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(en) Britain, Anarchist Federation, RESISTANCE bulletin #142 June 2012
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 19:40:44 +0300
Contents ---- Olympic Fortress Looms Over London ---- News From the Czech Republic –
Demonstration of Discontent ---- Prisoners Resist ---- May Day in Manchester ---- Updates
From Portugal ---- Student Strike Continues in Quebec ---- Turkish Police Arrest 60 in
Night Raids --- Land Occupations in Honduras -- The Student Movement in Chile -- Fighting
Back Against Austerity - Around the World, We Say No! ---- Carving Up Carpenters Estate -
Social Cleansing in the East End ---- Women to pro-life groups: SPUC off! ---- Olympic
Fortress Looms Over London ---- Residents on in Tower Hamlets were horrified when they
learnt that surface to air missiles were to be positioned on a tower on their site, the
old Bryant and May match factory buildings. As a result a campaign has been set up to
oppose the missile installations, formed by local residents and supporters (for more
information visit http://stoptheolympicmissiles.wordpress.com/).
But the positioning of missiles here and elsewhere is only part of the story. As many as
48,000 security forces will be deployed in London, in addition to 13,500 troops – more
soldiers than the British Army have stationed in Afghanistan. A sonic weapon designed to
disperse crowds by administering “head splitting pain” is in readiness. Unmanned drones
will be patrolling the skies over London. An aircraft carrier will be anchored nearby on
the Thames in addition to other warships. A “safe zone” will be put in place surrounded by
eleven miles of electrified fence, and patrolled by 55 security teams with attack dogs.
This is not North Korea or the Soviet Union but London today - during the Olympics in
Peking, not even the Chinese government put up such a fence or drone planes.
The 2006 Olympic Games Act means that not only the police and armed forces, but also
private security forces, can use physical force to “protect the Olympics”. This covers
anything from demonstrations and strikes, to the sale of bootleg Olympic products on the
street that are not officially approved. “Brand protection teams” will patrol inside the
Games to make sure that only clothes or accessories with officially approved commercial
messages can be worn.
In addition people congregating on the street, a normal occurrence particularly in summer
months, will be harassed, in particular local working class youth. This is already
happening, with increased surveillance and harassment in the boroughs bordering the
Olympics. Rough sleepers are to be removed; in fact the police can remove anyone “deemed
in any way to be causing a nuisance”.
What’s more, there is no sign that this will disappear with the end of the Olympics. The
police will end up more tooled-up and arrogant than before, whole neighbourhoods will be
socially cleansed and gentrified, taxes will be jacked up to pay for it all, and all the
security devices and cameras installed will stay in place.
The Games are not about sport. They are about commercialised patriotism, brand placement,
and profiteering for estate agents and landlords. They are there to boost the push towards
neo-liberalism, to destroy our working class neighbourhoods, to boost the power of a state
that is increasingly a police state. Who is the enemy in this New Britain? It’s us, the
majority of the population!
News from the Czech Republic - Demonstration of discontent
At least 100 000 people came on Saturday 21st of April to Prague to join the demonstration
called "Stop the Government", convened a coalition of labour unions and several civic
initiatives. The demonstration was undoubtedly the largest public display of discontent in
the last 20 years.
The event started at ten o'clock in the morning with gathering of participants around the
House of Unions in Zizkov (an area of Prague). Before noon , the head of the parade was
formed by individual unions. The march itself seemed endless. Protesters filled more than
half of Wenceslas Square. The event was clear demonstration of popular discontent with the
current government, its work and reforms.
The protest was also joined by the Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation, which issued a call
to anarchists to participate : “We join this the protest but we also want to add our own
protest... We want to talk about the principles of the capitalist system… We want to show
that our vision does not end by changing the government, but goes further, towards human
emancipation and the emancipation of society, to realising common power.”
Before the event itself, anarchists participated in information campaigns in their
respective regions. During these days of protest they were promoting the "Stop the
government" demonstration but also the forthcoming May Day action days.
