ISSUE THIRTY FIVE
It wont be on TV this Christmas, but the mass breakout of asylum seekers
from Yarls Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire is the type of fiction
that happens when reality becomes too horrible to endure.
Throw in a towering inferno for good measure, and you get a fair idea of how Tony Blairs fairy tale solution to the refugee question is becoming the stuff of nightmares. The fire supposedly started in the reception room of the Yarls Wood complex after an East European woman resisted hospital treatment but was forcibly coerced into doing so by security staff. Outrage at her treatment soon led to a riot, which in turn led to the fire. It was probably while the fire was getting out of control that the keys for the perimeter gates outside were taken, and the mad dash for freedom/ survival took place.
Significant numbers escape
Overall, a significant number of asylum seekers escaped, 15 escapees were later recaptured, and an unknown number are still being hunted down by the local police. Conveniently for the detention centre there are no records available, destroyed in fire is the response from the notoriously inept Group 4 security firm who run the centre. But then why refuse to let the detainees families know they have survived the fire? While information about the names of asylum seekers is jealously secured, why werent the lives of asylum seekers equally secured by the installation of a fire sprinkler system? But thats capitalism for you, cutting corners yet again regardless of the cost...even if the cost is human life.
Yarls Wood is the latest botched attempt by the government to solve its refugee problem. A category B prison, surrounded by a 2 ½ m high razor sharp fence (topped by 3 lines of barbed wire just in case), Yarls Wood cost £80m to build (and will cost a further £38m to rebuild), but as usual it will be the working class who will foot the bill. It was also probably guilty of breaking international law since it incarcerated children along with their parents , but when have governments ever worried about laws they dont like? Not that there arent exclusive locations around Britain for children Fainsbrook secure training centre in Owley, Northants., caters especially for younger refugees. Next up the government plans to set up asylum villages in rural areas.
One such site is scheduled for the disused RAF base at Throckmorton, cosily situated between a landfill and the burial site for 100,000 dead cattle, remnants of the foot and mouth crisis thus making a mockery of the governments policy of integration and inclusion. Here as elsewhere, asylum seekers will be force-fed a diet of compulsory English lessons (linguistic colonialism), and if theyre lucky, maybe gain £12 a week for long hours spent painting and cleaning. Meanwhile, a life of government sponsored slums and vouchers awaits those dispersed, which serves only to make the refugee manically depressed enough to leave the country, and take their chances with the dictatorship back home. If that doesnt work, the racists will do their bit in the community to further the misery, thus providing the government with a useful scapegoat in times of crisis.
But these attacks are not unopposed. We greatly admire the refugees for rising up and resisting the state. Were glad to see that several escaped and we shed no tears about the damage caused to Yarls Wood. As anarchists, we must keep up the resistance against the asylum laws and the barbaric detention camps. Refugees are victims of the same capitalist exploitation that we all have to endure. We must continue the fight to smash down all barriers to freedom.
The campaign to stop detentions at Yarls Wood has called for demonstrations against the governments attacks on asylum seekers: 30th March, at the camp 12 noon-1.30pm and in Bedford town centre 2-4pm. For more info: 07786 517 379.
...And more escapes: On Wed 20th Feb eight people managed to get out of
Harmondsworth detention centre. They were on the second floor of the detention
centre and lowered themselves to the ground using knotted sheets, and then
scaled the 20 foot high perimeter fence and disappeared. May they stay free
forever. For more info contatct the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation
Campaigns: Tel: 0121 554 6947 or Email:
Railways struggle spreads
The recent spate of militancy on the railways has spread to nearly every part of the country. Workers have drawn confidence from the bosses and unions inability to contain anger at unsafe working conditions, shitty wages and management discrimination. Scots-rail workers, currently on an overtime ban have planned a series of one day walkouts for March, incensed at attempts to drive a wedge between them and English workers through massive pay differentials. Arriva guards and conductors in the north of England have escalated their action in their pay dispute and are holding No-fares days on which no money will change hands for travelling on Arriva trains. Connex South Eastern workers have rejected the bosses pay rise of 4% and are demanding nearly double that. As anarchists we argue that the next step for these disputes should be the linkage of the different struggles, away from the dead-hand of Union legalism, and in recognition of the power the working class holds when it acts in common, and in its own interest.
