In August 2012 anarchists from all over the world will be gathering in St Imier, Switzerland for a week of events to mark the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist International- a major split with the authoritarian international of Karl Marx. This split represents a fundamental divide between those who believe that communism can be imposed from above, and those who believe that we can only have true communism if we have freedom as well. How we get where we want to go is as important as where we want to go.
As part of the process of building up to the summer event, the AF is hosting a series of meetings around the country. The theme of the meetings is the struggle against authoritarianism- from St Imier to today. The following issues will be discussed:
• The background to St Imier and what was involved in the split
• How the struggle against authoritarianism continued in key revolutions such as Russia and Spain
• The debate about human ‘nature’ and why humans do not need authority to flourish
• The role of authoritarian tendencies in struggles today eg the cuts movement, the strikes in the public sector, the student movement and within the anarchist movement itself
• Examples of organising without authority
Prisoners in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asian, went on hunger strike at the end of January. 1,197 prisoners stitched their mouths shut using staples and thread in a way that allowed only liquids to be consumed. The massive protest was against the terrible conditions in the jails that are notoriously overcrowded and teeming with disease.
Altogether around 7,000 prisoners went on a hunger strike. The prison population of Kyrgyzstan is more than 15,000. Prisoners’ rights campaigner Tolekan Ismailova said, “Those on hunger strike are against inhumane conditions,” “They don’t have medicine, normal food, linen or soap. Their illnesses are not treated because there are not enough doctors.”
Even Kyrgyzstan’s ombudsman, Tursunbek Akun, said that prisoners “are complaining of beatings and mistreatment by the prison personnel, and are demanding to receive what is rightfully theirs.” Since 2005, prisoners in the former Soviet republic have frequently staged protests and mutilated themselves to denounce jail conditions. The authorities often blame these acts of resistance on organised crime groups.
Check The Campaign Against Prison Slavery for more info, links, news and analysis on prisoners’ resistance.
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