On the march the anarchists either joined the informal anarchist bloc or marched within
block of unions together with their colleagues. A thousand issues of the anarchist
magazine ZDOLA (From Below), hundreds of A-Kontra journals as well as new and old issues
of the anarchist revue Existence, were distributed even before the march. There were also
a large number of promoting the May Day action days or leaflets of anarchist group
Anarchocommunist alternative and Collectively against capital.
Ideas of anarchism are not generally known or widespread, as it showed during the
demonstration at times when some unionists or discontented citizens found themselves near
the anti-authoritarian bloc. These participants seemed to be surprised by some of the
anarchist slogans. Apparently they believe that representative democracy is the only fair
social system. However, they showed interest in the anti-authoritarian printed materials
and even expressed their sympathy to the anarchist bloc on a few occasions. Our
participation in the demonstration contributed among other things to the spreading of
anarchist ideas among people who understand the need of change of the current system, but
have not been actively seeking any alternatives yet.
The reaction of government officials was predictable. Finance Minister Kalousek, in
response to the anger of a hundred thousand ordinary people in the streets of Prague,
smugly said that if it was up to him, reforms and cuts would be much harder. It is clear
that union demonstration once in a while, no matter how big, will not hit the government
and so there is no reason for them to fear such a thing, because the government is in fact
in no danger.
This is a fact which anarchists have pointed out for a long time. Hopefully, it will be
understood by many people, who will cross the boundary of their passivity and begin to
think about more effective forms of protest and resistance. Resistance, which will be
noticeable and which the elites can no longer ignore. Resistance, which also opens the
door for finding and realising alternatives from below.
Open resistance broke out in three UK prisons at the end of April. On the evening of
Thursday 19th of April there was a revolt at Guys Marsh young offenders institute near
Thirty prisoners mutinied and were able to smash cells during the seven-hour uprising. The
Category C prisoners succeeded in putting 83 cells out of use. They lit fires, smashed
windows and wrecked cell
fittings. At least one screw was injured. On Tuesday 24th at Lindholme in South Yorkshire,
25 prisoners barricaded themselves into their cells lighting fires and smashing windows.
During their eight-hour rebellion they succeeded in wrecking 26 cells.
At 4.30am on Friday 27th 48 prisoners surrendered after six hours of resistance at Ranby
jail in Nottinghamshire. Police and the fire brigade turned up at the prison as three
squads of screws in riot gear had to be used to suppress the prisoners after 51 cells were
wrecked. Prisoners caused flood damage by opening up water taps.
The Home Office said: 'There are likely to be different reasons for all three of these
disturbances, but they are also probably tied in to the overcrowding problem.'
For news, analysis, history and links to Anarchist Black Cross groups check The Campaign
Against Prison Slavery (CAPS) http://www.againstprisonslavery.org/
May Day in Manchester
This year’s May Day demonstration was more enjoyable than usual, with a relatively large
turn out of around 200 people and pleasant weather for a majority of the day. A ‘carnival
bloc’ had been arranged by local autonomists, and included a sound system playing
traditional workers anthems such as Bella Ciao as well as more modern tunes. A large samba
band and a couple of demonstrators on stilts kept our spirits high as we marched from the
site of the large unemployed workers’ demonstration of 1931 that was ambushed by police,
towards the modern Urbis development.
Speeches were made by trade unionists but as the rain began to pour members of the
Anarchist Federation took to the stage. Frank Ellis, secretary of Manchester TUC, tried to
physically prevent them but was unable to. The AF speaker spoke of the history of the
Haymarket Massacre and of the need to organise beyond trade unions and one-day token
actions. As Ellis told the AF member that they had ‘no right’ to speak, a member of the
audience shouted that they had more right than Salford’s new Labour Party Mayor Ian
Stewart, an ex-MP who had voted for war
For a full report including photos and videos, go to: http://tinyurl.com/6ok9ubz
Updates From Portugal
Portuguese political parties are pushing forward their austerity plan, despite mass
opposition. In response to this, twenty organisations have created The Platform of October
15th to organise a demonstration on the same date.
