cover of Resistance Bulletin 119 February 2009

Resistance bulletin issue 119 Feb 2010

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Full contents and text of Resistance 119, February 2010

1 – Struggle to save schools in Scotland
2 – Battle for union freedom in Germany has begun
3 – No hope in Copenhagen
4 – Belgian beer bossnapping
5 – On the Front Line: Workplace round-up
6 – Not a great day for the English Defence League
7 – State bans and reactionary movements
8 – Network to “Defend Welfare” takes off and grows
9 – Smash EDO Kettled … Again
10 – Cuts, closures and collaboration: universities under attack
11 – Doesn’t the ‘Big Freeze’ disprove climate change?
12 – Evictions resisted in east Jerusalem
13 – Solidarity with Mindaugus Lenartavicius
14 – Derbyshire police’s new approach to antisocial behaviour

Struggle to save schools in Scotland

Parents in Glasgow occupied yet another primary school this week; the latest in a series of school occupations which have taken place over the past year. Taking action in response to proposals to close St. Matthew’s Primary School, five concerned parents barricaded themselves inside the school and announced their intention to remain there until their demands were met. Protests have also taken place at three other schools in the area set to close. These threatened closures are the most recent in a concerted campaign by councils across Greater Glasgow to shut of schools and nurseries.

In early 2009, Glasgow City Council announced plans to close at least 13 primary schools and 12 nurseries across the city. The consultations for these closures have been branded flimsy at best by angry parents who feel the decision had, in many cases, been finalized before the public consultation was even finished. Over the past year budget deficits have led to council cutbacks across Glasgow, with a £75 million shortfall in North Lanarkshire where St. Matthew’s is located. As the predicted cost of the 2014 Commonwealth Games soars to £454 million, it perhaps comes as no great surprise that the council is using the excuse of low pupil numbers and building disrepair to mask their attempts at cost-cutting.

Both Glasgow City Council and North Lanarkshire Council have responded to parents’ protests with threats and intimidation. During the Wyndford Primary occupation in early 2009, the school’s water and electricity was cut off after a council worker posing as a safety inspector gained entry. The protest was only able to continue thanks to donations of bottled water from local residents. In this latest occupation, the parents staging the sit-in at St. Matthew’s were threatened with the prospect of the pupils being sent to another school because two of the occupiers do not possess a Disclosure Scotland form.

The tactic of occupation now seems one which is more readily employed since the closures were announced, with a number of similar actions having taken place across the city over the past year. Various individual campaigns have been linked together under the ‘Save Our Schools’ banner and local parents have proved that they are unwilling to let these threats to their children’s future go ahead without a fight.

Battle for union freedom in Germany has begun

A court decision in Berlin has taken away the rights of the FAU-Berlin, a radical grassroots union run on anarcho-syndicalist principles, to call themselves a union. Following this decision to prohibit FAU-B from working as a union anywhere in Germany, German anarcho-syndicalists see themselves as banned once again, after having been prohibited before in 1914 and 1933.

FAU-B have been involved in a labour dispute over better working conditions at the government-funded Babylon Cinema and have been fighting for a contract since the beginning of June 2009. Currently, pay is poor and sackings are frequent (especially of union activists), and there is no security for those working at Berlin’s publicly funded cinema. A large portion of the cinema’s staff are organised within FAU-B, who have caused a media stir in Germany due to an effective boycott, extensive and innovative demands and the direct involvement of workers themselves in the dispute – this is particularly rare in Germany.

Before the FAU was banned, there was a series of initiatives including protests at the famous Berlinale Filmfestival, events outside the Babylon cinema to raise awareness among cinema-goers, a supporters list with hundreds of signatories, daily pickets and a solidarity gig with Fred Alpi (the ‘French Billy Bragg’) outside the cinema and a general media presence. The ban of the FAU is not just about a fight for better working conditions, but takes place in a wider context of struggle over union autonomy in Germany.

