resistance - monthly bulletin of the Anarchist Federation (Britain and Ireland)
ISSUE THIRTY FOUR - FEBRUARY 2002
Solidarity is strength
The New Year has brought an overdue return of large-scale class struggle that the bosses thought they’d seen the back of, both here and abroad. One thing to note is the increasing success militant direct action is having.
Class War on the Home Front…
Railway workers from Arriva and South-West Trains and ScotRail staged a series of 24 and 48 hours strikes across the South and North in support of pay claims and to defend fellow workers who they felt were being harshly disciplined. South-West trains were hit hardest with barely 10% of trains running in the South – most of the lucrative commuter runs into London were cancelled - whilst nearly all of Arriva’s northern trains were halted for 48 hours, and are likely to be cancelled again as the dispute (which has already cost £14 million) spreads. In Scotland, drivers are operating an overtime ban which has cut services by 25%.
Other disputes in the UK include the usual Post Office/Consignia rumblings with threats of walkouts in the South-West over disciplinary measures, and the very real possibility of a nationwide stoppage over the plans to open the service up to competition, balloting is already underway.
Industrial action has also been taking place elsewhere: airport workers have voted to strike at Manchester and Derry, Portsmouth dockers are on the verge of striking and possible lockout, actors have been on strike for two months, Belfast aerospace workers are currently being balloted on strike action, radiographers are currently out, and a whole host of localised disputes are continuing.
… and abroad
Huge strikes and demonstrations have taken place in Italy. The spark for this wave of militancy has been the Prime Minister’s attempts to steamroller through changes to the law which would reduce pensions and make workers easier to sack. A phenomenal 600,000 workers have taken to the streets - including 60,000 in Milan and 50,000 in Bologna. Workers in the following sectors have been ut on strike - tram, bus, metro workers, national railway, ferry, port and airline.
Berlusconi’s last government in 1994 - which was also totally anti-working class, and also included neo-fascists - was mortally wounded by similar strikes. Some people never learn!
In Germany the traditionally militant metalworkers are gearing up for a fight with the government
France has seen demonstrations and strikes by Doctors, Nurses and other sectors of the heath service.
SOLIDARITY IN LONDON
A group of
anarchists occupied the
Argentinian Embassy in London in support of the
peoples’ rejection of their “leaders”. The Argentinian flag was taken down and replaced with an anarchist red and black flag.
The occupation of the embassy was in solidarity with the insurrectionary events instigated by the majority of the Argentinian population (see resistance 33). We wholeheartedly support the rejection of the right of governments and corporations to rule them. The embassy was occupied to highlight the illegitimacy of the Argentinian government, and all governments.
To contact the occupiers Email: tpktpk@hotmail .com
Once heralded as the golden child of economic liberalisation, the country has now plummeted into a state of poverty and chaos, saddled with US$155 Billion debt and unemployment levels of 18%. Instead of merely accepting the ruin wreaked by over a decade of IMF austerity measures and structural adjustment policies - policies that continue a centuries old system of profiteering and exploitation - people across Argentina have autonomously organised accountable self-governing assemblies to transform the country.
A positive development has been the spreading of the insurrection from Buenos Aires to many other parts of the country.
Violent clashes took place in Santiago del Estero and in the central city of Rio Cuarto. Protests also occurred in the capital as well as the provinces of Entre Rios, Formosa and Neuquen, where a march by 2,000 people went off peacefully.
Demonstrations in the capital are a regular occurrence. Recently, state workers in the government’s own Economy Ministry banged drums, demanding unpaid holiday bonuses from President Eduardo Duhalde.
