This page has been created as a space of expression where ex-members of www.indymedia.be and belgian local collective can share freely their personal experiences while they were still volunteers at www.indymedia.be. It is directly linked to BelgiumSituationEn

- Le 8/10, un communiqu\xE9 des collectifs locaux de Belgique est publi\xE9 sur indymedia.be \xE0 l'adresse : http://www.indymedia.be/news/hidden.php?id=88690#88764

L'article est tout de suite censur\xE9 (bravo la solidarit\xE9 !)

Deux jours plus tard, l'article est remis en ligne mais avec un communiqu\xE9 de indymedia.be

Le communiqu\xE9 des collectifs locaux a disparu apr\xE8s avoir \xE9t\xE9 censur\xE9 pour \xEAtre remplac\xE9 par un communiqu\xE9 de .be

- Han soete ou comment se faire une biographie expurg\xE9e de son militantisme au PTB ou encore comment entuber tout le monde en disant "Je n'ai rien \xE0 voir avec le PTB"

* Mentir dans les r\xE9unions publiques, alors qu'on a \xE9crit une partie du programme du PTB http://www.pvda.be/verkiezingen/pdfomkeren/2c22.pdf

Expurg\xE9 des articles du site du PTB, un petit coup de ciseau et hop han soete dispara\xEEt:

- Article original http://web.archive.org/web/20020225153436/www.ptb.be/solidaire/archive/archive.htm

- Article expurg\xE9 http://www.ptb.be/solidaire/f0799/el079908.htm

Maarten

**Here's a personal account by Maarten van Hove, ex-volunteer imc-be of his experiences with this 'collective'. He wrote it in reply to the questions from Gek (imc-SF) on the process-list:**

I think you are asking good questions about Indymedia in Belgium. I can understand that it is hard to grasp the situation here. So I thought it would be helpful if I gave you my personal account. I am no longer a member of Indymedia so please see this as what it is: a subjective background story. Many former Indymedia member can tell you similar stories.

I graduated five years ago as a journalist, but quickly learned that the issues I find interesting (like antiglobalisation) get far less space in newspapers as they should. After a year or so, I found out about the existence of Indymedia. I was thrilled! It was in the days after 9/11 that I began as a volunteer in Indymedia Belgium.

In those days, the dynamism of Indymedia was fantastic. There were people from all over who jumped at the medium. I met a lot of people through discussions that I now count as some of my best friends. I learned massive amounts of important stuff. But things were set to worsen for a couple of reasons. First, I noticed that te amount of infighting grew. The people that now run Indymedia Belgium seemed to be on some sort of ideological purification trip. The discourse showed clear analogies to what Chomsky wrote about manufacturing consent. The margins of the discussion were narrowed constantly. I had many discussions in those days with these people on what was the task of Indymedia. Were we looking for the 'Truth' through the respectful clash of information and opinions, or were we trying to further the goals of antiglobalisation (or later stalinism) through propaganda? I never managed to convince the people that now run Indymedia Belgium that we wouldn't be an inch better than the mainstream media if we would choose to write propaganda. I felt sick to see that people who were spokesmen of the collective attacked the weaker groups on the website.

First it was left-nationalists, then socialist and green party believers, people who believed in the idea of social forums, NGO's, anarchists, trotskyist communist groups, critical individuals, and so on. The result was that these groups started to quit writing for Indymedia. The members of the collective and the people writing for the site became an increasingly narrow group. I saw all of the friends I had met on the site leaving it in disgust, as the discourse began to take on stalinist tendencies (who had controlled it from the start and were tightening their grip on the site) as they began to defend Korea, China as the utmost paradises, or began to say that Mugabe or Saddam Hussein were the friends of the people just because they didn't like the US (the big satan). If you were a gay activist saying that Mugabe locked away and tortured gay people in Zimbabwe, so not a nice man at all, the discourse came back that 'this was a side issue, that the fact that he was against the US was the main issue and that after the revolution this issue would be resolved'.