When the pressure was at its height and the bosses could not avoid entering negotiations, a deal was made between bosses, politicians and the mainstream union ver.di (who barely have any members in the workplace) to ban the boycott, bring court actions against FAU-B, and to cast doubt over FAU-B’s ability to negotiate; which under German law prevented them from being able to take legal collective action. The FAU-B’s refusal to back down led to the court decision on December 11, 2009 that effectively bans FAU as a union. This decision allows the bosses to negotiate with the union of their choice and to define what a union is. Syndicalists in Germany enjoyed more rights under the Kaiser in the 19th century than they do today. The court’s decision sets a precedent that will undermine the entire union movement and the rights of workers. It will be catastrophic for the German workers’ movement unless the decision is overturned, which the FAU-B still believe is very possible.

So far international declarations of support has been received from 74 organisations across the world, from the USA to Russia. Solidarity demonstrations have taken place in Madrid, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Zaragosa, Vigo, Stockholm, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Gliwice, Olstzyn, Brussels and Paris, and more were planned as we went to press.

No hope in Copenhagen

During the Copenhagen Climate Summit that lasted from December 7th-18th Danish police arrested almost 1000 protesters (each and every one an anarchist, if you are to believe the Telegraph) in pre-emptive arrests under a law that was bought in just before the summit. It allowed police to detain people for up to 12 hours who they suspect may break the law in the near future – so basically anyone they don’t like the look of. Of the 968 protesters arrested a grand total of 3 were charged with offences. Various politicians, experts and world leaders had been building up the conference for months as the last chance to get it right, an important turning point that will be looked back on in years to come. However, when ordinary people try to have their say on the other side of the heavily fortified conference centre they become threats that must be silenced before they have even done anything, whether legal or illegal. The message sent out by the policing at Copenhagen was clear: If you are not playing within the system then you must be prepared to be treated as a criminal. If you are not voicing your concerns through our institutions then you are not allowed to voice them.

Despite all the brutally authoritarian policing that is now common at international conferences (and protests of any kind), the real problem was that the summit was an attempt to combat climate change within the inherently unstable capitalist system. Capitalism is fundamentally unsustainable as it drives environmental degradation and destruction with its need for ever-increasing consumption and infinitely expanding markets. What is needed is for the current concentration of power to be broken up, for the resources held by corporations and big businesses to be under social control. The destruction of capitalism is needed for the construction of a green world.

Belgian beer bossnapping

“Bossnapping”, a trend which started early last year when French factory workers faced with job losses at Scapa Group plc took three English managers hostage, has crossed the border into Belgium. Several workers at the Jupiler brewery held about 10 managers hostage for 11 hours when they heard news of massive cutbacks within the company. Workers also blocked the entrances to both the Leven and Jupiler breweries. Anheuser-Busch InBev, who operate the breweries, has won a court ruling to end the blockades but union members have threatened a full strike if it is enforced. AB InBev also employs about 1,300 people in the UK but it is not yet clear how many of these jobs are under threat or when the cuts will be made. We hope that British workers take a leaf out of the book of their French and Belgian counterparts and join this growing trend.

On the Front Line: Workplace round-up

Fire dispute heats up
The start of 2010 saw a revival of the disputes that broke out in the fire service late lastyear. The first area to ignite was Merseyside,where bosses tried to cut around a hundred firefighters’ jobs, leading to an overtime ban which started on January 12th. Shortly afterwards, South Yorkshire firefighters decided to take strike action again after talks broke down, as management refused to compromise on their threats to sack all firefighters who refuse to accept new terms and conditions.

Fury at Fujitsu
Employees of Japanese technology company Fujitsu braved the cold and snow to take five days of strike action across the country between the 7th and 15th of January. The previous month had seen Fujitsu employees organised in the Unite union hold the first ever national strike in the IT industry, and the new series of strikes helped to keep the pressure up in this ongoing dispute over pay, pensions and mass sackings.

