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(en) SchNEWS Issue 444 - Friday 5th March 2004

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 5 Mar 2004 08:14:50 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

On March 1st, 1984, Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party
announced the closure of Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire -
signaling her government's determination to ram through a massive
programme of pit closures and destroy the power of the National
Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Miners had no choice but to fight, or
see their lives and communities devastated. The longest major
industrial battle in British history had begun - a battle that
still defines the political landscape of today.

The full force of the state was used against the striking miners.
20,000 police were coordinated by Scotland Yard and they used
massive computer-backed data gathering for intelligence. Tactics
such as road-blocks, political questioning, curfews, beatings,
illegal fingerprinting and photographing, snatch squads, phone
taps, infiltration and agent provocateurs were widespread.
Alongside this was the mobilisation of the media and the law. In
the press, Thatcher compared the pickets to IRA bombers. James
Anderton, Chief Constable of Manchester said mass pickets were
"acts of terrorism without the bullet and the bomb," while the
Police Federation warned that its members might be unable to serve
the public under a Labour government after the Labour conference
criticised police violence!

In pit village after pit village, mining communities were under
siege. In August, at Easington Colliery in Durham, one scab went
back to work - and for five days all hell broke loose as riot
police were sent in to protect the lone worker. "The riot police
arrive. Marching through the street, with helmets and shields, in
through the pit offices, into the yard, staves drawn, advancing.
Everyone running. everyone throwing things, fire extinguishers
turned on. Stones, bricks, anything that comes to hand." Jack
Dormand the local MP said the action by the police to get just one
scab back to work had been unnecessary and irresponsible but that
"the Home Office has told him (the Coal board manager) to get men
into his pit at whatever costs."

Up to 3,000 police occupied the village. They stopped the buses
and searched people. As one miner commented, "Easington was cut
off from the rest of Britain for days while the police occupied it
like a conquering army." As one woman resident put it, "I never
ever thought I'd see scenes like this in Britain. I never thought
I'd see what I've seen on the streets of Easington. We're
occupied. We've been occupied by the police. We've had violence in
this village. We'll never forget this - never. Not after this."


The strike involved enormous hardship, with many receiving no
strike pay or benefits. Yet despite all the state could throw at
them, for a year the miners and their communities stood firm in a
magnificent display of solidarity. But it wasn't just the miners -
the women also played a central role. They transformed the strike,
and it transformed them. At a meeting at the Easington Miners
Welfare, Mick McGahey, Vice President of the NUM, referred to the
"housewives in the County who understand the problems." One woman
replied, "We no longer regard ourselves as 'housewives'. We are
soldiers in the struggle."

In mining villages, women played a key role in the soup kitchens
and in the distributing of food parcels, but they also took part
in the picketing and spoke across the country. Meanwhile, in every
town and city in Britain, people formed miners' support groups.
The 14 support groups on Merseyside, for example, sent over £1
million to the miners during the strike. It was estimated at the
end of the strike that over £60 million had been collected in
support. As important as money was the tidal wave of donations of
food, clothes, toys for Christmas, and much more.

Solidarity took other forms too. Train drivers in many areas
refused to move scab coal, despite a lack of firm support from
their union leaders. Print workers twice refused to print editions
of the Sun because of its attacks on miners. And twice during the
summer of '84, Dockers across Britain went on strike.

All this solidarity could and should have been the basis for a
movement which would have seen the miners win victory and drive
Thatcher from office. The blame for the defeat of the strike lies
at the feet of the trade union leaders and the Labour Party. They
at best mouthed support for the miners while doing little or
nothing in reality, and at worst actively opposed attempts to
build solidarity. The key turning point came in the autumn of
1984. The TUC membership had voted to stop all coal and oil
movement. But Trade Union leaders refused to implement this.
Backed up by Labour leader Neil Kinnock, the leaders insisted on
sticking within the Tory anti-union laws. As the strike finally
drew to an end in early 1985, the Coal Board's industrial
relations director, Ned Smith, made a frank admission that had the
TUC implemented the boycott of oil and coal, the miners would have
won. By then, though, it was too late. The strike had met a tragic
and unnecessary defeat.

