The collaboration with Tvind, UFF and the Flea market in Bislev
About the same time, in 1979, people from Tvind had got interested in joining the anti imperialistic solidarity work. We got immediately very enthusiastic. We visualised what a boom the anti imperialistic solidarity work could be. As far as we were concerned, it resulted in that we arranged the flea market in Bislev. Tvind's contribution was that three students moved from the Nødvændige Seminarium in Tvind to stay with us during the period of planning and during the flea market.
The work consisted in finding a place where we could have this flea market and where at the same time about 30 adults could stay, and since the principle, at least for this camp, was, that the participation was to be free, we had to thrift all necessities for about 30 adults for three weeks plus all the things we would use in connection with the flea market like e.g. trucks for the collection.
This system, thrifting everything we needed, we never used again. It was simply too consuming and it demanded that constantly during the camp, a ragpicker team was out to get food and other necessities. But it also produced some funny situations like e.g. that the food during the first week mainly consisted of mussles since we had received a large amount.of mussles for breakfast, for lunch, to put on sandwiches and for dinner in pizzas for example. The last week, on the contrary, we had plenty of food.
The place we found was an empty dairy in Bislev, a village near Nibe.
The model for the camp was:
1. week: printing and handing out of handbills.
1. weekend: collecting.
2. week: sorting and arranging things for the flea market
2. weekend: holding the flea market
3. week: sorting and packing arrived goods for transport to ZANU
The collaboration with three temporarily stationed people from the Nødvændige Seminarium went well and one of the consequences of the flea market at Bislev was that a UFF group started in Aalborg with which we collaborated in the beginning, but conflicts soon occurred. The young cuckoo not only tried to push the other young out of the nest , but also it's parents. At the same time our man in UFF's management, Per Grove, got fired or resigned, because Tvind in reality took over the leadership of UFF without Per. After this, our collaboration with UFF got restricted to transports , because UFF had money for the transport. But that was also problematic because UFF/Tvind forgot to inform the receiver organisation, ZANU, that a larger part came from TTA and other anti imperialistic solidarity groups in Denmark. It was very important for us to have and to keep the contact we had built up with ZANU through the last 5 years.
The last and most serious problem with this contact was that our principle always had been that the help we offered was unconditional. But from the part of UFF/Tvind, the transport was part of a bigger deal about creating Tvind schools in a future Zimbabwe. This could be good or bad, but it was clearly not in our interest to contribute to the spreading out of the Tvind empire in Zimbabwe on the basis of our work.
The whole problem concerning the collaboration with Tvind wasn't solved until Zimbabwe became a sovereign state. After that, our engagement with ZANU ended as we followed our objects clause which stated that we only supported fighting liberation movements. Thereby, our collaboration with UFF/Tvind also ended.
We were also asked to send a representative to the inaugural festivities of the new state, but we didn't accept. We thought it was more important to use time and money on our next project.
Choosing a new cause for support
We were now in a situation that as an independent group could choose for ourselves our cause for support. After the defeat in Vietnam, the US wasn't involved in imperialistic wars in the third world, while the Soviet union suddenly was heavily involved in three places: The invasion of Afghanistan (1979), the massive support for the Vietnam invasion of Kampuchea (1979) and a massive support for Ethiopia's war against Eritrea (1977). In all three places the consequences were that streams of refugees greater than ever before fled to the neighbouring countries.
In order to reach a greater understanding of what was happening, we started with a study of the wars in Eritrea4 while Anti Imperialistic Solidarity started a study of the military balance of power in the world and the rearmament, and the Ragpicker Group in Ollerup investigated the problems of Kampuchea. After this study, we contacted the liberation movement of Eritrea, EPLF, and began the support work to the benefit of ERA= Eritrean Relief Association.
The Ragpicker Group in Ollerup made the National Front of Kampuchea it's receiving organisation. This has later given cause for remorse, regret and self-examination for some of it's former members, and since TTA in Løgstør also has supported the national front in Kampuchea, some remarks. We based our opinion in the first place on literature by internationally approved researchers, in this country studies by Torben Rettbøl, who argued objectively and convincingly that the genocide under Pol Pot was a wild spreading of rumours with help from the American press, whose conscience in relation to the very same country was especially stained with blood as the US had carried out one of history's most violent bombings over Cambodia. At the same time there was a regular Vietnamese invasion, resulting in streams of refugees. In Kampuchea the national forces united themselves against the Vietnamese occupying power. This was what we were supporting. In this question, we followed the same line of policy as the Danish Parliament and the UN.
The Collaboration with the Eritreans
lasted the rest of TTA's time. About Eritrea, see5 ERA - the Eritrean aid organisation that belonged to the liberation movement EPLF- Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front humanitarian wing had a department in Denmark that we came to work close with.
That meant frequent contact. When we had bigger arrangements, like e.g. flea markets, a group of Eritreans living in Denmark, turned up and helped us, which meant a lot for the communication between TTA and the Eritreans.
Meanwhile, visitor's from ERA's management or somebody from "the field", in other words, somebody that worked in the liberated areas, came to Denmark and visits to our group in Løgstør were organised. Among others, a member from the central committee of EPLF, Esayas Debessai, came and visited us.
ERA invited people who participated in the aid work to make visits in the liberated areas, which many Danish people accepted. These people subsequently participated in the information work about Eritrea. I myself travelled to the liberated areas of Eritrea in 1985.
All this meant that our work for ERA was carefully discussed with people from Eritrea. We sent clothes, money, medicine and hospital equipment (in collaboration with IMCC) and toys. On one occasion, we sent a whole dental clinic.
Eritrea 1985. Entrance to a subterranean house.
Collaboration with IMCC and the Danchurchaid
Among the organisations we got connected with through our Eritrea work, was IMCC (International Medical Cooperation Commitee) and the Danchurchaid.
IMCC was an international organisation that consisted of medical students at the universities. A group at the University of Århus collected medicine and hospital equipment for ERA. They thrifted in the same way as we did, but within the medical area, where they could get access to medicine and different forms of hospital equipment. We collaborated about the transports, the information and in collecting means in the area of northern Jutland that IMCC in Århus was in contact with.
Our contact with Danchurchaid mostly concerned our transports, which they financed. Both IMCC and Danchurchaid were deeply involved in the Eritrean work. It's correct that Eritrea wasn't supported by any states on the international level, but in return there were many humanitarian organisations that supported ERA, because of the high degree of self organising in ERA. The help to ERA reached the target groups and worked as intended. There was an openness on the part of ERA and people from aid organisations were constantly visiting the liberated areas. They could verify that the aid work functioned and adjusted the aid according to the need.
The collaboration with the Ragpicker Group in Ollerup and Anti Imperialistic Solidarity in Odense and Viborg Seminars
The groups within the anti imperialistic solidarity works that we most frequently collaborated with were the Ragpicker Group in Ollerup and the Anti Imperialistic Solidarity in Odense and Viborg. The collaboration consisted in mutual help at big arrangements, collecting and flea markets, interchange of information and results of studies and joint transports. Each group was independent and there was no shared committee.
An important part in this collaboration were the seminars.
They were held in turn at Jutland and on Fyn, where the different groups were in turn the arranger. Apart from the first seminar, hosted by the Ragpicker Group in Ollerup during the Christmas holidays at the Slotsgården (the Ragpicker Group's idyllic 18th century, half-timbered farmyard), the rest of the seminars were held in different scout cottages that we rented during long weekends. Through invited lecturers we tried to throw light on and discuss questions that occupied us at the time. Among the lecturers was Gotfred Appel, Jacques Hersh and Ellen Bruun, Michael Erichsen (an officer from the Danish national defence), Boris Weil (who had spent 12 years in a concentration camp in Siberia because in 1956 he had a copy of the secret speech by Kruschev at the 20'th party congress- the speech that closed the book on the Stalin era. A contribution that made a deep impression on me). There also was a former member of the communist party's central committee in Mexico ("Before was the time for the ideologies, now is the time for the realities") and Bent Jensen, plus representatives from different liberation movements. These seminars were important for the internal discussion and indicated our positions in the ideological development.
TTA breaks up in 1987 -1988
The last flea market was held in 1986. In 1987 there was not enough energy and will to arrange another flea market. There was a constant reduction of people caused by removals, family and jobs, without the adding of new members. It looked like solidarity work belonged to a certain generation. Some want to blame it on the split in the group in 1986, but after the reduction of members started in both of the groups, those left joined forces again for a short period. Hereafter the activity came to an end.
The same thing happened with the Ragpicker Group in Ollerup. AIS in Viborg and Odense were broken up. Our contacts in IMCC finished their medical training and were employed in Sweden and Norway respectively. Many of the former solidarity workers started working for Amnesty International. To Kirsten, to our four children: Nathalie, Sofus, Solvej and Louise-who of course had taken part in the solidarity work as much as possible- and to me, it had meant 12 years of hard work at a point in our lives when you normally form a career or build up a firm.
We had become involved in the starting up of the Ranum art school right at this time. A project that we worked with for the next 12 years and which brought us back into the art world.
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