BA strikes grounded – for now
At the end of last year, British Airways cabin crew seemed set to deliver an impressive example of workers’ power by grounding planes throughout the holiday period, action that was supported by 92% of those balloted, but the action was derailed by a court ruling that banned the strike, which was called in response to BA forcing changes in working hours and conditions on their staff. The fact that the law would intervene so blatantly in favour of an employer and against staff shows how desperate the ruling class are to stop workers exercising their power, but it also shows that our class will often have to ignore the courts and even the orders of union leaders if we’re to take the kind of uncontrollable wildcat action that’s most effective in putting pressure on employers.

To their credit, BA staff have refused to let this setback stop them, and are now balloting for fresh action to take place over the Easter holiday period. The ballot, which closes on February 22nd, clearly has the bosses rattled, as BA head Willie Walsh has already written to employees begging them to scab if the action does go ahead.

Not a great day for the English Defence League

On December 5th last year around 300 members of the English Defence League came to Nottingham. They were confronted by around the same number of anti-racists, including anarchists. As in other towns, the EDL-ers got tanked-up and ran amok, shouting racist slogans and attacking people. Apparently they are only able to answer questions such as “why have you brought racism to our town?” with their fists. In an encouraging move, many protesters refused to be controlled by either the police or authoritarian “anti-fascist” organisations such as Unite Against Fascism, and instead chose to stay on the streets of Nottingham all day, moving around to make sure the EDL faced effective opposition wherever they went.

The EDL is a strange organisation. It formed in opposition to the influence of radical
Islam in Britain. It says that ‘good’ British Muslims, and everyone else, should support ‘our boys in uniform’, who are risking their lives to save ordinary Muslims in Afghanistan from Islamic fundamentalists like the the Taliban. We agree that religious dogma and bigotry should be opposed. But when they want us to support the war, and when they say they are not a threat to ordinary British Muslims, there we have to disagree.

The EDL wants to make sense of the senseless: the sacrifice of working class British people in this stupid war no one understands the point of, and in which more ordinary Muslims than Taliban seem to be dying. The EDL hasn’t noticed that this war – like the one in Iraq, and the one before that – was the work of oil-hungry, militaristic Western states as well as manipulative wealthy Muslim rulers. Both sides benefit from the naïve patriotism that the EDL parrots, because it justifies the war that both sides want. And if ‘our boys’ weren’t in countries attacking their populations in the name of Western supremacy, radical Muslims here would have far less audience for their vile ideas and ordinary young Britons wouldn’t become suicide bombers.

And while their website and their organizers claim the EDL isn’t racist, contrasting it with the BNP, in reality the EDL attracts well-known racist and fascists, including some convicted of racial-hate crimes. The leaders threaten that anyone doing Nazi salutes or chanting racist slogans on demos will be kicked out. In practice, they can’t control their racist elements. Seig-heiling and racist slogans are the norm wherever they go.  The EDL in the flesh intimidates non-white British people, especially anyone they take to be Muslim.

The city of Nottingham has little racial tension and little radical Islam. No one seriously thinks it is training suicide bombers trained in its mosques. Community meetings held in its multi-faith and multi-racial inner city show that people do not seriously perceive such a threat and that people are frankly baffled by the EDL.
What we need to do is build solidarity in our communities so that young Muslims don’t get conned by manipulative religious leaders into attacking other working class people.

If the EDL really want to build a safer, less divided society, they should disband before they do any more damage in these communities.

State bans and reactionary movements

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has recently declared Islam4UK an illegal organisation. On the back of outrage over plans by the group, a front for the banned militant organisation Al-Muhajiroun, to march through Wootton Bassett in order “to highlight the real casualties of this brutal Crusade” in Afghanistan. The decision marks a serious encroachment on civil liberties by the state.

Let us be clear. Islam4UK supports Shariah Law, a legal system based on medieval values that would see those under its rule suffer totalitarianism on par with that of Saudi Arabia. Though he draws on legitimate issues in his ravings, such as Western war crimes in Afghanistan, its leader Anjem Choudary is a reactionary and a bigot whom all serious defenders of freedom and human rights ought to oppose.

However, that opposition should come in the form of direct action by the populace, rounded in working-class unity, anti-fascism, and anti-capitalism. The loyalist nationalism of the English Defence League, by contrast, is as reactionary as Islam4UK. Though opposed to political Islam, it is so because it supports of the state and particularly the military, not because it cares even slightly about the working class of this country.