But the miners strike wasn't just about protecting jobs and
communities, it was a defining moment in the struggle between
capital and labour. It was a class war, and unfortunately capital
won. Prime Minister Thatcher made no bones about it. In her
memoirs, she wrote, "The coal strike was always about far more
than uneconomic pits. It was a political strike." At the pit gates
at Easington, the pickets knew this all too well. "They've put us
in a corner and if we don't fight our way out, there'll be nothing
left anyway. If we lose this strike we can forget about the union;
they'll be able to do what they like with us." Curbs on unions had
come before 1984, but the noose was tightened after the miners
went back to work. Employers began to feel confident in taking on
any group of workers. And while British workers were once
described by right wing economists, "as the laziest workforce in
the world," we now work the longest hours in Europe for the lowest

But struggles as epic as this are also an education and an
inspiration. Women Against Pit Closures continued to fight and in
1994, in a squatted courthouse in Brighton, some of those women
came to speak to a group calling themselves Justice? - part of a
nationwide campaign to oppose the Criminal Justice and Public
Order Act 1994. The women told us we needed to be organised and to
stick together; that to win we needed to break the law and embrace
direct action, and that we needed our own newsletter to get our
message across. Not so long after that meeting, the first ever
SchNEWS came rolling off the press, promoting direct action and
solidarity with people in struggle ever since.

* Banner Theatre's new play 'Burning Issues - The Miners
1984-2004' begins this Saturday (6) at the Potteries Museum & Art
Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. For other dates, 0121 682 0730

* Recommended reading: People Versus State - David Reed & Olivia
Adamson (www.rcgfrfi.easynet.co.uk). State of Siege - Politics and
Policing in the Coal Fields Coulter, Miller and Walker (Canary
Press 1984) Also check out www.minersadvice.co.uk for more books
and general info.


Haiti To See You Go

"The crisis in Haiti is another case of brazen US manipulation of
a small, impoverished country with the truth unexplored by
journalists," wrote Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute this
week. And he could not be more spot on. In the mainstream media
line on the Haitian revolt, President Aristide is portrayed as an
undemocratic leader who stole elections and refused to address
opposition concerns. There is, however, another, hushed-up side to
this well-rehearsed story.

George Bush's foreign policy team came into office hell-bent on
giving Mr Aristide the boot. Why? Because many powerful US
right-wingers were convinced that Aristide was "another Fidel
Castro in the Caribbean." Aristide critics in the US were royally
peeved when Clinton restored him to power in 1994 after the
(US-backed) campaign of terror during the 1991-94 coup against
him. They succeeded in getting US troops withdrawn soon after
Aristide was re-instated, well before the country could be
stabilised. In the meantime, the so-called "opposition", a
collection of rich Haitians linked to the Duvalier regime and the
CIA, worked Washington to lobby against Mr Aristide. And who are
the Duvaliers? None other than a family of ruthless Haitian
dictators. Now exiled Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc"
Duvalier had been named president for life at age 18 after the
death in 1971 of his father, Francois. Accused of human rights
violations, mass killings and stealing at least $120 million from
the national treasury, however, Duvalier fled to France in 1986,
thus ending a 29-year dynasty.

In 2000, Haiti held parliamentary and then presidential elections.
Aristide's party won the election, although candidates who should
have faced a second-round election also gained seats. Observers
declared the elections successful, if flawed.

Mr Aristide won the presidential election later that year, in a
contest the US media now says was "boycotted by the opposition"
and so, not legitimate. The truth behind this seems to be that
Duvalier thugs hardly constituted a winning ticket and so didn't
even try. Nor did they have to, according to Jeffrey Sachs. The
opposition party "in Haiti benefited from tight links with the
incoming Bush team, which told Aristide it would freeze all aid
unless he agreed with the opposition over new elections...the
tragedy, or joke, is that Mr Aristide agreed to compromise, but
the opposition simply balked." Because of this, the US cut off
$500 million of US and World Bank aid, and the country started its
decent into economic chaos.

