Complete contents in PDF. Most contents also available as text below (including additional content from the web version taken from http://flag.blackened.net/blackflag/).
Black Flag 219 (2000)
"Capitalism? No thanks! We will burn your fucking banks!" So chanted a group of black-clad anarchists in Seattle. A slogan of immense theoretical power and clarity, it sums up well the promise and power of anarchism! We have the politics to understand the world and, more importantly, the tactics (direct action), the ideas (a free and libertarian socialism) and ideals (liberty, equality, solidarity) to change the world for the better.
Needless to say, after the event, the hordes of self-proclaimed vanguards will publish articles trying to "educate" us poor, thick, anarchists of the errors of our (petty-bourgeois/ lumpen proletariat) ways. Of course it never enters their minds that we are anarchists not because we have never heard of (or mis-understand) Marxist-Leninism. We are anarchists because we understand Leninism. We reject the ideas of vanguardism and embrace the lessons learned by people actually active in the class struggle. Kropotkin was right, Anarchism "originated in everyday struggles" and draws its ideas and ideals from those struggles. Struggles such as those in Seattle and the organising and organisations that preceded it.
That is why Seattle is so important - it was an expression of the class struggle which inspires and informs anarchism and from this struggle anarchist ideas will grow. Black Flag congratulates all involved! Well done! One in the eye of capitalism and the state! Direct action gets results, yet again!
- Reclaiming the Railways London's N30 Mini-Riot
- Close Campsfield Down! Sixth Anniversary Demo & John Ouaquah's Victory
- Solidarity with West Papua - Direct Action Across UK
- Massacre in West Papua - 300,000+ Killed Since 1962
- British Nazis in Spain - ITP Buys a Village
- Mayday 2000 Festival of Resistance
- ABC Network UK Folds But Local Groups Continue
- Rat Thrown Off... Nick Hudson Sacked
- Death Control? Spanish Peace Activism
- Butchery in Chechnya - Russia's Diversionary War
- Blood for Oil - Colombian Resistance
- iViva Las Mujeres Creando! - Bolivian Anarcha Feminists
- Swedish Activist Murdered - Fascist Violence Exposed
- The Zlin Ten - Czech Anti-Fascists On Trial
- In the Ghetto - Roma in the Czech Republic
- Rioters Greet Clinton - Greek Anarchists Strike
- Social Exclusion in Colombia - Civilians Respond to 'Peace Talk' Exclusion
- Raid at Mehringhof - Berliner Autonomists Hit
- Crackdown in Indonesia - State Terror Against FAF
- The Class War Kills Again - Death at NZ Picket Line
- Stateless in Seattle - N30 Eyewitnesses' Report
- Global Capitalism, Global Protest - N30 Around the World
- Clinton - Champion of Labour Standards? N30 Workers' Mobilisation
- On to Davos - Swiss Militant Protest
- After Seattle '99 - Where We Go From Here
- Shooting to Kill - New Politics Of Punishment
- Talking In Their Sleep - The 'Affair' With Democracy
- Health, Wealth & Inequality – It's Official – Poverty Kills!
- The Murmuring Volcano - Ecuador's Economic Crisis
- Technology, Capitalism and Anarchism - Dehumanisation of Labour
- Nikos Maziotis
- Ron Easterbrook
- Mark Barnsley Update
- Amelia Johnson
- J18 Prisoners
REVIEWS & LETTERS
- Evolution & Environment Kropotkin's 11th Volume
- The Last Flight Of The Ornithocheirus - Walking With Dinosaurs
- More Reviews
- Peter Miller Obituary
N30: Reclaiming the Railways
As martial law was imposed on the streets of Seattle, London hosted its own mini-riot at Euston Station.
The events of November 30th 1999, from Black Flag #219.
On 30 November 1999, Reclaim the Streets and the Strike Support Group organised a 1000+ strong demo called 'Reclaim the Railways' outside Euston Station, with the support of the London Transport Regional Council of the RMT (Tube Workers) and the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation. Speakers at the rally included railworkers campaigning for rail safety and against privatisation, anti-WTO activists and Zapatista supporters. The speakers presented a refreshing anti-capitalist message, urging direct action rather than following parties or voting for new politicians. Unlike the left, who have retarded the issue politically by calling for renationalisation, RTS urged workers' self-management as the only alternative to privatisation.