Strikes! Strikes! Strikes!
Bangladesh: A nationwide General Strike was held early in February
in protest against rises in fuel and utility prices. There were clashes in
Dhaka between strikers and riot police.
France: The workers at Strasbourg-Saint-Denis McDonalds finally won total victory in their 115 day long strike battle against layoffs. In Marseille, where workers are preparing themselves for a Wapping style dispute, 50,000 copies of a free newspaper were destroyed. French newspapers are still operating on old machinery and workers often control the printing plants. Buses, trams, trains and metro networks were all shut down as transport workers struck for 24 hours to support demands for a universal retirement age of 55 (Paris transport workers have already won retirement at 50).
Poland: 60 workers from Gdynia shipyard are on an illegal occupation strike in support of 130 laid off colleagues. The official Solidarity trade union refused to support them. Support was organised by the FAs (Polish Anarchist Federations) Workers Initiative in Poznan. Members of the initiative include workers in the Szczecin shipyards, who were recently repressed for incitement for sabotage for the distribution of their anarchist magazine in the shipyard (see resistance #31).
The concept of anarchism has always appealed to me Commander
Paddick, Metropolitan police
The police have never appealed to us resistance editors
Theres been a lot of fuss about the London police commander Paddick and his comments on the website Urban75.com. Here he states that anarchism appeals to him. Some of the contributors to Urban 75 fell over themselves to congratulate him on his open-mindedness and what a warm, wonderful individual he is. But wait! He said anarchism was a wonderful idea but not workable. Many other figures of the establishment in the past have come out with more or less the same statement, including Labour MPs (although not so much under the Blair regime!) It is a bland statement that doesnt really compromise ones real thinking, let alone their action. Paddick didnt get to his present high position in the police hierarchy without being one tough bastard. Not long after Paddicks statement, police waded into demonstrators outside the Italian embassy protesting against the repression of the Italian Indymedia site. A few nice-sounding statements from one head honcho in the cops doesnt make a blind bit of difference to the true nature of the boys in blue that they are there to oppress us and to protect the interests of the boss class. Paddicks meaningless comment caused an uproar in some sections of the press but were not at all convinced. If this prat agreed in the slightest with anarchism, then there is only one thing he could do resign from the force!
On Sat 2nd of Feb 70 people protested at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester to demand that this unique site be taken out of the hands of private developers and returned to use by the general public. The balconies were occupied and banners dropped in protest at the council losing the sale agreement committing the building to public use, and selling the building on to a private developer to be made into a luxury hotel. Visit the campaign website at www.freetradehall.org
Torfaen Council in South Wales recently had a poll of its residents asking
them which option they would prefer when being ruled. The options were 1.
A council leader and cabinet, 2. An elected mayor and cabinet, 3. An elected
mayor and council manager, 4. A council board. Over 50,000 copies of
Torfaen Talks, explaining the benefits of voting
were printed and distributed. The votes were cast and counted. Just 3% of
households voted (1329 votes). First was 428 for a council board, second
was 417 for Leader with Cabinet. So the Council adopted the second choice
Leader with Cabinet (surprise! surprise!). Needless to say, as only
3% voted, there is a fifth option- SCRAP THE COUNCIL, COUNCILLORS, MAYOR,
etc. and we will rule ourselves!
P.S. Torfaen Council has just raised the Council Tax by 9% (4 times the rate of inflation) and put up the rent by £1.25 per week. Oh, and the councillors awarded themselves a large payrise!
The Anarchist Federation in Scotland now have a postal address: AF,
PO Box 248, Aberdeen, AB25 1JE.
London AF are starting an anarchist film club Nought for Conduct by showing Mujeres Libres about the Spanish anarchist womens organisation. 11th April, 7.30pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London, WC1. Nearest tube Holborn. Wheelchair access. £2 waged, £1 unwaged.
