harbours are set to play a vital role in the war preparations against Iraq. They can only be ‘replaced’ at a very high cost. Its is clear that without at least the passive collaboration of Belgium and Europe a war against Iraq would be impossible. The ports of Northern Europe will be filled with military equipment, supplies and ammunition.

Only superlatives and historical comparisons can help us to understand the scope of the sudden collapse of the Sabena airline and the new commotion it has provoked in Belgium. As one trade union leader put it: "Our society is going from one shock to the other." In just one day 12,000 workers have lost their jobs and 36,000 jobs in service-providing companies are now in jeopardy. This amounts to the biggest single bankruptcy since the second world war.

The petrol price hike in the last few months has added fuel to the already existing social discontent in Belgium. Very soon after the truckers in France and the rest of Europe had paralysed their respective countries in the first half of September, the industrial workers in the South of Belgium took over and launched their own action, demonstrations and strikes to stop the further dwindling of the value of their income.

The night of January 17th 1961 Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba, was shot dead in Katanga. Forty years later a new book by Belgian sociologist Ludo De Witte uncovers proof of what everyone already knew: the complicity of the Belgian government and the United Nations in this crime. Pierre Dorremans looks at the political background of this case and explains the politics of Lumumba.

The dismissal of judge Connerotte in October 1996 sparked a mass movement which shocked the whole society in Belgium. Ordinary people were no longer afraid of challenging the state institutions: the police, the judges, the government, even the King. A Marxist analysis on the causes and effects of such a movement. The dismissal of judge Connerotte in October 1996 sparked a mass movement which shocked the whole society in Belgium. Ordinary people were no longer afraid of challenging the state institutions: the police, the judges, the government, even the King. A Marxist analysis on the causes and effects of such a movement.

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