Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saving Iceland celebration marred by police intervention

It started off as peaceful and fun filled protest party, but turned ugly when officers of the Icelandic police force put an end to Rave Against the Machine – a reclaim the streets type event being hosted by our brothers and sisters in the struggle against heavy industry, Saving Iceland - on Saturday July 14 in downtown Reykjavik. Just 20 minutes from the end of the parade, police intervened, causing a complete stop to the slowed flow of traffic behind the Rave.
For more than an hour, the Rave stood still on Snorrabraut, close to Rejkyavik's main shopping street. Us ravers were led by the antics of our very own Clown Army. We partied in the streets for an end to heavy industry in Iceland, South Africa and Trinidad. Scores of Icelanders gathered on the corners, giving support, reading information sheets and generally enjoying the music and Iceland's first reclaim the streets celebration. In the midst of negotiations, the police officers seemed to change their minds, and a struggle began between the peaceful protestors and the officers. Suddenly they were grabbing clowns, bystanders. One young woman was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the ground. Officers then forcibly removed the driver of the music van from the driver's seat. At the same time five officers had grabbed two of the ravers and pinned them to the pavement. As the crowd chanted 'the whole world is watching' and 'Hitler police', the police continued their brutality against the unarmed protestors. Cameras recorded the violence, but the other ravers kept calm, asking what were the charges. The dj played on.
Moments later the two arrestees were picked up like trapped animals, their feet and hands bound behind them and put into the police van. At this time they also grabbed another bystander who had questioned their brutality. When the van of police drove away with the prisoners, another police officer broke the glass on the driver's seat of the music van and disconnected the power. The speakers went silent, but the voices of the people gathered continued in the streets. The police then left the scene and the rave continued to the police station three blocks away where the arrested ravers were being held. The still free ravers gathered outside the station singing and drumming. On two occasions the police emerged from their fortress to intimidate the ravers, at one point to rip down the banners that were hung from the front of the station and then to arbitrarily grab at any dancer within reach.
The latest news is that the arrested ravers are being held overnight at the station in downtown Rejkyavik and that they would be released by Sunday morning. The police have thus far witheld information on their medical status, although an ambulance was seen entering the facility.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


JULY 7-8, 2007.

We are gathered in Olfus, Iceland, we are people from more then 15 different countries and five continents. We are here to share our experiences of heavy industry, dams, transnational companies and other expressions of globalisation, in Iceland, in Brazil, in South Africa, in Denmark, in Canada, in England, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago and many other countries.

We are not professional protestors. Unlike the well-paid corporate lobbyists and spindoctors that try to sell you heavy industry, none of us gets payed to be here. We are ordinary people, we are teachers, nurses, youth workers, students, shopworkers, fathers, mothers. We are here because we care. The Icelandic wilderness is unique. It is the largest in Europe and one of the few wild places left on this continent. It’s beauty and uniqueness and fire and ice are a heritage we must preserve and must defend. It is the heritage and responsibility and privilege of all Icelanders, and all Europeans, and all humans.

We are global citizens in opposition to global companies.

We find it remarkable that in all our countries, we see and suffer from transnational companies following the same blueprint. All around the world, in north and south, in present and past, the same picture is coloured. An ugly picture coloured grey and black. We see the same patterns wrought by corporations. Patterns of ecological devastation. Of total disrespect for human rights. Of creating an environment that is unhealthy to live, where we do not want to raise our children anymore. Of the destruction of communities. Of the corruption and manipulation of governments.

We stand in solidarity with each other, we have a common struggle against common enemies such as ALCAN, RUSAL, ALCOA and Century.

Icelanders – do not forget what these foreign companies have done in the past and are doing now. How heavy industry has . How these people lie, bribe and your government. People from Africa, from South America and many places tell you – do not trust them. Do not walk into this trap. It is the trap of neocolonisation. It is the trap of false promises. How will you face your children if you sacrifice this country, this unique and unspoilt country.

Progress is painted by some as huge projects, large scale development. In all our countries, these have become disasters, socially, ecologically, economically. Progress is a plentitude of small solutions. We would let a thousand flowers bloom.

Inform yourself. Make up your own mind. Do not stay sitting on the fence, as if it doesn’t affect you. You have to make a decision.

Dams in Iceland only provide electricity for half a short time – they are not a long term solution. They do in fact emit greenhouse gases, aluminium smelters produce very, very large amounts. It is not a green metal at all. If you allow these factories, all of the credit you have under the Kyoto Protocol vanish like snow. If we do not face the dangers of climate change, our world will become unliveable.

What is this all for? You pride yourself for not having an army, but 30% of aluminium is produced for the military, for war effort, for tanks, for missiles. Will you let your wilderness be destroyed so that countries can bomb each other? Or do you prefer to sacrifice it for pepsi-cans?

It is not that Iceland will be sacrificed so other places will be saved. The aluminium industry will build devastating smelters in South Africa and Trinidad, and all the major rivers of the Amazon are threatened by large dams for heavy industry.

Why more aluminium? Why more dams? What kind of world will we end up with and what will we become?

We can all make a difference. Raise consciousness. Mount pressure. Bring information to schools, bring it to your work and your communities. Everyone can care, no matter how large or small they are, because we are all human. Inform yourself. Make up your own mind or it will be made up for you.


Abigail Ley, USA
Alona Kononovica, Latvia
Antje Hersrick, Germany
Astrid Österreicher, Austria
Attillah Springer, Trinidad & Tobago
Bettine van Rijnswou, the Netherlands
Birgitta Jonsdottir, Iceland
Cirineu da Rocha, Movement of Dam Affected People MAB, Brazil
Daniel Nemeryi, England
Einar Rafn Þorhallson, Iceland
Eric Duchemin, Nature Quebeq, Canada
Gigja Sara Björnsson, Iceland/France
Gudmundur M.H. Beck, Iceland
Helen B, England
Jaap Krater, the Netherlands
Joanna Pasol, Austria
Johann Oli, Birdlife, Iceland
Jon G. Hefsteinsson
L. Maregele, South Africa
Laura Lnakkoiun, Finland
Mimi Sheller, USA
Olafur Pall Sigurdsson, Iceland
Patricia von Moravie, Germany/Austria
Rebecca Evans, England
Rev. Billy Talen, USA
Savitri D, USA
Spring Exprit, Austria/Spain
Trude Menrath, Germany
Wouter vd Pool, the Netherlands

And others.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This weekend in Olfus, Iceland