AF blogs

State

Thursday, 16 August 2012 17:59
Attention: open in a new window. Print

Anarchists Detained by Counter-Terrorist Police on Return from Swiss Conference [plus French, Spanish, German, Italian translations]

For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across Europe have been converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering (8th-12th August 2012) took the form of a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as workshops and discussions.

On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow by SO15 (counter-terrorist) police. During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and passports and took information from phones and cameras.

During the detention, the police constantly accused the anarchists of lying about involvement in criminal activity and alleged that they would be conducting follow-up police action against one of the detained anarchists. In addition to this, SO15 officers asked a number of inflammatory, irrelevant and offensive questions, including ‘what would you do if someone raped your mother?’ evidently in an attempt to cause emotional upset and illicit angry or violent responses. One member (28) who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the police, said "We were treated like criminals. I told them I went to the congress as I am an amateur journalist and I write articles about activism. They saw my note book, camera and Dictaphone but they said I was lying. One officer said 'You said you are an anarchist, I've seen anarchists on the news, they are violent, throw molotov cocktails and disrupt people’s lives not write articles'".

The counter terrorist officers either didn't know or chose to ignore that, during the first day of the gathering, the International of Anarchist Federations (Of which the UK Anarchist Federation is a member) had issued a statement rejecting all terrorist tactics as a means of achieving an anarchist society.

In contrast to the actions of the UK security forces, the local press and residents in St. Imier reported very positively on the anarchist gathering.

With this incident, we are seeing a further slide towards political policing and the criminalisation of political ideologies. The two detained anarchists have not had any involvement in any illegal or violent activity, or any activity that would concern the counter-terrorist police. As in the past, when Metropolitan police called on people to give information about local anarchists ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), anarchists suffered harassment for their political viewpoint.

As class-struggle anarchists, we believe that the state does little except serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. This is seen clearly when people who hold views critical of the state are treated as criminals and terrorists. We seek to create a classless society, based on freedom, equality and co-operation. We believe in the capacity of ordinary people to run society themselves, without the interference of bosses or politicians. This incident was not in response to any crime and constitutes repression and criminalisation of a political ideology.

Editors Notes:

Anarchism is a political philosophy that seeks to build an egalitarian society in which mutual aid, co-operation and direct democracy replace capitalism and the state.

The St Imier Congress was a gathering of anarchists from all over the world to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first international anarchist gathering in the Swiss town of St Imier in 1872.

The Anarchist Federation is a federation of class struggle anarchist-communists in the UK who seek to build an egalitarian society.

---

French translation

Anarchistes détenu-es par la police anti-terroriste à leur retour d'une conférence en Suisse

La semaine dernière, des milliers d'anarchistes de toute l'Europe ont convergé à St Imier en Suisse pour célébrer le 140ème anniversaire de la création de l'Internationale anarchiste. Cette rencontre a pris la forme d'un festival et d'une conférence, avec de la musique, des films et des divertissements aussi bien que des ateliers et des débats.

A leur retour de St Imier, deux anarchistes, l'un-e d'entre elles-eux membre de la Fédération Anarchiste du Royaume-Uni, ont été détenu-es pendant près de deux heures à l'aéroport d'Heathrow par la police SO15 (anti-terroriste). Durant leur détention, les anarchistes ont été informé-es que leurs droits n'étaient exceptionnellement pas applicables et ont du donner leur nom, adresse, adresses email, ADN et empreintes digitales. Les anarchistes détenu-es ont également été contraint-es de signer des formulaires -dont la valeur légale est incertaine- dans lesquels ils-elles renonçaient à leur droit à garder le silence et à un avocat. La police a également effectué une fouille complète de leurs effets personnels, a photocopié leur passeport et la propagande qu'ils-elles transportaient et a copié l'information de leurs téléphones et de leurs appareils photo.

Durant la détention, la police les a constamment accusé de mentir et d'avoir pris part à des activités criminelles et ont prétendu qu'ils allaient poursuivre l'enquête au sujet d'un-e des anarchistes détenu-es. De plus, les agents SO15 ont posé un certain nombre de questions provocatrices, insultantes et sans aucun rapport, y compris 'que feriez-vous si quelqu'un violait votre mère?', une tentative évidente de causer un tort émotionnel et de solliciter une réaction violente ou hostile. L'un-e des membres (28 ans) qui n'a pas souhaité être nommé-e par peur de représailles de la police, a déclaré “Nous avons été traité-es comme des criminel-les. Je leur ai dit que j'étais allé-e au congrès en tant que journaliste amateur-trice et que j'écrivais des articles sur le militantisme. Ils ont vu mon carnet de notes, mon appareil photo et mon dictaphone mais ils ont dit que je mentais. Un officier a dit “vous dites être anarchiste, j'ai vu des anarchistes aux infos: ils-elles sont violent-es, jettent des cocktails molotov et dérangent la vie des gens, elles-ils n'écrivent pas d'articles.””.

