Ambon nasional-e@polarhome.com
Mon Dec 2 10:00:19 2002

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 5, 2002
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Bill Cecil
Prague, Czech Republic

"The frontier of freedom has expanded." That's what U.S. 
President George W. Bush told 50 heads of government 
assembled here for the Nov. 20-22 summit of the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization. The meeting expanded the U.S.-
dominated military bloc to include Bulgaria, Estonia, 
Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

This brings NATO deep into Eastern Europe and onto the soil 
of the former Soviet Union. The Czech Republic, Hungary and 
Poland joined two years ago.

At Bush's bidding the gathering formally changed NATO's 
"mission" from "combating Communism" to acting as an 
appendage to Washington's "war on terror"--which can be 
better described as Bush's scheme to pump up oil company 
profits with mass murder in the Middle East.

The U.S. president failed to mention the decades when the 
people of East Europe lived in terror of obliteration by 
NATO nuclear missiles aimed at Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw, 
Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn and other 
cities of the region.

To partake in Bush's war, the NATO leaders voted to set up a 
European Rapid Reaction Force. For the recently impoverished 
East European countries, joining NATO will mean arms 
purchases from such U.S. firms as Boeing and Northrup 
Grumman, both financial sponsors of the Prague meeting.

Unemployment in the Czech Republic is officially 18.8 
percent. Homeless people now live on the streets in once 
prosperous Prague. Yet the NATO big shots were wined and 
dined on endangered species of fish in luxury hotels behind 
walls of police.


Bush's remarks notwithstanding, this 1,100-year-old city of 
castles and cobblestones did not feel particularly free last 
week. It was more like a city under occupation.

The Czech government had ceded responsibility for the 
country's security to the Pentagon for the duration of the 
summit. U.S. Air Force F16s circled over the city while 
Czech Army helicopters hovered above and armies of police 
patrolled its streets.

Whole areas of Prague were declared off limits to its 
people. Police snipers were visible on rooftops. A Kazakh 
civilian jetliner was forced to land by the U.S. Air Force.

These measures were ostensibly taken to "prevent terrorist 
attacks," but many felt they were meant to stifle political 
protest. Many Europeans, east and west, don't feel that 
NATO's growth will bring any kind of freedom.

Dozens of political activists were detained at the Czech 
border to prevent their participating in anti-NATO rallies. 
The "Czech" media, now mostly owned by U.S. and German 
companies, created an atmosphere of fear with constant 
reports that anti-NATO protesters were planning violence.

In spite of state and media intimidation, chants of "NATO, 
no pasaran" and "Drop Bush, not bombs" rang through Prague's 
streets Nov. 20. Some 2,000 workers, students and retirees 
took part in a protest rally and marches called by the 
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM). The day 
before 150 delegates from around Europe had attended an anti-
NATO counter-summit the KSCM organized.

Also on Nov. 19, over 1,000 mostly young people joined an 
anti-NATO march called by the Czechoslovak Federation of 
Anarchists, the Feminist Organization of March 8 and the 
Organization of Revolutionary Anarchists.

At a Nov. 20 news conference, Russian activists pelted NATO 
Secretary General Lord Robertson with eggs, shouting, "NATO 
is worse than Gestapo."


Most of the marchers on Nov. 20 were Czech. But activists 
came from Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Belgium, Slovakia 
and Poland. Marchers carried portraits of Yugoslav children 
murdered by NATO bombs and signs demanding the liberation of 
kidnapped and imprisoned Yugoslav President Slobodan 

Other signs denounced U.S. plans to attack Iraq, a major 
topic at the "North Atlantic" meeting. A banner called NATO 
the "North Atlantic Terrorist Organization."

Peter Shuster, a student, came from the Czech city of Brno 
to march against NATO. "We are free people," he said, "and 
we don't want to be cannon fodder for the U.S. power elite 
that wants to take over the world."

Edo Bango, an 18-year-old Roma man, came to the protest from 
Slovakia. He wore a shirt with a picture of Che Guevara. His 
brother, Mario Bango, is in prison for defending himself 
against a racist attack in which the attacker died. There 
has been an epidemic of violence against Roma people in 
Eastern Europe since capitalism was restored there.

Edo Bango scoffed at the idea that NATO is bringing freedom. 
"Capitalism has made everything worse, especially for the 
Roma people."

Marcin Adam, a student from Poland, did not take part in the 
demonstrations. He and a group of friends were detained at 
the border and did not get to Prague until after the 
protests. He said: "NATO is a pact to unite all the richest 
countries so they can control the world resources. We know 
the U.S. and Great Britain have more weapons of mass 
destruction than any other country, and they used chemical 
weapons against Vietnam and Iraq."

Adam said the return of capitalism to Poland is a "success 
story only for the capitalists, but most workers think it 
was a catastrophe. Now we have a really high unemployment 
rate in Poland, and most workers and peasants live in 
appalling conditions."

KSCM General Secretary Miroslav Grebenicek opened the rally. 
He said, "Prague has become a meeting place for people who 
are responsible for war crimes and crimes against peace." He 
denounced NATO's expansion as part of Washington's drive to 
conquer the "heartland of Eurasia" with its vast energy 
resources, as outlined in former U.S. National Security 
Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's book "The Grand Chessboard." 
He said, "Our citizens must have housing, schools and 
hospitals, not tanks, warplanes and cannons."

Communist Youth Union leader Zdenek Stefek denounced NATO as 
the "world's largest terrorist organization, which it proved 
with its aggression against Yugoslavia and now by its 
preparations to attack Iraq." He said that "reforming NATO 
is not possible" and called for the pact to be abolished and 
its leaders put on trial.

The rally and the Nov. 19 counter-summit were also addressed 
by leaders of Communist and workers' parties from Austria, 
Belarus, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, 
Greece, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, 
Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and Yugoslavia as well as the 
European Peace Forum and the World Federation of Democratic 

Workers Party of Belgium General Secretary Nadine Rosso 
Rosso called for solidarity with Colombian, Filipino and 
Palestinian freedom fighters. She reported that the Belgian 
port of Antwerp was now under U.S. military occupation but 
that Belgian activists would try to block arms for the 
attack on Iraq from being shipped through the city.

The counter-summit adopted a declaration called the Prague 
Appeal that denounced the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the 
Anglo-U.S. attack on Afghanistan and the U.S. war against 
Iraq. It called the Bush regime's planned invasion of Iraq 
an "attempt to solve U.S. economic problems at the expense 
of other nations" and called on people of the world to 
mobilize against war.

- END -

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