In addition to the anarchist solution to privatisation, the demo also successfully linked New Labour's Thatcherite policies to the ongoing global assault on our class. As one of the RTS leaflets put it:
"The most blatant example of market madness in London is the privatisation of the Tube. Consequently, railways are the focus of the events here. Join us to say No! to privatisation. No! to another century of capitalism. No! to another century of alienated work, poverty, wars and ecological destruction —and Yes! to a new world based on real human community, a society based on our needs and desires not their profits!"
Reclaim the Streets also stressed the importance of doing it ourselves and not relying on politicians or parties. It's a shame they did not use the word anarchist (unlike socialist and communist), but the libertarian message of self-help, direct action and solidarity came through and that is what really counts. The only real solution is a new society based on human needs, not profit. They also linked the need to transform the world with direct action of workers,
"The only practical solution is for us to start talking to our fellow commuters and workers, to start coming together to build a new world. That is what railworkers begin to do when they go on strike. Of course, the media say strikes cause commuter misery and damage to the economy. But what is the economy about? It is about working hard just to survive, while making profits for others to live at our expense. The economy is human misery. By striking, workers reduce the misery!"
Some comrades also helped hammer home the importance of autonomous self-organisation with a leaflet warning people of the parasitic nature of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). As it said:
"At our best we [the direct action movement] have developed radical anti-capitalist ideas through creative actions... brought off with no leaders giving us orders, just mutual aid and solidarity between groups and individuals. The same ideas also inspire the vision of the world many of us want to see — a free community based on co-operation, not competition and hierarchies. The SWP, however, see the Party as all important. The resistance of the oppressed must be controlled and directed by the party leadership to succeed..."
The leaflet was right to argue that "despite their radical language the SWP is fundamentally opposed to our movement" — indeed any movement of working class self-liberation.
All in all, the politics of the N30 demo were excellent — libertarian in spirit, method and vision. However, the turning over of a (very conveniently placed) empty police van by some of the (unmasked) protesters does raise questions.
Firstly the police obviously had the numbers, and resources to win any confrontation (unlike June 18). Euston Station forecourt is an easily enclosed space, heavily monitored by CCTV. The chances were that we would lose, so why provide the police with easy targets?
Secondly, why should demos always become riots? The politics of the demo can be lost (as can be seen from the coverage where opposition to privatisation and other issues were lost). This is not a plea for pacifism (we know that the police attack peaceful demos and self-defence is essential). Rather it is a plea for intelligence and analysis. Why chance getting arrested when the risks are clearly higher than the rewards? After all, if all demos become riots they will only become the activity of those young, confident and strong enough to handle them. Is this really what we want? To exclude the bulk of the population from our activities? Of course not. The next day Prescott pulled Railtrack out of the contract to privatise the London Underground. This may have been pure coincidence. The next example of market madness is the privatisation of Air Traffic Control. Perhaps it's time to Reclaim the Skies?
Close Campsfield Down!
Articles on resistance to Campsfield Detention Centre from Black Flag #219 (2000)
Sixth Anniversary Demonstration
Three hundred people marked the sixth anniversary of the opening of Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre
Despite a heavy police presence and constant police harassment, (two pigs for every protester, backed up with police horses and a helicopter), protesters kept up a noisy protest for two hours before dispersing.
On arrival at the detention centre protesters were forced to park half a mile away from the camp. Every protester was photographed and videoed by the police as they arrived at the gates of the camp and the surveillance continued throughout the demonstration only stopping for ten minutes when police attacked the protesters.
Campsfield is surrounded by a 20-foot-high, half-inch thick metal wall. Protesters banged on it with their hands to let the refugees in the camp know they were there. Police decided this was causing 'criminal damage' to the fence and ordered the protesters to desist. This only encouraged people to bang even harder. The police then charged the demonstrators and pulled people away from the fence dragging them through a hedgerow and literally throwing them into the field adjacent to the camp. A line of police was then formed at the fence to keep protesters away from it.