Les agents anti-terroristes ignoraient, ou on décidé d'ignorer le fait que le premier jour du congrès, l'Internationale des Fédérations Anarchistes (dont la Fédération Anarchiste britannique est membre) a fait une déclaration rejetant toute tactique terroriste comme moyen de parvenir à une société anarchiste.

Contrairement aux actions des forces de sécurité britanniques, la presse locale et les habitant-es de St Imier ont fait un bilan très positif des rencontres anarchistes.

A travers cet incident, nous constatons une nouvelle dérive vers une criminalisation des idéologies politiques au Royaume-Uni. Les deux anarchistes détenu-es n'ont jamais été impliqué-es dans des actions illégales ou violentes, ou aucune action qui relèverait de la police anti-terroriste. Comme par le passé, lorsque la police métropolitaine de Londres avait appelé à la dénonciation des anarchistes ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), les anarchistes sont harcelé-es sur la base de leurs idées politiques.

En tant qu'anarchistes de lutte de classe, nous pensons que l'état sert les intérêts des riches et des puissant-es au détriment des intérêts des gens ordinaires. On le voit de façon très claire lorsque des gens critiques de l'état sont traitées comme des terroristes et des criminel-les. Nous voulons une société sans classe, fondée sur la liberté, l'égalité et la coopération. Nous croyons en la capacité des gens ordinaires à gérer la société eux-elles-même, sans interférence des patron-nes et des politicien-nes. Cet incident n'était pas en réaction à un crime quelconque et constitue un acte de répression et de criminalisation d'une idéologie politique.

---

Spanish translation

Dos anarquistas que regresan al Reino Unido de una conferencia en Suiza, fueron detenidos, se les negó un abogado e interrogados por agentes de lucha contra el terrorismo.

Durante la semana pasada, miles de anarquistas de todo el mundo han ido convergiendo en St.Imier, Suiza, para celebrar el 140 aniversario de la fundación de la Internacional Anarquista. La reunión tomó forma de un festival con música, películas y entretenimiento, así como talleres y debates.
Al regresar de la reunión de San Imier, dos anarquistas, una miembro de la Federación Anarquista de Reino Unido, fueron detenidos durante casi dos horas en Heathrow por el SO15 (antiterrorista) de inteligencia que en un principio se negaron a identificarse a los detenidos. Durante la detención, los anarquistas se les dijo que sus derechos normales no se aplicaban, y tenían sus nombres, direcciones, direcciones de correo electrónico, ADN, fotografías y huellas dactilares tomadas. Los anarquistas detenidos fueron obligados a firmar los formularios - que puede o puede no ser legal - renuncia a sus derechos a guardar silencio y un procurador. La policía también llevó a cabo una búsqueda minuciosa de sus pertenencias personales, la literatura fotocopiada y pasaportes y se llevó la información de los teléfonos y cámaras.

Durante la detención, la policía acusó a los anarquistas constantemente de mentir acerca de la participación en actividades delictivas y alegaron que se llevaría a cabo una acción de seguimiento policial en contra de uno de los anarquistas detenidos. Además de esto, SO15 oficiales pidieron una serie de preguntas inflamatorias, irrelevantes y ofensivas, incluyendo "¿Qué harías si alguien violó a tu madre?" Evidentemente, en un intento de provocar respuestas emocionales de ira o malestar violentos e ilegales. Uno de los miembros (28) que no quiso ser identificado por temor a represalias de la policía, dijo: "Nos trataron como delincuentes. Yo les dije que fui al congreso ya que soy un periodista aficionado, y escribo artículos sobre activismo. Ellos vieron mi cuaderno de notas, cámara y dictáfono, pero me dijeron que estaba mintiendo. ", Dijo un oficial-Usted dijo que usted es un anarquista, he visto a los anarquistas en las noticias, que son violentos, lanzar cócteles molotov y perturbar la vida de la gente no escribe artículos ".

Los oficiales de lucha contra el terrorismo, o bien no sabía o prefirió ignorar que, durante el primer día de la reunión, la Internacional de Federaciones Anarquistas (del cual el Reino Unido Federación Anarquista es miembro) había emitido una declaración rechazando todas las tácticas terroristas como medio de lograr una sociedad anarquista.

En contraste con las acciones de las fuerzas de seguridad del Reino Unido, la prensa local y los residentes en St.Imier informó de manera muy positiva en la reunión anarquista.

Con este incidente, estamos viendo una diapositiva más hacia la política policial y la criminalización de las ideologías políticas. Los dos anarquistas detenidos no han tenido ninguna participación en ninguna actividad ilegal o violenta, o cualquier actividad que se referiría a la policía contra el terrorismo. Al igual que en el pasado, cuando la policía metropolitana hicieron un llamamiento a la gente a dar información acerca de los anarquistas locales (Anarquistas deben ser reportados, informa Westminster policía antiterrorista | Reino Unido Noticias | The Guardian), los anarquistas sufrieron el acoso de su punto de vista político.

