The following is a report send to the Anarchist Federation and other from our comrades in the the Libertarian Communist Group (LCG, Athens) about the events of last week in Greece. Members of the LCG took part in strike action and the popular protests seen this week in Athens. During the last few days another package of austerity measures was passed through the parliament at the behest of the Troika(EU-IMF-ECB). As with the previous austerity measures there was a popular backlash with strikes throughtout and week and a 48hr General strike on the days the measures were voted leading to protests and clashes with the police. With the measures passed the Greek state is now awaiting the decision of EU meetings in the coming days which will determine if the Greek bailout programme is to continue.
The new measures package
On Wednesday 7th of November the Greek parliament voted for the new austerity measures package. It is almost impossible to describe in detail all these measures and their impact on Greek people 's life even in broad outline but generally speaking we could say that by including a lot of redundancies, further decrease of salaries, pensions and benefits, they bring down whatever remains standing after three years of austerity.
The age of retirement raises by 2 years which means that the majority of the workers will go into retirement at 67 years old even those who are ready to be retired next year. They cut down all pensions by between 5% and 15% and they cut out the Christmas and Easter bonus for all pensioners and public servants too. Depending on the case, the working sector and conditions, they either cut down or even stop welfare state benefits, such as unemployment, poverty, family/child care and even handicap benefits.
They also introduce a retrospective change in the national agreement of labour which has been called anti-constitutional by a specialist committee of the parliament itself but that seems not to bother the government. According to this change the minimum wage will be frozen and from now on will be regulated by the minister of labour itself, there will be no increase for anyone to the scale of payments, the employers will have the right to give shorter notice before discharge, lower redundancy pay, lower contribution to the pension and health funds and the working hours also will depend on their will. Finally the employers are not obliged to follow the national agreement if they do not want to sign it!
There are also further increases in indirect taxes, measures against the income of farmers, redundancies in the publicsector and total flexibility of the public servants. The package contains further privatization of the public sector, enforcing also further privatization of hospital treatment which includes a price for hospital admission (a patient who will need to be admitted to a hospital will have to pay 25 Euro just to start with). This, for a country with more than 30% unemployment, means that thousands of people will not be able to afford medical treatment.
Greece, November 6th and 7th: General strike
A 48-hours general strike was called in Greece by the general confederation of the Greek unions for 6th and 7th of November.
On Tuesday 6th of November, first day of the general strike, a few thousand people gathered in the morning at the strike demonstration gathering point at the national museum near to the Polytechnic school. It seems that the strikes in the transportation sector and the continuous general strikes during the last period prevented people from attending. Despite the presence of a lot of riot police squads, undercover policemen and motorcycle police units in most streets and side-streets leading to Syntagma square, demonstrators marched toward the square and they filled it until 1 o' clock when they started to leave the place. It was a quiet and quite disappointing day of strike!
On the second day things seem to be different. There were several calls for gathering outside of the parliament in the afternoon when the measures package will be voted. Plenty of strikers have been detained by the police as its units attacked and blocked demonstrators who were trying to go to the gathering point. Additionally metro stations in the center of Athens were ordered closed by the police and policemen on several occasions made preemptive detentions, in order to prevent demonstrators from reaching syntagma square.
Despite the police mobilization at least 100.000 demonstrators managed to gathered at 18:30 in front of or next to the Greek parliament. At 19:00 demonstrators started pushing the metal fence and the barriers which protected the parliament and as soon as they managed to destroy a small part of it riot police units attacked people. Molotov Cocktails (petrol bombs) were thrown by the demonstrators in order to defend themselves from police attacks. Huge amounts of teargas and stun grenades were used by riot police squads in order to force demonstrators to abandon the square. But people wanted to stay in the square and they regrouped again every time they were forced to disperse by the teargas. The pressing from demonstrators was so intense that police officers decided to use water canons for the first time against people during a strike.
There were clashes outside the parliament and around syntagma square for hours until the rain started. It was amazing to see that people did not want to leave the area! But the combination of the teargases with the rain turned the whole area into an unbearable field for the majority of the demonstrators. Most of them started to leave under the continuous attacks by the riot police squads. As the blocks of strikers were leaving the area, police units attacked, causing a lot of people to be wounded. There were reported at least 40 injuries, some of them helped by striking doctors and nurses in a kind of DIY health clinic inside a hotel in the area.