In this fashion, I too lost most of my motivation and I started to do less and less for the collective. But the last drop for me was the elections of 2003. I clearly remember reading an article in one of our mainstream newspapers with the title 'Indymedia supports PVDA'(stalinist party, who controls Indymedia Belgium). There was the picture of Han Soete and the subtitle 'spokesman of Indymedia now on the political party list of the PVDA' or something. As I couldn't work as a volunteer (or in any case) for a media that was for one political party only and so wasn't neutral in any sense, I quit Indymedia Belgium. I remember that I was about the last non-alligned member of the collective then. The friends of mine that had all left before had been writers and not collective members, but one day they decided to go to the 'open meetings' of the collective en masse to give their ideas and influence the decision making. They were treated as enemies and garbage. Is this an open collective without leaders? Anyway, as the elections closed in, the website Indymedia Belgium became a sickening propaganda machine for the PVDA.

I had enough back then. Over the last few years, disappointed volunteers from Indymedia Belgium from West Flanders and Liege had started building their own Indymedia sites. When I saw the election results I was furious that the extreme right and the conservatives had again broken through, and that so many good people had left Indymedia Belgium to the stalinist control. So I gathered the people I had gotten to know the last year on the site and who I respected for their honest opinions and in secret we began to build Indymedia Flanders (after that Indymedia East Flanders to lessen conflicts with Indymedia Belgium and Indymedia West Flanders). In secret because we were very aware that we would become a target of subversion and lies from Indymedia Belgium if we didn't. I believe it took about six months before we even got one external remark of support, all the rest was infuriating conflicts. I broke down in those days and had the biggest burn out of my life, after which my motivation to work for Indymedia became even less. We just couldn't build a decent website without keeping one eye out for the sabotage from Indymedia Belgium, which flooded our site with all matter of sick content and which seeped our energy dry. Many people quit again, looking for more constructive issues to concentrate on, like music or friends. yes, it was extremely hard.

I have never really regained my motivation and energy and belief in Indymedia. I lost my faith in the website when I notified my ex-girlfriend of an article I was very proud of that I had placed on the website. She had worked in the biggest Belgian NGO and she had always been the most avid reader and supporter of my articles. But she didn't read this one. So I asked her why. She answered me 'that it was written on Indymedia and that it was all propaganda'. This is about nine months ago. It is about the general remark with most of the groups that have walked away in frustration over the years. So my ex-girlfriend couldn't make the distinction between Indymedia Belgium and Indymedia East Flanders, the latter filled with people she knew and respected, myself included, just because it bore the name 'Indymedia'??? She would read an article of mine if I send it to her through email but not if I would place it online? How many others thought of it in the same fashion? Was it even worth the time if the name Indymedia made people think of all matter of 'small left' infighting, and soviet style subversion?

I walked away from Indymedia quickly afterwards. For me the matter is clear: in order to restore the name of Indymedia in Belgium, the sabotage must stop and we must all concentrate on regaining the faith of our readers, whatever their opinions, by concentrating on seeking the truth. Six months after my leave, and still the same discussions and conflicts are underway, with many accounts of censorship and the forgery of information on Indymedia Belgium. It is always the same: professional propaganda and a warm smile from Han and Christophe from Indymedia Belgium, who are trying what they can to slow down the growth of autonomous Indymedia's in Belgium by making people walk away after all kinds of sick stuff, thus furthening the collapse of these sites. They have even changed their name in communication on the global email lists to Belgium.Indymedia.org to make sure we can't claim this URL for a portal site of all the small autonomous IMC's in Belgium. It is a constant battle for the minds in a way that can only be compared to Chomsky's 'manufacturing consent' (control the margins of the discussion so that in the end the democratic processes play right into your own hands) and the most foul games of Stalin (I would recommend reading George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia because the games played are about the same, and having the same results - the destruction of all opinions except the stalinist one). As a last ditch effort months ago, I used this scan from Orwell's book to discredit the tactics used by Indymedia Belgium.

orwell1

orwell2

That was 1938 or something. Nothing much has changed. This has got nothing to do with whatever people elsewhere in the world are trying to do with independent media. This is a recurring pattern: people that pose a threat to the growth of the stalinist party PVDA are discredited by the people running Indymedia Belgium. It is exhausting because it has completely no merit compared to loving a beautiful girl or living a good life. As such, I know that it was a good decision of me to walk away, because one burn out is more than enough. I have got better things to live for.