Como anarquistas de lucha de clases, creemos que el estado hace muy poco, excepto servir a los intereses de los ricos y poderosos a expensas de la gente común. Esto se ve claramente cuando las personas que tienen puntos de vista crítico de la situación son tratados como criminales y terroristas. Buscamos crear una sociedad sin clases, basada en la libertad, la igualdad y la cooperación. Creemos en la capacidad de la gente común para ejecutar la sociedad a sí mismos, sin la interferencia de los jefes o los políticos. Este incidente no fue en respuesta a un crimen y constituye la represión y la criminalización de una ideología política.

---

German translation

englische anarchist innen nach rückkehr aus saint-imier in heathrow vorübergehend inhaftiert

während der letzen woche kamen tausende anarchist_innen aus europa in saint-Imier, schweiz, zusammen, um das 140. jubiläum der gründung der anarchistischen internationalen zu feiern. das treffen hatte die form eines festivals und einer bildungsveranstaltung mit musik, filmen, unterhaltung, ebenso mit workshops und diskussionen.

bei der rückkehr vom treffen in saint-imier wurden zwei anarchist_innen, einer von ihnen ist mitglied der anarchistischen föderation großbritannien, für nahezu zwei stunden am londoner flughafen heathrow vom so15 (terrorismusbekämpfung) in gewahrsam genommen. während der ingewahrsamnahme wurde den anarchist_innen gesagt, dass ihre normalen rechte keine gültigkeit hätten. ihre namen, adressen, emailadressen, dna und fingerabdrücke wurden genommen. die in gewahrsam genommenen anarchist_innen wurden auch gezwungen, verzichtserklärungen zu unterschreiben – legal oder nicht legal – betreffend ihr recht zu schweigen und ihr recht auf einen rechtsbeistand. die polizei führte auch eine gründliche durchsuchung des persönlichen besitzes durch, fotokopierte literatur und ausweise und entnahm informationen von telefonen und kameras.

während der ingewahrsamnahme beschuldigte die polizei ständig die anarchist_innen zu lügen in bezug auf ihre beteiligung an kriminellen aktivitäten und behauptete, dass sie weitere polizeiaktionen gegen eine_n der in gewahrsam genommenen anarchist_innen durchführen würden. zusätzlich stellten so15-offizier_innen eine reihe von provokanten, irrelevanten und beleidigenden fragen, einschließlich „was würden sie tun, wenn jemand ihre mutter vergewaltigen würde?“. augenscheinlich taten sie dies, um einen gefühlsausbruch und strafbare, wütende oder gewalttätige antworten zu provozieren. ein mitglied (28), das aus angst vor polizeirepressionen nicht namentlich genannt werden möchte, sagte: „wir wurden wie kriminelle behandelt. ich sagte ihnen, dass ich zum kongress ging, weil ich amateurjournalist bin und artikel über aktivismus schreibe. sie sahen mein notebook, meine kamera und mein diktiergerät, aber sie sagten, ich würde lügen. ein_e offizier_in sagte: „sie sagten, dass sie ein_e anarchist_in seien. ich habe anarchist_innen in den nachrichten gesehen. sie sind gewalttätig, werfen molotovcocktails und stören den alltag der leute. sie schreiben keine artikel.“

die terrorismusbekämpfungsoffizier_innen wussten nichts davon oder entschieden sich dazu es zu ignorieren, dass während des ersten tages des treffens, die internationale der anarchistischen föderationen (bei der die anarchistische förderation großbritannien mitglied ist) eine stellungnahme veröffentlicht hatten, die alle terroristischen taktiken, um eine anarchistische gesellschaft zu erreichen, ablehnt.

im gegensatz zu den britischen sicherheitskräften berichteten die lokale presse und die einwohner_innen von saint-imier sehr positiv über das anarchistische treffen.

mit diesem zwischenfall sehen wir einen weiteren ruck richtung politischer polizeiarbeit und der kriminalisierung politischer weltanschauungen. die zwei in gewahrsam genommenen anarchist_innen waren nie in irgendeine illegale oder gewalttätige aktion involviert oder in irgendeine aktion, die die terrorabwehr betreffen würde.

wie in der vergangenheit, als die londoner polizei die menschen dazu aufrief, informationen über örtliche anarchist_innen weiterzugeben ( „anarchist_innen sollten gemeldet werden, ermahnt die westminster antiterrorpolizei“ | uk news | the guardian ), erlitten anarchist_innen schikane für ihre politische überzeugung.

als klassenkämpferische anarchist_innen glauben wir, dass der staat wenig tut, außer den interessen der reichen und mächtigen zu dienen auf kosten der normalen leute. dies tritt klar zu tage, wenn menschen, die kritische ansichten in bezug auf den staat vertreten, wie kriminelle und terrorist_innen behandelt werden. wir wollen eine klassenlose gesellschaft schaffen, die auf freiheit, gleichheit und kooperation basiert. wir glauben an die fähigkeit der normalen leute, die gesellschaft selbst zu verwalten ohne die einmischung durch bosse und politiker_innen. dieser zwischenfall war keine reaktion auf irgendein verbrechen. er zeigt die unterdrückung und kriminalisierung einer politischen überzeugung.

