[Opinion] Wasn’t there once the idea of humanity uniting Europe? The concept of welfare states that distinguishes Europe from other continents. And now, the countries who have suffered from dictatorship until the 1970s suffer most from austerity politics – Portugal, Greece and Spain. Is this Europe’s idea of humanity and social justice? This is just one location in Europe, at one moment, when people unite and have there say as citizens of a democratic country – since may 2011 we have seen many more of these moments in many places. Let me tell you my thoughts and impressions this evening.
When I went along on my bike the Gran Via in Barcelona at about 7.15 pm the streets were empty, the march of the demonstrators on the streets above in Gràcia, when I saw the police vans coming, riot police taking there positions – and it was really weird when I saw that they do not only t equipped their batons, helmets and bulletproof vests. No, there took their position with rubber bullet fire arms. You must know, when in Barcelona the famous FC Barcelona socker club won the Champions League or against Madrid, thousands of people join on Plaza Catalunya in the centre. They are damaging traffic lights, sometimes burning trash containers and lighting lots of firecrackers while drinking litres of alcohol. Police blocks the streets around, underground extends the open hours, no police charges.
This time, and it is not the first time, people are on the streets, because they are unemployed, work under precarious conditions, the health system is in danger, education system is in danger – and what is the state answer? Police with guns – with rifles and rubber bullets ready to shoot? And shooting! I am well aware, that it is not a new picture, but I want to share this one with you. The tolerance with and care about thousands of fans of the famous multi-million socker club whereas the more than reasonable expression of social discontent is accompanied with guns. Catalonia with its in tourism booming capital Barcelona is one of the three most affected autonomies of Spain referring to unemployment and evicted families. And one thing is very clear – social justice is not to evict thousands and hundreds of families, oblige them to continue paying their residential mortgage when unemployment has reached historical record. It is logical that people are on the street, but it is not logical that gun armed police is the answer. Where has this thought of humanity, of welfare and social justice gun? And the riot police with their guns was already there before the long line of protesters came along.
How could it come so far? Why politicians and police do not join the public meetings of protest movements when they do not stop expressing their social discontent since more than a year? When scientists in economics write and tell about alternatives since years. When social movements present their concepts? Where does it come from that social sciences have so low budgets? Social work and care work is so undervalued?
Time for a change has come – but there will be no social peace when the State answer is armoured riot police to guarantee social order! Social peace requires social justice!