Report by Mihai Ghionea, Bucharest
On Sunday, 6th of Match 2022, Sindicatul Elevilor și Studenților Militanți (Militant Students Union), along with Fridays for Future Romania organized two anti-war and anti-imperialist protests almost simultaneously, one in the heart of Bucharest, in front of The University of Bucharest and the other in Cluj Napoca. The group, which consisted mainly of university and high school students, rallied together in an attempt to both raise awareness towards the eventual militarization of the country as a response to Russia’s imperialism towards Ukraine, and to show their solidarity with the people on both sides of the conflict. While the protest did not consist of more than 30 people, we think that this is the first step to building a more radical anti-war mass movement, along with taking more direct and radical action.
This action is part of our attempt to start a movement opposing the war. Our main point is that the war will create a “constant state of emergency”, that will result in growing military expenditures, along with infringements on personal liberty and cutbacks on the education and healthcare budgets. All this during a pandemic that has brought along with it an economic crisis. On top of this, we fear that the war will accelerate the climate change situation, with the EU slowing its program against coal energy. Our demands are the following:
- The immediate retreat of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory!
- No to the escalation of the war! Immediate ceasefire, the war must be resolved through diplomacy!
- Unconditional Political asylum for the Ukrainian refugees! State support for the refugees regardless of ethnicity, religion, class or gender. The state must guarantee resources for those who flee war (housing, food, social and legal assistance, etc.) and must not rely solely on charity and the civil society!
- Political and civil rights for all minorities in Ukraine, as well as the Right to Self-Determination!
- No more expansion of NATO towards the East! We reject American Imperialism in Europe!
- The immediate blocking of Russia’s billionaire’s bank accounts on an international level!
- An acceleration of the transition towards non fossil fuels as a way to end dependency on Russian fossil fuels (mainly gas)! Russian petrol and gas are financing the war!
- No to fascism and far right organizations from Ukraine, Russia or Europe! A stop to financing, arming or any way of support for these groups!
- Resources from the European Peace Facility mainly to be used for humanitarian help towards the people of Ukraine.
- No to the increase of military spendings above 2% of the GDP! We reject militarism and militarization.
- No to the abuse of power, to the infringement of civil and economic rights under the pretext of an emergency state caused by the war!
Our position is purely neutral and pro people! We support neither NATO, which we see as a tool of USA’s hegemony, nor Russia, who is clearly the aggressor in the current conflict and that invaded Ukraine to protect the interests of its own economic elite, the capitalist oligarchs. At the protest, the participants showcased posters and banners with messages such as “Russian gas is financing crime”, “Neither Putin nor NATO”, or “Independent Ukraine” and “No War in Ukraine, No War in Syria, No War in Yemen. Solidarity!” among others. During the protest, several students took to the scene, reading their manifesto, their main points, expressing their view on the current situation and showing solidarity with the refugees and other anti-war activists in Russia who are now being oppressed by Putin’s regime. The protest lasted for 2 hours, with several onlookers joining the ongoing demonstrations, along with a couple of African-born Ukrainian student refugees.
The dubious part was that The Bucharest City Hall approved an anti-vax demonstration at the same place and at the same hour as the anti-war one. We felt that while this did not lead to any conflict, it might have been a way to sabotage the protest on the City Hall’s part.
We hope that this manifestation is only the beginning of a more ample action against the military-industrial complex and the war itself. The younger generation that we are a part of refuses to fight a battle that is not ours. We inherited a world marked by exploitation and climate change, and as such, we are fundamentally anti-war, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalist and ecologist. We have more in common with the basic people of Ukraine and Russia than with our ruling class and the capitalists, and we think that the only way we can stop the war is by taking up to the streets and putting pressure on the government to negotiate a ceasefire. We hope to contribute to starting an international Anti-War mass movement that can do this. We are aware that both the war and the climate crisis are symptoms of a waning Capitalist system. While the old world is dying, it is up to us to work towards a new, more egalitarian and healthier one.
Solidarity with the people of the region in these dark days! Down with the military-industrial complex!!!