On Saturday evening, a young Black man named Ibrahima B. was arrested by the Brussels police and died in custody under unclear circumstances, allegedly from a heart attack. Available information point out that he was arrested for… filming a police intervention! This was an illegal arrest and the police has blood on its hands, regardless of the actual cause of death.
Ibrahima was on his way to the North train station to go back home to another city and he stopped to film a police intervention against a group of youths. Although it is perfectly legal and legitimate to film police harassment, the police officers went after him, which made Ibrahima B. afraid and made him flee. He was eventually arrested and he died an hour later while in police custody, his lawyer saying that it took long minutes for the police to react when he fell down in handcuffs, presumably hit by a heart attack.
The police clearly doesn’t have a clean conscience, as it took them more than six hours to call Ibrahima B.’s family, and they lied saying that Ibrahima B. had defied the curfew, even though the time of death (8:22pm) was before the start of the curfew (10pm). Police has also been disseminating rumours about drug abuse, even though there are no such elements available at the moment.
If Ibrahima B. was white, he would probably still be alive today. This is proven by countless examples of police brutality targeting people of colour and foreigners in the recent months in Belgium. At the very same spot were Ibrahima B. was arrested, Black German deputy of the EU Parliament Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana was violently arrested and searched by the police for… filming the arrest of two young Black men. The police wouldn’t believe that the 71-year-old is a EU deputy… In April, riots erupted in Brussels after a young man of North African descent died in police chase. In July, a young man of Algerian descent died in police custody in Antwerp after a brutal arrest. In August, videos revealed that Slovak national was strangulated to death by the police in a cell as the police officers laughed and one of them made Nazi salutes.
Small demonstrations took place in Brussels to request justice for Ibrahima B. and we stand in solidarity with those experiencing police brutality and structural racism, and with all those who are fighting back! No justice, no peace, fuck the police!
Ecopolis is a 3-day anti-commercial festival with no sponsors. All events will be free. This year’s festival schedule is as follows (more info soon):
25/07 – Talks, presentations, and discussions
26/07 – Art exhibitions and performances
27/07 – Concert
Donations help us maintain the festival’s independent and self-funded character, so they are more than welcome.
The city as the main field of social activity and action reflects the wider social environment. Ecopolis festival aims to reveal, challenge, and renegotiate the social tensions of everyday life in the streets, squares and benches of Nicosia. A city that is drowning in coffee shops, street-side tables and fashionable bars. The old city of Nicosia has changed face: from sub-developed historical center it has now fulfilled its potential as an ideal city-commodity, maintaining the advertisable image of the “last divided capital”, while the accelerated gentrification of the last years has constituted it as an urban jewel “clean” from social relations and situations that oppose commodity relations mediated by spectacle.
Skyscrapers for high-class apartments and businesses, pedestrian zones occupied by the tables of countless interchangeable shops, the lack of public benches, fences around Faneromeni church that get taller every year, sidewalks full of parked cars, sky-rocketing rents that become prohibitive for migrant residents –all a result of gentrification and the consumerist influx which followed, creating a city where the only acceptable social / political activity is consumption. Meanwhile, barbed wire, barrels and armies force us us to live our geographical and historic site as half, mediated by the symbols of hatred and tedious queues at the checkpoints to walk a distance of 100 meters.
For us, these are factors composing a challenging landscape of action, in which we intervene creatively by expressing and making proposals for societies organized outside hierarchical, capitalist and sexist mentalities and institutions, on the basis of self-organization, solidarity and companionship. The Ecopolis festival is being held this year for the first time by the Ecopolis working group on ecology and the city. Ecopolis festival aims to put forth the claim to the city as a Common, as a field of resistance to the social and environmental endeavors of neoliberalism. We want to create the conditions in which the city is experienced as a point of reference and socialization, action and experimentation, rather than as a polished real estate commodity bought and sold according to the laws of the market and current trends.
Το Οικοπόλις εν ένα τριήμερο αντιεμπορευματικό φεστιβάλ χωρίς χορηγούς. Η είσοδος θα είναι ελεύθερη σε ούλλες τις εκδηλώσεις του φεστιβάλ.
Το φετινό πρόγραμμα είναι (παραπάνω πληροφορίες σύντομα):
25/07 – Παρουσιάσεις τζιαι συζητήσεις
26/07 – Καλλιτεχνικές εκθέσεις τζιαι παραστάσεις
27/07 – Συναυλία
Οι εισφορές εν ο κύριος παράγοντας που κρατά το φεστιβάλ ανεξάρτητο τζιαι αυτοχρηματοδοτούμενο, οπόταν είναι αυστηρά ευπρόσδεκτες.
