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(en) Czech, Prague [S26-global] - CALL TO GLOBAL ACTION II. (2/2)

From stop.repression@gmx.net
Date Sun, 8 Oct 2000 11:05:43 -0400


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      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E
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We are concerned about the long-term consequences that
would derive from allowing another chapter in the process of
criminalisation of those who struggle for life to happen without
an adequate response to the nature of the problem. We think
that we are still in time to stop this process, but if we take too
long time to react, it is quite probable that we find the same end
than many people who participated in movements which
seemed unstoppable, from the Italian autonomia operaria to the
US counterculture: jailed, exiled, dead or in madhouses.

We hence make a global call to reassert the legitimacy of our
actions and to act against the criminalisation by the state and
the media of the poor, the emigrants and those who struggle for
life and freedom; a campaign of global action for the dignity of
all those who cannot or do not want to participate in the
dominant culture.

We propose that those who identify with the problems
described in this call act at local level, on their local problems of
criminalisation, but globally coordinated so that our voices get
stonger. We propose a global chain of actions of civil
disobedience and denounciation against criminalisation and the
manipulation of information by states, international institutions
and most of the media. The actions can be as diverse as
creative are our movements, but we propose that they all make
reference to a common slogan to give them unity and
coherence. We propose that this is:

"If struggling for life and freedom is a crime, I am also a
criminal"

Since we are calling for action, the people who have formulated
this document believe that it is necessary to make our position
on 'violence' very clear, for this is the excuse given by the
system to criminalise us. We are against any aggression
against life and health, wherever it comes from and whoever it
is directed against. Some of us believe firmly in the legitimacy of
actions of property destruction, if these actions are aimed at
reducing or denouncing the structural violence imposed with the
help of the property to be destroyed, and if these actions are
realised in such a way that they do not put at risk the life or
health of anyone. But we all agree that the main objective and
criterium behind our actions is to struggle for the freedom,
identity, autonomy and peace of the persons and peoples of the
whole world. This is why we struggle against the violence
imposed by global capitalism, respecting the diversity of
methods that share this objective and try to advance towards it
in a coherent way.

What the media hype on smashed McDonalds windows and
other symbolic actions has clearly achieved was to distract the
attention from the clear and transparent fact that genocidal
violence does not come from social movements, but from
massive poverty and destruction imposed by global capitalism
with the help of tools such as the IMF and the WB. We will not
describe this violence in detail in this call, but we would like to
underline once more that the concentration of power in the
hands of the enterprises and institutions that regulate the global
economy have taken the world to a totally absurd and
unsustainable situation, exemplified by the fact that the world's
three richest men have together more wealth than the combined
GNP of the 43 poorest countries (7). The level of exploitation,
oppression and suffering provoked by this injustice of historically
unknown dimensions manifests itself in a structural, genocidal
and ecocidal violence that is so prevalent that it has become
part of everyday life and hence invisible. It is ironic that those
who want to denounce it and make it visible get criminalised
using 'violence' as excuse.

We hope to be able to continue fighting this violence and to
count with the support and active participation of ever growing
sectors of the population. But if we let the unjustified
criminalisation of our activities continue, it will not be possible to
maintain them for a long time without suffering too hard
consequences for our health and our freedom.

To conclude we would like to point out that although the
mobilisations proposed in this call have as their immediate
objective to decrease the pressure and aggression inflicted on
us by authorities and media, its final objective is a different one.
What we really wish is to encourage people all over the world to
think about the role that they play in this system, which is based
in death and destruction, and about what they can do for life
and freedom. Because if we would have to take one single
conclusion from the experience in Prague it would be that
holding elections regularly to determine the composition of the
parliament, and the existence of mass media which are not
controlled by the state, are not enough to guarantee the respect
for human rights and a true democracy. Freedom and justice
are only possible in a context where the direct participation in
political processes is a reality, articulated from the grassroots,
independent from power structures, and this can only happen if
broad sectors of society accept the individual and collective
responsibility of actively participating in grassroots political
processes with the objective of reaching increasing levels of
self-governance and control over our own destiny.