Demonstrators let off multicoloured helium balloons that tangled above the fence, their strings caught on the razor wire. Paper planes flew over carrying messages of support to the detainees to the sound of drums, flutes, guitars, pots and pans.
Group 4, who run Campsfield for the Immigration Service, were clearly nervous. Bolts along the fence had been welded solid. Detainees were locked indoors until the demonstration finished. The government need to understand that these protests will continue until they stop imprisoning people without trial, without reason and without time limit, punishing people for seeking asylum.
At the end of the demo protesters agreed to continue opposition to existing detention centres Campsfield (Oxfordshire), Harmondsworth (Heathrow), Tinsley (Gatwick), Haslar (Portsmouth), Rochester Prison (Kent) and against the new detention centres planned at Oakington (Cambridgeshire), and Aldington (Kent).
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (IvcAoc); 110 Hamstead Road, Birmingham 820 205; telephone 0121 554 6947 fax 0870 055 4570; email: [email protected]; website: www.ncadc.demon.co.uk
Victory for John Quaquah
Straw fails to deport Campsfield detainee
The High Court on 15 December 1999 quashed a decision Home Secretary to deport John Quaquah, an asylum seeker who is suing the Home Office after events at Campsfield Detention Centre in 1997.
John Quaquah was detained at Campsfield in August - when he, and eight others, were charged with offences spent ten months in prison before coming to trial. All nine were acquitted of those charges after the criminal trial collapsed in June 1998 when the evidence of Group 4 employees - running the detention centre under a private contract - was found to be unreliable. The behaviour of these Group 4 officers was described as "wicked" by the High Court.
After his acquittal, John sought to bring a claim for damages for malicious prosecution against the Home Office as well as Group 4. He was then served with a deportation order. However the High Court ruled on 15 December that the deportation order should be quashed for failing to pay proper regard to the requirements of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and the requirements of the new Civil Procedure Rules, both of which require an 'equality of arms' for parties engaged in litigation. Put simply, this means that Jack Straw's attempt to avoid being sued by deporting someone has failed.
Straw has learned nothing from this episode. Group 4 are amongst the front-runners, along with weirdo god-botherer private prisons outfit Wackenhut, to run the new 'open' detention centre at Oakington. The Campsfield Nine campaign to try and teach the Home Office a lesson goes on.
Campsfield Nine Defence Campaign on 01865 557 282 c, 07961 392 510. More information on anti-deportation can be found at www.ncadc.demon.co.uk
Direct actions in solidarity with the people of West Papua
Three short articles from Black Flag #219 (2000).
An area almost the size of England is to be destroyed by a giant infrastructure project in the Mamberamo region. A large dam flooding an area the size of Holland will spearhead logging, plantations, mining and heavy industry in the surrounding area. The 9,000-strong indigenous population including at least 14 uncontacted tribes, are to be forcibly removed.
Rio Tinto Offices Occupied On 4 October, activists from across the South West occupied both offices of Rio Tinto in Bristol in solidarity with the Free Papua Movement (FPM). Rio Tinto is the largest mining company in the world, supporting oppressive regimes across the world in return for military protection of their profitable operations. In West Papua, together with the brutal Indonesian military they have inflicted massive environmental devastation and human suffering. However in the face of corporate and state violence the people of West Papua have fought back. The aims of the action in Bristol were to disrupt the business of the company, to expose their abuses and show solidarity with the OPM, and take action with activists from other areas. It was successful on all counts.
Just before 9am, 12 suited activists walked past security (busy dealing with diversionary 'drunks') and occupied the Mining and Exploration offices on the seventh floor. Police arrived very quickly in five cars and three vans, trashing a door and office equipment while clearing activists out. After an hour people left with no arrests to join the picket outside. Police confiscated a D-lock from one occupier and banners after a banner drop from a nearby footbridge. After a break for lunch and getting the D-lock back from the cop shop, the well-dressed rabble visited the second offices (central registration) for more of the same. The D-lock was put to good use as two women locked on to each other and a filing cabinet. In another office files were well-shuffled, and next door a man barricaded himself in and got down to some useful office work. Three were arrested and held overnight for Breach of the Peace. All the time outside leaflets were given out and the building transformed with banners. People involved felt very positive about the first regional action in the South West, with lots of useful lessons and good experience of working together. The SWARM (South West Active Resistance Movement) is alive.