Colin Powell has said that allegations of US involvement in this
week's kidnap of Aristide are "baseless and absurd", but Aristide
claims to have arrived in Bangui, the Central African Republic
capital, in a contracted US-airforce jet. Aristide described
"white American, white military" agents arriving at his house and
forcing him to sign a document relinquishing power and threatening
bloodshed on his refusal.

Now the question is, what happens next? Haiti's Supreme Court
Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre has been installed as interim
leader and has kept a low profile since. Meanwhile, good old "Baby
Doc" Duvalier said he wanted to return to his homeland. "This is
my country," Duvalier said in an interview in Paris. "I'm ready to
put myself at the disposal of the Haitian people." Why Baby Doc,
you sound just about as sincere, democratic, and freedom-loving as
George W. himself. Whatever else happens, one thing is sure-the US
government has yet again tried to play puppet master with the
world's governments, picking and choosing who should rule based on
its own personal ideas of "good" and "evil" and getting even more
blood on its hands in the process.


Camp Updates

All these camps need more people to defend them:

A final eviction notice was granted on March 3rd, bailiffs could
move in at any time. If you can't make it contact the land
clearing contractor - Land & Water Services Ltd. of Guildford
(01483 202733 www.land-water.co.uk) - to remind them of the
criminal investigation around the trashing of bat and dormice
habitat at St David's Wood which makes their work illegal. All
this destruction just for an access road into an industrial area!
Info: 07811 948764 or 07708 420446. For a map -

Rob, the protester who fell 50ft from a treehouse last week, is
back on the Sherwood Forest protest site with a broken arm. The
camp still needs the usual tat - plus extra climbing harnesses to
prevent any more falls. The planning committee meet at Mansfield
Civic Centre, 5pm March 10th and all are invited to make comments!
07050 656410 http://mysite.freeserve.com/sherwood_camp/

The camp is under imminent threat of eviction, bailiffs paid a
recent visit to the camp. The camp has been going since 1999 to
stop the destruction of Stanton Moor hillside in the Peak District
National Park from quarrying, and to protect the Nine Ladies Stone
Circle. 0700 5942212

Today sees the opening of the second social centre on Fortess Rd.,
London, with a free film night and freshly baked pizza made on the
premises! The new Social Centre, in what used to be the "Grand
Banks" wine bar, is right opposite Tufnell Park tube station.

You thought it was over? No - East Sussex County Council are
considering new routes for a A259 Bexhill Rd 'relief road', and
make a decision in June. Originally the plan was quashed in 2001
(See SchNEWS 288, 313) when the govt rejected it on environmental
impact grounds. Despite this, however, most of the newly proposed
routes still trash the Combe Haven Site of Special Scientific
Interest, one of Britain's most important wildlife sites.

* More Protest Camp Updates:
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/protestcamps.htm - www.roadalert.org.uk -


Bayer Sacks

Bayer recently spent a lot of money getting injunctions out on
campaigners who are opposed to their involvement in genetically
modified food (SchNEWS 436 & 442). But all this must seem like a
waste of money as they now seem to be scaling back things on their
own. Last week, many of Bayer's top GM scientists were sacked,
including Paul Rylott, head of their UK bioscience department and
recent recipient of a pie-in-the-face. Hopefully all of this is an
indication that Bayer know there is little acceptance of GM
technology in Europe. www.stopbayergm.org

* Phytopharm a drugs company who have been targeted by Stop
Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, has obtained a High Court injunction
using the anti-stalking laws to limit protests close to their HQ
to just six people for only two hours a week. The BioIndustry
Organisation, the biotech sector lobby group, said the court
action shows there was a need for a single piece of legislation to
crack down on animal rights protesters. www.shac.net


RIP Chris Gorman

After a long battle with cancer, Chris Gorman passed away last
Thursday at home in Germany. Chris, who was in her early thirties,
was well known for her regular involvement in Reclaim the Streets
and at the more recent Reclaim the Future events. Her memory will
live on in the hearts of all who knew her and in our continuing
struggle against capitalism.