anmerkungen:

anarchsimus ist eine politische philisophie, die versucht eine gesellschaft der gleichen, in der gegenseitige hilfe, kooperation, und direkte demokratie den kapitalismus und den staat ablösen, zu errichten.

der kongress in saint-imier war ein treffen von anarchist_innen aus der ganzen welt, um das 140. jubiläum des ersten treffens der anarchistischen internationalen in der schweizer stadt saint-imier im jahr 1872 zu feiern.

die anarchistische föderation ist eine föderation von anarcho-kommunist_innen in großbritannien, die eine gesellschaft der gleichen errichten will.

---

Italian translation

Anarchici detenuti dalla polizia anti-terrorismo di ritorno da una Conferenza in Svizzera

Per tutta la scorsa settimana, migliaia di anarchici provenienti da tutta Europa si sono incontrati a Saint-Imier, Svizzera, per celebrare il 140esimo anniversario dell’Internazionale Antiautoritaria. L’incontro ha preso la forma di un festival, con musica, film e intrattenimento accanto a seminari, assemblee e tavoli di discussione.

Di ritorno dall’incontro di Saint-Imier, due anarchici, uno dei quali membro dell’Anarchist Federation (UK), sono stati detenuti per circa due ore all’aeroporto londinese di Heathrow dalla SO15, la polizia antiterrorismo inglese. Nel corso della detenzione, agli anarchici è stato comunicato che i loro normali diritti erano sospesi e gli sono stati presi i nomi, gli indirizzi, i contatti email, il DNA e le impronte digitali. I detenuti sono stati anche obbligati a firmare dei moduli – cosa che può o meno essere legale – di rinuncia dei loro diritti all’avvocato e della facoltà di non rispondere. La polizia ha anche effettuato una perquisizione approfondita dei beni dei compagni, di testi fotocopiati e dei loro passaporti e ha preso informazioni da telefoni cellulari e fotocamere.

Durante la detenzione, la polizia ha accusato costantemente gli anarchici di mentire riguardo al loro coinvolgimento in attività criminali e ha affermato che avrebbe svolto in seguito un’azione di polizia nei confronti di uno dei due anarchici arrestati. In aggiunta a ciò, gli agenti dell’SO15 hanno fatto alcune domande infamanti, irrilevanti e offensive, incluso «Cosa faresti se qualcuno ti violentasse la madre?», in un tentativo evidente di causare sconvolgimenti emotivi e scoppi di rabbia o reazioni violente. Uno dei due compagni (28), che non vuole essere citato per timore di rappresaglie da parte della polizia, ha dichiarato: «Siamo stati trattati come criminali. Ho detto loro che ero andato al congresso dal momento che scrivo articoli sull’attivismo sociale e politico.

Hanno visto il mio notebook, la mia videocamera e il Dittafono ma hanno detto che stavo mentendo. Un ufficiale mi ha detto: “Hai detto che sei un anarchico. Ho visto gli anarchici ai telegiornali: sono violenti, lanciano molotov e rovinano la vita delle persone, non scrivono articoli”.»

Gli agenti antiterrorismo o non sapevano o hanno scelto di ignorare, tuttavia, che durante il primo giorno dell’incontro a Saint-Imier, l’Internazionale delle Federazioni Anarchiche (della quale l’Anarchist Federation UK è membro) aveva rilasciato una dichiarazione rifiutanto qualunque tattica terroristica come mezzo per la realizzazione di una società anarchica.

A differenza delle azioni repressive perpetrate dalla polizia inglese, l’incontro anarchico è stato accolto positivamente dalla popolazione di Saint-Imier e dalla stampa locale.

Con questo incidente, siamo di fronte ad un ulteriore slittamento verso politiche securitarie e la criminalizzazione delle ideologie politiche. I due anarchici arrestati non hanno avuto mai alcun coinvolgimento in attività violente o illegali, o in attività che debbano coinvolgere le forze antiterrorismo. Come nel passato, quando la polizia metropolitana ha invitato le persone alla delazione e a fornire informazioni sugli anarchici locali ( che devono essere segnalati, ricorda la polizia antiterrorismo di Westminster, Uk News, The Guardian ), questi hanno subito vessazioni per le loro idee politiche.

Come anarchici, sostenitori della lotta di classe, crediamo che lo stato faccia ben poco se non servire gli interessi dei ricchi e dei potenti alle spese della gente comune. Lo si vede chiaramente quando persone che hanno una visione critica dello stato sono trattate come criminali e terroristi. Noi cerchiamo di creare una società senza classi, basata sulla libertà, l’eguaglianza e la cooperazione. Crediamo nella capacità di tutti e tutte di gestire la società da noi, senza l’interferenza di padroni o politici. Questo incidente non era in risposta a un crimine e costituisce un atto di repressione e criminalizzazione di un’ideologia politica.