An ARCO Infiltration
The oil giant ARCO are involved in the exploration and development of Benoui Bay off West Papua and give economic and political support to the murderous Indonesian regime. On 4 October their offices in Guildford were invaded by a dozen besuited Brighton people who went almost totally unnoticed by staff for up to half an hour. During this time they walked around the finance department, reading and reorganising files, losing keys to locked filing cabinets, having creative fun with computers and distributing hundreds of flyers into files, handbags and outgoing mail.
When people eventually left, the fire alarm to the three-floored building mysteriously went off. Two people were chased by security for a mile across town before making a cheeky getaway. The workers had the chance to wonder what the fuck was going on for an hour on full wages; the company lost hundreds of worker hours and they'll be discovering our flyers for many years to come!
For up-to-date news from West Papua get on the OPM so email newslist or check out the web page at: www.eco-action.org/opm/. UK contacts include: South East & General Information OPM SO, 43 Gardner Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN7 7UN; South-West c/o Kebele, 74 Robertson Road, Bristol Bs5 61v; email: [email protected]
Massacre in West Papua
The Government of Indonesia carried out a massacre on 2 December 1999 in Timika, West Papua. Hundreds of Papuans were also injured. This December massacre is only one of the countless others in which more than 300,000 Papuans have been killed since 1962. While ethnic cleansing continues in West Papua, the Indonesians - with massive help from the west have resettled hundreds of thousands of racially and culturally different Indonesians under the so-called 'Transmigrasi Project', the largest resettlement project ever in history. The background for the killings and the 'Transmigrasi Project' is the West's greed for the rich resources of West Papua, in particular oil, copper, gold and timber. In December, West Papuans showed, with the raising of the 'Morning Star' flag, symbol for freedom, their demand for full independence from Indonesia.
Article from Black Flag #219 (2000) on the hypocrisy of Unionist politicians' outrage at the appointment of Republicans to prominent positions following the Good Friday Agreement.
NB: This piece did not appear in the printed version of the magazine but was included in the web version at flag.blackened.net
The selection, 20 months on from the Good Friday Agreement, of the 12-member power-sharing executive, has left hard-line unionists furious. The Democratic Unionist party has described the holding of ministerial office by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuiness (education) and Bairbre de Brun (health) as casting "a shadow over the so-called new dawn in Northern Ireland." Ian Paisley probably gave the game away when he condemned the fact that McGuiness was in charge of primary and secondary education and the SDLP's Sean Farren had control of higher education.
For all the bluster, Paisley's concern was not with supposed "paramilitaries" entering the political arena, but the holding of office by Catholics per se. The Guardian (30/11/99) appeared fascinated by the idea that McGuiness, who "left school at 15 without qualifications" could presume to handle his brief at all. More than one taboo it appears has been broken – for the Unionists it was the presence of Taigs in the government, for the liberal middle classes it was the invasion of the unskilled working classes onto their terrain!1
As always, violence and the pursuit of political aims through the use of force are presumed to be a historical baggage of the nationalists and Loyalist paramilitaries of the Progressive Unionists alone. It's worth, then, looking at the background of the "respectable" Unionist leader in Parliament Buildings.
David Trimble is seen as a fervent opponent of the politics of the gun. Leaving aside the allegations made by Jim Sands in Sean McPhilemy's book "The Committee", Trimble was a member of William Craig's Ulster Vanguard movement, and was political adviser to Craig when he told a 1972 rally in Belfast's Ormeau Park
"We must build up a dossier of the men and women who are a menace to this country because if and when the politicians fail us, it may be our job to liquidate the enemy."
Trimble was also involved in the Ulster Club's opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and said of the campaign,
"I would personally draw the line at terrorism and serious violence. But if we are talking about a campaign that involves demonstrations and so on, then a certain element of violence might be inescapable."2
In July 1996, Trimble, who, at the time "would never talk to terrorists", met mid-Ulster UVF murderer Billy "King Rat" Wright at the church hall at Drumcree, around the time Wright was involved in the killing of a catholic taxi driver, Michael McGoldrick.