Both Choudary and the EDL would divide up the population of Britain into those who only oppose war out of a demented religious fanaticism and those who are blindly loyal to the sentiment of “my country, right or wrong.” The vast majority of people who fit into neither camp, and particularly for those who realise that the crimes of militarism and the bigotry of religious fundamentalism must be opposed with equal veracity, need to make their voice heard.

But that voice should not be calling for a state ban. There are those on the left who have declared their support for Johnson’s decision, regretting only that the EDL weren’t also made illegal. This is the wrong approach to take.

By giving consent to the government to ban organisations we don’t like, we give them consent to erode our freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. This at a time when the police are labelling activists as “domestic extremists” and even conducting the first criminal trial to take place without a jury.

Freedom that is not universal is not freedom at all, and history teaches us that repression never confines itself to one group.

Network to “Defend Welfare” takes off and grows

A well attended meeting of an emerging network against welfare abolition took place in Manchester in November 2009, a couple of days after the new Welfare Reform Act got its Royal Assent.  The Act will mean further attacks on benefits, especially for people with long-term ill health or disabilities, and single parents with young children, in addition to the usual attacks on people out of work.  Most annoyingly, the new legislation has come in side by side with yet another poster campaign against so-called ‘benefits cheats’, which during a period of lay-offs and massive handouts to banks is a real kick in the teeth. The government wants to cut spending sharply, and unemployed people are an easy target.

In response, the idea of the Claimants Union has found a new lease of life. Some, like Newham Claimants Union and Brighton and Hove Unemployed Workers Centre, never went away after the introduction of the Job Seekers Allowance. But many TUC-supported ones lost their funding and were closed over the last few decades. In addition, the TUC’s National Consultative Committee of Unemployed Workers Centres has been strongly criticised for wedding itself to Brown’s ‘end child poverty’ agenda, which puts the responsibility on individuals to lift themselves out of poverty, rather than blaming a vastly unequal economic system.

Thankfully, we are seeing a resurgence of new independent groups in places like Ipswich, Cambridge, Sheffield and Newcastle. A new Unemployed Workers Union initiative has been launched, which started in Salford and is now spreading. The disabled people’s Direct Action Network (DAN), who previously took to the streets in London against the scrapping of Incapacity Benefit and protested at Birmingham Council last September about Disabled Living Allowance, are also geared up for more action. No to Welfare Abolition is a fairly broad-based campaign, with views ranging from those who focus on fighting court cases on specific points to more radical groups who are prepared to use direct action, such as occupying Job Centres. Many individuals in the network have a long experience with benefits advice and activism, and there is also some input from the mainstream unions like the PCS. 

One obvious set of targets for direct action is the large ‘service providers’ like Serco, Seetec, TNG, A4E, Work Directions, Remploy or their smaller subcontractors. These organisations run Job Centre Plus on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, and are also involved with a new pilot called Work for Your Benefits. There is also ATOS Origin which provides the DWP with medical assessments, where people with disabilities or ill health are made to face a humiliating interview about their abilities. It is clear that the government will not be paying a corporation like ATOS if it is not going to get its money back by kicking a lot of people off benefits.

To make this a vibrant campaign, it is vital that opposition to the effects of the Act involves as many new people as possible, especially those who are directly affected, as well as existing activists. Meaningful links also need to be made with independent workers’ organisations like the Industrial Workers of the World, whose British section is already supporting the new network. In the current economic climate, many workers are facing job losses or cuts in hours or wages that mean they are now receiving benefits  – or should be.  The new network is expected to be named Defend Welfare and launch a website very soon.

Smash EDO Kettled … Again

Monday, January 18th marked another mass demonstration by the Brighton-based antiarms group Smash EDO. 