Note editoriali:

L’anarchismo è una filosofia politica che cerca di costruire una società egalitaria in cui il mutuo aiuto, la cooperazione e la democrazia diretta rimpiazzino il capitalismo e lo stato.

Il Congresso di Saint-Imier è stato un incontro di anarchici e anarchiche da tutto il mondo per celebrare il 140esimo anniversario della prima internazionale antiautoritaria tenutosi nella cittadina svizzera nel 1872.

L’Anarchist Federation è una federazione di anarchici inglesi per il comunismo libertario e per la lotta di classe che mira a costruire una società di libere ed uguali.

---

With thanks for the translations from IFA federations and friends, and alsoi for recently received solidarity statements from organisations including the Solidarity Federation-IWA in Britain, Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) in the USA and the Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes (CGA, Anarchist Group Coordination) in France.

StateWatch have kindly done a follow-up investigation which contains some important new info,'Police use anti-terror powers to detain anarchists on return from conference in Switzerland': http://www.statewatch.org/news/2012/aug/08uk-arrest-of-anarchists.html

---

http://www.afed.org.uk

Monday, 21 May 2012 21:59
Attention: open in a new window. Print

Her Majesty’s Pleasure*? Stuff that!

A noise demo to show solidarity with prisoners at HMP Brixton, because frankly we don’t feel like celebrating 60 years of having a queen, especially a queen who takes pleasure from imprisoning our mates, comrades, and other fellow human beings. What kind of a sick mind takes pleasure from locking people up in prison? Prisons destroy people. They destroy families, friendships, and communities too. Putting somebody in prison is an act of violence which contributes nothing real or positive and only brutalises those who are already struggling.

We don’t believe that prison is the answer to any question we have ever asked.

We want to show the people inside HMP Brixton that they are not alone, that they are not forgotten, that queen Liz and her government have not succeeding in hiding them away from us, that we support them and give a shit about them. That we think prison is a crime.

So, please join us on 5th June, part of the so-called “jubilee weekend” for a noisy and spirited demo at HMP Brixton. We’ll meet outside Brixton underground station at 3pm to walk up to the prison together. Please bring things to make noise with, your mates, and your righteous rage.

Organised by London ABC, who can be contacted

c/o Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX

or via our website at London Anarchist Black Cross | a prisoner support group

(* her majesty’s pleasure is the phrase used when someone is sentenced to prison, eg. you will serve 20 years at her majesty’s pleasure. Prisons in the UK are formally known as Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP).)

Noise Demo at HMP Brixton – 5th June | London Anarchist Black Cross

Saturday, 19 May 2012 12:41
Attention: open in a new window. Print

On the 11th of May Roberto Adinolfi, CEO of an Italian state controlled nuclear engineering company, was shot and wounded. A cell of the insurrectionist Informal Anarchist Federation have claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying that it was an act of vengeance for deaths and environmental damage caused by the nuclear industry. Previous acts claimed by Informal Anarchist Federation cells include sending a letter bomb to the Italian tax collection office, almost blinding a worker at the office1 and risking the lives of the postal and clerical workers who unwittingly carried the bomb.

Although it adopts the same initials as our affiliated Anarchist Federation in Italy, the Informal Anarchist Federation has no affiliation whatsoever with them or with us. It is an entirely separate entity, and we consider its adopting of the same initials as a pre-existing anarchist group to be, at best, confusing and ill-judged, and at worst malicious. Whether or not the Informal Anarchist Federation intended that their actions would be associated with the Italian Anarchist Federation and other members of the International of Anarchist Federations, these organisations have now been mentioned in press reports relating to the actions of the Informals, and so we now feel it necessary that we, the UK Anarchist Federation, make our position on their actions clear.

In our aims and principles, the Anarchist Federation states that “It is not possible to abolish Capitalism without a revolution, which will arise out of class conflict. The ruling class must be completely overthrown to achieve anarchist communism. Because the ruling class will not relinquish power without their use of armed force, this revolution will be a time of violence as well as liberation”. We are not a pacifist organisation and do not condemn insurrection itself or all insurrectionist tactics; however, as Anarchist Communists we strongly criticise individualist and vanguardist tactics that do not come out of a broad-based class struggle movement. We condemn actions that put workers in danger without their knowledge and consent, and we reject elitist statements, such as that made by the Informals, which consider the working class to be too ignorant and invested in Capitalism to be relevant to struggle.

Capitalism is, fundamentally, a social relationship; it can no more be harmed by small groups who are disconnected from the wider class struggle shooting individual bosses or sending bombs through the post than it can by passively marching from one place to another or consuming “ethical” commodities. Instead, the Anarchist Federation advocates organising with other working class people to take direct action for ourselves in order to both defend ourselves against attacks by capital and the state in our everyday lives and build a culture of resistance that can seriously challenge capitalism. As well as being tactically more effective than isolated acts of violence, organising in this way allows us a glimpse of a better world, free of exploitation, alienation and oppression. By acting collectively and making ourselves accountable to others, we prepare ourselves for a world where our whole lives are really under our own control.