Nor is it the case that the guns, which have echoed throughout the period of deadlock over decommissioning, have been those of nationalists. A variety of Loyalist front organisations have continued to ply their trade throughout. In November, a Loyalist death list was discovered at Stoneycroft Orange Hall in South Antrim. The list contained over 300 names. Included on the list were Sinn Fein councillors Sean Hayes and Alex Maskey and Lower Ormeau Concerned Community spokesperson Gerard Rice. Only a handful of those on the list have been warned by the RUC of the threat against them. The lists are believed to include copies of British army files compiled as recently as 1997. Since the lists were discovered a North Belfast family on the lists have been targeted in a pipe bomb attack and five people in the Newry area have been sent letters containing a bullet and signed OV (Orange Volunteers).
Community activist Michael O'Hara, chairperson of the Short Strand Residents Group, was attacked by a machete wielding Loyalist group on 19 November. There is speculation that the attack was the work of the LVF. In the past few months there have been two pipe bomb attacks and 6 petrol bomb attacks in the Short Strand enclave and 2 British soldiers were caught by local Republicans after they took part in a loyalist gang attack on the area. Both the Orange Volunteers (a flag of convenience for the LVF) and the Red Hand Defenders (members of the UDA) continue to recruit and actively target nationalists. Among Loyalists recently arrested, one, Clifford Peebles, was a Protestant fundamentalist pastor, and member of Families Against Intimidation and Terror. Peebles was arrested in possession of a pipe bomb and hand grenades.
The majority of both communities in the six counties will welcome the "normalisation" of politics through the Good Friday Agreement. Whether the interests of working class communities of either side can be met through the Stormont coalition remains to be seen (although we can guess!) Amidst the mock-outrage over "paramilitaries" in Parliament, though, we should not forget that men like Trimble and Paisley were quite prepared to support violence in defence of a sectarian state, or that paramilitaries armed by the British state continue to actively target nationalists, using information supplied by that state; a state which purports to support the peace process.
- 1..........more importantly at least McGuiness doesn't have links with Orange Order members who ran Kincora Boys Home and should not be allowed anywhere near anything to do with young people [maybe that's why Sinn Fein got the post!]. Which if any of the above loyalists are closest to that?
- 2Loyalists, Peter Taylor, Bloomsbury Publishing
UK news - Black Flag #219 (2000)
UK news pieces from Black Flag #219 (2000) covering the fascist International Third Position attempting to buy a village in Spain, plans for London Mayday 2000, the closing of the UK Anarchist Black Cross Network and the sacking of the editor of the virulently anti-immigrant Dover Express.
British Nazis in Spain
Religious 'charity' help finance a British Nazi settlement in an abandoned village in Spain
El Pais, Spain's largest newspaper headlined its front page on 14 November 1999, "English Nazi Group Buys Abandoned Village in Spain." The nazis in question, the 'International Third Position' (ITP), have bought Los Pedriches, 92 km from Valencia. It is a small hamlet of eight houses, of which ITP has bought seven from the original owners, who moved to the cities twenty years ago.
ITP is rebuilding the hamlet with a current permanent population of four, receiving visits from Spanish, British and other European fascist groups. 'St. Michael Archangel', a British catholic 'charity', contributed £7,000 towards the purchase of the town. The money is said to have come from charity shops in London. Spanish and European fascist groups had unsuccessfully tried to buy other villages in Spain, in the region of Aragon. It appears that the ITP intend to use the village as a safe place in which to meet, orga-nise, train etc. without police surveillance. They already own three villages in France.
This story was taken up by major papers in the UK but Larry O'Hara's magazine, Notes from the Borderland exposed the charity shops and the ITP plans over a year ago. A few months after publication the charity shop front angle was run in Searchlight and various mainstream papers -with no mention of O'Hara.
Notes from the Borderland can be obtained from all dodgy bookshops and from BM 4769, London WC1N 3XX.
