Footage from actions organized by activists in Zagreb in 2003, including Gay Pride and an anti-NATO protest. Read More
The Global Day of Protest on February 15, 2003 in response to the US-led invasion of Iraq gathered an estimated 10 million participants worldwide in over 800 cities. In Croatia, anti-war sentiments were extremely popular as an estimated 10,000-15,000 gathered on Ban Jelacic Square before marching on the US Embassy. These protests were largely in response to Croatia’s February 6 signing of the 2003 Vilnius Group Declaration, which supported the US invasion of Iraq regardless of UN Security Council approval. Donald Rumsfeld, then US Secretary of Defense, described Croatia and other Eastern European signatories as examples of the “New Europe” in contrast to the “Old Europe” anti-war France and Germany.
Early in 2003, the coming invasion precipitated a significant crisis in the process of “transition to democracy” in Croatia. As civil society and other activists (including the radical left) attempted to organize the mass protests, this crisis both revealed and intensified conflicts over the ideology, legitimacy, and practice of civil society in Croatia.
Many Zagreb anarchists believe that civil society is dependent on and subservient to the state. They also differ from civil society in their notions of appropriate resistance, especially during mass protests. During the protests against the US-led invasion of Iraq, anarchists believed NGOs and other civil society organizations were overly concerned with civil or polite behavior. Many activists are also highly sensitive to the perceived civilizing mission behind civil society’s activities and their self-representation as both an index of and vehicle for the modernization and Europeanization of the Croatian state.
These tensions interrupted initial protest organizing, but an informal ad hoc initative called Dosta je ratova! or Enough Wars! (DJR) was eventually organized by civil society members working with anarchists against the invasion.
For more on the conflicts between civil society and Zagreb anarchists, see The Free Store track context.