ON THE FRONTLINE
A general strike in Nigeria has paralysed most of the country and brought commercial life to a standstill. Offices and banks have been shut down, petrol stations have closed and streets normally crammed with traffic were empty as workers protested at a rise in fuel prices. Strikers clashed with police in Lagos and in the district of Ikorodu youths burned tyres and blocked roads. The stoppage has also effectively shut down most provincial cities, including Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano, Makurdi and the oil city of Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, attacks on the police continue unabated. A mob in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos lynched three policemen who killed a bus driver and conductor who had refused to pay extortion money. The policemen were attacked and killed after they shot dead the two men, who had refused to pay 20 naira (11 pence) at a checkpoint.
Police in Nigeria regularly demand money from motorists, particularly bus and truck drivers, at checkpoints set up around cities. A local resident Lateef Obatayo said the crowd torched the policemen’s car after killing them, enraged by the constant demands for money.
THE resurgence of anarchism in South America has scared various governments into taking extreme measures against our comrades there.
In Mexico the government is attempting to crush all genuine resistance. In the last few months, the Ricardo Flores Magon Native People’s Council (CIPO-RFM) has been a regular target of the police. CIPO-RFM is rooted in the communities of Oaxaca State, since 1997 regrouping 4 Indian organisations of 2,000 people. It is openly anarchist and fights on several fronts, for better conditions (water, electricity, infrastructure, services) and for self-organisation of the communities. After having survived murder attempts, and continuing death threats, its activists are now subject to arbitrary arrests. This was particularly the case in the weeks before a big mobilisation in Oaxaca, on 18-20 November last, when all the CIPO communities were meeting on the question of native rights. One of the organisers, Raul Gatica, and his son Inti, were arrested and jailed for several days. International solidarity is essential. CIPO puts out a bulletin on the internet Nuu nkanta’a which you can contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Cali, Colombia, workers won a very significant victory by occupying an important communications tower for five weeks – all of their demands were met including the end of privatisation, and an investigation into management corruption.
AMERICAN STATE PANICS
FBI target Raise the Fist
“They’re afraid. And they’re going to try and silence us any way they can… My best advice is to not give in to their fear-tactics. Keep fighting, and fight hard. Don’t stop.”
Yes, if you speak out against the war and against this society, chances are you will get the attention of the state.
On Jan 24 the home of Sherman who runs the anarchist website RaiseTheFist.com in Los Angeles was surrounded by 25 armed FBI agents. He was interrogated and all his computers and all of his radical literature was seized. He may not see these again. There is no content on the site not readily available anywhere else. Sherman says “They raided it simply because it was effective- kids were starting to set up clubs in their schools called “RaiseTheFist”- we were also beginning to put together an anarchist collective for Los Angeles. I believe one of the main things that got them scared about the site, is that we called for an actual change”
The FBI and the American State are using the pretext of the War Against Terrorism to stifle dissent. We must resist!
Katie Sierra - anarchist girlie!
“I’ve learned that this country is crap…actually I already knew that. I guess I’ve also learned not to give up…Don’t let anyone run over you because of your beliefs”.
Not everyone in the good ol’ US of A is behind the war effort. 15-year old anarchist Katie Sierra turned up to school in Charleston, West Virginia wearing a T-shirt with the following anti-war message “When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America”. She was suspended for this and for trying to set up an student anarchist club. The case has brought national attention. At present Katie is being schooled at home but she intends to protest her case in court . The West Virginia Supreme Court voted not to consider her petition and she is now taking it to federal level.
Support Katie. Send an Email of support to: email@example.com.
Send letters of protest to the local newspapers Charleston Gazette at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Charleston Daily Mail at email@example.com
A conference on prison abolition was held in London on 26 Jan. It was purely focused on discussion.
In the morning two anti-prison academics gave talks and some letters from prisoners were read out. In the afternoon workshops were held on related subjects like the history of prison resistance and (an excellent one) on New Labour and Law and Order. Since Labour have got into power they have proved themselves more effective than the Tories at making life misery for millions. They have expanded the number of privatised prisons and are setting up schemes where prisoners will work at crap jobs for £10 a week, but with the added bonus of having being guaranteed the same crap job on release, though with a massive pay rise to take them up to the minimum wage (currently £3.50/£4.10 an hour). Making prisons a profitable business is bad news for us. In the US, where the prison industrial complex is well developed, companies that build and run prisons have successfully lobbied politicians to bring in harsher laws and longer sentences.
