Brussels authorities help silence opposition to the ‘Great Transatlantic Market’ (TTIP): Trade unions denounce the police provocation

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Press release, Brussels, 16 May 2014
This Thursday morning over a thousand people were in the streets of Brussels, attempting to peacefully protest against austerity and the proposed great transatlantic market (TTIP) which were being discussed in the absence of citizens at the European Business Summit.

In an unprovoked move 281 people were surrounded by the police and violently arrested, including Belgian and European parliamentarians and candidates, trade unionists, farmers and many citizens, including elderly. Brussels Mayor, Yvan Mayeur, must publicly answer why such violent and disproportionate actions were taken.

Emilie Paumard of CADTM said, “We came into the streets because our political leaders are not listening. It seems they’ve only got ears for big business and their representatives who co-organised the European Business Summit. And to be treated so brutally, as if we were violent criminals – when our actions were entirely peaceful. A Europe of police violence, of politico-big business-police collusion, is the complete opposite to the Europe that the D19-20 Alliance, Alter Summit and our European allies are fighting for.”

“The police provocation and the brutal repression are inexcusable. An investigation into the how such events occurred and who was responsible is the least we expect, especially after the cabinet of Yvan Mayeur explicitly promised our delegation that those arrested would be promptly released. The blame lies with either the Bourgmeister or his police commissioner Vandersmissen. 10 days before an election, citizens have the right to know who makes the laws in the streets of Brussels. We are preparing an official complaint and strong political call.” Said Felipe Van Keirsbilck, Secretary General of Belgian trade union CNE.

Pascoe Sabido from the Corporate Europe Observatory, added, “How peaceful protestors have been treated is atrocious, but it must not detract from the reason we were in the streets in the first place. The continuation of the austerity that will come from the proposed EU-US free trade deal is only going to make European citizens and producers poorer, unhealthier, more precarious and lead us further into disaster. It’s not policing attitudes that must change, it’s the entire political system. But despite what we’ve witnessed from the police, today’s actions have underlined the diversity and the unity of our alliance and strengthened our will to build democracy from below.”

Alliance D19-20 & Alter Summit