This year anarchists will do something positive on Mayday in London, other than dutifully make up the (pitifully low) numbers on another boring march
Mayday 2000: "a festival of anti capitalist ideas and action" is an event aiming to continue the process of dialogue and analysis started at Bradford 98, and build on the energy of J18. There will be a four day festival starting with a critical mass and history walk on April 28, then on Saturday and Sunday a conference to bring together anti-capitalist theory and practice. Saturday will be a populist event with speakers and workshops and a bookfair which will try to reach people who may not usually go to a political conference so we can learn from each other. There will be films, music and many diverse events taking place in the conference venue and outside of it. Sunday will be a more structured series of workshops when we will look together at our lives and struggles, our history and the future. On Monday May 1st there will be a mass action where, armed with our new knowledge about the German Revolution and the theory of surplus value, we will bring about the revolution.
Mayday is attempting to bring together theory and practice in our fight against capitalism. There will be workshops on squatting, workplace organising, etc. and practical and artistic activities, along with comrades from abroad talking about struggles such as the Italian Autonomia movement. As we are fighting against alienation in all aspects of our lives, we are trying to break down the artificial distinctions between life and politics at Mayday and make the event a creative, enjoyable as well as productive weekend. But this won't happen without you! There are general meetings once a month but also subgroups including fund-raising, publicity, cultural events and more.
To get involved, there is an email discussion list at [email protected] or write to Mayday 2000, BM Mayday, London WC1N 3XX.
ABC UK Network Folds
The Anarchist Black Cross Network in the UK has folded due to burn-out. There were simply not enough ABC comrades to keep the network, prisoners lists etc going.
This is sad news for all class struggle prisoners. There are, however, several local ABC groups still supporting prisoners. Details of the ones we know about are on the Contacts page. The pamphlet `No Comment' and other ABC leaflets can still be obtained from Haven Distribution, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX.
As well as Haven, who supply books free to prisoners, the local ABC groups and individual prisoner campaigns a new network CAGE is being set up to oppose the prison building program, the locking up of asylum seekers and the prison state.
Contact: CAGE c/o 180-788 Mansfield Road, Nottinghamshire NG1 3HW; email: [email protected]
Rat Thrown Off by Sinking Ship
Nick Hudson, the odious editor of the Dover Express (see Black Flag 215 & 218) was sacked by his employers, Kent Regional Newspapers (KRN) in December 1999.
He was apparently not dismissed because of the racist filth he has consistently printed about asylum seekers, but because he wrote an attack on Hoverspeed (the operators of the hovercraft ferry from Dover), which led the company to make a forrnal complaint about him. We also understand that at the KRN Christmas party Hudson was involved in an altercation during which he received a slap from another member of staff. Hudson went storming around in search of witnesses but, strangely, no-one seemed to have seen the incident.
Blood For Oil
Colombian military personnel have invaded the traditional homeland of the U'wa people to make way for the drilling plants of oil giant Occidental.
From Black Flag magazine #219, 2000.
Colombia has, like many poor countries, the misfortune to possess oil. The oil is to be found in forest regions which also become vulnerable to exploitation as the roads to exploit the oil reserves are built. And the money from the oil (that the politicians claim will make everyone better off ) goes into the pockets of the elite, while the poor get poorer. Oil companies have had people killed in Latin America, just like they have in Nigeria and elsewhere. For years BP were the stalwarts of the oil murderers in Colombia, funding and training death squads in a way that Shell surely learnt well from in the Niger delta.
In neighbouring Ecuador, Texaco devastated parts of the Oriente, and locals opposing the drilling were killed. The Cofan tribe of that region are now suing them in the US for $1billion. But the latest saga in oil capitals' rape of the continent is being enacted in Colombia, where the Los Angeles based company Occidental has been granted a permit for drilling on U'wa land. This is the culmination of a long campaign, and the U'wa, who number 5000, have threatened mass suicide if Mother Earth's blood (i.e. the oil) is spilt. Their view of the land might be a bit different to ours, but their words resonate even here.