Unlike the last mass demo, people gathered at Wild Park in Moulscoomb, less than 500m from the EDO factory. As people gathered, it filtered through the crowd that the previous night the police had raided a squat (reported threatening the occupants with a gun and a taser), and arrested several Smash EDO members. The demo moved off in the direction of the factory at about 2pm, with about 300 people. About 200 split off to try and make it around the back of the factory, and actually breached the perimeter fence, but were quickly pushed back by use of police batons and dogs. Meanwhile, at the bottom of Home Farm Road, the remaining 100 people blocked the street and the names of some of the 1417 people killed in last year’s Gaza bombardment were read. Eventually, the two parts of the demo re-formed and marched into town. Despite several attempted kettles on the route, about 200 people made it right into the centre of town, but were caught up in the Laines.

The police split the crowd into three separate kettles, catching several innocent passers-by along with most of the protesters. People were held for well over an hour, but support from members of the public kept spirits up. A crowd gathered outside the kettle, and people chanted “Let Them Go!”, forcing the police to form extra lines to keep supporters away from the protesters. There were several violent arrests. One man from Nottingham was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the floor by at least 5 TSG officers. The police violently snatched one of the medics, and another medic was hit in the face and thrown to the floor. Another comrade, ironically not taking part in the protest, just passing by, had her arm broken in two places by a mounted officer. All those arrested have now been released, and bailed not to protest against EDO.

Cuts, closures and collaboration: universities under attack

The latest wave of cuts in university funding announced by the government is just the latest in a long line of attacks on higher education (HE). Tuition fees, attacks on academic freedom, cuts and closures are all part of a general assault on the independence and the quality of the education working class students receive. The state is using these cuts to make the working class pay for their crisis. It is taking away what independence universities have left, indebting millions of students, and handing business a gift wrapped up in ribbons that will hurt ordinary people for years to come. 

Cuts of £900 million have been announced so far and the figure is expected to rise to £2.5 billion by 2012, almost a third of the annual budget for HE. This is on top of years of budgets too small to deal with rising student numbers, investments wiped out by the credit crunch and a government cap on student recruitment which last year resulted in many institutions being fined. All of this has already resulted in course closures and redundancies with many more to come, up to 14,000 according to UCU, the lecturers’ union. The education minister’s claim that all this will not affect frontline teaching is a simple lie – it already has.

But this is not just about reducing government spending to pay off the debts incurred in bailing out the banks. We can see this if we look at one of the solutions proposed to the problem: raising tuition fees. The student loans system that pays these fees actually costs the government money upfront, money that is not recovered for many years, if ever. Raising tuition fees would actually increase the cost of funding universities, at least in the short term, even if, as proposed, the interest rate was increased to commercial levels. 

Partly, the attraction of this is that it is possible to sell off the loans to private companies and so keep this spending off the balance sheet, but that does not explain everything. As elsewhere, the government is using the economic crisis as an opportunity to force through changes that it has failed to get through in the past. The roots of the current attacks lie in the 2005-2006 pay dispute which ended in a stalemate, with unions accepting a pay deal that had been offered before the strike action. This dispute was basically over how the money received from newly increased tuition fees would be spent. Would universities use the opportunity to vary their fees to compete with each other on price, or would promises given before fees came in to increase pay and protect conditions for lecturers be kept? The inconclusive outcome of the dispute meant that the government’s goal of competition between universities was not met, but there was also no final settlement of the question of how universities would be run and funded.

The government’s agenda was clear in 2006 and is even clearer now. Responsibility for education has been moved into the new Department for Business, Industry and Skills. The name says it all – education (reduced to ‘skills’) becomes an adjunct to business, existing for the benefit of industry rather than for the benefit of students. 2009’s Higher Ambition, which lays out the government’s long term strategy for the university sector, makes this very clear. Businesses are to ‘have a crucial role in the funding and design of programmes’ and ‘universities should become more flexible in providing for business demand.’ To make this possible, universities will compete for funding ‘with the winners being those universities who can best respond to these evolving economic changes’.

