Sierra Leone: UN and UK on a humanitarian mission to aid the people of one of the worlds poorest countries? Of the 4.3 million population 75% are subsistence farmers (900,000+ are now displaced). The country produces cash crops like cocoa, coffee, ginger, nuts and palm kernels. The mining industry produces bauxite, iron ore, diamonds (the main source of finance for the war), and rutile (titanium ore) the main export of which they are one of only a few suppliers. This is an economically wealthy country.
1961- Independence from Britain.
1971- Declared a republic.
1978- All Peoples Congress (APC) declare one party state after 2 decades of rule.
1991- 60% vote for multi-party democracy in referendum.
1992- Military coup ousts APC. National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) takes power. Civil war breaks out between NPRC and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh.
1996- Elections under the banner The future is in your hands. RUF oppose them and begin campaign of terror, cutting off the hands of people. Children are conscripted, tattooed and drugged. They are forced to commit murder, mutilations, torture and rape.
1999, January- The RUF whose official song is called We want peace launched Operation Annihilate Every Living Thing and attacked the capital Freetown. As well as the usual bloodbath, families were barricaded into their homes, which were then set on fire. ECOMOG, a West African peacekeeping force led by Nigeria, and previously engaged in Liberia where it had backed opponents of the NPFL (now the government under Charles Taylor), eventually repelled them. It then oversaw a government/RUF amnesty.
July- UN broker the Lomé Peace Treaty granting amnesty for all atrocities (see resistance 10), while the UK government was caught supplying weapons via mercenaries to the Sierra Leone government despite an arms embargo.
2000, May- Nigeria begins pulling out; the RUF renews its attack on Freetown, threatening to seize power. Over 500 UN troops are captured in the ensuing confusion. The UK government is controlling the UN operations, using Third World soldiers to minimise British casualties, while its own troops remain independent. At least 15,000 UN troops are being used in operations against the RUF. Meanwhile, UN diplomats are deciding whether to negotiate with, or try for war crimes the recently captured Foday Sankoh.
Once again we are being sold the lie of humanitarian aid to cover the real motivators- profit, power and control.
All the lefties are drooling over the victory of Ken Bomb the Serbs Livingstone. For them, its some sort of new awakening. Cobblers. Livingstone refused to back the London Socialist Alliance (which was backed by all 57 varieties of Trot) saying vote green instead. He denounced the MayDay demonstrators. He pleased the big business by appointing a high-up from the city as business advisor. After his big talk about being anti-royal he smarmed up to the queen at the first opportunity.
Its not even as if he got the vote from most Londoners. The turn out was not much more than 30%, and many votes cast for Livingstone were just to deliver a smack in the eye to Blair. There is no real breach with Labour, with our Ken insisting that he was a loyal Labour member and wants to be readmitted to the party.
At the last election, all these Trots called for a vote for Labour, which they are deeply embarrassed about now. As Ken delivers more of the same old crap, as he sucks up to the city and the government, and as he signally fails to make any difference to life form millions of working class people in London, these Trots will be even more embarrassed.
13.5.00 - Supporters of death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal gathered outside the American Embassy on 13th May, as part of another international day of action. Hundreds of supporters took part in the event, with speeches and music getting the interest of passers by in what was going on.
One woman who disagreed with the Embassys door policy decided shed put a stop to it and D-locked herself to the main entrance! Bemused cops spent the best part of an hour trying to detach her.
At the end, the demo moved en masse to picket Saville Row nick and our hero (now un-locked) was released without charge.
Watch this space for upcoming Days of Action for Mumia including a UK speaking tour by MOVEs Ramona Africa only adult survivor of the attack on MOVE headquarters in the 80s by the FBI, which slaughtered all the inhabitants.
On Saturday, 22nd of April, anarchist Mark Barnsley and 6 other prisoners at Long Lartin, were attacked by guards, beaten up and dragged off to the segregation Unit. They had been previously locked in the same cell all day, with no reason given for this or the subsequent beatings.
After spending days in a freezing cold cell without any of his property, Mark was moved out of Long Lartin and sent to the Segregation Unit at HMP Cardiff . Where he will be sent after this is open to speculation although it is clear that the Prison Service wishes to isolate Mark and disrupt his campaign for justice. Since all his property is still at Long Lartin Mark has been unable to reply to recent letters from supporters or continue with work on his case.
For more background info on the campaign, or more info, e-mail: email@example.com
or look at the web:
or write to: JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY, c/o 145-149 Cardigan Rd, Leeds, LS6 1U
For the moment the media are hovering around anarchists like flies around a ripe peach fresh for the plucking. Over the Mayday weekend there were more than enough people ready to keep the assembled journo-scum happy by giving interviews, some even to camera!