 

The statement by the Informal Anarchist Federation can be found here

 

1 Correction: This statement makes reference to a worker at the tax office being injured, Although in other attacks workers have been injured, in this case the person who was injured was a leading official and the intended target of the attack. While the AF does not endorse the use of letter bombs in any way due to their indiscriminate nature, the original wording was misleading.

 

Monday, 07 May 2012 20:53
Attention: open in a new window. Print

On 1st May, as part of International Worker’s Day, Staines Anarchists embarked on an anti-workfare tour in Egham and Staines. Tesco, WHSmith, the Jobcentre and McDonald’s were all picketed for the part they play in the workfare schemes.
Several hundred leaflets detailing the nature of workfare were distributed and for the most part locals were interested to hear about what workfare involves and what it means for workers.

Many locals were surprised to hear that this kind of scheme, that often allows businesses free labour, takes place. One person commented, “Forced, unpaid work?! Sounds like slavery to me”.
But Mayday for Staines Anarchists wasn’t all work(fare) and no play. In the evening the group met up with other local activists for a Mayday celebration.

Photos at: stainesanarchists | Just another WordPress.com site

Saturday, 28 April 2012 14:16
Attention: open in a new window. Print

This blog was written by an AF member and originally posted here on LibCom as a response to this thread discussing the safer spaces policy at NYC Anarchist Bookfair.

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual violence

I didn't want to get into the conversation or to post on the thread in question. In the past eight months, I've had so many private and public discussions about sexual assault, and specifically assaults carried out within the radical left and perpetrated by (mostly, but not entirely) men who would call themselves comrades and indeed feminists, I felt too exhausted and apathetic to add my voice to the discussion. I disagreed with a lot of what was being said by good friends of mine, and I'd rather ignore it, and just go off on my holiday to NYC and forget about it.

I'd been in town for about 24 hours when I got to the anarchist bookfair. and one of the first people I saw there was a man who sexually assaulted a friend of mine. At this point I realised that discussions about safer spaces, sexual violence, and our response to these issues as a community aren't something I am going to be able to avoid any time soon. The shitty reality is that sexual assault, as well as sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, queerphobic and other socially conditioned, oppressive bullshit (intentional or not) is not unusual. As communists, we can all agree that this kind of behaviour is A Bad Thing, 1 but the disagreement comes when we're talking about what we do about it.

Disagreement came pretty quickly once someone reproduced a letter sent by the Safer Space2 team at the NYC Anarchist Bookfair. The letter read as follows (emphasis added):
Quote:

Hi [REDACTED].
I am writing to you on behalf of the 2012 NYC Anarchist Book fair Safe(r) Space Group to let you know that a request has been made that you not attend this year. The policy at the event, posted at Safer Space Policy / Norma Sobre el Espacio Seguro | anarchistbookfair.net, is in place to create a supportive, non-threatening environment for all. This means that anyone may be asked to not attend. No blame is placed, no decision is made, we simply ask that you not attend to prevent anyone from feeling unsafe.
We understand that being asked not to attend is not easy, and we don’t take it lightly. You may not know why you are being asked not to attend or who all is requesting this, or you may feel the situation is totally unfair. Our goal is not to decide right or wrong but to maintain safety at the fair. Some situations are gray and sometimes based on simple misunderstandings, but regardless of the reasons, no matter what your defense, we still ask that you not attend this years book fair. Not attending is not an admission of guilt. In fact, you not attending is a statement that you respect everyone’s safety at the fair and are taking a positive step to uphold that principle.
We also understand your need to know why you are being asked not to attend. However, the book fair is not the place to resolve conflict. Please, do not approach anyone at the fair who you think is responsible for the request that you not attend, or anyone that you think may have made this request before the fair. This violates our commitment to keeping everyone safe.
We realize that this email is formal. We chose to email you because we want to remain as neutral as possible in this position and situation, as well as to give you the space in which to process this request in whatever way is most comfortable and safe.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me. Again, do not contact anyone without their consent, especially any survivors. You can field all questions through me or I can put you in contact with other safer space members.
Thanks for helping us keep it safe,
[REDACTED]/ NYC Anarchist Bookfair Safer Space Team

Responses on the forum thread were initially negative, it was called “ridiculous”, “insane”, and was said to “give insight into a collective mental process that is fundamentally at odds with even the most basic notions of justice and reason”.
The main line of criticism seemed to me to be that the letter

* Doesn't detail allegations and could be confusing for the recipient
* Doesn't give the recipient a right to reply or provide their side of the story
* By providing anonymity to the person who requested the recipient be asked not to attend the bookfair, this letter paves the way for abuses of power and a slew of false allegations.

