The place is Athens, the venue is a stadium next to an old airport and we are surrounded by mountains. The fourth European Social Forum has started and they are all here; the anti war activists, the environmentalists, the communists, the student politicians, the unionists, the socialists and the fair trade enthusiasts. Once again, the Social Forum frames discussions and workshops among the apparent minority of people in this world, who actively believe that another world is possible if they fight for it. The importance of the cause is so strong, that differences between organisations and ideologies are sought to be overcome in the continuous attempt by Social Forums to mobilize social movements to change the direction that the politicians, lawmakers and the majority of the inhabitants on the globe are heading toward. The array of workshops offered is overwhelming and flyers from organisations have already ended on the floor. A symbol of information overload - and do not forget to save the rainforest, too!
At the entrance and at the registers’ desks, posters with the massive sculpture from Denmark, Survival of the Fattest, are hanging as a first and sculptural impression of what this is all about: SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST. People enjoy the poster; it provokes as well as touches them. As one person reacted when seeing the sculptures: “It makes it very meaningful to be here”. Inside the buildings our posters have been taken down, even the ones we put in the bathrooms, where people are standing queuing and have time to read. They want to bring the posters home as souvenirs.
Our mission here is mainly to share the message of why the sculptures are here and to follow people’s reactions. Most people will soon find out that we have now moved the sculptures to the most central place of the venue where they cannot be ignored.
Many of us here share the same mission: How do we inform the majority in this world about what we see going completely wrong - and what has to be changed. We just work in different ways. The sculptural outcry from AIDOH is so obvious, it strongly affects people in a way that no writing or speech could ever do. Others use confrontation and the symbol of violence as a way to reach the media. The big story of today was a joint action between mainly activists from Greece, Italy and France, gathered here for the Social Forum. They had selected a delegation of popular or well-known people (a member of the European Parliament, a university professor, the leader of ATTAC France and others) to enter a police station known for violent acts against the illegal immigrants imprisoned there, inquiring to check the conditions for the prisoners. The plan had been to occupy the building, to gain media coverage – but strangely enough, the police contributed in changing the peaceful action into a head news story as they arrested the delegation and used violence against them. This was filmed and photographed by the supporting crowd, roughly 200, and when the media arrived and the police denied their acts, they were able to document the event. This made the Prime Minister of Greece himself act and order the delegation released immediately.
The activists received media coverage and fulfilled their mission of letting the majority know what the minority is fighting to change - even when it ended up with people in the hospital. This is an example of an act against the very poor conditions for the illegal immigrants in Greece, which is just one of the many sad and unjust realities of the world today discussed here at the Social Forum in Athens. These rough realities have to become public issues and not just the focus of a few enthusiastic organisations or individuals who can no longer simply sit back and watch. That again makes it so meaningful to be here. The vision of the Social Forum movement is not to reach a final declaration, but to establish networks and inspire and motivate each other in order to change the imbalance in this world. Tomorrow we will give out thousands of posters and brochures to the public, when we drive the impressive sculptures through the streets of Athens, during the final demonstration. This is our way of challenging the world order of today, through a sculptural manifestation that cries out to our hearts and underlines that we are all part of the problems and thus also a part of the solutions.
The AIDOH girls, Athens
Jenni, Caroline and Camilla
|2006: European Social Forum, Athens||The AIDOH girls´ Saturday comment: Social Forum in Athens - a sculptural war zone|