"We are seeking an explanation for this 'progress' that goes against life. We are demanding that this kind of progress stop, that oil exploitation in the heart of the Earth is halted, that the deliberate bleeding of the Earth stop...we ask that our brothers and sisters from other races and cultures unite in the struggle that we are undertaking...we believe that this struggle has to become a global crusade to defend life." - Statement of the U'wa people, August, 1998
The U'wa explain they prefer death by their own hand than the slow death of their environment and culture that oil production will bring. A core tenet of U'wa culture is the belief that the land that has sustained them for centuries is sacred. In March 1999, three indigenous rights activists, Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawatok and Lahe'ane'e Gay, were murdered by leftist guerrillas while working with the U'wa. These murders and the intimidation the U'wa have already experienced are a taste of the wider physical violence the oil project will bring.
Throughout Colombia, oil and violence are inextricably linked. Occidental's pipeline, just north of U'wa territory, has been attacked by leftist guerrillas more than 600 times in its 13 years of existence, spilling some 1.7 million barrels of crude oil. The Colombian government has militarised oil production and pipeline zones, often persecuting local populations they assume are helping the guerrillas. Oil projects have already taken their toll on many other indigenous peoples of Colombia, including the Yarique, Cofan and Secoya.
The drilling plans threaten the survival of both the U'wa and their environment. The U'wa's cloud forest homeland in the Sierra Nevada de Cocuy mountains near the Venezuelan border is one of the most delicate, endangered forest ecosystems on the planet. It is rich in plant and animal life unique to the region, and the U'wa depend on the balance and bounty of the forest for their survival. Where oil companies have operated in other regions of the Amazon basin, cultural decay, toxic pollution, land invasions and massive deforestation have followed. Occidental first received an exploration license in 1992. Since then, the U'wa have voiced their consistent opposition to the oil project. They have taken a variety of actions including the filing of lawsuits against the government in Colombia, petitioning the Organisation of American States to intervene, appealing directly to Occidental's top executives, and lobbying company shareholders.
Last April U'wa representatives came to Los Angeles to directly confront Occidental. Along with several hundred supporters the U'wa marched on Oxy's HQ and demanded a meeting with CEO Ray Irani. When they were refused, activists occupied the street in front of the building and held a rally on Oxy's front steps. Two days later on April 30th while the U'wa spoke at Occidental's shareholder meeting there were demonstrations at Colombian consulates and embassies around the world.
The US has very strong ties with Colombia. Not only does Colombia sell most of its oil to the US market but under the auspices of the "War on Drugs" US military aid to the repressive regime in Colombia continues to grow. This year Colombia received $289 million in aid making them the third largest recipient of US military aid in the world. The US already has hundreds of military advisors in Colombia and the Clinton administration is proposing to give Colombia an additional $1.5 billion dollars. In August the Colombian government expanded the U'wa legal reserve. However, the expansion is only a portion of their traditional territory and most significantly the new borders were drawn so as to place Occidental's first drill site just outside of the reserve.
The U'wa link their struggle explicitly to the fight against the World Trade Organisation and other forms of corporate dominance. On 12th October 1999, solidarity events were held in 20 cities in 10 countries around the world to demand that the Colombian government and Occidental Petroleum cancel their plans.
On 19 January 2000, more than 5,000 heavily-armed Colombian military personnel invaded U'wa territory, where Oxy's drilling site is situated. Faced with opposition by the U'wa, the military declared that "the oil will be extracted even over and above the U'wa". Police were sent to protect Occidental's engineers.
The U'wa are making an urgent call to the national and international community, and to all groups who have supported them, to mobilise against this last attempt to trample upon their existence and culture.
"We U'wa will not cede our cultural, historic and ancient rights. We prefer genocide sponsored by the Colombian government rather than handing over our mother earth..."
Rainforest Action Network www.ran.org can provide hard copies of materials.
Additional information can be found at www.amazonwatch.org and www.moles.org
Butchery In Chechnya
In the run up to the presidential elections, a war in Chechnya is a useful distraction from the economic chaos and corruption of daily life in Russia.
Article from Black Flag #219 (2000).