Whilst the rank and file are looking to organise strikes at a European level, the unions’
leadership looks to divide the movement: the principal union body The CGTP has 800,000
members, and its leadership has attempted to block any serious fight back against
austerity, hindering any mass mobilisation.
As a result support for the recent general strike was not as solid as it could have been.
However, several thousand workers mobilised at Lisbon and Porto, including groups of
workers on short term and temporary contracts and groups of the unemployed. Police
attacked several demonstrations with batons, injuring several people.
The organisations of “precarious” workers (on temporary and short-term contracts) seem to
be the most dynamic groups in the struggle against austerity. Their capacity for
self-organisation allows them to have a presence on demonstrations but also to mobilise
very quickly for local actions.
These movements are now looking towards self-organisation in communities where they have
set up social centres, either rented or occupied. The disused school La Escola in Porto,
which had become a self-managed collective space, became a symbol of the struggle when it
was evicted on April 19th. There was strong support from the population of the Fontinha
neighbourhood at a demonstration outside the town hall in response to the eviction.
Student Strike Continues in Quebec
After 10 weeks of strikes, more than 170,000 students are still out in the Canadian
province of Quebec.
Large demonstrations have been mounted in response to the Quebecois Government’s austerity
programme, including Premier Jean Charest's plan to add $1,625 to the annual cost of
higher and further education by 2016. On 22nd March more than 250,00 demonstrated in the
streets of Quebec City in one of the biggest such events in the history of the province.
There were blockades and occupations of the port of Montreal, of the bridges linking the
south bank to the Island of Montreal, of banks, government buildings, and the
administrative buildings of universities and colleges.
The police and university administrations have responded with lawsuits and repression.
There have been more than 600 arrests since February 13th. Injunctions have been served in
different colleges and universities banning strike pickets, and even meetings.
In response the student movement has tried to spread the struggle by supporting various
strikes happening at the same time (AVeos, Rio Tinto). The unions’ leadership, whilst
giving formal support to the struggle, have actually worked to prevent the spreading of
the strike movement.
On 17th April the government invited the most moderate of the student organisations, the
Federation des Etudiants Universitaires (FEUQ) to hold talks over fees. They blocked the
presence of the Coalition Large de l’Association Syndicale pour une Solidarite Syndical
(Broad Coalition of Union Association for Union Solidarity (Classe), which organises 50%
of the students, because it refused to condemn students taking direct action – blockades
and occupations have been carried out since the beginning of the strike.
The struggle is spreading and intensifying. In response the greatest police repression in
the history of Quebec has been unleashed with attacks on demonstrations and meetings by
police armed with batons and rubber bullets. One student lost an eye as a result of being
hit in the face with a rubber bullet whilst another was hit in the head at close range.
Students are realising that the strike is not just about tuition fees, but about the state
of society in general, not least massive government corruption at regional and federal
level. The unrest is now being referred to in some quarters as the Maple Spring, in
reference to both the Arab Spring of 2011 and the maple tree of Canada.
Turkish Police Arrest 60 in Night Raids
On the night of the 13th of May, the Turkish state organized a raid on a number of houses
and anarchist social centres in the wake of this year’s May Day protests. At least 60
people have been arrested, though it is not yet certain whether all of those arrested were
anarchists, or just their friends or relatives. Those arrested included members of the
social anarchist organisation Toprak Ve Ozgurluk (“Land and Freedom"), and Devrimci
Anarsist Faaliyet (“Revolutionary Anarchist Action”).
Till now nothing has been heard from the imprisoned anarchists. They have not been allowed
access to lawyers. The Turkish state have long used the tactic of mass raids against
leftist, radical and anarchist currents. Thousands of Kurdish Party members and hundreds
of leftists have been imprisoned for years without trial or clear criminal charges.
However, this is the first such massive operation against anarchists.
Land Occupations in Honduras
Thousands of rural workers in Honduras have occupied land as part of a dispute with large
landowners and the government.
The coordinated invasions took place at several locations across the country. Farmers'
groups say the areas taken over are public lands where poor farmers have the right to grow
food under Honduran law. The government said the seizures were illegal and that the
occupations were politically motivated and aimed at destabilising the government of
President Porfirio Lobo.
