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Stop using race to smother dissent: another Letter to The Guardian

one of the authors | 20.10.2004 16:04 | European Social Forum

The following letter was sent to The Guardian yesterday but too late to be
published. We are publishing it here, on Inydmedia and re-submitting to
The Guardian today.

Dear editor

We are appalled at yesterday's letter by amongst others, Lee Jasper, the
Mayor of London's Policy Director on Equalities and Policing ('Unwelcome
Anarchy at the ESF', 18/10/04), in which he attempts to silence genuine
criticisms of this year's ESF by playing the race card.

Any form of physical aggression must be condemned, but the direct action
protest against Ken Livingstone's abortive participation in the ESF
session on Racism and Fascism had nothing to do with race and everything
to do with the undemocratic way in which the ESF was organised this year.

Inexplicably, having made their point, the protesters were then followed
by 15 police riot vans with several violent arrests taking place just
nearby Alexandra Palace.

Whatever one thinks about direct action, the tremendous response the stunt
received from the audience shows that the protesters were not alone in the
belief that the London ESF dramatically parted company from the
refreshingly democratic, transparent, non-party and consensual principles
upon which the World Social Forum movement was established in Porto Alegre
in 2001.

Co-ordinators from Babels, the international network of volunteer
interpreters that translated all plenaries and seminars at the ESF, also
issued a statement from the platform in which they condemned the Greater
London Authority's suffocating control of the Forum. Babels directly
promotes and allows cultural diversity and accessibility of national
delegations to social forums through allowing inter-linguistic

Attempting to paint the 200 or so protesters as racially motivated white
thugs when they actually included many black, Hispanic and Arabic
activists is disgraceful. Does Lee Jasper really believe that a scuffle
broke out, as reprehensible as this is, because the chair of the meeting
was black or because there were Jewish speakers on the panel? He surely
does not, which can only lead to the conclusion that he is using identity
politics to smother dissent.

Asad Rehman, Newham Monitoring Project, member of the UK ESF organising
Cathy Arnaud, Babels Spain
Panayotis Yulis, Greek Social Forum
Naima Bouteldja, independent activist, UK
Laurent Jesover, Babels France
Oscar Reyes, Red Pepper, member of UK ESF organising committee
Jean-Baptiste Eyraud, Annie Pourre, No Vox network, Paris
John Street, Babels UK, member of the UK ESF organising committee
Julie Boeri, Babels UK
Emmanuelle Riviere, Babels UK
Dave Jones, Indymedia UK volunteer and Nomad
Anselmo Schweitzner, MNLM, Brazil
Stuart Hodkinson, independent activist, UK
Julien Lusson, French activist
Jeanne Gasset, Babels France

one of the authors


Display the following 2 comments

  1. This letter published in The Guardian, Weds 20th Oct — dasmian
  2. Jasper was right — John Brown