This is my personal story. Except perhaps for a glitch here and there in the timing, I swear on everything that holds value to me that is the complete truth. For all the beautiful people that keep on trying to build a true free media in Belgium, I implore you to please listen very carefully to what for instance Indymedia Liege is saying and to understand that stalinist propaganda is an evil beast which has got absolutely nothing in common with anything antiglobalisation stands for. Ony the truth can set us free.

With warm regards

Maarten Van Hove, ex volunteer Indymedia Belgium and Indymedia East Flanders

Guido

**Next is a mail from Guido exposing one of the many lies in the 'ImcBelgiumSituationEn'-document. The 'AEL' which is referred to is the The Arab European Leauge, which formed the RESIST political party in Belgium together with the PTB/PVDA in 2003**

hi all,

Because a lie is told in a document and has my name in it, I feel I have to react.

I will not take much of your time.

In this mail: vhttp://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/imc-antwerpen/2005-April/0408-n9.html

there is an URl: http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Local/ImcBelgiumSituationEn

In that document is written:

"An article posted (copy paste) by Guido (Guidoke in #indymedia) falsely accused the AEL of working with fascists so of course was put on hidden. We even contacted the AEL to verify if we had it right. As we saw the same post on IMC-NL, we of course told them this accusation was false. We felt it very sad that such false accusations were out there on the newswire."

This is not correct, the article did not accusse the AEL of working with fascists but asked why a link to a revisionist website was used as source for an article, afterwards this link was deleted on the AEL-site.

The article mentioned you can find here: http://www.indymedia.nl/nl/2003/09/14016.shtml

You can read in the comments that Han and Christophe try to say to the edito-team of Indymedia.nl what they have to do.

And there is also this email from imc.nl to imc.be: http://archives.lists.indymedia.org/imc-belgium-edito/2003-September/019231.html

In there you can read:

"Wat ons veronrust is de omgang met het posting vanuit Indymedia.be. Naar onze kennis is het stuk op Indymedia.nl niet van Guido afkomstig, maar alleen door hem gekopieert naar de Belgische Indymedia site. Beschuldigen tegenover iemand die iets kopieert lijken ons echter niks. Echt schrikken is dat het stuk dat anoniem op Indymedia.be gepost is, en dan later door vrijwilligers van Indymedia.be een naam van iemand erbij gezet word.

Wij zouden verwacht hebben, dat Indymedia.be het recht anoniem te posten respekteert, zoals het ook in de ImcNantesPrinciples of Unity (4) gegaranteerd word. (http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Global/PrinciplesOfUnity)"

Translated in English:

" what makes us unresty is how the posting is handled from in Indymedia.b. As far as we know is the article on Indymedia.nl not from Guido buy only copied by him to the belgium Indymedia-site. Accusations to somebody who copies something don't seem much worth. Really scaring is that the article was posted anomynous on Indymedia.be and later there wa put a name with it by volunteers of indymedia.be.

We would have expected that Indymedia.be the right to post anomynous would respect,like it's alo garanteed in the Pinciples of Unity(4)..."

greetings, Guido (autonomous, independent activist)

Manu TIHT

Personal experience of Manu the incredibly hairy troll?

Intro: who is manu tiht, and why do I write this.

My name is Emmanuel, but to other (indymedia-) activist I am more known as manu the incredibly hairy troll a.k.a. manutiht or manu from the edito. For more then 10 years now I have been active, mostly in refugee support groups (vluchtelingen aktie komitee) but also in environment (lappersfort) and anti-globalisation movement. My involvement in several political and social struggles has always been in a grass roots, radical democratic, direct action methodoloy. I believe in bottom up movements more than in parties or leaders.

I write this personal experience to give my humble view on how the situation of imc's in Belgium developed and has harmed the image of independent media in this petite country in the sincere hope that resolving this matter will strengthen the imc community as a whole (we have to learn how to deal with this sort of situations taking it head first, not by denying or ignoring it.)