After a final attempt to re-take syntagma square, riot police units finally cleared the area from the strikers under heavy rain around 10:00. There were reported to be 103 detentions, 5 arrests, at least 40 injured demonstrators and 7 injured policemen.
The package of severe austerity measures has passed through the parliament after a midnight vote.
COMMENT ON 48-HOURS GENERAL STRIKE
Cops with APCs, with chemicals, with guns, with motorcycles. At the same time that inside, Parliament voted for the slashing of wages and pensions, for the dismissal of thousands of people and many other shameful things (in a shameless manner), outside another giant police operation of repression unfolded against the demonstrators. Even in the rain, the cops choked Syntagma Square in tear gas to disperse the protesters who had remained. For all that, the state certainly has money. It has money to enforce a police state in the streets. It has money to purchase tons of chemicals and APCs. It has money to armor like lobsters the special units of repression.
As long as people are not willing to lose even one day's wages, to risk two or three most basic things, then their misery, physical and moral, is certain. This whole system of suppression, the spraying with tear gas, the cordoning of the streets around the Constitution by riot police lined like laces, is aimed at nothing more than to force us to stoop our heads and shut up. Its aims are that we empty the streets, stay at home immersed in depression, or head to the mountains, or
board a plane and emigrate. But this place does not belong to them. The struggle for this land and its freedom is a struggle that we have been fighting for years now. No matter how many cops they put up, this struggle is not going to stop.
No matter how many measures they take, how many electoral backstops they have in parliament, nothing is finished, and nothing will end the way they want it.
We have nothing else to do than to give a way to rage, as a recent anarchist slogan goes in an Athenian street ...
Call for solidarity with imprisoned comrades from Belarus - all welcome.
Read statement below, agreed at the IFA Congress in St. Imier, Switzerland, August 2012.
Update: London demonstration at Embassy Of Belarus organised for 23rd September 2012 (election day) at 1:00pm.
See also, demos in Paris and Rome on 22nd Sept: http://www.afed.org.uk/component/content/article/323.html
One of the previous solidarity demonstrations for Belarus prisoners, 13th December 2010, Sofia, Bulgaria.
It has been a long time since the last call for solidarity with the Belarusian anarchists appeared. Today we have to admit that the new wave of solidarity is needed urgently to help them out from the prison. That’s why we call you to participate in days of action in solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners on 22nd-23rd of September (parliament election day is 23rd) .
The activists Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Artsiom Prakapenka, Pavel Syramolatau, Aliaksandr Frantskievich, Jauhen Vas’kovich that were detained in autumn 2010 and winter 2011 and then sentenced to 3 to 8 years of prison in May 2011 for a series of attacks on state and capital symbols are finishing their second year in jail. During this time their comrades and relatives did their best to help them feel comfortable in custody and set them free. In October 2011 they were acknowledged political prisoners by right-watch organizations. This fact gave them bigger chances to be freed as soon as possible, because at the moment the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, faces pressure from the European Union with the demands to set free all the political prisoners and decriminalize them. From August 2011 he has already pardoned more than 30 of them, but none of our comrades was granted freedom. Lukashenko said publicly, that he will pardon only those, who will write the petition for pardon, thus admitting their guilt and asking him personally for mercy. All the rest will remain in prison, he stated. In fact all imprisoned anarchists were many times asked if they want to sign such petition. Five of them refused to do it. Artsiom Prakapenka signed it under pressure but he is still in prison. Now there are 15 political prisoners left in Belarus, among them are 5 our comrades and 1 more, imprisoned for the action of solidarity with them. All the prisoners are experiencing different kinds of pressure from the administration of the prisons they are held in*, because Lukashenko wants to be a winner in this situation and make it as if it is not the EU that forces him to set free the political prisoners in fear of more political and economic sanctions, but as if it is his good will to pardon them, again only if they ask for it. We strongly oppose the fact that our comrades are now traded for benefits form the EU and condemn the pressure that they experience*. We call everybody to protest against these tortures and demand the immediate liberation of the political prisoners of Belarus, including anarchists.
We welcome solidarity actions of ANY kind starting from now on to accumulate amount of it on days of solidarity, we also ask you to make solidarity actions at least once a month if you find it possible even after the days of solidarity. We need constant pressure on the regime and the EU politicians in this situation.
The International of Anarchist Federations, August 2012.
Public statement from IFA Congress Saint-Imier 2012, 9-12th August to other exploited and oppressed people of the World.
The St. Imier meeting has enabled a lot of groups and militants that are members and non-members of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA) to meet each other. IFA would like to sum up the events of the last few days.
One hundred and forty years ago in this town an international movement of ‘anti-authoritarians’ was founded. It played a major part in the creation of an organised movement of anarchists. They worked then for profound social transformation, and in this manner we have participated, as IFA, in the international meeting in St-Imier. What we have to offer is the best sort of society that humanity is capable of achieving. We want to create a world in which there is complete economic equality, by which we mean that there should be no personal property but that we produce and own everything communally, with no need for money.
But as well as economic equality, there would be maximum personal freedom. This means that we live as we want and no one can make us do anything we don’t want to do, or prevent us from doing what we want to do unless this limits the freedom of others. So, there would be no hierarchy or oppression of any kind. There would be no need for a state or police because we would not need controlling or coercing. There would be no need for wars or global conflict because we would have no political enemies and no desire or need to seize any resources from anyone else. This is what we call Anarchism.
Anarchists reject the idea that it is human nature that one personal exploits another and that we are unequal. It is the case that rulers and states throughout history have maintained this system. This lie justifies Capitalism as a ‘natural’ system. We hear that there is a ‘crisis’ of Capitalism, but Capitalism is crisis. It is a recent system in historical terms and has already brought humanity to its knees many times before producing the current situation. But people all over the World are seeing through this lie and are resisting states and capitalism as never before and seek to coordinate their efforts across national boundaries. This makes an anarchist society more possible than ever.
But Anarchism is not utopianism. Obviously, for such a society to work, many things must first change, and our task now is to help bring about these vast transformations and provide an analysis that is useful to them. The working class, by which we mean all exploited and impoverished people, ourselves amongst them, has to operate as a mass movement. Crucially, it must not entrust the struggle to new leaders with old ideas, but by determining its own path.
Today, social movements are practising new ways of organising which draw heavily on anarchism, for example taking action directly against obstacles to their progress and experimenting with non-hierarchical organisational forms. They include student movements, action against destruction of the natural world and common resources, anti-militarist struggles, those against G8 summits and capitalism in general, and most recently the fight against austerity which unites the international working class. Movements such as Occupy and the Indignados and similar movements of self-organisation against the banking system have shown the importance of using direct action to reclaim public space. The uprisings of oppressed indigenous peoples in recent decades, such as the Zapatistas, have inspired the new social movements and have influenced anarchism itself. Such new movements create large assemblies to make decisions together without leaders. They practice horizontal decision-making. They link-up federally, as organisations of equal status without decision-making bodies at their centre.
But these attempts often fall short of what is possible because meaningful social change requires also that we change as individuals. We seek to be free and equal as individuals, but there must also be voluntary, personal responsibility and self-organisation. The working class itself contains divisions and oppressions and hierarchies which do not disappear just because we want to have no rulers and want to be equal. As members of the working class we therefore struggle internally against our own racism, sexism and patriarchal attitudes and practices. Equally we fight the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm, or that clearly defined categories ‘male’ and ‘female’ are ‘normal’. We must identify and oppose discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age or ability. Until internalised inequalities and deference towards hierarchy are identified and abolished we cannot be free, and so we identify and oppose them in social movements and workers organisations as well as in society in general.
Finally, to create this free and equal society, the working class itself must bring down rulers and capital. We call this a ‘social revolution’. Anarchists try to build confidence within the working class in our ability to be successful as quickly and with the least violence possible. We do this through joining with other workers to win small victories. We do this best through direct action not through reforms and negotiation with bosses. Direct action means not waiting but taking what should belong to all of us. We need to support each other’s struggles through mutual aid. This means practical solidarity in times of hardship. As well as helping us on a day-to-day basis, this demonstrates to people what we are about. So we practice anarchy now as far as we can in how we organise and how we struggle to prove that an anarchist society is possible.
We salute those comrades from the past, their work and the personal sacrifices they made for human emancipation. We continue their work, and critically develop their ideas and apply them to our situation. They would in turn salute the global working class at this point in its history, as it strives for real freedom and equality.
IFA has dealt with many themes over the last 5 days and in particular:
- The economic crisis and social struggle
- International solidarity
- Anti-nuclear and alternative energies
On this basis, the IFA has reinvigorated its own activities and invite all exploited people to struggle for transformation of society, for anarchism.
The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA), 12th August 2012.
Öffentliche Stellungnahme des IFA-Kongresses in St. Imier vom 9. bis zum 12. August 2012 - German version
Declaración pública de la IFA el Congreso de Saint-Imier 2012, del 9 al 12 de agosto a otras personas explotadas y oprimidas del mundo.
See also: Regional press videos of the St. Imier events and a scanned newpaper article (in French):
Positive local press (reporting on summing up of gathering and also about Japanese contingent): http://www.afed.org.uk/pdfs/st_imier_anarchist_event_local_press_13_August_2012.pdf
Informacion sobre la lucha de los mineros y la violencias policiales.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE STRUGGLE OF THE MINERS AND THE POLITICAL VIOLENCE
Translation from Spanish by the Anarchist Federation (Britain), July 2012
The social & employment situation in Spain has got worse. The situation of the miners is yet another attack on the working class and people in general. The governments' cuts are affecting many parts of society but always aimed at the working class and the most disadvantaged people: the unemployed, the young, pensioners, the disabled, public sector workers, etc. They want to take everything from us, but there is not even a single measure that would cost capitalists or the rich.
The mobilization of the miners is something very big, they've walked to the capital of the State from different mining towns across the country: Asturias, León, and Aragón. They walked for 15 days from town to town, city to city and in all places they received massive support from locals. They lived through highly emotional experiences because of the solidarity demonstrated in each of the regions.
In Asturias and León there are strong confrontations between the police and Civil Guards and the miners. The miners receive strong support from their communities, for example in Pola de Lena. There are constant blockades of roads and highways. The police & Civil Guards shoot rubber bullets and the miners respond with home-made rockets, sometimes weighted with golf balls. In some towns there has been face-to-face fighting.
Recently the miners' column entered the capital Madrid, it was very emotive and surprising in the amount of support and welcome from the citizens who shouted "Madrid obrero está con los mineros" (Madrid workers are with the miners). Thousands of people arched with them to the centre of the city, where some representatives expressed their gratitude and called for all workers in the country to rise against the government, which only defends the interests of the capitalists. The rally lasted until 4AM. At dawn, preparations were already being made for a new demonstration along the streets of the city.
500 coaches ("autobus") arrived from all the mining towns and once again the people of Madrid were with them. The demonstration marched to the Ministry of Industry to demand a meeting with the Minister, but they refused to talk. They are forcing a situation that could at any moment explode, since they refuse to listen to the voices of the people who shout in the street. And then they say that we are violent.
In that morning's demonstration, there were some confrontations with the police. Some people were wounded and some people were arrested. In the afternoon there was another large demonstration in the streets of Madrid. This ended in confrontations in the city centre, with some 50 or 60 people wounded and unknown numbers arrests.
Despite all this, the Ministry still will not negotiate and on top of that, the government has announced stronger austerity measures against everyone. Not a single word has been said about taxing the immense fortunes of the rich, or that making the bankers pay for the crisis they caused, or cutting the many privileges of the Catholic Church.
It could not be more clear whom the government serves and what they want from the working class. It could not be more clear, the need to organise our lives in a different way. It could not be more clear the need for a Social Revolution that gives us control of our own lives. Let's organise to fight against the State and the capitalists.
¡Viva la Anarquía!
Grupo Anarquista Tierra, Madrid. Secretariado IFA (Secretariat of the International of Anarchist Federations, http://i-f-a.org ).
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
- Over 100 attend Greece solidarity demonstration in Edinburgh
- Jock Palfreeman Solidarity Demo - 15th March
- Statement in solidarity with the social movement in Greece : International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA)
- The signs of the defeat of Libyan revolution: Statement by a Libyan anarchist
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