Category Archives: Belgium

Workers’ Party of Belgium opposes imperialist intervention in Mali

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The following statement below was circulated by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Against the Belgian participation in the military intervention of France in Mali

The Belgian government has decided to participate in the military intervention of France in Mali, contributing two C-130 transport planes, two helicopters and 75 soldiers. The Western military force is avowedly aimed at stopping the advance of Islamist rebel groups in the North of the country, at the demand of Mali’s government and with the support, provided only after the start of the intervention, of the UN Security Council.

With the military intervention of France, French President François Hollande plays ‘cavalier seul’. By his act of war, he undermines a peace initiative the UN elaborated with several African countries. The fact that Mali has recently become a hornets’ nest is largely due to the consequences of the NATO war in Lybia and of decades of Western political meddling in the country’s affairs. In Mali’s complex situation, the only chance for peace, stability and development to succeed is by extremely cautious initiatives that have a large base of support and are principally African.

France’s intervention is of course not devoid of self-interest. As the former colonial power, France continues to have huge economic interests in the region. Mali possesses gold mines and petroleum, while also uranium is extracted in the region, which is used for part of the French nuclear industry.

Just like with the deadly NATO bombing on Lybia two years ago, Belgium has been very quick to offer its participation to the French military intervention. And this without any democratic debate about its objectives, consequences or cost. In a period of painful austerity measures and cuts in the social budgets, any increase in the Defense budget is simply cynical.

The Belgian government is not clear about the duration of its military intervention in Mali. Defense Minister Pieter De Crem only informed the Belgian taxpayers that it could be of a « very short, short, or medium » duration. As a first evaluation will be made only at the end of February, the mission will take at least six weeks. That is, as a starter, because this period may be prolonged several times yet, as was the case with the Belgian military mission in Afghanistan. In the meantime, for how many deads, wounded and refugees in Mali the Belgian government of Di Rupo (PS) will be responsible ?

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) is opposed to any imperialist intervention in Mali, as elsewhere.

Ludo Martens, founder of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, has passed away

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The following is from the Workers Party of Belgium:

In the early morning of 5 June 2011, after a long and lingering illness, Ludo Martens, former president of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, passed away.

Together with Paul Goossens and Walter De Bock, Ludo Martens was one of the better known student leaders of May 1968 in Belgium. He translated the worldwide progressive current at the universities into the foundation of the Student Trade Union Movement (SVB), developed solidarity with the equal rights movement of black people in the United States, resisted narrow nationalism and exerted efforts to enhance the movement of solidarity between students and workers.

In 1979, Ludo Martens was instrumental in founding the Workers’ Party of Belgium (WPB), born from the merger between the student movement and the workers’ movement in the turbulent 1970s. Ludo Martens helped to put the principle of « serve the people » into practice by actively stimulating Kris Merckx in setting up Medicine for the People. Today’s eleven people’s clinics of Medicine for the People, providing free health care to more than 25,000 patients, remain one of the WPB’s major achievements. Today, the WPB counts 4,500 members and has chapters in 30 cities and 120 workplaces all over Belgium.

Ludo Martens led the WPB until 1999. The last decade of his life he was mainly active in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With his writings about Congolese liberation fighters Patrice Lumumba, Pierre Mulele and Leonie Abo he wanted to support the progressive movement in Congo. Returning history to those who made it, as he would put it.

Today however, unfortunately, we have to return history itself to Ludo. Ludo Martens is survived by two children. On Sunday morning 26 June, a simple commemoration will take place in Brussels.

For a more complete overview of Ludo Martens’ life and work, read more here (in French).

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