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(en) Strasbourg No Border camp as a Testing-Ground/ analysis about post no-border anti rep work [EXCERPTS]

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 28 May 2003 08:27:49 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

> From: ni co lu <nicolu@chutelibre.org>
> To: pga_europe_resistance@squat.net
Hi people, this is a critical analysis about the anti-repression work and
(un-)solidarity that followed strasbourg no-border camp. It emphasizes a
kind of consumers attitude taken by a lot of people who participated to this
camp and such events.
Therefore, I personally think of it has an espacially interesting piece to read before
evian, thessalonik and next such events and camps It has been written by
some of the people involved with the il-legal team but is not a collective
text from the il-legal team.

It has been translated by suzy.
bisous and tchoupi / nico
> From: SuZQ <suzq@riseup.net>
Strasbourg: a Testing Ground
an analysis of the legal follow-up work to the No Border Camp in
Strasbourg, July 19-29 2002.

Of course you've heard of the No Border Camp in Strasbourg! Maybe you
were even there. But are you aware of what happened afterward? Are you
aware, for example, of the legal follow-up work that was necessary?

This text was written by some people who helped with the il-legalteam, and
by some people who stand in solidarity, who were not a little astonished at and
tired of finding themselves at a loss to manage the follow-up work for a
camp that gathered almost 3,000 people in all.

So let's start with a little concrete information on this famous follow-up,
so as to have a common starting point for our discussion. One of
the first defendants served three months in prison from August through
October, of which one month was spent in solitary confinement. Seventeen
people occupied an administrative branch office of the Ministry of
Justice, to protest this arbitrary isolation and to get the prisoner a
visit. The anti-terrorist police forces came to arrest them; they spent
a day in prison and were charged with hostage-taking, a crime that carries
a sentence of five years without parole. The final sentence condemned
them to 15 days of prison, suspended sentence, for "home invasion" -- two
preceeding hearings having allowed the prosecutor to drop the charge of
hostage-taking. Three people from the collective who were outside the
building that was being occupied were violently arrested by the police,
whoc accused them of resisting arrest. They will have a trial on May 15.

After this, two germans had a trial on February 25 on charges of having
stolen and destroyed french and EU flags during the camp. They were
sentenced to one month, suspended sentence. The french man who had his
trial the same day was faced with a similar situation; he was charged with
carrying weapons, which were actually only tools used for the camp. These
three people decided to make an appeal, which, according to the lawyers,
will not take place until a year afterward. Finally, two germans came to
trial on February 28 for resisting arrest; they were given ten days,
suspended sentence, and a fine. Finally, a spanish man was sentenced to
two months, suspended sentence, on a charge of carrying weapons.

This sounds like a fastidious list: it is. Even more so when it's
necessary to help take care of it in a concrete way. The people from
Strasbourg who are still active, and the people from the il-legalteam are
simply tired of managing the trials that have followed the camp,
without being able to get out of this logic of "managing" repression,
because of the small number of people standing in solidarity. An
excellent example of this is this week of trials in Strasborug. It was
decided during the debriefing meetings in Freiburg to hold a week of
action to make public the thematic of social control. Posters were
produced. However, besides the anti-expulsion collective in Paris, the
people of Strasbourg, and a demonstration that was held against the forced
"special registration" of immigrants in Philadelphia, USA, no actions
were held. The majority of the people who had trials that week were
german, but there were no reported solidarity actions from Germany.

On top of this relatively heavy work and this isolation from our
supporters comes the repression that touches all those who put active
solidarity into practice: the State continues to criminalize everything
and everyone it can slap the "No Border" label onto, such as the 17 people
charged with "hostage taking" for a simple office occupation. So it's
important not to forget the context in France, where one one hand the
State follows a more and more "security"-driven ideology; the Minister of
the Interior promulgates despicable new laws on "internal security"; and
on the other hand the State tries to keep all public dissent that refuses
to fit within the State's framework of compromise and negotiation under
its thumb. The psychological tension is therefore extremely strong,
because of the repression and the isolation: local as well as
international solidarity is almost non-existant!

