Archive for the ‘Iceland’ Category

Crisis, resistance and repression in Iceland

March 13, 2010

Big things sometimes happen in small countries. One small country in which quitimrtant events have occured is Iceland. That country was struck by economic recession, collapsing banks and hardship for many inhabitants. But inhabitants struck back, again and again.

People protested during the winter of 2008-2009, street demonstrations even helped bring about the collapse of the goverment. But tht was not all. Britain and the Netherlands tried to make a deal wit Iceland, to make that country pay money in saving accounts Dutch and Britisch peoaple had in the Icesave internet banking firm. Icesave collapsed in the financial crisis during autumn 2008. The deal would have meant more austerity for people in Iceland: they would have been forced to pay, throught taxes, for instance.

Government accepted, a parliamentary majority accepted – but street protests and a big petition showed strong opposition. The president, feeling the pressure, refused to sign the deal. A referendum was held on the issue: around 93 per cent of people who voted rejected the agreement! That was a slap in the face of established power, and a sign of anger and a most welcome recalcitrance of a big part of the population.

There was more positive fall-out from the rection to economic and financial collapse. parliamentarians have taken the initiative to makee press law which brings strong protection to press and especially internet freedom. Sources can be better protected, leaks cannot easily become a cause for juridical repressive procedures.

The initiative was at least partly an reaction to efforts to stop an internet leak containng information about dubious practices of a  bank in Iceland. That bank had tried to stop publication of the information. The new proposal tries to prevent such attacks on information freedom. Later this spring, the proposal will be put to a vote in parliament. If made into law, it will be a recognition of the strength of the desire for freedom against the economic, political and financial powers-that-be, a step forward. Stephen Soldz explains on Counterpunch.

Those powers that be, however, are not leaving the scene voluntarily. They try to strike back. An example is the trial of nine protesters who had entered the building of parliament during the street revolt that helped bring about the government’s deserved collapse early in 2009. They are being threatened with high jail sentences on the basis of rather absurd parts of the law. has the story. Popular anger has brought about change – but the rulers resist the resistance. The fight is continuing.