Wednesday, February 22, 2012

There must be something wrong...

There must be something wrong, boys! ( and girls, of course!)
 Translation of an Appeal for a more democratic  and creative Antwerp...
Venting your opinion in a public space in the city of Antwerp becomes a difficult exercise. Occupy participants get ‘Administrative Communal Fines’ (GAS-fines) because they use city squares for their gatherings. Women who called out loud ‘shame’ twice because the old Linden trees were chopped off on the de Keizerlei are immediately arrested. The doctors from ‘Health for the People’ (Geneeskunde voor het Volk) are presented with a GAS-fine because of an action about the flu vaccine. Critical Mass on their cycle tours get super controls and are handed super fines by the police. And then we don’t even mention 2060 around De Coninck square, about what happens there when you loiter a bit long or if you, what a shame, drink a beer in public.

Is this the city of free speech? Is this the city where public space can be used to proclaim one’s opinion and what has happened to free movement? Is this the city were citizens may be critical in their remarks? What is the intention?

Were are artists and thus very sensitive if critical thought is shackled, if free thought is threatened. Out of freedom come our artistic possibilities. When citizens are silenced, then space is taken away from the artist to think and to act. These things go hand in hand. Repressive governance endangers every creative soul and undermines democracy.

This concern leads to our urgent request to the city council and administration to change its policy and to give back the public space to thinking and creative inhabitants. Antwerp, with the harbor as a gate to the world, cannot afford to have a narrow-minded attitude towards the ‘other voice’. This gate has to remain open, thoughts must be able to confront and encounter one another. Let the squares and streets of this city remain a meeting place for variation in thinking, which is the basis of each healthy democracy. We should not be worried and fear that the city government will take away our democratic rights, do we?
The GAS-fines? Make them disappear in the shredder.
Critical Mass. Let them cycle.
Occupy people? Grant them free speech.
Healing doctors? Let them give free vaccinations.
Ladies and Gentlemen? Let them shout.
Visitors of squares? Let them go about their business and meet each other.
Artists? Let them dream.
This city should not suffocate in a long AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

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