I don't think the letter is without fault, nor do I think that people objecting to it are apologists for sexual assault by default, and I'd like to make that quite clear. I decided to go and chat to the safer spaces team at the bookfair. They weren't some shadowy clique plotting people's downfall in a backroom somewhere, I met a few women sat at the very entrance to the main room, with a clear sign indicating who they were, and arm bands making them easily identifiable. They had formed a group called Support New York who are
Quote:

dedicated to healing the effects of sexual assault and abuse. Our aim is to meet the needs of the survivor, to hold accountable those who have perpetrated harm, and to maintain a larger dialogue within the community about consent, mutual aid, and our society’s narrow views of abuse. We came together in order to create our own safe(r) space and provide support for people of all genders, races, ages and orientations, separate from the police and prison systems that perpetuate these abuses

They were friendly and constructive, and gave me a whole load of resources about responding to sexual assault in radical communities, as well as email contacts, and the possibility of hosting some kind of workshop or talk in Scotland over the summer. They confirmed that the letters were sent out ahead of the NYC Anarchist Bookfair at the requests of survivors of (almost always) sexual or domestic violence.

Criticisms of the letter
I'm going to focus on the final criticism I outlined above, because I think the first two are fairly easily dealt with by noticing that a) the letter does not seek to publicly defame anyone, or limit their participation in anything other than the bookfair, and b) a contact name and email is provided, with an invitation to raise any questions or concerns. I agree this could be made clearer, and perhaps a hint at the kinds of processes the recipient may be able to engage in should they want to clear all of this up would be useful.

The letter isn't perfect, but nor is it the Inquisition, or particularly Kafkaesque – there's no trial, no never ending process, no anonymous unreachable state bureaucracy: it's a letter from a person with a name and an email address that welcomes a response, that asks someone to not go to a two-day event.

Onto false allegations then. It's clear from reading the responses to the letter that the fear of false allegations of rape strike a chord, and it's easy to see why. The rape culture we all live in is supported by a media that loves to go to town on rape allegations, and makes heroes of men accused of rape (Assange, Polanski... dare I say Tupac? Yes, yes I do). The vindictive, crazy woman who wrongly accuses an innocent man of rape and ruins his life is a long standing trope, rooted in misogynistic assumptions and rape myths, given another airing recently by Plan B on his last album. Even women whose rape allegations do make it through court are often disbelieved (for some more pop culture misogynistic vitriol, have a look at the #JusticeForChed hashtag on Twitter, or google “Free Mercston”).

So I can see why a letter like this makes people nervous, or worried that “if you say you have a principle of believing the accuser by default, and giving them anonymity, then that will encourage loads of false allegations.” Loads of false allegations that will then be made public and be used to irreparably damage innocent men's reputations. I find this conclusion both really problematic, and really unlikely.

Having said that, I can see why people might be worried about false allegations of sexual assault, but it frustrates me that this seems to be such a high priority when pro-active measures are taken to tackle sexual assault within the radical left. Because surely, by now, there is a better understanding of the kind of shit someone has to go through to make an allegation of sexual assault. False allegations of sexual assault are not common, for lots of reasons, and it would take a hell of a lot more than a small group of sympathetic radicals at a bookfair to change that.

Speaking out about domestic and sexual violence is really hard, and the majority of assaults go unreported – anyone who read any of the #ididnotreport hashtag on twitter3 a few months ago will have been moved by the sheer number of people having the same reasons for never telling anyone about sexual assault. Rapists and abusers are more often than not our friends, associates, even family members and lovers. Sexual assault can involve so much power-play and coercion the survivor can often be unclear about exactly what happened. A survivor will often blame themselves (after all, there's a whole society to back up the abuser when they tell you it's your fault, or that you enjoyed it, or that what they did was normal and acceptable, and that no one will believe you anyway). When people do disclose abuse, the pressure to self-censor, to not make a fuss, is fucking overwhelming. When you're trying to get through something that traumatic, the idea of having to constantly explain yourself, justify your actions and responses over and over again (but why didn't you punch him? Why did you sleep in the same bed afterwards? Why have you only said this a year later?), and to eventually face down your abuser and their supporters when they say you're full of shit and you can't prove anything anyway, that's enough to make you think very carefully indeed about speaking out.

And speaking out for what? If a survivor does go to the police, they're going to face all that shit and worse, plus the possible disapproval of comrades for getting the police involved in the first place. Worse still may be the police's response if you happen to be queer, trans, sex working, a drug user... Even if your case does get to court (maybe after an internal physical exam, after all your clothes have been taken in for DNA testing, after you've had to answer over again exactly how much you had to drink that night), the court is almost guaranteed to be a nightmare, your chances of securing a conviction are slim, and they'll probably be out in 2.5 years anyway. If you don't go to the police, there'll be another group of people who take that to mean you're making it up, and as far as I know in the UK, there are not many people in the radical left who are experienced or confident in facilitating accountability processes4.