The critique that this text forumulates is, of course, directed toward
those who came as "consumers" to Strasbourg, but also to those who
launched the idea of the camp, and who organized the camp, but who appear
unconcerned about the consequences that the camp could have on the lives
of the people who got arrested, and on the local political reality of
Strasbourg. In effect, instead of having createda positive dynamic for
the activists in the city, a climate of lassitude and tension was put into
place. This question of follow-up is also omportant for all those who
look to Strasbourg for eventual future camps and counter-summits, such as
the villages against the G8 in Evian.

But this text doesn't just aim to make the individuals who came to
Strasbourg feel guilty; it's an attempt to bring to light the reasons for
this demobilization. In effect, beyond the question of individual
responsibility, it seems that it was the structure of the camp -- or
rather the non-structure of the camp -- was equally responsible in
bringing about this state of affairs; the problem of follow-up to the camp
seems not to have been taken into consideration during the preparation of
the camp itself. In fact, after the dissolution and exodus of the camp,
it's somewhat by accident that certain people found themselves in charge
of organizing solidarity with the accused people, either because they
lived in Strasbourg, or because they had been in contact with the
legalteam. But it was always a matter of individual circumstances, and
the problem of solidarity was never taken into consideration and
considered in a collective manner.

Furthermore, this problem of structurelessness was posed during the camp
itself. Because it was one of the only goups to be clearly functioning,
many participants of the camp went to the legal team for answers to
questions that clearly went beyond the framework of legal support; so
people came to ask us what they should do. In fact, from the start of the
camp, the legal team found itself having to fill a vaccuum, created in
part by the failure of the "barrio" model. This role continued after the
camp broke up. If Strasbourg can be considered a testing-ground for an
attempt at non-authoritarian organizing, then it's clear that the model
has a long way to go before it's perfect! Especially on this essential
point: as soon as the explicit structures fail to be in place, implicit
poles of power recreate themselves, which permit everything but a
collective, non-authoritarian self-government. However, it is true that
the question of which structures to have remains completely open. (see
"The Tyranny of Structurelessness," by Jo Freeman, 1970:

It is not the object of this text to discuss this question deeply, but
beyond the future choices that will be made, we must realize that certain
tasks cannot by directly treated and resolved by a general assembly that
dissalves as fast as it gathers. One example of this is legal work. But
it is also not our object to argue in favor of commissions of specialists,
but only to see how it would be possible to put groups into place that are
responsibly for certain tasks while keeping the important lines of
communication open with the rest of the people in the camp, both during
and after the camp. In fact, it seems that it is especially the
relationships and the transmission of information between the different
structures that needs to be rethought. There again, it seems that this
type of question ought to have been posed during the preparation. For
example, it would be good if the groups involved in the preparation of the
camp got concretely involved in the camp's follow-up work, notably as far
as legal follow-up goes, to keep abreast of the changing situations, to
relay information, and to organize solidarity actions. To do this assumes
the putting into place of a network for the exchange of information that
is a little more clear and precise than a simple Interet lists, eventually
with clearly-designated people to relay information. (one example of this
is the Europe-wide antirepression project currently forming under the
European Association of Democratic Jurists, which can be found at

Finally, despite everything, it is really too bad that the Strasbourg No
Border Camp now only exists in the form of legal consequences and
follow-up work. Perhaps we should thank the general state of repression
for having given us an opportunity to create a dynamic, as small as it is,
that without such repression might not even have been born? This is
especially sad when you think that the Strasbourg camp had planned to
create a Europe-wide dynamic around the question of migration politics.
Despite all this, we are not even capable of assuring the minimum among
ourselves: solidarity with those of us who have been arrested. It would
have been nonetheless possible to use these trials to recreate a dynamic
around the thematics of the camp such as, for example, social control or
the SIS, had the engagements for the February week of action, which we had
planned in Freiburg, been respected.

-A few people engaged in the anti-repression work after the No Border
Camp in Strasbourg.

strasbourg preparation ressources online:
username:noborder password:nonation
strasbourg-l mailing list

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