My story

My first encounter with indymedia occurred in the summer of 2000, during an in memoriam for 58 chinese refugees who suffocated trying to migrate to GB. I had been active for several years, first in anti -racist organisations, afterwards in grass roots activist groups like vluchtelingen aktie komitee.

On the action I met Han Soete who introduced himself as member of Indymedia Belgium. The weeks after that I happened to follow the site and the few articles that appeared on them. I was very enthousiastic about the concept of an open publishing site, especially the way in which action groups of all walks of life could get a medium to share their experiences and actions.

This enthousiasm altered gradually due to

1) the experience of RESIST

Let me make myself perfectly clear:

I DO NOT DISAPPROVE OF AEL, in the period before the elections I arranged a discussion evening with mr ABOU JAHJAH in Bruges, I have protested against his unjust detention and I have always sympathised with people fighting oppression.

But:

  • I do not believe that indymedia should have close ties, and function as a propaganda tool for a political party of any kind, I am an anarchist and elections to me are no "direct ation" (as was said on indy.be by Christophe callewaert) but a smokescreen for those in power.

  • a book was written to support the electional campaign, it was an interview with abou jahjah and zohra Othman of resist, written down by christophe callewaert and han soete.

It was propagated in this fashion:

"Dyab Abou Jahjah & Zohra Othman, Resist! Veel meer dan een cultuurschok. Opgetekend door Han Soete & Christophe Callewaert van Indymedia. EPA, Berchem, 96 blz., 6 euro. (source: http://www.uitpers.be/boek_view.php?id=84)

roughly translated: \x93dyab abou jahjah and zohra Othman, resist! Much more than a culture shock, written down by han soete and christophe callewaert from indymedia, epa, berchem, 96 blz, 6 euro)

note that this text was written by HAN SOETE himself, thus making himself a clear tie between indymedia and resist

  • the same people made 3 (three !!) features on resist in one week,all with close to no news in them. Thus pushing other interesting features from the newswire

  • Han participated on the list of resist, thus making a connection between resist and indymedia.be for the rest of Belgium.

critics of this ties were called fascist, stupid and extreme-right. Both han and christophe used the comment function to critise on other leftist partys, but were angry If likewise was done with resist Han soete made a press statement as member of resist using his emailadres @indymedia.org this is the last paragraph of the intro to the booklet about resist made by christophe and han: \x93Toen Dyab Abou Jahjah, Ahmed Azzuz, Zohra Othman en Koen Calliauw opriepen tot een nieuwe betoging, en wel op 18 mei, de verkiezingsdag, konden we niet langs de kant blijven staan. Aan de verkiezingen meedoen is voor ons nochtans niet vanzelfsprekend. In Seattle, Praag, Genua en Brussel gingen we de straat op omdat we geloven dat dit het terrein is waar je echt verandering kan afdwingen. Het was ook voor ons een breuk met het lobbywerk van de traditionele derdewereldbeweging. RESIST! ligt in het verlengde van die strijd op de straat. We roepen dan ook iedereen graag op bij de verkiezingen mee te betogen en een stem uit te brengen op RESIST! \x93

i translate roughly:

\x93when ajj, a a, zo and kc called for a manifestation on the 18th of may, electionday, we could not stand aside\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85blahblahblah\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85\x85 we call for everyone to join the protest on the election day and to make a vote for resist\x94.

This is nothing more or less than a vote recommendation for 1 of the many parties in belgium. This is ignoring the participation of anarchist, other leftist parties, and members of ngo\x92s active in the green party. Thus linking indymedia to this particular party. They both signed it as indymedia members

Afterwards han has admitted that he and some members of indy.be had made mistakes, but this critism could not be made in the time during which this happened without han calling you a racist or a pim fortyn adept

the reason for this is in my opinion that han and christophe are both pvda/ptb members. Since pvda was the only Belgian party supporting resist they had to propagate this list with the means at their disposal: indymedia.