It is our commitment with this broad and emancipating
understanding of democracy, with the idea that only from the
grassroots it will be possible to construct a world increasingly
free of exploitation, discrimination and oppression, that moves
us to ask people all over the world to think about the way they
live their own lives. It is because of this commitment that we are
part of a global movement whose unity is rooted in the respect
to diversity, a struggle that fortunately is not defined, controlled
or led by anyone or anything, that is nothing more than the
continuity, in times of global control, of the process of
resistance to power that has always existed and will always
exist.

* * *

The actions that we will do in Prague under this slogan, and in
which we encourage people from all over the world to
participate, are the following:
* Some persons will enter the jail in Prague voluntarily after
doing a previously announced arrestable action. They will refuse
to leave the jail until a number of demands are fulfilled (see
below).
* We propose that people who want to practice civil
disobedience but cannot or do not want to go to jail destroy
their identity documents (ID card, passport), to show that they
refuse to belong to a repressive state, anywhere in the world.
* Signatures will be collected under the slogan mentioned
above. This will enable also those who cannot or do not want to
practice civil disobedience express that for them it is more
important to struggle for life and freedom than to be accepted in
the dominant system.
* We will ask the media to reflect about the role that they are
playing in this process of unjustified criminalisation and about
the clear relation that (from our point of view) it has with their
own past of social struggle to obtain freedom of the press. We
will confront them with the fact that far too often it has proven
impossible to get a space in the media for people who express
opinions radically different from those of the dominant
discourse, unless they resort to forms of action that the media
considers spectacular enough to be covered. We hope that they
will accept the challenge to discuss publicly how issues of
representation affect the political praxis of grassroots
movements, especially of the movements that, in order to be
coherent with their ideas about power, do not want to delegate
the role of representation to spokespersons. We will ask them
to publish integrally this call to action, to give at least another
point of view about what is happening in Prague and in the rest
of the world to the people like us, who do not subordinate
themselves to the dominant culture.

The immediate demands of those who will practice civil
disobedience in Prague will be:
* The unconditional release without charges of all the prisoners
who are still in jail due to the actions in Prague and the return of
all their material belongings.
* That the Czech Ministry of the Interior publicly acknowledges
and apologises for the criminalisation and the manipulation of
information that we have been object of.

Until these immediate demands are fulfilled, the people who go
voluntarily to jail will refuse to leave it. Besides these immediate
demands, we hope that a broader process of public discussion
will make sure that in a short time, the Czech state will
compensate all the people who deserve it (due to the unjustified
violation of their rights and in too many cases, also of their
health) and that a deep and serious adjustment of
responsibilities at the Ministry of the Interior and the police
takes place, including the dismissal of the Minister. We think
that this would be positive for the development of democracy in
the Czech Republic, and it would also encourage the authorities
and the 'forces of order' of other countries to think about it twice
before violating the basic human rights of dissidents.

We encourage the movements, activists and organisations that
feel identified with the contents of this call to do their own
actions of civil disobedience (8) in order to give visibility to the
local cases of criminalisation. Given that what has happened in
Prague has a global character, we think that it would be very
positive if the local actions would incorporate elements that link
them to the repression that is still happening in this city. We
hope that our two immediate demands to the Czech state will
have an echo in other countries, and that local demands
relevant to the each context are added to them. We propose
that all groups and movements involved in this campaign adopt
the demands of all the other local mobilisations, so that we all
participate in all of them. To make this happen, we ask all local
movements and groups involved in this campaign to inform
about their demands to <stop.repression@gmx.net>. We will do
a list to inform about the demands, actions and results obtained
in different parts of the world.

As possible ideas for actions, besides civil disobedience (going
to jail or destroying identity documents) we propose to collect
signatures on the slogan of the campaign in order to inform
about it; camping in front of the Ministries of the Interior of your
country; collective fasts; occupations of Czech (and possibly
other) embassies and consulates, many of which are already
taking place; visible actions such as banner drops linking local
cases of repression to what is happening in Prague; non-violent
direct actions against the multilateral institutions accomplices of
the repression (like the occupation of the IMF office that took
place recently in Geneva); parties; etc.

