The 15.02 demonstration in Malmö

Juan Fajardo fajardos at ix.netcom.com
Mon Feb 17 12:26:47 MST 2003


The following is part of a report on the demonstration in Malmo, Sweden, 
written and emailed in "Unite!", a sort of email e-zine or serial (it's 
too sporadic to be a periodical) put out by Rolf Martens, with whom some 
on this list might be familiar ;-) .

I have only reproduced below the sections dealing with the demo itself 
and some interesting pre-demo discussions; to whit:


01.    5,000 DEMONSTRATED IN MALMÖ ON 15.02
     FOR "NO TO WAR AGAINST IRAQ!"

06.    A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AMONG THE WAR OPPONENTS
     IN MALMÖ, CONCERNING THE FLAG OF IRAQ

APPENDIX: Some addresses


- Juan F.


============================================================


UNITE! Info #190en: The 15.02 demonstration in Malmö
[Posted: 17.02.03]

01.    5,000 DEMONSTRATED IN MALMÖ ON 15.02
     FOR "NO TO WAR AGAINST IRAQ!"

All over the world, in some 600 cities in more than 60 coun-
tries, millions of people demonstrated last Saturday, 15.02.
2003, against the US government's plans for a devastating
aggressive war against Iraq.

In Sweden, such protest actions were carried out in 40 places,
including here in Malmö, the country's third-largest city,
population appr. 280,000. In this Info there follows a little
about this demonstration and about the circumstances in which
it took place, about other demonstrations in Sweden and about
the political background to the 15.02 mass protests in gene-
ral.

Some of the experience from the preparations for and the car-
rying-out of this demonstration here in this medium-large city
perhaps may be of interest elsewhere, where there are similar
conditions.

The demonstration in Malmö against the threatening imperialist
war was the biggest in this city in a very long time. Even the
most hostile-minded among the reactionary, warmongering and
notoriously mendacious mass media in this country had to admit
that at least 3,000 people participated in it, "as stated by
the police". Probably there in reality were considerably more,
according to the assessment by some of us who organized the
demonstration, close to 5,000 - even more people than in the
large torch march against racism on 31 January 1992.

In Stockholm and in Göteborg too, the anti-war demonstrations,
for Swedish conditions, were enormous: At least 80,000, per-
haps 100,000, participants in Sweden's largest city (this ac-
cording to messages on the mailing-list "mot_krig" ["against_
war"], the most reliable source - "35,000", said all of the
fanciful media here, again "as stated by the police"), and
between 20,000 and 30,000 in the second-largest city.

The demonstration here in Malmö was organized, as was that in
Stockholm and were those in many other places, by the umbrella
organization Nätverket mot Krig (Network against War). It was
supported by all of 50 organizations. (For addresses, central-
ly and locally, to Nätverket, see an appendix second-last in
this Info.)

The political platform of the demonstration was that of Nät-
verket:

NO TO WAR AGAINST IRAQ!
NO SWEDISH SUPPORT FOR THE US POLICY OF WAR!
NO MISUSE OF THE UN FOR WAR!
SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY!

The demonstrators shouted:

"Stoppa kriget mot Irak!"
("Stop the war against Iraq!")
"Sverige ska nu säga nej - inte vara Bush-lakej!"
("Now Sweden shall say no - not be a Bush lackey!")
"FN måste stå för fred - krig det ska dom sluta med!"
("The UN must stand for peace - stop making war!")
"Fred för folket i Irak!"
("Peace for the people of Iraq!")
"Bush go home!"
"Drop Bush - not bombs!"
"Göran Persson visa dej - gör som vi, säg nej!"
("Göran Persson, show yourself - do as we, say no!"),
and several other slogans.

Here in Malmö, we in Nätverket mot Krig are planning, as
everybody was informed of on 15.02, that if an attack on Iraq
is initiated, then:

PROTEST MEETING the same day at 19.00 h, at Gustav Adolfs
torg, Malmö (Or at 19.00 h the next day if an attack starts
in the evening)

THE LARGEST POSSIBLE DEMONSTRATION against the war the fol-
lowing Saturday, to gather at 13.00 h at Gustav Adolfs torg.

[...]


06.    A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AMONG THE WAR OPPONENTS
     IN MALMÖ, CONCERNING THE FLAG OF IRAQ

In the discussions for preparing the demonstration in Malmö,
it turned out at an early stage, already at our first meeting,
on 25 January, that some of those who wanted to organize a
demonstration against the war threat against Iraq also wanted
to prohibit all participants in such a demonstration to bring
along a flag of that country.

Why? What reason or reasons did they advance for this?

They maintained that "some exile Iraqis who are opponents of
Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq consider this flag to be
a symbol only of that government, and not a symbol of Iraq
as a country or of the Iraqi nation", and that this standpoint
"must be respected" and "be decisive for all".

Is the present Iraqi flag really a symbol "only of the govern-
ment of Saddam Hussein"? No. This its history clearly shows.

The present flag of Iraq was decided on, in its main features,
in 1963, and continued to be used, in the same form, also
after Saddam Hussein became president of the country, during
the 12 years from 1979 to 1991. In 1991, in connection with
the war against Iraq then, the flag was changed somewhat, by
the addition of a text in green, "Allahu Akbar" ("God is
great"), and it's this flag that has been the official one
for the country during the 12 years since then.

