[WSMDiscuss] In Sweden and Europe: When peace and environment is united, we can change the world

Tord Björk tord.bjork at gmail.com
Tue May 12 15:38:53 CEST 2020

When peace and environment is united, we can change the world

”We saw it as important that we who engage primarily in social issues had
better contact with those who engage in environmental issues.” So says
Balint Josa from Budapest, the leader of the European anti-racist youth
network UNITED. This led to that this network supported the European/
Prague Spring 2020 initiative to address the link between peace and climate
issues. Viktor Koren based in Prague from the International Youung
Naturefriends point at the same reason why, from the other side, they saw
it as important to support the new initiative.

For these youth networks, the understanding of the importance of seeing
larger contexts is essential. Peace is seen not only as a matter of arms or
foreign policy but also as a primarily social issue. Among young people
today, one sees that the environmental issue dominates, but is willing to
build a bridge across the divide with regard to social issues, regardless
of whether their own network have its main focus in the social or
ecological field.

The willingness of anti-racists and environmentalists to participate in
collaborations across the borders that the established society is trying to
maintain is a signal of our time. Never in 50 years as active in people´s
movements have I seen such rapid development where popular movements come
together and at the forefront of organizing resistance and alternatives to
the prevailing world order and development model.

This is done internationally, but not least in Sweden. The Corona crisis
has intensified the desire of popular movements around the world to see the
connections between social and ecological issues. Especially those
initiatives that were already under way before the pandemic struck, are now
gaining support. So far, the new unifying initiatives have not received
wide attention. But they are all based on building from the base in local
communities and with the help of democratic organization in popular
movements with an internationalist perspective. Sometimes also with parties
participating. This means that a strong collaboration can develop where we
both think globally and locally and act both locally and globally.

In Sweden, the People and Peace Network (Folk och Fred), in particular, was
formed on April 19, which builds a movement from the bottom up for both
individuals and organizations. On the initiative of activists in the
environmental movement, not least in rural villages and small towns, a
collaboration has emerged for both peace on Earth and peace with Earth.
This network wants to highlight demands made with the slogan ”Without
Farmers no civil preparedness” and urge organizations to write a letter to
the government signing the UN Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear
Weapons. In addition, organize protests against harassment of peace and
environmental voices and the military exercise Aurora 11 and 30 May. The
protest is aimed at the host country agreement with NATO and military
armaments, for peace, the environment and welfare. This exercise will be
moved to the coming years because of the corona crisis, but the opportunity
is now being made to lay the groundwork for a broad gathering once the
military exercise may be done by peace voices wishing to defend the
non-aligment position of Sweden against becoming closer to NATO.

These actions, which have a wide support in the peace and environmental
movement, aim to give a popular mandate to recurring People and Peace
meetings in Sälen every January as a counterbalance to the gatherings of
the People and the Defense. On these more official events with all poltical
parties and their youth affilitations, trade unions and big farmers
organis´zations as wwell as business and military are present, NATO
advocates, the views of big companies and the creation of external and
internal enemy images have filled much of the content in recent years.

Parallel to the People and Peace Network, the Aurora 20 Network has also
grown. Both networks share the same political direction for peace,
environment and welfare, and see both the importance of now laying the
foundations for future cooperation against military exercises such as
Aurora and protests against the host country agreement with NATO. The
difference is that the Aurora network also includes parties and operations
and is more limited than the People and Peace which is about to have
borader actitvites and address more issues.

Internationally, the same type of development is taking place.
European/Prague Spring 2020 is the result of ten years of cooperation
within the Prague Spring 2 network against right-wing extremism and
populism. This network grew out of the European Social Forum in Malmö in
2008 and has its main strength in being all-European with participation not
least from Eastern Europe including countries outside the EU such as
Russia. In 2015, Activists for Peace in Sweden started as a Swedish branch
of this network. Peace activists, together with Russian members of the
network, have been working to protest repression without double standards
on both sides of the West-East conflict in both Russia, Ukraine and the EU.
A special digital seminar also called webinar was organized by European /
Prague Spring on this theme April 25. Now, the initiators are collecting
names for a letter highlighting several cases of imprisonment and mass
murder to strengthen international solidarity between movements across all

On April 26, European/Prague Spring 2020 also organized a webinar on the
theme of internationalistic asnwers to the corona crisis. This was attended
by Aleksander Buzgalin from Russian Alternativny, Leire Azkargota from the
European Secretariat of the International People's Assembly IPA, Reiner
Braun Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau IPB, operating
for 128 years, Francine Mestrum from the International Committee of the
World Social Forum, Peter Wahl from the German Attac and Alina Aflicalor
from UNITED and Romania.

In a special self-organized youth session from Sweden, the nurse Michel
Diaz from No to Nato in Sweden and smallholder Joel Holmdahl from NordBruk,
Via Campesina Sweden participated among several speakers mainly from
Eastern Europe. Everyone was surprised by how well the speakers and the
discussion gave so much to everyone, not least considering that this was
the first time that the 8 organizations behind the initiative had
cooperated. An initiative that initiated European cooperation towards the
World Social Forum in Mexico in 2021.

Activists for Peace also participate in IPA, an international initiative
operating both in Europe and most other continents. This network is
primarily driven by mass movements such as the landless movement MST in
Brazil and the World March of Women, but parties are also included. The
network has been the driving force behind a call for the corona crisis that
has so far gathered 479 organizations. It has also acted against sanctions
on Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, and has paid tribute to all those who work and
maintain life in connection with May 1st. So far, Activists for Peace are
the only participants from Sweden in this global network, but we hope that
more people will join.

Tord Björk

Swedish version of this article:

Tord Björk

email: tord.bjork at gmail.com, skype: tordbjork, tel: +46 (0)722 15 16 90
address: Götgatan 7 A, 29133 Kristianstad, Sweden
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200512/03bbf55c/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list