Vatan and Robin

The case against six people charged under Anti-Terrorism laws has
been thrown out of court due to a ridiculous prosecution by the
Home Office. The six were charged under the Terrorism Act for
supposedly supporting the banned Turkish Revolutionary People's
Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C (SchNEWS 392). They were
arrested for selling copies of "Vatan," a radical Turkish-based
magazine that criticises Turkey's human rights record. The
prosecution said that Vatan is "terrorist property", even though
it is sold legally throughout Turkey and Europe. A week before the
trial, defence lawyers produced a letter from the Home Office
confirming that the six were actually working for the similarly
named DHKC which has never been banned. The prosecution went ahead
with the case anyway, claiming that the six also worked for the

Lawyers for the six were then told four days before the trial that
the consent of the attorney general - a requirement for
prosecutions under the Terrorism Act which involve another
country - had never been given. At the last minute, the attorney
general gave a rushed consent. But all of this proved too much for
the judge presiding over the case, who said "Were this prosecution
to continue, it would bring the administration of justice into
disrepute amongst right-thinking people and offend this court's
sense of propriety and justice".

* Last week, 19 immigrants became the first people to take part in
a new ceremony where they all pledged their "loyalty to the UK and
respect for its rights and freedoms" before becoming citizens. We
hope Home Secretary Blunkett, also at the ceremony, was taking
note of that last bit.


Inside SchNEWS

Robert Seth Hayes, a former Black Panther, has collapsed in prison
ten times over the past few months due to lack of treatment for
diabetes. He fears that unless he receives a transfer to another
prison where they take his illness seriously, he may die. Write to
the Correctional Services Commissioner to demand his transfer:
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner, NYS Department of Correctional
Services, Building 2, 1220 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY,
12226-2050, USA. Letters of support to: Robert "Seth" Hayes
#74A-2280, Clinton Correctional Facility, PO Box 2001, Dannemora,
NY, 12929, USA. www.montrealabcf.org/hayes/


..and finally...

"The Miners of Silverwood, having been told they were confined to
six pickets only, built themselves a seventh comrade in the shape
of a large snowman, wearing a plastic policeman's helmet. Next
morning, Chief Inspector Nesbitt appears on the scene and seeing
the jeering miners and their snowy companion, ordered the
constables to knock the snowman down. This order brought rebellion

to the police ranks as PCs declined to, "look so fucking stupid
knocking down a snowman".

"Very well," shouts the irate Nesbitt, jumping in his Range Rover
and charging off to demolish the snowman. As the vehicle made
contact, it came to a dead stop, smashing front grill, bumper and
headlamps and hurling the shocked Nesbitt into the steering wheel.
PCs found excuses to walk away or suppress body-shaking laughter
while pickets fell about on the ground with side-splitting mirth.
The snowman had been constructed around a three foot high two foot
thick concrete post!"

>From ex-miner Dave Douglass's book, 'All Power to the Imagination'
published by The Class War Federation 07931 301901


SchNEWS warns readers despite miner differences we'll be back
extracting the piss and slagging off from the coalface of the pits
of capital... Honest!



What's On? Check out out Party and Protest guide at
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/guide.htm It's updated every week, has
sections on regular events, local events, protest camps and



To unsubscribe, go to the website and follow the instructions
there, or send a message to webmaster@schnews.org.uk with subject

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PEACE DE RESISTANCE It costs £10 INC. p&p per book, further
details as below...this one comes with a free multimedia CD too!

SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £6.50!! Past books are
goin' cheap... SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - SOLD OUT; SchNEWS
annual issues 101-150 - going for £2!! Survival Handbook issues
151-200 - also at £2; SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold out -
£7; Yearbook 2001 issues 251-300 - bargain £3. Cheques to Justice?

In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles,
photos, cartoons, subverts, a "yellow pages" list of contacts, com
edy etc. You can also order the books from a bookshop or library.

Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9
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Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk


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