Open Letter to Gezi Forums and networks on the idea of organizing the 3rd Agora99 in Istanbul in 2015
Starting in 2011, the world witnessed a wave of truly transnational and global grass-roots uprisings. In Tunisia, Egypt, Iceland, Greece, Spain, Israel, Chile, the UK, the US, Turkey, Brazil and in many other places people took to the streets to protest against injustice and inequality and for democracy. Struggles that had been ongoing for years gained new visibility and new movements and struggles formed.
These uprisings spread from on place to another ignited by distinct local issues. However, self-organisation, connectivity and horizontality have become characteristics of all of these uprisings: They practice new forms of democratic decision making and do not have leaders. They organize through assemblies, working groups, and convergence spaces and allow mass participation grounded in social networks and online meetings.
Also, transnational and translocal ties that connect groups, movements and individuals on regional, national and international levels have allowed to spread and continue these uprisings, creating networks of dignity across the world. Larger assemblies allowed for self-reflexion and exchange. One of them has been Agora99.
What is Agora99?
The idea of Agora99 emerged in the transnational general assembly held at the end of the first Blockupy action in May 2012, in Frankfurt. An open working group was created to coordinate and organise the efforts to set up a transnational and transversal space for the autumn of the same year.
The first Agora 99 took place in November 2012 in Madrid, Spain. As an open meeting, made up of transversal assemblies and thematic workshops, Agora99 allowed collectives, networks and individual activists who had joined 15M, Occupy, Blockupy and other grassroots uprisings to come together, meet face to face, exchange, support each others actions and consider the relevance of the 15M uprising in the European context.
The second Agora99 was organised in November 2013 in Rome. It was similarly organized in occupied factories and self-organised social spaces. There we met and updated each other about the ongoing struggles at all levels, with the energy received from the Gezi protests in May–June 2013. The Rome Agora99 was participated by comrades from Germany, Italy, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, the UK and other parts of Europe. Uprisings in Brazil, Bosnia and Bulgary brought fresh air to Rome. Turkish comrades delivered a message from Gezi forums.
In Madrid and Rome, the Agora99 was organized along three thematic axes of struggles: Debt, Rights and Democracy. In this way, many diverse struggles could be brought together – struggles for the commons, for the right to housing and the right to the city, against precarious labour and neoliberal urbanism as well as struggles against war and militarization and for the right to citizenship and free migration, and many more. Alongside with the thematic workshops we reflected upon technopolitics to find and develop practicies of organisation capable of linking together the local and global struggles with new technologies.
We organize through open local and international meetings, but mostly through the email list firstname.lastname@example.org (in English) and regular online voice chats (using the Skype-like Mumble software). In the organizing process itself, we thus also tried to invent a democratic space for all that would go beyond the traditional organizational forms and cannot be controlled by a few.
Agora99 thus is neither “just another academic conference” nor a meeting of delegates of various political organizations. Instead, the aim is to bring activists across countries and across thematic topics together in order to share strategies and experiences, contacts and ideas, tools and tactics.
Towards a new Agora99
Recently the idea of holding the third Agora99 in Istanbul was suggested. The idea was widely welcomed by the people who collaborated in the organisation of previous Agora99 events: Istanbul is located in a space and a time where struggles are active and intense. Agora99 is an open process that should go beyond the limits and boundaries of Europe. A meeting in Istanbul could give us this opportunity and spread connections.
However attractive the idea of creating the next Agora space in Istanbul is, we are well aware of the practical and political difficulties as well as the massive ground work and local as well as transnational collaboration required. Therefore we are calling on you to evaluate the possibility of organising this together, bearing in mind that strong local participation is needed. On the other hand, we know that we are capable of achieving bigger aims through participation, distribution of tasks and swarm-wise collaboration. Also, teams that participated in the previous Agoras would help out with the organisation process.
We wrote this text in order to share this initial idea with you comrades who live, fight in and know the city of Istanbul: Is the idea to create and organise this meeting interesting for social movements around Turkey and beyond? Could local and international forums, assemblies, collectives collaborate in mutual recognition and comradeship to make it happen? What are the topics and political issues that we need to discuss together? Which struggles demand to be exchanged and spread in a transnational context of movements?
Can we bring the chapullers of the world together around a large open agora for the 99% holding forums and exchanging ideas?
We need to decide together!
That’s why we propose to hold a pre-organisation meeting in Istanbul on the 25th of October, 2014, to share views and opinions about this process and decide if we can do this bet together.
We are whole-heartedly looking forward to walk with you on the international road to dignity!
In comradeship and solidarity
Please let us know, if you want to participate at: email@example.com.
Agora 99 website: http://99agora.net
Information and reports on previous Agora99 meetings:
“Steps towards considering, participating and rebooting democracy”
(report from the Madrid Agora99):
“Democracy and technopolitics in the European space”
(reflections after the Rome Agora99 by the hosting node): http://www.dinamopress.it/multilanguages/democracy-and-technopolitics-in-the-european-space
“Message to Agora99 Rome from Müştereklerimiz”:http://99agora.net/materials/message-to-agora99-from-mustereklerimiz
Occupied social centres hosting Agora99
(Map: http://99agora.net/maps-mapas )
La escalera karakola: http://www.sindominio.net/karakola/ [SP]
Traficantes de sueños: http://www.traficantes.net/ [SP]
La Morada: http://csoalamorada.wordpress.com/ [SP]
Eko: http://eslaeko.net/ [SP]
Patio Maravillas: http://patiomaravillas.net/ [SP]
Ecologistas en acción: http://www.ecologistasenaccion.org/rubrique7.html [SP]
An account of Agora99: http://occupylondon.org.uk/24521/,
Madrid: Dreams Becoming Reality http://bit.ly/TzbmpV [EN]
Barcelona debates Blockupy´s next steps: Agora 99 : NL#27, 2 http://bit.ly/OIPdCi [EN]
Twitter account: @99_agora
Hashtags: #Agora99 #A99Assembly #A99Debt #A99Rights #A99Democracy