I could say a lot more about how stressful and ultimately unrewarding speaking out about sexual assault is, but I hope you get the point I'm trying to make. There are so many barriers to speaking out, the idea that one small group of people sending a letter asking someone not to come to a bookfair would “encourage loads of false allegations” seems so many, many steps away from the situation we find ourselves in right now, where we as a movement are desperately ill equipped to respond to disclosures of sexual assault. I can only try to reassure you that this hypothetical day where your comrades who are the most likely to suffer sexual violence are so numerous and confident and powerful and supported enough to do damage with false allegations even if we wanted to (we don't) are a long way off – we can't even deal with really straightforward cases of assault. No one wants to make false allegations of sexual assault.

Beyond safer spaces: what do we do when..?
Drawing up a safer spaces policy for your event, organisation, or space is easy enough5, but deciding what happens when someone violates that agreement is clearly a controversial issue.

I don't think anyone has, yet, come up with a clear, easily replicated model for dealing with these issues in our communities and networks, and recent events over the last few years in the UK have lead to lots of positive, productive discussions about our collective response to sexual violence. This weekend I was at a national meeting for the Anarchist Federation, where both the women's and queer caucuses discussed a need to gather resources and think carefully about how these issues might be tackled in the future should they need to be; discussions about safe space and responses to it's violation have been going on in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London of late in response to various events including a gang rape at Occupy Glasgow.

We're all learning, none of us quite know what we're doing. Letters like the one sent out before the NYC Bookfair are not perfect, but if your main concern when you read it is that rape culture will be so powerfully overturned that women will not only start to speak out about sexual assault, but also make it up, your priorities are wrong. How many incidents of sexual assault and discriminatory behaviour within the radical left do you know about, and how many false allegations have you ever heard of?6 The real, immediate and fucking serious problem here is abuse. Maybe, just maybe, some false allegations might come about as a result of this. As I've said, I find this pretty unlikely, and I don't see how a letter like this would make dealing with false allegations any harder than it (hypothetically) would be already.

I'm not arguing for all responses to sexual violence and other oppressive and discriminatory behaviour to be beyond criticism or debate, but for those of us who live every day with the effects of past attacks on our bodies and autonomy, and continue to be in public spaces where we are confronted with our own abusers and those we know to have abused others, there's a certain urgency to this issue that (with all due respect) may not be felt by those who are not particularly vulnerable to discrimination and violence, or those whose involvement in radical politics does not involve a lot of face to face interaction.

In my experience, the kind of uncritical, DO SOMETHING!!!1!! responses I hear most often are along the lines of “why don't we just kick his head in?”, “cut his fucking balls off”, to the milder “why don't you just go public and make sure no one works with him again?”, or combinations of the above. Tempting as these may be, they don't solve anything. And besides, no one's head ever gets kicked in, and attempts to excommunicate people never quite seem to come off either. Our responses remain inadequate and abuse continues, often unchallenged.

At some point, we as a movement will hopefully grow beyond a relatively small network of people who all know someone who knows someone, and we might not be able to deal with these issues through mutual contacts and informal channels as we currently (ineffectively) do, and we are going to need to find ways to do this. So why are we wasting time thinking up hypothetical ways that something like this might possibly maybe be abused and then throwing the whole thing out, instead of thinking about how we might use this model or improve it to deal with issues we have all dealt with in our communities?

No one wants to talk about sexual violence, and even less people would be willing to mentor an abuser through any kind of accountability process, restorative justice, or any of the other models of dealing with abuse beyond the castration/excommunication model. There will no doubt be people who already knew, or inferred from the above that I have survived several incidents of sexual violence and would perhaps politely suggest that maybe I am biased or not objective. But then you'll need to make your minds up: either you want women and queers and people of colour to take the lead on prioritising and tackling this stuff, in which case you'll have to accept that our lived experiences of violence and discrimination will of course inform our views, or you're going to have to get your hands dirty and engage in proactive discussions, which may well lead to you actively confronting and following up the people who perpetrate violence and discrimination7.

* 1. although some people may wish to defend their right to make racist, sexist, homophobic etc jokes, because we all know they're a communist and don't really mean it. Luckily, Polite Ire has taken the trouble to explain exactly why that's bullshit.
* 2. People have been questioning the use of “safer” vs “safe” – afaik the reason “safer” is used is because even with all these policies and communist awareness and so on, discriminatory behaviour and violence continues to occur, and nowhere can quite be guaranteed as “safe”.
* 3. many of the tweets have been collected here
* 4. if you are, PM me, I can think of a shitload of people who'd want to talk to you
* 5. although don't be surprised if you find people resisting this, dismissing the need for it, or ridiculing you for being activisty/a feminist/a liberal/any other damning anarcho insult, there's a whole lot of unlearning yet to be done
* 6. the woman in the movie Matewan doesn't count, she's a fictional character
* 7. Or preferably do both of these, actually

Page 3 of 8

Share or Bookmark feed/post - you can click on a post first

FacebookMySpaceTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditNewsvineTechnoratiLinkedinMixxPinterest