We have received the news that the movement in the USA has
presented a collective demand against the city of Seattle
because of the repression of last year. A similar idea would be
that organisations from all over the world explore the possibility
to do the same thing against the Czech Ministry of the Interior,
using fora such as the Human Rights Commission of the United
Nations, the International Court of Justice of The Hague, the
Human Rights Tribunal of Strassbourg, etc. This would enable
us to acquire a collective experience as movement in the use of
these instruments, which would help using them against other
flagrant cases of human rights violations, even if the only
outcome is to question the states responsible for them.

We also encourage persons and organisations that do not
agree with all the political contents of this call to action, but who
consider that it is necessary to do something against the
bulldozing of democracy and basic human rights that we are still
experiencing in this city (and all over the world), to participate in
whatever way they consider convenient. A possibility would be
to support publicly at least part of our demands.

In solidarity,
some people in Prague (and other places)
_______________________________________

Appendix: the case of Chris Mach
**************************
Chris Mach is an artist who, according to her many friends from
all over the world, personifies freedom within love and respect.
This is the summary of her declaration, done by herself:

'I was violently assaulted by the police on September 26th at
about 14:00, while I was completely alone, hiding from the
warzone where I had just previously been filming the police
brutality against the pink samba band (9). After being beaten
and dragged and thrown into the police van backwards and
head first, I was taken to the police station in total delirium,
remaining till the evening on the floor of my cell. In the police
station, like everyone else, I was refused the right to a phone
call, the right to know the ID numbers of the policemen
mistreating me (although I asked for them several times), the
right to receive food, the right to know the reason for the arrest
nor a translation for the comments made about me by the
police, which surely didn't fall under the obligation of 'respect,
regard or dignity' defined by the law. In the night of the 26th I
was told that I would be released one hour after paying a fine of
500 Kc, which I did immediately, but the supposed release was
just a lie. Excessive force needed no translation, like being
handcuffed to benches and walls in completely immobilising
positions (as punishment for singing to protest further illegal
detainment), being threatened with toxic gases (if I dared to
continue) and generally being treated with excessive and totally
unjustified violence. The next morning, after going to the toilet I
refused to return to the cell and held tight to different objects in
order to prevent the police from taking me back to the cell,
because I considered my detention illegal since one hour after
paying the fine. I was brutally taken back by several policemen,
who twisted different parts of my body, bruised me and kicked
me around. When they were about to push me back into the
cell, I tried to see and asked the badge number of the
policeman who was visible to me in that moment, but he quickly
covered it, which is why I tried to rip off his number badge. This
was the only pro-active move that I made on a policeman, until
then I had only offered passive resistance by holding on to
objects in order to make it at least harder for them to lock me
up again, and this action alone was later to become the twisted
accusation of assaulting and injuring the police, although it was
only me who received 9 stitches on my hand for trying to get
that badge. After 23 hours of cruelty and completely unjustified
lack of freedom, I was taken to an interrogation where I was
informed of my accusation and further confinement until being
sentenced to prison. Out of desperation and fear of further
illegal detainment with no means of communication and noone
knowing about me, a thought that I could not deal with, I jumped
out of the window and smashed my foot to remain irreparable
for life, broke my leg (in many pieces), damaged pelvis and hip
and broke one vertebra of my spine. I was brought to a hospital
where I was inhumanely treated and under constant police
observation and severe abuse. I received no pain relieving
medicine despite screaming for it, and when the nurses thought
that I was screaming too much, they held my mouth shut and
shook my seriously injured leg for punishment. Luckily one
woman who felt sorry for me (probably one of the nurses from
emergency section who saw me before I was taken to the
surgery section where the mistreatment happened) replied to
my requests to phone a friend, although at that time there was
an 'information embargo' on me. This friend tried to visit me and
got himself arrested in front of a Danish TV cameraman as a
protest because they did not let him see me, and the next day
there was plenty of media and more friends at the hospital,
which was probably the main reason why I came out of police
custody and I was allowed again to communicate again with the
outside world. The entire time until just before this happened I
was locked into a supply cabinet instead of a hospital room,
until just before I finally came out of custody.'