What do these characters hope to achieve? Reasonable news coverage? Personal fame? To make their mums proud? Who knows. What we do know is what they will achieve which is exactly bugger all! The press and TV were always going to butcher Mayday 2000, and that is exactly what they did. We will never make appeals to journalists for exactly the same reasons that we never grovel to politicians. They are part of the armoury of the ruling class and will always be used to keep us in our place. Think about it. Even if we do happen to hit the right note with a few sympathetic journalists, where are they going to be when there are 100 time the instances of mass class struggle than there are than there are now and played out at 100 times the intensity? Answer: on the dole.
The front page of The Sun will be written by Rupert Murdoch himself. So you, me and any other bastard wont be able to get a sexy soundbite in edgeways. Most working class people see the media for what it is: light entertainment. Not a mirror of the truth. If we try to appeal to the media all we will do is to look stupid to the majority of our class who know better than to expect favours from the rich and their middle class lackeys. Begging to the rich and powerful for help only makes us look and feel weak. We need to develop a culture which completely rejects all media presence influence on and around us.
A central part of this culture of resistance should be our own strong, independent, anarchist media, run and organised by people in struggle, which is distributed widely in workplaces and working class communities. This is where our energies should be directed because it is this which will make us strong.
On demonstrations and pickets avoid journos and coppers like the filthy plague that they are. Obscure your face with glasses, hats etc. Sometimes its possible to physically challenge camera crews and photographers and get them out of our space. Never take cameras on demos. If you do you may get your mates and other people nicked by providing evidence if the police get hold of your camera. Also you may be mistaken as a journo or copper!
Once a month give your daily rag a miss. The money you save will pay for a four quid subscription to resistance.
This year the MayDay weekend was a great success with a huge anarchist festival attracting thousands. The events in London started with the regular critical mass bike ride (6pm, Southbank, last Friday of every month) being swelled to over 500 people. And over in the East End there was the:
Anarchist history tour:
On Friday 28th May, in drizzling rain, several van loads of police officers from both the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police, a couple of motorcycle cops and a group of our flat footed friends trailed behind 30-40 people through the streets of London s East End. The people gathered were on a tour of anarchist history we can only guess that the coppers were swatting for their Know Your Reds exams.
The tour included:
· The home of Rudolf Rocker, the German anarcho-syndicalist who organised amongst the Jewish rag trade workers of East London in the early 1900s. Rockers portrait hung in the Whitechapel Library until a few years ago. He was the author of Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism available from Freedom Press (see back page for address) also check out his huge work Nationalism and Culture.
· The site of the anarchist social club in Jubilee Street which was an important centre of activity for the thriving revolutionary movement of the East End in the early nineteenth century.
· The place where Eastern European anarchists were killed in a siege in January 1911 on Sidney Street. After a robbery of a jewellers shop in Houndsditch were several policemen were shot dead. The young Winston Churchill ordered hundreds of police officers, a detachment of Scots Guards and a unit of Horse Artillery from the nearby Tower of London flush out the four anarchists from their hideout. The intensity of following gun battle caused the building burn down with the revolutionaries inside, though one of the anarchists, Peter the painter had already made his get away.
MayDay 2000 Conference and Bookfair: Sat 29th - Sun 30th April.
Months of planning went into the MayDay 2000 conference so there were more than a few worries in our minds when we turned up on Saturday morning. Would anyone turn up? Would there be any trouble? Would the event run well? How much agro would the police give us? And as it happened our worries were unfounded.
Thousands of people attended the conference over the weekend. There were over 60 different meetings for people attend and participate in, covering a huge range of subjects. Enough money had been raised so admission was free and a detailed programme was available for just a donation. The venue was as lot plusher than you get for your typical anarchist event but there was no trouble and the only undesirables that had to be kept out were leftie paper sellers and the police! The cops continued the huge surveillance operation events running up to MayDay had attracted, but they didnt try to close the conference down (unlike some of our benefit gigs); and when they tried entering the venue we told them to get lost!
I managed to get to three of the workshops myself and from the reports Ive heard said there were some excellent ones I missed - revolutionary history, current struggles, practical training and ideas on the way forward. Already meetings are being planned to put into practice some of the ideas discussed (see back page for details).
A few discussions were plagued by Marxist-Leninists spouting their stale dogma, but rather than boring people to tears as they often do they made such fools of themselves they acted as light relief. A particular favourite I heard was when in a meeting on ecology one argued that nuclear power will be great when controlled by the workers state. The group he was from was, of course, Workers Power!
The book stalls took a bit of finding but there was plenty to choose from and many people went away with plenty of food for thought. The MayDay 2000 conference was a great success and a worthy successor to Bradford MayDay 98.