At the end of the afternoon we all got together in the main hall to briefly discuss what we’d talked about.
What was missing though was practical proposals. In many ways it seems a missed opportunity.
A lot of money and effort went into it. Many other people also seemed to be expecting something practical to come out of it. Various people praised defunct groups like the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) prisoners support network and the CAGE anti-prison building campaign.
There is still a need for people involved in prisoners support and anti-prison activities to co-ordinate their work. Here’s a brief list of what the AF is doing or planning:
• Updating a prisoner contact list.
• Create an urgent response network.
• Increase contact with support groups.
• Fund-raising - both for prisoners and to fund our own efforts.
• Create a prisoners letter forum on the internet.
• Production of leaflets - old ABC ones; on particular prisoners; and on prison/crime issues.
• Publish prisoner case histories.
• Also doing correspondence, of course.
It would be very useful if other groups and individuals doing similar work would contact us so we can work together on these.
See the back page for the latest
ANARCHISTS GET ORGANISED
In recent months organised anarchism is showing healthy signs of growth. The Anarchist Federation now has a section in Ireland, already up to issue 8 of Irish
resistance. Contact: AF (Ireland),
PO Box 505, Belfast BT12 6BQ. Tel: 07951 079719 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For other areas see contact details on the back page. We have also strengthened our international links by attending the latest International of Anarchist Federations meting in Paris, and will be hosting the next meeting in London in October.
A number of local, unaffiliated anarchist groups have also formed recently. If one of them is in your area, get in touch with them and get involved:
• Aberdeen Anarchist Resistance,
or Email: email@example.com
• Walthamstow Anarchist Group
Tel: 07810 288 889
Visit: www.walthamstowanarchy.org.uk or
• Surrey Activist Group, PO Box 375, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey, GU21 2XL.
or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• South London Action Group,
or Email: email@example.com
• Norwich Anarchists, PO Box 487,
Norwich, NR2 3AL. Tel: 07941 657 485.
• Black Cat Collective. Contact them at:
Black_Cat_Collective@yahoo.co.uk or Box 22, Greenleaf Bookshop, Colston Street, BS1 5BB or Tel: 07905 720 575.
• The Anarchist Youth Network was recently formed and has already taken part in a number of actions.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Anarchist Youth Network c/o 84B, Whitechapel High St, London, E1 7QX or Tel: 07814 629 780.
We can do so much more when organised together than we can on our own. It is amazing just how much a group of three or four people can do in terms of raising the profile of anarchism in a town or city district. Flyposting, stickering, the internet and letters in anarchist publications can lead to local contacts. Ask us if you want any help and we will see what we can do. You may be surprised at the number of anarchists in your locality who assume that they are alone. Setting up a local group could be easier than you think, and once it is up and running you can really start to make an impact. Get active and get organised. Capitalism won’t fall on its own!
OBITUARY - Mika Talvilahti
Mika Talvilahti 4th March 1974 – 28th December 2001
It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of London-based anarchist Mika Talvilahti, at the tragically young age of 27. He was born in the town of Saarijaervi, in the rural Jyvaeskylae region of Finland.