Η πόλη ως το κατεξοχήν πεδίο κοινωνικής δραστηριότητας & δράσης αντικατοπτρίζει το ευρύτερο κοινωνικό περιβάλλον. Το φεστιβάλ Οικοπόλις έσχει στόχο την ανάδειξη, αμφισβήτηση και επαναδιαπραγμάτευση των κοινωνικών εντάσεων της καθημερινότητας μέστους δρόμους, τες πλατείες τζιαι τα παγκάκια τούντης πόλης. Mιας πόλης που πλέον πνίεται μες τα καφέ, τα τραπεζάκια, τζιαι τα μοδάτα μπαράκια. Η παλιά πόλη της Λευκωσίας άλλαξε φάτσα: που υπο-ανάπτυκτο ιστορικό κέντρο εκπληρώνει πλέον τη δυνατότητά της ως ιδανική πόλη-εμπόρευμα. Που τη μια διατηρώντας τη διαφημιστική εικόνα της “τελευταίας μοιρασμένης πρωτεύουσας,” τζιαι που την άλλη η ριζική ανάπλαση των τελευταίων χρόνων να την καθιστά ως βιτρίνα “καθαρή” που κοινωνικές σχέσεις τζιαι καταστάσεις που αντιτίθενται στις εμπορευματικές σχέσεις διαμεσολαβημένες που το θέαμα.
Ουρανοξύστες για high class διαμερίσματα τζιαι επιχειρήσεις, πεζόδρομοι κατηλημμένοι που τα τραπεζάκια των δεκάδων ομοιότυπων μαγαζιών, ελάχιστα παγκάκια, κάτζελα που χρόνο με το χρόνο ψηλώνουν στην εκκλησία της Φανερωμένης, πεζοδρόμια γεμάτα παρκαρισμένα αυτοκίνητα, ενοίκια που ανεβαίνουν τζιαι γίνουνται απαγορευτικά για μετανάστες κατοίκους – ούλλα κομμάτι της κοσμοσυρροής ως αποτέλεσμα του gentrification, δημιουργώντας μια πόλη όπου η μόνη αποδεκτή κοινωνική/πολιτική δραστηριότητα εν η κατανάλωση. Ταυτόχρονα, ττέλια, βαρέλλες τζιαι στρατοί αναγκάζουν μας να ζούμε το γεωγραφικό τζιαι ιστορικό μας χώρο ως μισό, διαμεσολαβημένο που τα συμβολα του μισους τζιαι τις κουραστικες αναμονες στα οδοφραγματα για να περπατησουμε μια αποσταση 100 μετρων.
Για εμάς τούτοι εν παράγοντες που συνθέτουν ένα προκλητικό τοπίο δράσης, στο οποίο παρεμβαίνουμε δημιουργικά εκφράζοντας τζιαι πραγματώνοντας προτάσεις για κοινωνίες οργανωμένες έξω που ιεραρχικούς, καπιταλιστικούς τζιαι σεξιστικούς θεσμούς τζιαι λογικές, στη βάση της αυτοοργάνωσης, της κοινωνικής αλληλεγγύης τζιαι της συντροφικότητας. Το φεστιβάλ Οικοπόλις διοργανώνεται φέτος για πρώτη φορά, που την ομώνυμη ομάδα εργασίας για την οικολογία τζιαι την πόλη. Έσχιει ως στόχο να βάλει κάτω το πρόταγμα της διεκδίκησης της πόλης ως ένα Κοινό, ως πεδίο αντίστασης στην κοινωνική τζιαι περιβαλλοντική επέλαση του νεοφιλελευθερισμού. Θέλουμε να δημιουργήσουμε τες συνθήκες όπου η πόλη βιώνεται ως σημείο αναφοράς τζιαι κοινωνικοποίησης, δράσης τζιαι πειραματισμού, παρά ως γυαλιστερό real estate-εμπόρευμα που αγοράζεται τζιαι πουλιέται σύμφωνα με τους νόμους της αγοράς τζιαι τις εκάστοτε μόδες.
Στις 15 Απριλίου συμμετέχουμε στην πορεία και συναυλία διαμαρτυρίας που διοργανώνεται από την Κίνηση Save Akamas / Save Cyprus για την προάσπιση της κοινής φυσικής και πολιτιστικής μας κληρονομιάς. Οι τελευταίες υποθέσεις υποβάθμισης του περιβάλλοντος και αλλοίωσης του τοπίου στις Θαλασσινές Σπηλιές της Πέγειας και στο Κάβο Γκρέκο αποτελούν απλά την αφορμή γι’ αυτήν τη διαμαρτυρία. Για εμάς, αυτές οι υποθέσεις αποτελούν τα πιο πρόσφατα παραδείγματα μίας συστηματικής πολιτικής καταστροφής του περιβάλλοντος και οικειοποίησης των οικολογικών μας κοινών.
Name a well-known environmental organisation. The World Wildlife Fund? Sure, everyone knows the panda, it has royal support and we’ve all seen pictures of dead elephants with gaping wounds.
But as horrible as wildlife crime is, there’s one criminal activity ten times bigger than all other illegal wildlife crime combined. Try naming it, or any organisation that combats it.
Sand mining has no bleeding elephants – but it is the elephant in the room of environmental issues. Illegal sand mining has ten times more value than all wildlife crime.
Indeed, it’s bigger than all other environmental crimes combined, according to a study by Luis Fernando Ramadon, a mining crimes professor at the National Police Academy in Brazil.