Of course, under such circumstances, that flag actually *is*
that of Iraq, that of the Iraqi nation, and by no means "only
that of Saddam". This everybody can easily understand. And
absolutely most people, in Iraq, in Sweden, all over the
world, will understand that too, will understand what consi-
derable importance the flag has for a nation which has only
rather recently in history achieved independence, against the
earlier colonial empires, and which has also, in the last few
years, been subjected to enormously strong imperialist pres-
sure, to constant military attacks, to devastating economic
sanctions, by the pillaging states in the world.

Those who think or say that this flag "only represents the
government in Iraq" are making a mistake. Undoubtedly, they in
one way or another have been influenced by the very massive
propaganda by the rulers of the USA (etc), who are those who
*really* are against this flag, since they want to smash the
Iraqi nation, break Iraq up, and install a puppet "government"
there, controlled by themselves.

All this was pointed out too, by me and by others, in that
discussion which took place here in Malmö.

But at a meeting on 2 February, with some 80 participants,
that bad standpoint that the flag of Iraq should be banned at
our 15.02 demonstration, gained a majority anyway. (By 165
votes against 115 - each organization that was represented was
given 5 votes, and each individual participant also 1 vote.)

Despite this bad decision, I (for instance) held that the po-
litical platform, as a whole, which this demonstration would
have, i.e., with above all those 4 slogans of Nätverket which
have been shown above, was an acceptable one.

Several among those of us who held and hold that it's wrong to
ban the flag of Iraq in such a context also participated in
another and much smaller, but politically better, more consis-
tent, demonstration here in Malmö the day before Nätverket's
demonstration, i.e. on 14 February. That demonstration was
organized (independently) by a number of Arabic and Islamic
organizations, and carried both Iraqi and for instance also
Swedish flags. Its slogans were:

"Stop the war against Iraq!", "Long live the people of Iraq!"
and "Smash US imperialism!".

In some of the mendacious mass media it was maintained that
some of us who also supported, respectively organized, this
demonstration on 14.02 had "broken with", or even, "had been
expelled"(!) by, Nätverket mot Krig. (E.g. in that infamous
"bomb more!" newspaper Sydsvenskan, which is published in
Malmö, on 14.02.) That was not the case at all. (But Nätver-
ket's correction, sent the same day, was - of course - not
even carried by Sydsvenskan.) We are all continuing to co-
operate within Nätverket, and to strive for unity on the ques-
tions.

But at the same time, we will continue the discussion concer-
ning the flag of Iraq. It really is clearly detrimental to the
political line of, and thus also to the public hitting power
of, manifestations organized by Nätverket mot Krig, if the
very national symbol of that country which is now acutely
threatened with an aggressive war should not be allowed in
such manifestations.


07.    SOME QUESTIONS TO THE LEFT PARTY AND OTHERS

One must, in this connection, put some questions to, above
all, the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), which supported the
demonstrations both in Malmö and for instance in Stockholm,
and whose representatives here in Malmö at an early stage de-
clared, that "if the flag of Iraq is allowed in the demonstra-
tion, then our party does not want to participate"(!).

Those questions are:

a) What flag do you (your party) hold, then, to be the one
that *really* represents Iraq, and the Iraqi nation? The one
from 1963, perhaps? Or does that country perhaps, in your
opinion, have no real flag at all?

b) Since in Nätverket's demonstration in Stockholm, but not
in the one in Malmö, Iraqi flags were *allowed* - lots of
them could be seen in some TV pictures - and your party of
course participated in Stockholm too, at what level (central-
ly?, or locally?) within your party was that decision made,
that you would not participate if the flag of Iraq was al-
lowed? When was that decision made, and on what grounds? Is
it perhaps something that holds only locally for you, for in-
stance in Malmö? And why, then, *one* standpoint i Stockholm,
but *another*, and a contrary one, here?

c) Is it perhaps in reality the case, that your party - which
has actually shown up a double-bottomed standpoint (see above)
concerning the war threat against Iraq - has been influenced
by the propaganda from the USA in this question (too), the
one concerning the Iraqi flag?


- So far on this problem, which has existed and exists for
the anti-war activism here in Malmö and which has made unity
within it more difficult.


08.    WHILE THE DISCUSSIONS ARE CARRIED FURTHER,
     THE STRUGGLE TO STOP THE WAR CONTINUES

The threat of an aggressive war against Iraq remains acute,
now more than ever. Here in Malmö too, undoubtedly will many
continue to do their best to combat it.




APPENDIX: Some addresses

Nätverket mot Krig (Network against War), Sweden
(Its central leadership, Samordningsgruppen,
the Co-Ordinating Group):
URL:        www.motkrig.org
E-mail:        info at motkrig.org
Some phone
numbers:
Jan Lönn:    0732 - 01 69 42       (from within Sweden)
         +46 - 732 - 01 69 42    (from abroad)
Widad Zaki:    0704 - 85 07 35        (from within Sweden)
         +46 - 704 - 85 07 35    (from abroad)

Nätverket mot Krig, Organisation Group in Malmö:
E-mail:        motkrig at home.se



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