Solidarity with the Belgrade 6 - trial begins 16th June 2010

Solidarity with the Belgrade 6 – trial begins 16th June 2010

Solidarity with the Belgrade 6! Trial on 16th June 2010!

On 24-25 August 2009 the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia was defaced in solidarity with Todiris Iliopulos who was imprisoned in Greece and was on hunger strike. There was minor damage to the outside of the embassy building. Even though responsibility was claimed by another group entirely, in September four members of the Anarchosyndicalist Initiative (ASI, the Serbian section of the International Workers’ Association) and two others were arrested without warrants. They were held without charge for 3 months and then finally charged with “international terrorism”, the first time this charge was ever used in Serbia.

The Belgrade 6 spent the next five and a half months in terrible conditions of isolation and torture in the Central Prison in Belgrade. But hard work by other comrades in the Balkans, combined with impressive international protest by libertarian groups and public disquiet about the use of the new law resulted in their release on bail in February 2010. At the first hearing on 17 February, that more than 200 people from Serbia and elsewhere attempted to attend, the court released them to continue their defence outside of prison.

It is important to know that during the detention of the Belgrade 6, three supporters from another ASI local were arrested in Vršac for putting up posters with the words “Freedom for arrested anarchists”. Two other comrades from outside Serbia were arrested while supporting the Belgrade 6 during the trial, for handing out a leaflet saying “Anarchism is not terrorism”, and had their travel papers seized. Also the authorities tried to close down an art show featuring one of the Belgrade 6. After the defeat of the frst hearing the right-wing decided to use alternative forms of repression and intimidation against ASI. In early March 2010 fascist posters saying “Know your neighborhood! Know the enemies of Serbia” appeared near the entrance of a tower block where one of the Belgrade 6 lives. The poster told lies about ASI and said “if a corrupt court will not judge them, there are those who will” and “We know where you live, we know when you sleep”.

A second hearing took place on 23 March. Under the threat of another month of delay the defendants were forced to participate in the second hearing without a public presence. Only on the day of the trial were they were told that the charge of “international terrorism” would be dropped to one of “endangering public safety”. The charge is still serious as it is the same charge given to nationalists who set fire to the American embassy against U.S. support for Kosovo’s declaration of independence, in which one person died. The minimum prison sentence is 6 months and the maximum is 13 years.

On 16 June 2010, the last hearing of the Belgrade 6 will take place.

The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA) supports the call for demonstrations leading up to the trial. From the beginning the charge of “international terrorism” and the political show trial was most clearly another act of repression against ASI who are opposing the ultra-conservatives and nationalists and supporting workers’ unrest in Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans, like Greece. Protests have been banned in downtown Belgrade, as the authorities seek to control workers’ unrest. The Belgrade Pride parade was also banned. Members of ASI supported that parade. We see that political convictions are enough to get anarchists locked up, to face the most serious of charges.

It is important to attract more attention to this case and build support for the comrades of ASI-IWA before 16 June. We urge all libertarians to organise and support demonstrations and actions in support of the Belgrade 6, and their supporters who were arrested or had travel papers seized, and to keep up to date by reading the website http://belgradesolidarity.org/

Against repression. For anarchism,

Anarchist Federation (AF), Britain

Fédération Anarchiste (FA), France & Belgium

Member federations of The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA)

http://www.iaf-ifa.org

http://www.i-f-a.org

Pending approval (all expected shortly) from:

Federación Libertaria Argentina (FLA), Argentina

Фэдэрацыі анархістаў Беларусі – Anarchist Federation of Belarus (ФАБ / FAB), Беларусь/Belarus

Anarchist Federation (AF), Britain

Федерация на анархистите в България – Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria (ФАБ / FAB), България/Bulgaria

Ceskoslovenská Anarchistická Federácia (CSAF), Czech-Slovak

Fédération Anarchiste (FA), France & Belgium

Föderation deutschsprachiger AnarchistInnen (FdA), Germany & Switzerland

Federazione Anarchica Italiana (FAI), Italy

Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI), Spain & Portugal

Update (16/6/10) – The Belgrade Six were found not guilty of all charges today.  One of the six, Ratibor, said:

“All the charges against us are dropped now. The presiding judge shortly explained that the ruling is “based on law, and not politics” (which is indirect admitting that the whole process from the start was politically motivated, and not rutted in facts), and that there are no proofs to confirm that we were engaged in “helping and abetting” (comrade Tadej and I) and “creating of public danger” (companera Sanja and comrades Ivan S, Nikola and Ivan V). The Prosecutor has 8 days to file a complaint, but judging by the public reactions and huge media coverage of the case and ruling we don’t expect to have the verdict overturned on the higher court. Now our focus is on getting tree comrades from ASI Vrsac freed from charges of “Obstruction of Justice” for putting up the posters with “Free arrested anarchist” tittle, and getting passport back to Croatian anarcho-syndicalist comrade who is kept in Serbia for 4 months. Croatian comrade is held here by the Court, with the same charge as Vrsac comrades, for having a peace of paper with “Anarchism is not terrorism” tittle in the hole of the Court on our first public hearing on 17th of February, when we were released from the investigation prison – after almost six months spent in unbelievable conditions.”