Download RESISTANCE bulletin issue #141 May 2012 [PDF]: http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist141.pdf
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Also available: Organise! magazine no. 77 – Winter 2011
The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
Full contents of RESISTANCE bulletin issue #141 May 2012
• Refugee Evictions,
• Prisoners’ Support,
• Bahrain Unrest Smoulders On,
• Anonymous China Take Down Government Websites,
• Suicide Sparks Mass Anger in Greece,
• Pensions Fight Continues,
• The Unions: Who Are They?,
• Alfie Meadows Solidarity Demo,
• Workfare Picket in Bournemouth,
• Translation from CNT about General Strike in Spain,
• Argentina: “Yesterday, Subversives. Today, Terrorists”.
Over 150 refused refugees in Glasgow are facing being thrown out onto the streets by people,
the former Glasgow YMCA, which currently holds housing contracts from the UKBA in Red Road
and other locations. Their contracts are being transferred, some from the end of May, to Serco, a
huge multinational corporation that also runs deportations and security in detention centres. This
injustice is happening at the same time as the Scottish Government has cut funding to the Scottish
Refugee Council and Glasgow City Council has cut funding to community groups that support
destitute and homeless refugees. The real people of Glasgow, however, are not about to stand
idly by and let 150 people, including children, people with severe medical problems, and pregnant
women to be made homeless. There are 19,000 empty flats in Glasgow; no one should be sleeping
rough. Capitalism, greed, and the state and police that protect them are the only things keeping
A large coalition of Glasgow residents supporting the Glasgow Destitution Network have called a
national demonstration for the 20th of May but are planning a series of actions leading up to that
date, beginning with a protest on Saturday 21st March at the UKBA office in Glasgow. They are
determined to stop the evictions and to directly challenge the appallingly unjust law that tries to
send people back to war zones. In recent years, under Labour and the Coalition, the UK government
has cut back on granting refused refugees exceptional leave to remain. This means more people
are not allowed to work unless they sign a document saying that they will return to their country of
origin voluntarily as soon as they can. Signing that document means that even if they are able to
obtain new evidence, or if the situation in their country of origin becomes worse, they cannot appeal
their claim to asylum. Basically, the UKBA is blackmailing people to go back to life-threatening
situations – they are trapped between abandoning their cases and being sent back to the countries
they have fled or becoming homeless and destitute in cities across the UK when Christian charities
like Ypeople evict them.
Glasgow isn’t going to stand for this. For more information, check out the Glasgow Destitution
Network, http://destitutionaction.wordpress.com/, Unity, unitycentreglasgow.org, or the Glasgow
Campaign to Welcome Refugees, at http://www.gctwr.co.uk/.
Here Resistance lists some prisoners’ contact details so that messages of solidarity can be written to them. Go to the Leeds Anarchist Black Cross site and download the ‘Writing to Prisoners’ PDF. The leaflet can be printed-out, photocopied and distributed by Local anarchist groups. Anarchists can set-up writing to prisoners sessions and use the Leeds ABC leaflet as a way of advising people about writing to prisoners. Also check all ABC sites for more addresses.
Ravi Gill is the only remaining anti-fascist still in prison out of the seven who were convicted at the Welling Trial in June 2011. Please send Ravi letters or cards expressing solidarity.
Omar Ibrahim was sentenced to 18 months in November 2011 for throwing a smoke bomb at Topshop on the March 26th 2011 Anti-Cuts demo. Omar writes a blog from prison: ‘banged up for protesting’.
Joseph Binney was sentenced to two years in prison for actions on the March 26th 2011 Anti-Cuts demo.
HMP Highpoint South
Oguz Ornek was sentenced to 18 months for actions on the winter 2010 student protests.
HMP YOI Glen Parva
10 Tigers Road
Richard Bezzina imprisoned for 20 months for participation in the August 2011 London Riots. Note that Richard struggles to read and write. But still write solidarity cards and letters to him that London Anarchist Black Cross will be able to forward to him.
c/o London ABC
84b Whitechapel High Street
Richard Craig was sentenced to 20 months for participation in the August 2011 riots.
P O Box 757,
Bahrain Unrest Smoulders On
The ongoing campaign against the dictatorial Bahraini government escalated this April, with protests against the imprisonment of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. The Bahraini-Danish activist began a hunger strike in February, and at the time of writing has not been heard from in days and is feared dead.
The struggle against the regime in Bahrain began over a year ago, part of a series of uprisings that swept across North Africa and the Middle East in the spring of 2011. It started with protesters occupying Pearl Roundabout in the island nation’s capital, Manama (reported in Resistance #130). After a month-long occupation and repeated attacks by the police, which left hundreds injured and several dead or missing, the square was finally cleared by police with tear gas and shotguns. This was the start of months of brutal repression, in which government forces, backed up by Saudi-Arabian soldiers and tanks, crushed protest marches and arrested and killed rebels.
14 months on, the struggle continues. On the 6th of April protesters attacked police vehicles with Molotov cocktails, during street fighting in the village of Jidhafs, west of the island’s capital. In another village, Eker, a homemade bomb was detonated injuring three police officers. Elsewhere angry crowds were attacked by government forces with tear-gas, water cannon and stun grenades.
Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy under the rule of Hamad Khalifa, and along with neighbouring Saudi Arabia, is a close ally of the United States – the US’s 5th fleet is stationed in the country, along with the US navy’s central command NAVCENT. Both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a bloc of six monarchies bordering the Persian Gulf.
Anonymous China Take Down Government Websites
Hackers working under the banner of Anonymous China successfully took down hundreds of websites on Thursday the 5th of March. The websites of a number of Chinese government bureaus were targeted, although national government sites were unaffected.
The hacked sites were replaced with messages telling people how to avoid government internet restrictions, as well as calls for an uprising against the government: “today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall” read one website following the action. On another, hackers wrote: “we demonstrate our revolt against the Chinese system. It has to stop! We aren’t asking you for nothing, just saying: “protest, revolt, be the free person you always wanted to be!”
As well as the websites that were taken down, the phone numbers and email addresses of over 800 chinese officials were leaked to the public.
The group behind the hacks, Anonymous, is a loose internet community that grew up around the website 4chan.org. In recent years Anonymous has become increasingly involved in online ‘hacktivism’: internet hacking as a political action. Previous targets have included the Church of Scientology, PayPal, and the US Government. Anonymous’ icons include Guy Fawkes masks, suits, and the slogan “we do not forgive, we do not forget”.
This is the second time Anonymous has targeted Chinese websites. Several months earlier they exposed Chaoda Modern Agriculture, a Chinese fruit and vegetable supplier, for corporate fraud.
Suicide Sparks Mass Anger in Greece
Last month saw spontaneous protests break out in Athens following the suicide of Dimitris Christoulas. The retired pharmacist shot himself on the morning of Wednesday the 4th of April, in Syntagma Square, adjacent to the Greek parliament. In a note left at the scene, he wrote:
“The government literally nullified my ability to survive ... I find no solution other than a dignified end, before resorting to going through garbage for food.
One day, I believe, the youth with no future will take up arms and hang the national traitors at syntagma square, just like the Italians did with Mussolini in 1945.”
News of his death spread through the Greek capital, and by that evening a crowd of around 2000 protestors had gathered in the square. News network Al Jazeera reported chants of “this was not a suicide, it was a state perpetrated murder and blood flows and seeks revenge”. Fighting broke out, with police hurling tear gas grenades and flash bangs into the crowd, who responded with rocks and petrol bombs. Protests rumbled on over the following days.
Suicide rates in Greece have risen by 20% over the last two years, as the government has imposed increasingly severe public sector cuts while Greeks are facing falling living standards, frozen wages, and rising unemployment.
Pensions Fight Continues
Teaching unions last month signalled more strikes on the way in the ongoing struggle over public sector pensions. Cuts imposed by the coalition government would result in increased pension contributions, amounting to cuts in workers take-home pay, as well as raising the pension age to 67.
Unions struck last year on the 30th of June, and again on the 30th of November, which saw millions stop work in the biggest strike in a generation. But a further strike day on March 28th this year saw workers divided, with union officials from UNISON, PCS, GMB and others pulling out of strike action, and NUT and UCU only striking in London. Union leaders called off strikes or allowed only limited action, despite overwhelming strike votes from the membership – 90.5% voting to reject the government’s deal in the case of civil servants’ union PCS.
The pensions cuts will begin to take effect from April 2012, and the country’s biggest teachers unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, have responded by calling for further strike action starting in the summer term. This will likely include regional days of action and at least one nationwide strike before the end of June. The decisions were made at the unions’ national conferences by delegates from around the country.
In addition to the ongoing dispute over pensions, the NUT are striking in Nottingham this April over plans to shorten the summer holidays and introduce a five term year.
[layout note: could the following be included as a sort of “fact box” next to the above article? If it doesn’t work or you’re short of space it can just be left out]
The Unions: Who Are They?
UNISON: The UK’s largest union, with over 1.3 million members in the public sector.
GMB: General trade union with over 600, 000 members nationwide, including manual workers in schools, the NHS, utilities, distribution and retail.
PCS: The Public and Commercial Services Union, with 250, 000 members, most of them civil servants.
UCU: The University and College Union, made up of university and college teachers, with over 100, 000 members.
NASUWT: A school teachers union with over 280, 000 members across the UK.
NUT: The National Union of Teachers, covering England, Wales and the Isle of Man with over 300, 000 members.
Alfie Meadows Solidarity Demo
On the 26th of March a crowd of around 150 people gathered outside of Kingston crown courts to protest in solidarity with Alfie Meadows who was beginning his trial that day. During the student protests of 2010, Alfie was brutally beaten by riot police, he was knocked unconscious by a police officer’s baton which caused serious bleeding in his brain cavity. The injury could have easily resulted in his death but thankfully after brain surgery he made a strong recovery. He was one of 38 other protestors who were hospitalised that day.