Like many young Finns, he was radicalised by the state’s presumption that he was its property, and that as such he should serve in its army. Mika rebelled against the call to military service, throwing his lot in with the ‘objectors’. His life would never be the same. The Finnish state has taken advantage of the country’s close proximity to the old USSR to generate a culture of contempt for those young men who refuse to ‘do their duty’ and defend ‘their country’. When you refuse military service in Finland, you are not just defying the state, but also public opinion. Mika fought both, his brave and defiant spirit moving him to involve himself more deeply in radical politics, adding anti-fascist work to his activities. At the age of 22, with work in short supply (particularly so for objectors), he packed up and made his way from Saarijaervi to London. A deep thinker, on his arrival he spent a long time mulling over his political experiences to date. Despite the social censure he had experienced in Finland, he hadn’t lost his faith in the revolutionary potential of working class people. In his usual unassuming and unaffected manner, he
figured that if a self-educated man like himself could become an anarchist, anyone could! He decided he should move beyond activities emphasising a
particular single issue, and work
instead to spread revolutionary anarchist ideas and action in general.
He involved himself in the activities of the London group of the Anarchist Federation, and helped set up the Walthamstow Anarchist Group, into which he put a
tremendous amount of time and energy. Though he died young, Mika filled his life with more meaning than many who live to 90, but who never question what they are taught, never question the status quo, never strive for freedom. He confronted the authority of the state head on, and came out on the other side still fighting. It is this kind of life, a life full of love for liberty and strength of will, that gives so much hope for the future.
On Sat 9 Feb, two events will be held for Mika. In the afternoon, his comrades will plant a tree dedicated to him in Walthamstow. From 8pm, there will be a gathering at Conway Hall. All are welcome. Tel: 07810 288 889 for more info.
Continuing our regular look at history...
The Russian Revolution, 1905.
Nothing is settled or certain in life as the events of the 1905 Revolution in Russia showed. Against all socialist predictions, one of the then most economically backward countries of the world demonstrated a way forward for us all - the revolutionary workers council (in Russia, soviet).
One of the most firmly entrenched oppressive systems, that of Tsarism, was shaken to the core. So what were the events surrounding the 1905 Revolution? Well, firstly, the Russian state had just lost a war against Japan, and defeat in war is always deeply unsettling – many revolutions or would-be revolutions and unrest follow military defeat.
The apparently all-powerful state is revealed in all its impotence. Following the war, a demonstration of workers went to ask the Tsar to look into their downtrodden lives. This procession was fired upon by the Tsarist guards causing deaths and injury. This act of State butchery lit the flame of revolution. A spontaneous, grass roots general strike spread throughout the land. This was followed almost immediately by peasants revolts and the spirit of direct revolutionary action reached all corners of the Russian empire.
In the Polish city of Lodz there was a week-long armed uprising. The same occurred in the Polish capital, Warsaw and in the Black Sea city of Odessa. In the Odessa port, the sailors on the cruiser Potemkin mutinied against their harsh and cruel officers, whom they shot. The most significant feature of 1905 was the formation of soviets throughout the land. The soviets consisted of directly elected and directly accountable delegates from the workplaces. They represented a form of direct democracy which echoed the similar events of the Paris Commune of 1871 (this too came about as the result of a military defeat). Once again, working people were in control of their lives and the state was, temporarily at least, pushed to the sidelines. The St. Petersburg soviet, in particular, played an outstanding revolutionary role and acted as a beacon of hope. However, despite a year of spontaneous explosions of anger and violence, strikes and land seizures, the wave of revolution subsided, and the state was saved. Pity.
There will be demonstration in London against the continuing bombing of
Afghanistan on Sat 2 Mar, 1pm, Hyde Park.
On December 1 2001, two anarchists were taken by the police in Usak (a city in Mid-West Anatolia, Turkey) with the claim of distributing illegal leaflets in a meeting organized by trade-unions. Later on, three other were taken, and all five of them were arrested with the claim of “being members of an illegal terrorist organization” namely Usak Anarchist Autonom.