MayDay picket of Bennetons
Forty plus revolutionary anarchists and communists gathered outside Benettons shop on Oxford Street as a picket in solidarity with Italian comrades. The Italian revolutionaries have been rounded up under Italys Emergency Laws which are very similar to the Terrorism Bill soon to be introduced by the British state. Over 1000 leaflets were distributed about the Italian situation including a brief outline of the new repressive legislation to be rushed through here in the UK. Banners and placards were displayed stating All States are Terrorist, Capitalism is Terrorism and Open the Borders, Close the Prisons etc. Dozens of vans of police were stationed around the immediate area, in fact the whole of the West End was crawling with cops. After an hour or so we disappeared and filtered off towards Parliament Sq. to join in what ever fun the rest of the day would reveal....
We are still trying to get details of all of the Italian militants imprisoned recently. At the moment we only have an address for:
Diego Negri (currently out on bail) c/o Lidia Triossi Precari Nati. via Jussi 4 40128 Bologna Italy.
We hope to have an update on the situation in Italy soon.
A30 Action, on April 30th there was a protest against the terrorism bill. More info contact the A30 group, c/o Dept 29, 255, Wilmslow Rd, Manchester, M14 5LW. http://drink.to/dissent
MayDay Reclaim The Streets
This event attracted a little mainstream media attention so we wont bother adding to it here. Those interested in learning what really happened can contact Reclaim The Streets at: RTS, P.O. Box 9656, London N4 4JY
Telephone: 020 7281 4621
or visit: http://www.reclaimthestreets.net
MayDay events also happened in many other cities in Britain and around the world.
In Glasgow around 1,000 took to the streets for a parade-cum-carnival to celebrate MayDay 2000. Despite some prior media-hype about riots, rent-a-mobs and terrorist organisations bringing mayhem to the streets of Glasgow, the event remained loud and energetic but peaceful. The soundtrack was provided by, amongst others, a mobile sound system flying a massive Chicago Martyrs banner, courtesy of the Glasgow Anarchists. Anarchist Federation members distributed 500+ copies of the May Resistance, mainly to people watching the event, many of whom were taking the opportunity to take some time off working in the shops and restaurants to enjoy the sunshine and spectacle. Maybe next year they wont be spectating, but joining in!
As part of the MayDay 2000 festival anarchist activist and former Black Panther Lorenzo Komboa Ervin came over from the USA to speak. His talk was one of the highlights of the conference. He also went on a speaking tour across the UK and here we have a report from Scotland:
Despite (or maybe partly because of!) media hype about anarchists inviting terrorists over to Scotland, the Scottish leg of Lorenzo Komboa Ervins tour was a major success, with 140 turning up for his talk in Edinburgh and over 100 in Glasgow. In both cities Lorenzo spoke of his life fighting for freedom, inside and outside of jail and his continued involvement with the militant anti-racist and anti-authoritarian movements in the United States.
A pamphlet Reflection on MayDay is being produced. Email contributions by 1st Aug to:firstname.lastname@example.org
Ethiopia/Eritrea: After 13 month truce, Ethiopia launched attacks on 3 broad fronts following the collapse of OAU (Organisation of African Unity) and UN mediation efforts. 600,000 troops are facing off along the disputed border. It is thought Assab, a Red Sea port, is landlocked Ethiopias ultimate target. With the rains due in June there was clearly no time to wait as the region will then become paralysed. Meanwhile, the region is facing its worst famine since 1985. There are 16 million facing starvation, half of whom are in Ethiopia. So, no money for food or water supplies, but plenty for guns and bombs!
Aceh: In the past month hundreds of homes have been destroyed and dozens killed as violence continues. Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh Movement) and the Indonesian government have agreed to a 3-month cease-fire beginning June 2nd, though there is little hope for it amongst the populace. The government still refuses to recognise the rebels, while their demand for separatism remains unchanged. Demands for an East Timor style independence referendum are growing, which the government is trying to stem by giving greater autonomy to the provinces along with a larger proportion of locally produced wealth in an attempt to appease anti-Jakarta resentment.
USA: There are now over 2 million people incarcerated in the land of the free, a higher proportion of its citizens than any other country in history. The prison industry employs over 523,000 people. More than 100 prisons in 27 states are run entirely by private corporations for profit. In the past decade the government has spent on average $7 billion per year on prison construction contracts.
Puerto Rico: On Thursday, May 4, 2000, at 5:30 A.M. federal authorities began to arrest people conducting Civil Disobedience in Vieques. They took back their land for one full year to prevent the bombing and shelling of the Island. The U.S. Governments response to the demands for Human Rights of the people of Vieques was a military invasion of Vieques. Spirits where high and protesters were calm as they promised to be back to prevent the resumption of the bombings. The struggle of David versus Goliath has reached a new stage and will surely continue and intensify until the final goal of a Navy-free Vieques is achieved.
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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