Members of Surrey & Hants Anarchist Federation branch and Staines Anarchists attended the protest to show solidarity not only with Alfie Meadows but with all students who have been put on trial, imprisoned and subject to the brutality of the police because of their involvement in the student demonstrations. The police officer who beat Alfie so badly that he almost died is not on trial, the police officer who murdered Ian Tomlinson has not been imprisoned and it’s recently come out that there probably won’t even be a public investigation into the murder of Mark Duggan. This is yet another example of the completely unaccountable and vicious institution we call the police doing what it does best, we must at the very least support those who have been attacked and are lucky enough to have survived. Solidarity forever!
Workfare Picket in Bournemouth
Anarchists descended on Bournemouth High Street on 31st of March as part of a coordinated National Day of Action Against Workfare. Members of Surrey & Hants Anarchist Federation, Solent Solidarity Federation, IWW, Portsmouth Anarchists and Bournemouth Uncut came together under the banner of Wessex Solidarity (http://wessexsolidarity.wordpress.com/) and held pickets outside two Holland & Barrett stores.
The picket aimed to raise awareness amongst the public about the real implications of Workfare and also to show that any company participating in the scheme will be met with some rather unwanted publicity. Leaflets were handed out outside both stores to passers-by and a letter was handed to staff at one of the stores outlining the negative implications that the scheme will inevitably have on their own jobs.
The location of the picket was decided upon after the announcement that Workfare could form no less than a quarter of Holland & Barrett’s workforce. That means a quarter of Holland & Barrett staff could be working for free or face having their benefits taking away. Unsurprisingly, one of the managers of the picketed stores claimed that the company was “creating jobs” although he seemed to have forgot that there isn’t actually any guarantee of a job after the enforced (unpaid) placement.
The picket came after coordinated action earlier in the month against Workfare in the Surrey and Hampshire area with pickets taking place in Portsmouth and Egham. Anarchists in Surrey and Hampshire will be continuing to raise awareness about Workfare and letting any company participating in the scheme know where they can stick their free jobs!
Translation from CNT about General Strike in Spain
The following is a summary of an article by the CNT about the General Strike in Spain that took place on 29th March. Workers took to the streets not only to protest against the sever cuts in social spending but also against the new labour reform which has dealt a huge blow to workers rights in Spain.
(Taken from CNT newspaper No. 388 [April 2012]).
After the usual media circus over how many people went out on strike, one thing was made very clear to both the government and bosses: the workers are waking up. Despite the huge media campaign that sought to disqualify and disparage the strike and the threats made by a number of companies to prevent workers from walking out, the look on the faces of ministers and industry leaders was one of fear, not victory.
As much as the government tried to distort the results of the strike, it was impossible to hide the huge turn out for marches which exceeded all predictions and left no doubts as to where the working class stands over cuts and the government’s new labour reform. This was demonstrated by the success of the mobilisations that CNT and other grassroots organisations organised independently of mainstream unions, most notably in Madrid and Barcelona.
The large number of workers that marched to defeat the labour reform – not to negotiate it – demonstrated not only the resurgence of the working class but also their support for a different type of unionism outside of official lines. And if anyone is aware of the power of the working class when they take to the street it’s the government and the business class.
CNT will continue fighting until it achieves its goal: the complete scrapping of the labour reform. To achieve this, CNT asks for working class unity on all fronts as it’s only together that we will achieve our aims
“Yesterday, Subversives. Today, Terrorists”
The “Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice” is a national holiday in Argentina that takes place on 24th of March of each year and commemorates the thousands that were murdered at the hands of the state during the military dictatorship. However, the day is also an opportunity for bourgeois democracy to exploit the atrocities of the past for its own political ends.
As President Cristina Kirchner took to the podium and spoke live on Argentine television about the “love”, “honour” and other “universal values” that her government represents, ordinary people were out on the streets protesting against the President’s own human rights record and highlighting the fact that, whilst the government might like to promote itself as “democratic”, it is increasingly acting in ways reminiscent of the old regime.
Marches took place across the country against the repressive measures being taken by the government to criminalise protest and dissent. A major cause of anger has been the implications of the new “Anti-terrorist” laws that are being used to arbitrarily detain any individual or group involved in organised resistance or direct action. Protestors were also calling for the dismantling of the police intelligence gathering system (named ‘Project X’) which has been used to secretly gather information about activists and militants. Protestors also displayed pictures of those killed on marches during President Kirchner’s government and called for an end to widespread police impunity. The largest rallies were in Buenos Aires and in La Plata, where around 2,000 people marched through the city filling the walls with graffiti and stencils.
A report compiled by various Argentine human rights organisations which documents the number of activists arrested or killed on marches during the period 2001-2012 was handed to the President. Of the more than 4,000 arrested, 63% were either labour activists or involved in indigenous rights campaigns.
On a day when the government sought to capitalise on a dreadful era in the country’s history, ordinary Argentines took to the streets to show the darker side of President Kirchner’s political agenda. As the Argentine anarcho-syndicalist organisation, FORA, puts it, “the methods are refined but the essence doesn’t change: control, persecute and eliminate the ‘problem makers’.”
Resistance bulletin no. 141, May 2012
The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk