More than 5000 people rallied in Brussels on June 21.
Images of rioting protesters and burning cars in Brussels were published in mainstream media across the globe on November 7. The previous day’s protest in Brussels did end in violent clashes, with 50 injured and 30 arrested, but it was the spirited but peaceful demonstration of 120,000 Belgians that was the key aspect of the day.
Before May 25, there were no elected representatives of what is called the “radical” left in Belgium, unlike in other countries in Europe. This anomaly has now been corrected. The Belgian Workers’ Party-Left Opening! (PTB-GO!) lists are sending two members to the Belgian federal Chamber of Deputies, two to the Walloon parliament and four to the parliament of the Brussels-Capital region.
Belgian railway workers shut down almost the entire national rail network and disrupted international services on October 18 in protest at rail freight reforms that could cost hundreds of train drivers” jobs, the Morning Star said that day. The strike was called in protest against the terms of new “flexible” contracts that rail bosses are seeking to impose on staff. Unions warned that the contracts would make it easier for bosses to lay off hundreds of train drivers.
During UN Disarmament Week (October 24-31), a bill to enact the UN Convention banning Cluster Munitions is to be tabled in the House of Representatives. However, it is unlikely to contain a provision prohibiting financial institutions from funding manufacturers of cluster bombs. It has been found that the ANZ bank has provided loans of $136.5 million to producers of cluster bombs.
Laws punishing women for wearing the burqa and the niqab in public were passed by the Belgian lower house of parliament on April 29. A similar law has been discussed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and the French National Assembly passed a non-binding resolution in favour of a ban on May 11. These laws have been pushed by right-wing governments on the basis of security needs and protecting national identity, but the laws have also been justified as promoting equality for women. On this basis, the laws have received support from sections of the left and the feminist movement.