A new issue of our magazine Organise! for revolutionary anarchism has hit the streets. It includes articles on Afghanistan, Argentina, Attention deficit disorder, primitivism, revolutionary music and Santa Claus! Available for only £1.50 from London AF (address on back page).
We still have stocks of anti-war stickers and a new poster is also available send a donation to London AF and well send you a bundle
Recent times have seen a sharp drop in the eagerness of Israelis to join
the army and assist in the occupation of Palestinian territory. Conscientious
objection continues to rise. As well as anarchists and pacifists, there are
others who object to the occupation, who refuse to serve, and others who
whilst joining the army, refuse to be stationed in occupied territory. Finally
there are members of the Druze religious community, who are subject to the
draft but refuse to serve in an army fighting the Palestinians.
The number of objectors rose from 26 to 250 recently. According to figures, the relative number of Israelis who complete regular military service has dropped below 50% (standing at the moment at approximately 44%) which indicates a growing reluctance to carry out the aggressive military policies of the government.
A petition has started to circulate among Army reservists, appealing to soldiers not to participate in oppression and occupation of Palestinian lands. Starting with 52 soldiers (and rising to 200) from private to lieutenant-colonel have signed the petition. Most signatories were second lieutenants from combat units, in particular parachute, tank and elite infantry corps.
The territories are not part of Israel and the Jewish settlements that have been established will eventually be dismantled .we will not continue to fight for them the soldiers said. We will also no longer fight beyond the Green Line with the goal of oppressing, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire people.
According to the Israeli peace group Yesh Gvul 400 reservists have refused to join their units in the occupied territories since the start of the uprising. But only 40 have been punished for this. Absenteeism, according to Israeli press reports, has become a problem in most reserve corps. 10,000 attended a peace rally in mid-February in Tel-Aviv.
The number of imprisoned conscientious objectors has risen to 12. Among them is the 18 year old anarchist Yaer Khilou. This brave comrade was one of the initiators of the letter of the twelfth-graders sent to Prime Minister Sharon by 62 high school students announcing their refusal to cooperate with Army actions. He was sentenced to 28 days and then re-arrested and sentenced to another 28 days on Jan 28th. He says The Israeli military men and capitalists, together with their Palestinian peers, do everything they can to remain in power. Their mass media and educational system spread vicious nationalistic propaganda, hatred and fear. Thus they divide and rule us. They incite against each other Arabs and Jews, East and West, while they continue to reign. These are our real enemies .Against them Arabs and Jews should stand together. I am not willing to accept such a reality. I am all the more unwilling to contribute to its continuation and fortification by serving in the Israeli army or in any other terrorist organisation.
Support this courageous anarchist! Send letters to him at:
Yaer Khilou, Military ID 7274070, Military Prison No.6, Military Postal code 3734, IDF, Israel.
Approximately 10,000 students took to the streets on February 20th to protest
against the charging of crippling fees in higher education. A small anarchist
bloc headed the march, carrying a large AF banner, several large black flags,
and distributing Anarchist Youth Network, London Mayday Collective flyers
and copies of resistance.
Noise was made including an ironic new chant extolling the virtues of a certain London Police Commander Brian Paddick is our friend, hes our copper! Unfortunately the march and rally was completely pointless in typical boring lefty/reformist style (see picture), with National Union of Students stewards following their slogan of Unity is Strength by helping police contain and disperse the more vigorous students! However there was a bright side as a number of students showed much enthusiasm towards anarchist ideas.
East German uprising 1953
MANY people have heard of the uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1968. The 1953 East Germany rebellion was an earlier example of the working class resistance to Bolshevik domination, which saw party bureaucrats and cops strung up and a nationwide network of workers councils springing up spontaneously.
The spark for the insurrection was an attempt by the government to intensify production and lower wages. East Berlin workers immediate reaction was to down tools and walk off the job. This instinctive demonstration of militancy soon developed into a city wide strike, followed by a mass rally outside of the Government offices, with crowds chanting Down with the Government. Down with the Volkspolizei (peoples police) and we dont want to be slaves anymore, we want to be free.