Although they did nothing more than distributing their own materials/leaflets, for this terrorist state it was enough to judge them with the claim of organizing in such a way “to destroy or to divide” it. They did not even find any (in their own words) “violent” or “terrorist” clues related with the group. The trail will be held in Izmir DGM (SSC-State Security Court) on 13 Feb. At the moment they are in Usak Prison; each of them in separate cells. This week they’ll be sent to Izmir F-type prison. They were beaten badly and tortured by Usak police and refused the lawyers offered by the state. For the first time Turkish anarchists will be judged by Turkish State as an “illegal organization” and this trail will show the attitude of the state against anarchists and anarchist organizations. For more info Email: email@example.com
Here are the details of seven anarchist prisoners in Turkey. They’ll be released in 2224. Please send them a letter or postcard in simple English. It makes them feel that they are not left alone in prison.
Zamir Karaagaç, E Tipi Kapali Cezaevi, B-5 K.Maras 46060/Turkey
Osman Ercan, Ozel Tip Kapali Cezaevi, C-2 Kogusu, Amasya 05100/Turkey
Ibrahim Demir, Ozel Tip Cezaevi, B/1-2 Gaziantep/Turkey
Bulent Kurt, E Tipi Kapali Cezaevi D/8 K.Maras 46060 /Turkey
Abbas Irmak, E Tipi Cezaevi, B-2 Kirsehir/Turkey
Ali Biter, E Tipi Cezaevi, B-2 Kirsehir/Turkey
Cafer Ozbek, E Tipi Kapali Cezaevi,D/8, K.Maras 46060, Turkey
For more information contact: 5th May Group, P.O. Box 2474, London, N8.
Robert Middaugh, “Ruckus”, was transferred to the California State Prison in Delano. He was arrested for his involvement in the May Day action in Long Beach, California. He was given two concurrent three years sentences. He can be written to at the following address:
Robert Middaugn #6859467 P.O. Box 5000, Delano, CA 93216-5000, USA.
Prison activist Kathryn Cummins is being denied access to anarchist and other material sent to her. She needs funds for a court case against this harassment.
Kathryn Cummins#66584, Unit 1, P.O. Box 392005, Denver, CO 80239, USA.
A Bristol Prisoner Support / Anarchist Black Cross Group has been formed. They can be contacted c/o Kebele, 14 Robertson Road, Easton, Bristol, BS5 6JY, England.
SPLASH THE CASH!
“You don’t get anything for nothing” – anything, that is, apart from resistance. The AF have no rich mates, so if you want Britain’s only regular anarcho-communist news bulletin to stay free put your hand in your pocket and send us some dough. A excellent AF benefit night in Nottingham recently raised some funds but money is always needed. Go on, give that post-pub kebab a miss once in a while.
SUBVERT AND RESIST
Take precautions when going on demonstrations and don’t take cameras, booze or drugs. If you’re nicked give your name and address then say ‘no comment’ to any other questions.
FEBRUARY 2002: 9th – National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns - National Meeting - 12- 5pm. Methodist Central Hall Oldham Street, Manchester. Visit: www.ncadc.demon.co.uk
11-13th – Blockade at Faslane. Three days of protest and direct action at Britain’s nuclear weapons base. Tel: 0845 4588361 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MARCH: 8th – Global Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day. International Wages for Housework Campaign, Crossroads Women’s Centre, 230a Kentish Town Rd, London NW5 2AB. Tel: 020 7482 2496 Email: email@example.com or Visit: http://womenstrike8m.server101.com
11th – Northern Anarchist Network, 4pm, News from Nowhere bookshop, 96 Bold Street Liverpool. Anarchists meet to network and discuss anticapitalist action, new world order, kashmir, support for anarchist prisoners. For more details write to PO Box 350 Liverpool L69 6EE or Tel: Martin on 0161 707 9652.
14-18th – Queeruption – An international, 5-day, DIY gathering of Queer folk of all sexualities. Queeruption, c/o 56a Crampton Street, London SE17, UK. Tel: 0207 735 3199 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Visit: www.queeruption.com
15th – Sixth International Day Against Police Brutality. If you want to do something on the day in the UK, please Email: MOJUK@JusticeUK.connectfree.uk.com