So 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.
We 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.
The 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.
In the evening, while the activists met up at the all-night watering hole, Cafe 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.
The 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.
A 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.