Professor Ramadan told The Ecologist: “It’s an easy form of enrichment with less risk and costs than trafficking of drugs, humans or organs.” He adds that aside from being so profitable, “it is maybe also the most harmful to the environment”.
Asking Sumaira Abdulali how sand mining is harmful is like asking for a drizzle but receiving the full-blown Indian monsoon. “Soil erosion, landslides, water table loss, infertility of farmland, disturbances of ecosystems and marine life, beach disappearances, collapsing bridges…”.
One night in 2004, she had had enough of it. In what had become a nighttime routine, trucks came and went to the seafront near her house South from Mumbai. They stole the beach.
Abdulali called the police and drove to the beach. “Instead of rushing to the scene, the police tipped the illegal sand miners”, Abdulali told me.
As she waited in her car for the police to arrive, the men came from the beach, pulled her out of her car and assaulted her. “During the beating, one guy asked: ‘Do you know who I am?’ He was the son of a local politician, but also owner of a large construction company.” His father later became the state’s environment Minister.
Abdulali sued the sand mafia and won. But fighting the sand mafia is a risky affair. Sandhya Ravishankar, a Chennai based journalist, was threatened for her reports on Tamil Nadu’s sand mafia.
Despite a ban in 2013, beach sand mining for minerals remained a lucrative business in Tamil Nadu. At one point police raided 15 locations simultaneously, finding 455,245 ton of illegally mined beach minerals. The evidence suggests that almost a million tons has been exported since the ban has come into force.
Abdulali and Ravishankar are sand mafia challengers who survived. According to author and expert Vince Beiser, hundreds of people were killed over sand extraction, in India alone.
Contrary to our intuition, useful sand is scarce. Forget deserts. Desert winds make sand roll and therefore round. Edgy grains are needed for concrete, the main use of sand. Building booms have caused these sand mining booms – but there’s another reason why 75 to 90 percent of all beaches are disappearing.
Minerals such as rutile and ilmenite, found in beach sand, are in everything from titanium parts of consumer goods to paint to paper to plastics. India has 35 percent of all ilmenite. Going to Goa with sunscreen in your luggage? There is a good chance that the ilmenite in it came from a beach.
In Indonesia, Australia’s Indo Mines Limited is after the iron on one beach, which doubles as a barrier against salt intrusion from the ocean into coastal farms.
When they proposed a massive expanding to cover a 1.8km by 22km area – also the home of 20,000 people – the resistance went ballistic. Many community members were jailed and police brutalities left 41 people injured.
In The Gambia, an 11-year old boy fell to his death in one of the massive holes left behind by a sand mining firm, a hole they should have filled. The beach is now flooded, attracting crocodiles that attacked women who tend nearby gardens.
In this conflict, 45 people were arrested and sued. Zircon, the mineral mined here, was exporting to China. Aside from being sold as gemstone, sand is used to store nuclear waste.
Camila Rolando, a Barcelona based researcher, maps environmental conflicts in Western Africa for the EnvJustice project. “The conflict in The Gambia left an impression across the Senegalese border.
“The villages around the Niafrang dune try to prevent that a new beach mine opens there. They depend on rice growing, market gardening, fishing, oyster farming and tourism – all of which would be negatively affected.”
An armed rebel group in Senegal, the MFDC, is also against the proposed project. In reaction, the Senegalese government deployed extra military forces in the area. This is how sand wars can start.
Will you ever walk into a shop and ask for a pot of Tamil-Nadu-free-paint? No. And there’s no tropical beach logo for this. Waiting for enlightened CEOs is equally naive.
Only 15 percent of the world’s population lives in North America or Europe but they consume about 50 percent of all titanium dioxide – whose production lines creates conflicts everywhere but in North America or Europe.
The Atlas of Environmental justice has the details of nine local sand conflicts relating to ilmenite and rutile alone – all in the Global South. So what can we do?
Martinez-Alier argues that humanity needs to dig, produce and trade a factor less. In his jargon, digging in The Gambia for production in China and selling in the US is all part of the social metabolism of the global economy, like blood that flows through a body. Based on planetary boundaries data, he argues the global economy suffers from too high blood pressure.
Martinez-Alier said: “Those calling for green growth fail to understand that the inputs of energy and materials into the economy grow to unsustainable levels.
“Whether it is sand, fossil fuel or timber: most materials flow from impoverished to rich places, whether across the oceans or inside large countries like China or India. Local environmental conflicts are born from the opposition to this.”
However, Martinez-Alier adds: “When a success is achieved against some dirty local extraction, the knowledge of how to win is quickly reinforcing a global movement for environmental justice.” It seems that the multinationals are becoming ever more powerful, but so are the multinational anti-extraction coalitions.
Sand conflicts rage on all continents, but the conflict level is so granular that we fail to see them. Especially in poorer countries, communities increasingly find themselves battling on frontlines opened by unscrupulous companies and complicit local politicians.
These communities need all the support we can give them. And it is they who deserve the credit for trying to throw some sand in the already overheated machine that we know as the global, industrialised economy.
Nick Meynen is the project officer for global policies and sustainability at the European Environmental Bureau.