Communist Party officials, desperate to save themselves, hastily repealed the work norms, but this wasnt enough for the demonstrators who were beginning to sense their own strength. Party members attempts to speak to the crowds were swept aside, as workers grabbed the megaphones and attacked the Party, the Bureaucracy and the cops. All over the city the working class was exerting its power and taking control. Communist Party notices were torn from the walls, government buildings were attacked, cops vanished from the streets in case they were the next to be lynched. There were attempts to liberate the prisoners in Barnimstrasze prison and messages telling of the events were relayed across the country.
The resistance soon spread; all over East Germany workers formed factory and strike committees characteristic of workers councils in virtually every town and city a general strike was proclaimed. In Dresden a state radio station was taken over and began issuing communiqués attacking the governments lies, in Halle the local newspaper offices were occupied, the Bitterfeld strike committee sent a telegram to E. Berlin demanding the formation of a provisional government composed of revolutionary workers. The workers were beginning to take power into their own hands and this was the signal for the Russian tanks to roll into East Germany.
The next ten days saw furious fighting, with mass arrests and shootings, tanks being taken out by molotovs, eventually the army regained control - but the power of working class resistance would be demonstrated again in Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968.
Poland, Activist of FA arrested
Police agents have raided the house of Rafal Gorski, one of the activists of Polish Anarchist Federation (FA) in his home in Krakow. This came two days before the planned event organised against the city government by FA-Krakow. It was part of the annual FA campaign called counter-banquet, which happened regularly at the citys elitist banquet to publicize the theft and fraud committed by guests invited there. The banquet was called off, but anarchists didnt call off their counter-banquet. The police said Rafal Gorski will be detained for three months because of a demonstration against evictions in which he participated. For more info Email: email@example.com
Polish Anti-fascist charged
Slawomir Lapa Lapinski has been charged with Grevious Bodily Harm after he helped beat up a gang of nazis that attacked an anti-fascist crew at a bus stop. As Lapa has a previous conviction for assault on a nazi skinhead he faces 3 12 years sentence. Send messages of support (and money!) to: Warhead, PO Box 43, 15-662, Bialoystok, Poland or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anarchist JM was given a suspended sentence of two months with one year deferment after being charged with hooliganism. On Sept 29th an antifascist demonstration was held in a Czech town, Nachod. One of the reasons for it was that this city is the only Czech one which has a nazi in its city council, Mr. Rousek. One of the journalists there was looking for conflict in order to have a good story. So he phoned Mr. Rousek and asked him to come to the demo to show his opinion. He came but he soon realised it wasnt a good idea as rotten fruits thrown at him by anarchists. However the journalist wasnt satisfied as the action was funny rather than bloody.
He came to one of the antifascists and started to insult him because one of the fruits had hit him. But this anarchist, JM, showed him that he really shouldnt insult his comrades and hit him in the face. The journalist wasnt injured. He tried to fight back, but after being unsuccessful he called for an ambulance and for police to arrest JM.
JM was arrested after the demo finished by an armed squad of riot police and questioned for more than 2 hours. After four months of investigation he was sentenced. He has appealed this absurd sentence so another trial will take place soon. For more info Email: email@example.com
Political Prisoner Transferred
On Feb 12th Ali Khalid Abdullah sent word that he was to be transferred to an unknown location. A worker from the Michigan Department of Corrections told a member of the Campaign to free Ali that he has been transferred to the Kinross Correctional Facility. Alis new address: Ali Khalid Abdullah #148130 Kinross Correctional Facility 16770 south Watertower Drive Kincheloe, MI 49788. For more info: International Campaign to Free Ali Khalid Abdullah c/o Pushing Forward 2716 SE 21st Street Portland, OR 97202, USA or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Visit: www.angelfire.com/dc/freeali
Please visit the regularly updated Anarchist Federation diary page for details of the latest events
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