This was the version of the same case given by the Ministry of
the Interior on the 28th (a day after Chris' friend got himself
arrested in front of a camera):

'Yesterday, 27 September, an extraordinary event happened at
local police department of Prague 4. The USA citizen detained
because of active participation in demonstrations and
questioned of the attack against the public authority, attacked
the policemen which were present in the service room. She
kicked several times one of him and she smashed his uniform;
she was trying to tear the insignias with the service-numbers off
the uniforms of the others policemen. That alien was refusing to
submit to investigating acts especially to the communication of
accusation as well. During the conflict she jumped down off the
window in the first floor of the buliding. According to the
preliminary information, her leg and spine were wounded.
Consequently the medical help and the hospitalisation in one of
the Prague hospitals were given to her. The event is
investigated by the supervision bodies of the Police presidency.
Major Jiri Suttner, Ministerstvo vnitra - Bezpecnostní opatrenr k
zasedani MMF a SB 2000'.

What Mr. Suttner does not say is that there is evidence in the
police records that Chris was illegaly held by the police in the
moment when the 'extraordinary event' took place. Chris' lawyer
has had access to these records because she still has to face a
court case since she is accused by the Czech state of attacking
and injuring several policemen. People from all over the world
who have been fortunate enough to meet her know that this is a
totally absurd accusation, since Chris loves life and cannot deal
with violence and aggression.

Chris' van, which is also her house and the place where she
keeps the drawings of a whole life, is still in the possession of
the police for absolutely no reason. This proves that the respect
that they claim to have for property is only valid for those who
adhere to the dominant culture.

_______________________________________

(1) We use the term 'peoples' to mean indigenous peoples,
gypsies, black communities and other groups of people who
have a collective identity that makes them different of the
dominant culture, and who have suffered oppression because of
that difference in values and worldview. We do not mean with it
ethnic or national features, which in our opinion are anyhow
quite artificial constructions which end up becoming instruments
for domination.

(2) Quoted by the Prague Post, August 2, 2000.

(3) Quoted in Hospodarske noviny, August 1, 2000.

(4) For instance, one of the persons who participated in the
destruction of a McDonald's (one of the actions that gathered a
lot of attention on the side of media) later crossed the lines of
riot police in a moment when nobody, not even the press, was
allowed to cross them. The organisation of independent legal
observers has pressed charges against this person in order to
find who he is, since there is graphic material which could lead
to his identification. There are testimonies about people involved
in actions of property destruction who crossed the police lines
showing some kind of ID cards, and there is graphic evidence of
how the plain clothes police arrested people without identifying
themselves, which is illegal in the Czech Republic.

(5) See
http://www.sindominio.net:9673/ACP/970229351/index_html (in
Spanish)

(6) In October 99 a fascist demonstration took place in Prague
with active protection of the Czech police. The antifascist that
tried to block the bridge where the neonazis wanted to cross
the river were brutally repressed by the police. There are
pictures of the 26th of September where police can be seen
chatting in a relaxed mood with skinheads which have slogans
about the war and the skin color in their t-shirts.

(7) Index of Human Well-being, UN Development Programme
(UNDP)

(8) These proposals emphasise civil disobedience since we
believe that the best way to confront an unjust, oppresive and
violent power system is to define ourselves in the same terms in
which it defines us (in this case, as criminals) and to challenge it
to accept the consequences of the public debate that we hope
this debate will generate. But this is a subjective judgement
which we have no desire to impose on anyone, although we
would be very encouraged if people would decide to use it in
other parts of the world.

(9) The pink samba band was one of the four clusters of affinity
groups that blockaded the conference of the IMF/WB on
September 26th.



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