Higher education is to become a marketplace, and it’s not students who are the customers. Instead, it is business that will shop around for the best ‘partners’. Business is to use the university system to dump its training costs onto first the government and then, through the loans system, onto its own workers. Instead of apprenticeships and in house training, which made it harder to sack expensively trained workers, industry instead gets to design training programmes to be delivered by what’s left of higher education and gets highly indebted and cheaper workers in return. People desperate to pay off student loans cause less trouble, and constant training and retraining, paid for by workers themselves, makes jobs even less secure than they already are. The attack on pay and conditions is not just about cutting costs, it’s about providing an opportunity to break national pay agreements and get ‘flexible’ teaching staff who deliver, cheaply, the online and evening courses that business is already demanding. This is not about new opportunities and ‘lifelong learning’, the savage cuts in existing adult education since 2005 prove this. This is a brazen attack on the independence of education and yet another gift of public money to the private sector. 

This long term programme by the government has met with great resistance. The 2005-2006 strike mobilised many thousands of workers despite the usual sell out union deal. Campaigns like SAFE (Save Adult Further Education) in Liverpool have managed to stop some cuts in adult education and save courses that enrich many people’s lives. More recently, strike ballots at Leeds university and campaigns and occupations against cuts across the country have challenged management’s right to drop the axe.

Much more is needed though. A national response, uniting teachers, support staff and students into one campaign prepared to strike and take direct action is needed. This can only be built by the grassroots – the unions will not challenge government in this way, as previous disputes have shown, and are already collaborating on ‘voluntary’ redundancy schemes. Campaigns against cuts in Sussex, Leeds, London, Liverpool and elsewhere have made a useful start, but more is needed. This is a major assault against the working class in this country. It needs a major response. – occupied London university. – info on resistance to cuts in adult education. – resisting cuts at Sussex University.

Doesn’t the ‘Big Freeze’ disprove climate change?

For climate change sceptics, the “Big Freeze” was something of a gift.  The prolonged cold snap gave many a platform to argue that the prevailing theories about human activity causing climate change are false. Their argument was simple enough – if the world is getting warmer, how do you explain what’s going on outside your window?

The best (worst?) example of this was plastered across the front page of the Daily Express on the 6th of January. The paper dropped any pretence of “objectivity”, with its leading story starting “As one of the worst winters in 100 years grips the country, climate experts are still trying to claim the world is growing warmer.”  The Telegraph and Mail published similar stories. Meanwhile, a Tory MP raised the apparent problems created for the scientific consensus on climate change by the weather.

The problems are pretty obvious. Science is based on the extrapolation of trends from events, not the interpretation of single events. Cold snaps are as much a part of the natural variation of weather patterns as heat waves. What makes more sense is to look at developments over a length of time – the fact that the past decade has been the warmest on record, for instance, or the demonstrable increase in the world’s temperature in recent history.

But the right-wing anti-environmentalist lobby isn’t concerned with science, but with ideology. It is about providing excuses for continuing business as usual. Ironically, they don’t have much to worry about – a government which harms its own economy to the benefit of the environment won’t last long in the face of capital flight and pressure from private power, and it’s not surprising that the recent Copenhagen climate change conference came up with no solutions to the looming threat to our species. That threat demands radical solutions which can’t co-exist with the capitalist system.

Evictions resisted in east Jerusalem

“On 2 August 2009, following a recent court decision, 53 people, including 20 children, from the refugee community (the Hanoun and Al Ghawi families) were forcibly evicted and their homes handed over to a settler organization by the Israeli authorities. The families’ personal belongings were loaded on a truck and dumped on the street close to UNRWA’s headquarters. During the eviction and subsequent demonstrations 13 people sustained injuries and over 35 people were arrested and detained. With no alternative residences, the families have camped out on the street in front of their homes. Their appeal to overturn the eviction before the District Court was rejected on 9 August.”(1)
“Early on Sunday August 2nd, more than 200 armed police smashed our windows, barged into our house and threw us out. They said we were living in the house illegally because Jews owned the land upon which our homes were built- over a hundred years ago. But, immediately after we were forced out, extremist settlers took over and occupied our home. They are still there now. My wife, children and I have spent the past seven days and nights in the streets, and there is no end for us in sight. Overnight, we were made homeless. I hope you can help us seek the justice denied to us.” (2)
Ever since the latest in a series of blatant Israeli land-grabs in East Jerusalem took place, ordinary people on both sides of the apartheid wall have been mobilising, both to assist the evicted families and to show their disgust at the policies of the racist Israeli state. On the Israeli side alone, groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights, Gush Shalom, Ta’ayush, Bat Shalom, Coalition of Women for Peace, Combatants for Peace, Yesh Gvul, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Anarchists Against the Wall have all taken part in demonstrations of solidarity with the evicted families, who are now sleeping on the streets outside their former homes and subject to constant harrassment and abuse from the settlers now living in their homes.

