Since early this winter, Iceland has been facing economic crisis. More protests and direct actions against capitalism and the government are taking place. Here is a summary of what has been happening for the last week or so.
The original article comes from an Icelandic anarchist website, Aftaka, and can be seen here with photos. Before you read this article you might want to check out another article to read about what has been happening in Iceland before. Click here to check it out.
Saturday, December 13th, one more mass demonstration had been planned on Austurvöllur, a square in front of the parliament. But this time, after 9 weeks of speeches, people decided to keep silent for 17 minutes, one minute for each year that Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (a right wing conservative party) has been in power. It was rather lame and embarrassing to stand there in silence but after the 17 minutes of silence, an alarm clock rang, which was supposed to symbolize the waking of Icelandic people. Jacket suits and other symbols of the male dominated authority, were burned.
Before the demonstration started, Food Not Boms took place like every Saturday, but with an extra event this time. On the same square were Food Not Bombsd takes place, a big piece of art has decorated two high walls for more than half a year; big photos of over 400 children. This Saturday a group of radicals glued a price ticked over the kids’ faces saying “11,2 millions - SOLD!” A banner said “Your social cost in capitalism is:” since the 11,2 million Icelandic Krónur (ISK) is the minimum price every single person in Iceland will pay if Iceland receives a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Fliers were distributed, explaining the impacts of the IMF loan and the social cost of “continuing capitalism”. The children kept “sold” until couple of days later when a unlucky city worker got the job of picking the price tickets of their faces.
Coca Cola vs. SantAnarchist Clauses
Later this same Saturday, Coca Cola had organized its annual boner-parade to take place in the center of Reykjavík. Every year, the company’s trucks are decorated with Christmas lights and loudspeakers playing American Christmas pop songs. The trucks then drive around the city, stopping in shopping malls and on busy shopping streets, were (for some absurd reason) parents have gathered with their children to experience this one big advertisement of one of the most cruel corporations in the world.
Two years ago, a small group of people tried to stop the Coca Cola train from driving down the center of Reykjavík, but were stopped by the police which drove in front of the company´s trucks. This year, people had other plan in mind.
Around 40 people and 10 SantAnarcist Clauses entered the parade, in between the trucks and the police, with a big banner saying “Coke is capitalism’s shit - Enjoy!” For about an hour, Christmas songs with anti-capitalistic texts were sung and fliers given out, explaining Coca Colas human and environmental crimes around the world. Only with the help of 6 police pigs could the Coke trucks continue their way from the center, which means that a lot of parents had to answer their kids’ question: “Why did the police stop the nice and fun Santa Clauses?”
Ministers enter a meeting through the “ass”
On Tuesday morning, December 16th, the government had scheduled it’s weekly meeting in the prime minister’s office. Just like week earlier people gathered around the building to try to stop the ministers from entering and the meeting from taking place. This time the action had been more broadly announced, which meant that the police knew about it and could make all necessary arrangements. But it also meant that more people were expected to come.
Between 150 and 200 people met together few hundred meters from the office and marched towards it from two different directions. The police later announced they had not expected this many people to show up and therefor not made enough arrangements. Still, between 60 and 70 pigs welcomed the protesters.
Next to the prime minister’s office there is a kindergarten and in the windows, the children sat and watched, exited. The police’s first action was to enter the kindergarten and tell the workers there to take the kids to another part of the house, were they could not see the street. They do not want the kids to how they real work, do they?
The street was completely packed with people who were there only to prevent a government meeting from taking place. After a bit of a struggle the protesters managed to close the street from two sides. But quickly it became clear that the minister’s would enter from the back, so people entered the garden from different angles. The police reacted like usually, by stopping people with force and putting up police lines.
Soon one minister after another started to arrive, having to walk through a hallway of angry protesters, shouting at them. The garden was full of snow and ice, so the pigs gently helped the ministers to enter the meeting. It was beautiful and ugly at the same time to witness the fact that a government meeting could not take place without police help, as well as watching the ministers having to enter from the back - “from the ass” like protesters shouted.
The actions was peaceful for sure, but more aggressive and angry than before. When all ministers were in (at least people though so) and the meeting had been disturbed for a while with noise and snowballs, people decided to use their time differently and leave the place.
But when the group was about to walk down the street, almost the whole police force built a chain and for some unknown reason, prevented people from walking. This ended up in a sort of a fight were the pigs tried to take masks of people and violently throw people away. Few individuals tried to negotiate with the police, ending with all the pigs getting an order to move and let people through. Once again the police showed it’s robot behavior.
In to the banks
The next morning people gathered again, this time in front of the parliament, but not to enter the parliament again. After a short meeting the group of 50 people entered one of the many buildings of Landsbankinn bank, first the technical crew’s office and later the headquarters. A statement was read out loud were it was demanded that the banks and it’s directors would pay their own debts instead of putting it all on people who had nothing to do with the current financial crisis. It is estimated that the Icelandic people will have to pay 250 billion ISK, only to pay up Landsbankinn’s so called IceSave debts.
The loan from IMF was also denounced, since it fundamentally turns every person in the country in to slaves. People made noise, chanted slogans, banged on drums and walls. Work was stopped for a while, but most of all, a clear message was sent to the bank: “We will come whenever we want and stop work in the corrupt institution. Take responsibility for your own stupid business!” The action was short but clear.
Thursday morning, people gathered once again and now the Financial Supervisory (FS) was hit hard. 50 people marched to the building, which was heavily guarded by security guards, who had locked all possible entrances. People demanded to get to speak to the director of the FS but were denied again and again. When not let in, people took up stones and broke their way in to the outer entrance.
There they banged on windows and shouted slogans against the FS. The security guards contacted the police, who came quickly, but people had formed a chain in front of the doors to protect the ones inside. The windows of the inner entrance were now broken, the message against the FS sent out once again, and than the group left the building and marched away.
People did not walk far, but straight in to the next bank, Glitnir, were a similar action to the one the day before took place. Apart from stopping work with noise, people started reading leaflets from the bank out loud, entertaining themselves with all the bullshit in there. After a while, the group left, but again the message was clear: “We will come back!”
Today, Monday December 22nd, the entrance of the Financial Supervisory was closed again, this time with chains and locks.
Let’s face it, these actions have not been very high profile, especially compared to other countries. But they are a very important step forward in the Icelandic society. Finally people seem to be waking up, realizing the real impacts of capitalism and the nature of authority.
For the last decades, only one direct action campaign has been active in Iceland, the environmental campaign Saving Iceland. For the last four years, Saving Iceland has done direct actions against one of the major heads of the neo-liberalism, heavy industry. Apart from SI’s action, Icelandic resistance has been at level zero. Without it, nothing of what we have been witnessing for the last few weeks would have been possible.
The resistance is getting stronger and it has to get the change to grown organically. It might take some time, but at least it has started.
Click here to see more photos from protests and direct actions in Iceland.
The website of the environmental campaign mentioned above, Saving Iceland, is here.