Dozens of rural workers have been killed in recent years over these land disputes.
Organisations representing rural workers say successive governments have failed to fulfil
promises to distribute farmland using agrarian reform legislation, instead acting in the
interests of large landowners.
The Student Movement in Chile
From April 2011 and for several months afterwards, Chilean students turned out in the
strike to mobilise against the privatisation of education. This system was put into place
by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, a man admired by former UK Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher. In addition to demanding an education system accessible to everyone,
they want the end of the neoliberal system and the institutions created by Pinochet.
Pinochet oversaw the privatisation of the health service and education, and the
deregulation of employment law. Up until the coup of 1973 the public education system in
Chile was noted for its high quality of education, and was free to students. Now tuition
fees are among the highest in the world. The same pattern has been repeated in health,
pensions, transport, the media, etc.
From May 2011 students have organised demonstrations, cultural activities, cacerolazos
(where people turned out in the street banging saucepans) and hunger strikes. In response
there was the usual violent repression, with thousands of arrests. The rebellion of
university students and high school students revealed the nature of the government led by
the “new right” party of Sebastian Pinera. As well as the arrests, hundreds were injured,
and one 14 year old was shot dead by the police.
The spirit of the Pinochet regime has resurfaced with the mayor of Santiago called for the
intervention of the armed forces to stop demonstrations to commemorate the coup on 11th
September 1973. Meanwhile, the mayor of Providencia (an ex-member of the DINA, the
Pinochet regime’s dreaded secret police) announced that he would close down the occupied
high schools; whilst at the same time paying tribute to General Krasnoff, who was
imprisoned for 100 years for attacks on civil liberties, kidnappings and murders carried
out under the dictatorship. One of the closest advisers of Pinera has spoken out in
support of the mayor, causing a scandal.
The two biggest student organisations in the country launched a movement that lasted 7
months but failed to gain any concessions from the government. However, opinion polls of
29th December 2011 show that 80% of the population support the student movement.
The Libertarian Students Front (FEL), which coordinates anarchist students, has returned
to the student organisation the Federation of Chilean Students (FECH) 80 years after
leaving the organisation due to a takeover by the Communist Party. The new general
secretary of FECH is an anarchist, and he and others represent a current that wants to
develop the student movement and meet up with other social movements in Chile. The FEL
defines itself as libertarian communist and is linked to other anarchist organisations and
autonomous workers unions.
New struggles seem to be on the horizon in Chile, and these may well be intense and bitter.
Fighting Back Against Austerity: Around the World, We Say No!
In this month’s Resistance we report on the movements that are developing around the world
in reply to the delightful austerity measures that our masters and bosses are pushing through.
Chile pioneered the world that we are now facing, with its deregulation of work laws, its
privatisation of health and education and transport. It coupled this with a murderous
regime that murdered thousands. It was no coincidence that Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher was a great fan and defender of the bloody dictator Augusto Pinochet. Now her
heirs, in both the Labour Party and in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat alliance are
pushing through the same measures in the UK.
Yet there is widespread rejection of and resistance to these austerity measures, not just
here but around the world. In Quebec a massive movement has emerged rejecting the
privatisation of education and in the process starting to question the whole system. The
recent elections in Greece and France show the distaste for austerity in those countries
as does the widespread protests there and in Portugal and Spain. Let’s be clear: the
elections were just a thermometer that measured the temperature of social anger in those
countries. We cannot rely on the likes of French President-Elect Francois Hollande, a
millionaire himself with ideas similar to those of former British PM Tony Blair; nor on
the leftist SYRIZA alliance in Greece. We have to rely on ourselves to fight our own
struggles. That means self-organisation in our neighbourhoods, in our workplaces, and on
We must also be aware of the recent gains made by the Front National in France and Golden
Dawn in Greece; the first a fascist party hiding behind the cloak of respectability, the
second an openly neo-Nazi organisation. If a strong workers movement develops on an
international scale, the boss class may well use these fascist groups to attack such a
movement, and we have to be prepared to fight the rise of the far right.