These civil society organizations and popular movements, on both sides of the wall, are now calling for a weekly march under the title “Standup for Jerusalem”, with the aim of creating international and local solidarity against the Israeli occupation’s policies in occupied East Jerusalem. These marches take place every Friday and protestors are regularly beaten, arrested and banned from the area. Does this stop them returning and showing their solidarity with the evicted families all over again? Course not!

In recent years, Israel has displaced thousands of Palestinians through home demolitions and forced evictions and plans are already afoot to evict thousands more:
“From January to July 2009, at least 194 people, including 95 children, were forcibly displaced, and another 107, including 46 children, otherwise affected as a result of house demolitions ordered or carried out by the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem. According to conservative estimates, there are currently over 1,500 pending demolition orders in East Jerusalem alone, potentially affecting several thousand Palestinian residents.” (3)

(1) United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the occupied Palestinian Territory: SHEIKH JARRAH  August 2009
(2) “A Letter To The Israeli People” Maher Hannoun. 9th August 2009
(3) UN OCHA ibid

Solidarity with Mindaugus Lenartavicius

G20 protester Mindaugus Lenartavicius was jailed for 2 years for his part in the storming of  The Royal Bank of Scotland during the anti-G20 demonstrations. As this sentence is longer than 12 months as soon as he is released he will be deported from the U.K. back to Lithuania. Mindaugus was charged with and found guilty of arson at the RBS in London, although even the prosecutor admitted the results were only singed blinds and some scorching to the ceiling of the building in Threadneedle Street. The judge took the view that arson was a serious matter and that Mindaugus had helped turn a peaceful protest into a violent one. Mindaugus had  come over to the U.K. a few days before
the protests and had been staying in a squat in Palmers Green, he does not see himself as a violent man and is described as a pacifist by those who know him. He has served nine months and is due out in three months having served 1 year of his 2 year sentence.

Mindaugus feels very hard done to by the British judicial system. The barrister who represented him was of little use and he feels that they were there just to claim their fees without helping him at all. In fact, during the procedings his solicitor passed him on to someone else and went on to take another case. The only thing Mindaugus has
had in his favour is that the charges were reduced from an original accusation of “being reckless as to whether life was endangered”. He was cleared of this at an earlier hearing.

Mindaugus is going to fight his deportation and is looking for help in this. He feels he has been harshly treated and has received a draconian sentence.

Derbyshire police’s new approach to antisocial behaviour

It’s always good to keep an eye on what the boys in blue are up to, so here’s a story from Derbyshire giving a glimpse into what they get up to when off-duty. Detective Inspector Gary Tomlinson, the former head of Derbyshire Special Branch, was getting a taxi back from a night out on the town celebrating an imminent promotion to Chief Inspector when the taxi driver, Mohammed Anwar, pointed out that the fare he’d given was 90p short. At that point, Mr Anwar reported, Detective Inspector Tomlinson told him “I am a police officer and I am going to do you”, adding that he was a “lying Paki bastard.” When the case came to court in January, he was cleared of racially abusing the taxi driver but found guilty of using threatening words and behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The promotion has now been cancelled and his job is on the line, but the court only ordered him to pay £250 prosecution costs and gave him a conditional discharge – some cynics might wonder whether an ordinary drunken racist thug would have got off so lightly, or if his position may have influenced the judge in his favour somewhat.

The Anarchist Federation: