Iceland may be the first Western democracy to be forced into South-American style debt-slavery. The IMF, in concert with the UK and the Netherlands, has attempted to strongarm the recently impoverished Island of 317,000 into paying over 3.6 billion pounds ($6.3bn) — $86,000 per Icelandic family — at 5.5% interest for the next generation. The money is not conventional government debt, but arises from the collapse of a private multi-national bank during the financial crisis.
The issue is so serious that the entire nation will vote on the issue towards the end of February 2010. This is one area in which the Icelandic president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and the Icelandic public should be congratulated for standing up as a people and demanding referendum on this issue. However, a further step needs to be taken as the national referendum is not on whether Iceland should pay these private debts, but on how such deficits should be paid.
On December 30, 2009, after extraordinary diplomatic threats, Iceland’s parliament passed narrowly a bill agreeing to pay the onerous terms. Only a few months earlier parliament had agreed to the full amount, but under more reasonable conditions.
The people of Iceland must be internationally supported, so they can feel safe in voting down debt-slavery. If Iceland falls, it won’t be long before other countries suffer similar financial extortion.
Please sign the petition at savethepeopleoficeland.com to show your support, Vista fólk á Íslandi!
The People of Iceland deserve our sympathy, Ruth Sutherland – The Guardian:
“Iceland has a population of just under 320,000. The costs of the bailout of Icesave on its citizens are much higher than to the 76 million in the UK and the Netherlands, at about €50 (£45) a head. The distress to Icelanders, many of whom are already losing their homes, will be extreme.”
Iceland has no clear legal obligation to pay up, Michael Waibel, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow – Financial Times:
“What is often overlooked amid this unfolding drama is that Iceland is under no clear international legal obligation to pay up…”
Eva Joly: Iceland is being blackmailed – Iceland Weather Report:
From G8 to G20, many heads of state and government seem to delight in repeating that nothing will ever be the same again. The world is changing, to the point of being turned on its head by the crisis; the way we think and act in terms of financial regulation, international relations and development aid must therefore, according to them, change too. However, numerous examples contradict all this big talk. The situation in which Iceland now finds itself following the implosion of its banking system and the emergency nationalisation of its three main banks (Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir) is undoubtedly one of the most significant of these examples. This small country of 320,000 inhabitants is now reeling under the weight of billions of Euros of debt, which has absolutely nothing to do with the vast majority of its population and which Iceland cannot afford to pay.
A Call to the People of the World to Support Iceland Against Financial Blackmail, Birgitta Jónsdóttir:
The Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson had a tough decision to make, and difficult choices to make. To listen to the 23% of the nation that signed a petition calling on him to put the state guarantee for 5.4 billion dollars to be paid to the British and Dutch governments to a national referendum. Or to ignore the nation and sign the bill for the government, after the bill had been passed through the parliament with a narrow vote on December 30, 2009 after months of acrimonious debate, tainted with secrecy and dishonesty on the part of the government. Every day throughout the debate, new information would emerge and documents would leak to local media or wikileaks. Yesterday, the people of Iceland finally had a chance to have something to say about their fate, because if the state guarantee is accepted it will mean that Iceland will become like a third world country, spending its GDP largely on paying interest on foreign debt. Last summer, a bill for a state guarantee was passed that had a significant meaning not only for Iceland, but also for other nations around the world facing the same problems of private debt being forced on taxpayers. The bill included a reasonable and fair way of handling the interest and the debt: Icelanders would pay, but only a certain percentage of their GDP, and if there were to be another financial black hole, they would not pay during that time. Thus it comes as no surprise that the Dutch and British governments reacted so swiftly with a condemnation of Iceland’s citizens for having the audacity to think they have the right to exercise their democratic rights in deciding for themselves what is in the best economic interests of their nation.
If you’re a Facebook user show support by joining the group Við neitum að greiða skuldir sem við berum ekki ábyrgð á vegna Icesave meaning ‘We refuse to pay the debt that we are not responsible for Icesave’.
Supporting Iceland in this effort to reject private debts that are fundamentally not the responsibility of the public will serve as a domino effect for other nations to say no to similar deals – your support is integral.