Whilst new mass movements are emerging in places like the United States, Quebec and the
laboratory of neo-liberalism, Chile, some people might wonder why such movements and
events of such importance receive little or no coverage in the British media, whether it
be the newspapers or the BBC. But it’s not surprising. They want to keep the truth from us
because they know that resistance is contagious. That’s why we hope you continue to read
and support papers like Resistance, which are dedicated to bringing you the latest news of
the struggles that are now emerging in the UK and across the world.
Carving-up Carpenters Estate: Social Cleansing in the East End
The Carpenters Estate is a sustainable and friendly community of over 500 dwellings made
up of houses, flats and maisonettes, some in the three tower blocks right next door to the
Olympics site in Stratford, East London. The estate is home to some 201 tenants, 67
leaseholders and 93 freeholders. Newham Council, aim to raze the estate to the ground and
replace it with new housing, most of which will be owner-occupied. The Mayor of London,
Boris Johnson is an enthusiastic supporter of the plan, as is the Mayor of Newham, Sir
Robin Wales, with his idea for a “third city” in Newham.
The Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), a tool of the Council, barred
freeholders from its Annual General Meeting on 25th November 2011, “lost” five out of six
leaseholder nominations, and posted security guards on the door who refused entry to many
residents. Local community action group Carpenters Estate Against Regeneration Plan (CARP)
demanded an independent scrutineer for the votes, which was denied.
Following the AGM, Carpenters TMO and Newham Council then reformed the Residents’ Steering
Group, re-engineering the current Terms of Reference meaning that effectively the
consultation is now in the hands of council officials. The TMO have refused to act on
leaseholders’ concerns about the independent valuation service commissioned by the TMO as
they push ahead with Compulsory Purchase to clear the estate for redevelopment. One
adviser was sacked for backing residents’ interests.
Meanwhile the Council are moving tenants out of the tower blocks into flats owned by the
housing association Genesis. Their secure tenancy rights will be lost and replaced by
inferior Assured Tenancies. CARP are fighting back. They have had several public meetings,
are challenging the unconstitutional decisions and are looking for a truly independent
adviser to make this happen. If you are a resident in Carpenters or would like to know
more, contact Carpenters Against Regeneration Plan (details below):
Women to pro-life groups: SPUC off!
On Saturday 28th April, the pro-life group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
held a series of kerbside “vigils” throughout the country, in order to wave placards
showing out of context pictures of foetuses and false claims about abortion. Happily, they
faced strong opposition from feminist groups and allies in Bath, Brighton, Bristol,
Cardiff, Chester, Edinburgh, Lincoln, Newcastle, Sheffield, Stevenage and Liverpool.
SPUC’s stance is not only anti-abortion but anti-morning after pill and, though they’re
not too clear on what it has to do with protecting “unborn children”, anti-gay marriage.
Still, if they were bothered about making sense, or reducing abortions, they’d be
campaigning for universal free childcare, financial and community support for families,
free contraception for all and better sex education, rather than trying to remove
reproductive choices and use guilt and false information to coerce women into going
through with unwanted pregnancies.
SPUC’s public statements had proposed a silent vigil, but they broke their silence on many
occasions, some to tell counter-protesters they would pray for them, others to call them
“child-killers” and, more entertainingly, “scarlet women”. SPUC’s claim that their calls
for restrictions on women’s bodies and lives are to do with protecting women and children
ring a little false when they throw sexual insults at mothers. It couldn’t be clearer
that SPUC’s agenda is about control, not welfare.
Despite their respectable image, it is as important to oppose SPUC as the BNP or EDL.
Lobbies much like these are responsible for the total ban on abortion and inaccessibility
of the morning after pill in Ireland, as well as increasingly draconian abortion laws in
the US: laws that cause untold suffering to millions of women, as well as their families
and their existing children. If these people gain the influence they’re seeking, they
pose a very real threat to women’s lives, health and freedom.
Resistance bulletin no. 142, June 2012
The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
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