The event has disturbed a lot of indymedia.be sympathisants. Especially since han and christophe insulted everyone who had the east bit of doubt in their strategy: members of other leftist groups were called names and heavily critised

2) The way in which han and christophe argued in postings

Further there were several comments, articles, and postings by han and christophe in which they used a clearly manipulative manner of debating, which even drove people who are well known pvda sympathisers into a frenzy: yvan bryse for example was called a racist because he had critised latent homophobia within some people in the muslim community. Other examples were a discussion about homophobia in Zimbabwe, kissing on manifestations, milosevic ,.... in which they (accidentally or not) always used the arguments usually made by the pvda/ptb, This way of discussing: (if you had made a nuanced critique on something they would paraphrase it as a racist comment) drove many people away from imc.be. For me as an anarchist i could not forgive them for stating that the problem of homophobia is only a marginal problem, that all energy should be directed towards anti racism. To me this all makes one part of a big struggle against patriarchy and capitalism. i do not want a revolution after which gay people are the next target of the 'revolutionary avant-garde".

The period after indy.be

After my experiences on indy.be I was searching for an alternative way of being active in independent media. I became involved first with imc-wvl, but due to my moving to Ghent I decided to join indy-vlaanderen. Indy-vlaanderen was a very stressed period, in which indy.be claimed that they had the sole right on the superregonial indymedia in Belgium. After a proposal of indy-wvl indy-vlaanderen made the switch to indy-ovl. At the same time indy-be promised to make the switch to a regional imc, and to work out the syndication site as the superregional imc. As you can see now imc-be never kept their promise, but has used this promise to TRICK indy-vlaanderen in becoming indy-ovl thus cutting away a possible alternative collective for indy.be

Since then I do not believe anymore in indy.be as an independent imc: they have ties with pvda / ptb as well described in several other postings, and as clear to any activist in Belgium or nearby regions (I refer to the supports that came in from other imc's nearby Belgium) they receive fundings by the government, they do not keep their promises and lie to the imc-community. they violate the principles of unity,....

Reasons why imc-be should be disaffiliated

1) indy.be lies to the imc community:

  • as stated in BePOUviolation1 imc-be has falsly accused indy-liege of erasing the link to their website
  • indy-be has broken its promise to cooperate on the syndication> process as indicated in the imc-wvl syndication proposal
  • indy.be has lied about the openness of the lists of indy.Be
  • han and christophe have lied about their connections to the pvda/ptb

2) indy.be is no longer independent

  • han and christophe have compromised the independency of indymedia.be and the good name of the imc-network. They have linked indy.be to a particular political party, even writing books for this party, making indy.be a propaganda tool for that movement, driving other opinions away. I invite people from outside Europe to talk to indy-nl about their experiences on this
  • imc-be gets fundings throught the king baudoin foundation, and through their ghost organisation getbasic, a former media organisation of the pvda/ptb
  • all well known members of indy.be have clear links to pvda they have tried to cover up that articles in the pvda newspaper were written by members of indy.be, changing the name of the author han soete into staf le dous

3) indy.be violates the principles of unity

  • articles with relevant links to other imc's are erased: for examples you can look to the violations of pou docs by pim vdp
  • they erased local imc's from their city lists, only putting them back after complaints
  • http://www.indymedia.be/news/hidden.php?id=96308#96317: an activist demands some more information on an action of which only one article was posted on indy.be, a relevant link to articles on indy-ovl and> indy-liege were hidden.

4) we have already talked too long

  • for years and years people have tried to change indy.be, but suggestions were either laughed at, the authors insulted, false promises made or just ignored.
  • I, personally, am tired of talking, I already tried my best to change imc-be for the better, they did not want it, then it is clear that a resolution should be forced.
  • Indy.be uses their monopoly to boycott all other alternatives

5) han and christophe have a hierarchical view on media and acitivsm.

Indy-vlaanderen could not exist because indy-be claimed they should be the only superregional imc. Now that there is a working alternative (syndication site) they should redirect themselves as indy-bxl and give www.indymedia.be to the proper owner: the activist community and local imcs

sincerely

manu



Topic revision: r17 - 21 Jan 2006, AlsteR
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