Evaluating the Strasbourg actions

What happened to you? Did we accomplish our goals? What did we learn? These personal evaluations address many issues raised during the actions opposed to NATO, 60 years after its founding. We hope these women's experiences and analyses will add to the debate about NATO, violence and non-violence, and lead to a larger, stronger women's movement for peace.

Evaluations in French: Martine Toulotte, Evelyne Jolie
Evaluations in Spanish:
Women in Black, Seville, Jemma Ventura and Lydia Zimmerman

Helga Berg, western Denmark

Notes and reflections from my anti-NATO, anti-military days in Strasbourg, April 2-5, 2009

..."I thought that the police are for protecting people- as they were at a big Women in Black demonstration in Belgrade some time ago when we were a visiting group from Denmark. Luckily we all ended up unhurt and together in the end... Our goals should be constantly learning and training how to express our feminist and non-violent convictions so as to get into a good dialogue going, how to address authorities so as to be taken seriously, how to catch the eye of an already inundated media.
Most of us have some training and experience in handling conflicts, but I find that continuing such training is important - incl. the difficult area involving conflicts among ourselves.
Who among us are trained in training others? ..."
Read full report here.

Diane Brace, London

..."The WIB Reunion was a large, enjoyable occasion, full of language difficulties but helped by several multi-lingual women. The hotel in which it was held was initially unhappy to discover that we were part of the NO TO NATO campaign. The whole of the city was tense, zoned and full of both local and national French police in anticipation of the coming demo that it was understandable that there was anticipation of adverse publicity. However, there were no problems. It was interesting to meet so many WIB members from European countries. When we exchanged our accounts, it was clear that practices varied. In some countries, the vigils concentrated solely on Israel/Palestine; in others as in London, they address varying conflict areas, in yet others vigils are joined by other actions."...
Read full report here.

Ursula Gelis, Norway


Ursula (right) with Cynthia Cockburn at workshop. (c) Erika Sulzer-Kleinemeier

Evaluation of the workshop and the Anti-Nato demonstration in Strasbourg

..."A principal question occurred to me whether we as feminists and active members of a women organization should create our own platform of peace, disconnecting us from a general movement which we cannot control. Nobody of us is keen to be identified with violent trouble makers!

And: according to my observation, male dominance seems to be persistent even while the common purpose is struggling for peace and disarmament.."
Read her statement here.

Irmgard Heilberger, Munich

Strasbourg Evaluation notes

..."If the alternative to war is respect, love and non-violence, we can only prove this by being respectful, full of love and without violence. The media focused on the prominent people and the violence coming out of our demonstration, articles about our topics and interests were rare. I am really convinced that violence is the creator of new violence and is never a solution."...
Read statement here.
Irmgard's speech about Strasbourg at the annual Easter March 2009 (in German).

Heidi Meinzolt, Stockdorf, Germany

..."In all, the police and French political strategy was scandalous; it was a provocation, a total lack of democracy and human rights as well as of sensitivity and basic logic! And it was their fault that aggression in such a  dimension happened.

I think we have to discuss also more in the peace movements and especially in our women’s movements how to digest these experiences and learn from them. Organisational development and political strength have to go parallel!..."
Read full statement here.

Sabrina Qureshi, London

April 15, 2009

In answer to Kate Hudson’s blog of April 4

..."I agree with what you write about what took place but I appeal to those who joined 'black block' to use the anger you feel to empower the peace movement. Lay down your choice to use physical violence as a means to gain peace and stop letting the power intent on spreading fear and violence to capture your hearts. I feel your rage but give peace a chance and believe in your energy enough that you can protect and fight without laying a finger. Love is the toughest lesson and a true belief in it will bring peace. The personal is political and if you cannot feel peace in your soul or in your hearts how can you manifest it for the world . We are interconnected and we need you now more than ever."...
Read full statement here.

Emma Rosengren, Stockholm

April 4 demo dispersed. (c) Erika Sulzer-Kleinemeier

Saturday morning we got up early to make sure that we would be at the bridge to meet WILPF women on time. It was tricky to get there since the police was trying to close the whole city down, but we finally made it there. After meeting with the other wilpf women we went to the area for the demonstration. When we heard that the rest of the people who were on their way there were not allowed to cross the bridge we decided to take a walk to see what was happening..."
Read full statement here.

Asuka Sanada, Berlin

Asuka in workshop, center, Irmgard Heilberger at right.
(c) Erika Sulzer-Kleinemeier

...(Saturday, the demo) "It was the first time for me to join demo, in addition I had read guidelines issued by an organizer (on the website) telling that there would be thousand of police in Strasbourg to control for the NATO Summit as well as giving information about legal & medical team. So I had been worried about it, to tell the truth.
It was a pity that the Demo resulted in “violence” to some extent, not peaceful way.
We should have got a section on the march for women after the peace organizations, but the plan was totally spoiled. People including me were in panic because of the fire and gas, once they started to advance, there was no space to go out of the crowd."...
Read full statement here.

Martine Toulotte, Grenoble, France

STRASBOURG: BRAINSTORMING WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE VIOLENCE OF THE STATE..."The evening after the demonstration, we felt bad and we started to reflect on what was, for us, a failure. We had lived through a day that completely contradicted what we wanted to build/accomplish: a world of peace and mutual respect. We felt like we had been trapped between two forms of mindless violence, that of the police and of the Black Blocks. Two different sources of violence that seek each other out and answer each other. Both indifferent to people, and putting these same people in real danger..."
Read statement here.


The end of the demonstration, April 4, 2009. (c) Erika Sulzer-Kleinemeier

Anna Valente, Torino

Some thoughts about Strasbourg days
...(Saturday, the demonstration) "In that situation I only wanted to go away; I felt like I was in a trap: physically, as we can verify later, when the police impeded our going out; and politically: how can we say something about our position in that place of war and violence? Amidst nothing? To whom? To people that have not our ideas (police, rioters) and do not want listen to us? To people that have our ideas and - as us - came and were entrapped there? I found no other solution than pass under the wagons of a lost train and go away."...
Read full statement here.

The World March of Women

Read their brief on-line report: The World March of Women in the anti-NATO Summit in Strasbourg (April 2009)