Vers la Verite, Paris, October 2009

VV_Graphic_Paris_2009So the Vers la Ver­ite events in Paris earlier this month were a great suc­cess.  I’ve organ­ised a few inter­na­tional tours and events in my time, but this was one of the most con­cen­trated series of dif­fer­ent hap­pen­ings I’ve been involved in.  Thanks go to Debora Blake for all her work in situ in Paris, and also to the ReOpen posse, who offered a lot of prac­tical sup­port and were major spon­sors of the weekend.

Vers la Ver­ite was a gath­er­ing of cam­paign­ers and act­iv­ists from across Europe and North Amer­ica, who met to dis­cuss “geo­pol­it­ic­ally incor­rect issues” (as Debora likes to call them!), such as the illegal wars in the Middle East, media spin, intel­li­gence manip­u­la­tion, the erosion of our civil liber­ties in the name of the unend­ing “war on ter­ror” — and the need for a new, inde­pend­ent enquiry into the tra­gic events of 9/11, the nexus of so many of these issues.  It was fant­astic to see so many old and new friends in Paris — what a show of com­mit­ment to mak­ing the world a safer and more equit­able place.  It gave me hope.

Speakers_Paris_2009We were also priv­ileged to have cam­paign­ers of the cal­ibre of the 2008 US Green Party pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Con­gress­wo­man Cyn­thia McKin­ney, journ­al­ist and  recent MEP Giuli­etto Chiesa, Pro­fessor Niels Har­rit of Copen­ha­gen Uni­ver­sity, and French actor and dir­ector Math­ieu Kas­so­vitz at the events. 

Press_Conference_Paris_2009The week­end star­ted with a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day 9th Octo­ber at the Mairie of the 2nd arron­disse­ment in Paris, kindly hos­ted by the Mayor, him­self a Green Party politician.

Procope_Paris_2009In the even­ing, while the act­iv­ists met up at the all-night water­ing hole, Café L’Etincelle on the Rue de Rivoli, Cyn­thia was the guest of hon­our at a spon­sors’ din­ner at the fam­ous Le Pro­cope bras­serie.  This is the old­est res­taur­ant in Paris, and has hos­ted Ben­jamin Frank­lin (who reputedly worked on the draft of the Amer­ican Con­sti­tu­tion there), as well as Voltaire.

Brunch_Paris_2009The Sat­urday was the main day of events, start­ing with a light lunch for  inter­na­tional act­iv­ists at Les Halles des Olivi­ers at La Bel­levil­loise, with impromptu music from Dr Jazzz.  In the after­noon we con­vened for a plan­ning ses­sion, fol­lowed in the even­ing by a pub­lic meet­ing.  Debora ably hos­ted the event with Cyn­thia McKin­ney, Giuli­etto Chiesa and Niels Har­rit and myself as the speak­ers, dis­cuss­ing dif­fer­ent aspects of gov­ern­ment cover-ups and lack of account­ab­il­ity, all drawn from our own exper­i­ences.  The film “Zero”, dir­ec­ted by Giuli­etto Chiesa, was screened, as well as excerpts from “Amer­ican Black­out” fea­tur­ing Cyn­thia, and the work of won­der­ful French comedian and cam­paigner, Jean Marie Bigard.

Kassovitz_Paris_2009A sur­prise and very wel­come attendee was Math­ieu Kas­so­vitz, who suc­cess­fully bid in the auc­tion for the collector’s edi­tion of the excel­lent “Global Out­look” research pub­lic­a­tion, signed by Cynthia.

The week­end wrapped up with a demo on Sunday morn­ing, march­ing from Place de la Repub­lique to Place Bastille — two res­on­ant loc­a­tions — before an informal farewell Parisian lunch.

It was fant­astic to meet so many inspir­ing people, who are com­mit­ted to chan­ging the world for the bet­ter. Thank you all for tak­ing the time and trouble to get to Paris for the
week­end  — it was great to see so many old and new friends!

And thanks once again to Debora, AtMoh, Marc, Jean Marc, Chris­tophe (x2!), Arno and the rest of the Paris posse. Also to Cyn­thia, Giuli­etto and Niels for their pro­fes­sion­al­ism, ded­ic­a­tion and sheer joy, all in the face of adversity.