"Anti-demonstration" law buried
"Thanks to a strong rallying of trade unions, associations and politicians, the anti-protest law seems to be buried now", said Raoul Hedebouw, president of the PVDA-PTB, adding: "Initially, this bill was requested by the socialist mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, and by the mayors of Charleroi and Liège as well.
It was brought by the liberal former Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, then elaborated and approved by the Vivaldi government. Last July, it was voted again in the Justice Committee by the Vivaldi parties (including the Socialists and Greens) It's a victory for social mobilization supported by the opposition of the left". Indeed, Raoul Hedebouw commented on an interview in this Saturday's press in which Paul Magnette (PS) announced that the law had been buried, even though he had initially been in favor of it.
Raoul Hedebouw emphasizes: "Without the rallying of unions and associations, this bill would have passed. Despite the vote in July's committee, the unions and associations did not give up. Last October 5, they rallied more than 10,000 people in the streets of Brussels. It was the fourth rallying on the topic. And it was added to an awareness-raising and petition campaign supported by this broad social front." Adding: "We took part in the rallying of trade union, associations and citizens with the PVDA-PTB to show our support. We sounded the political alarm since last spring. Particularly with our workers' deputies, who have decades of combined union and militant involvement, and who fought hard in the Home Affairs Committee to delay the government's bill".
The PVDA-PTB has also announced that it will remain vigilant on this issue. The president of the PS (French-speaking Socialist Party) said that he was both burying the bill and saying that "the basis of the text was legitimate", and added: "There's no doubt that work has to be done on this issue, but let's do it properly". The president of the (Liberal) MR announces that he wants to keep the bill as it stands.
"We won't give up," says Raoul Hedebouw, adding: "Contrary to what Paul Magnette says, the text was based on illegitimate grounds. There are enough laws to condemn criminal acts. Wanting to impose a ban on rallying because an act has been committed as part of a social and protest mobilization is a democratic step backwards that we will continue to fight." The PVDA-PTB-president concluded: "We will not accept a manoeuvre like the one attempted last July, which aimed to force the bill through by including amendments that did nothing to change the substance of the bill".