Overseeing the aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia, Tony Blair justified NATO'S actions in the name of a "new internationalism where the brutal repression of whole ethnic groups will no longer be tolerated." Those of us who condemned this "military humanism" (as Noam Chomsky has dryly termed it) as the same old imperialism in post-Cold War guise were denounced by the state department socialists of today. The slaughter of thousands of Chechens by a resurgent Russian military, though, has roused neither the ire of the NATO 'internationalists' nor their 'humanitarian' cheerleaders. Beyond token condemnation of the 'excesses' of the Russian military, the butchery in the Caucasus has become an 'internal' matter for Yeltsin, Putin and their generals to deal with as they see fit. Moscow's ultimate aim, as in its ill-fated 1994-96 war, is to install a puppet regime in Chechnya.
In the run up to the presidential elections, a war in Chechnya is a useful distraction from the economic chaos and corruption of daily life in Russia. Anatoly Chubais, a Kremlin insider, has remarked that "the Russian army is being revived in Chechnya." Putin clearly relished the opportunity to use a popular war to underwrite his claim to the presidency. It should be re-membered that the pretext for the invasion of Chechnya was the battle against `terrorism' in response to apartment block bombings last year which killed 300, and which Moscow blamed on Chechen militants. Not a scrap of evidence has been produced to demonstrate a Chechen connection to the bombs and given Putin's KGB links and the level of premeditation involved in the Chechen invasion, we should be cynical as to the real source of the bombings.
In 1994-96, Russian soldiers were slaughtered in their thousands in combat in the region. This time, inspired by the NATO campaign in Yugoslavia, the Russians decided to raze the region through aerial bombardment before risking engagement on the ground. Thousands of refugees attempted to flee the region, only to be held in camps at the Ingushetian border, where they froze or starved. Over 300,000 were displaced by the Russian onslaught.
Russia has fired tank shells at teenage boys in Novy Sharoy, pummelled the village of Samashki with aircraft, rocket-launchers and tanks even though they know the village is empty of rebels, and signalled its intention to destroy the city of Grozny. Russian bombers were flying more than 100 sorties a day over Grozny. The mayor of the City, Lecha Dudayev, reported that over 500 died over the weekend of 27-28 November.
It has been suggested that the West's apathy in the face of the slaughter of the Chechen people (in greater numbers and with greater force than Milosevic's forces used against the Kosovars) is a result of its having no strategic interest at stake. In fact, the opposite is true. The Russian elite and the politicians of the West have a common agenda, the looting of the wreckage of the USSR. Since 1991, over $200 billion has left Russia, with both legal and illegal currency finding its way to Western banks. On 19 August the New York Times reported that up to $10 billion may have been laundered through the Bank of New York since 1998. The asset stripping of the USSR has been cheered on by the IMF, the World Bank and the US Treasury.
Meanwhile, some 70% of Russians now live below the poverty line, and capital investment is one-tenth what it was a decade ago. Those denounced as 'corruptionalists' when they're caught out are the liberal reformers Washington, Berlin and London have kept in power. They remain the West's first choice, and the impoverishment of the Russian people, and the massacre of the Chechens cannot be allowed to stand in the way of business as usual.
Blair's 'new internationalism' has proved itself quite content to watch while Moscow seeks to drown in blood the Chechens' right to independence. Yeltsin, Putin and 'reformers' like Anatoly Chubais (who supervised the give-away of the USSR'S oil, metal and telecommunications assets) are worth money to the West. Chechen lives have no value at all. The rules of war in the era of 'military humanism' seem clear enough. As Umar Vitayev, a Chechen refugee, observed;
"Everything has been destroyed; our factories, our industry. We're going to have to remain dependent on someone, because we don't have anything left."
NB: The following appeared in the web version of this issue of Black Flag.
On 12 December anti-war activists took action against the war in Chechnya on one of the main streets in Moscow "Tverskaya". The idea was to declare "Tverskaya" as an area autonomous from the state and the Russian army. 27 people (mostly anarchists and people from Rainbow Keepers) took part but the action lasted only about 10 minutes until 7 people were arrested.
The Transnational Radical Party, Russian Democratic Union, Movement against Violence (Ekaterinburg), Tatarian Muslim party "Vatan" and Revolution Contact Committi (a new group) have organized several actions but usually with only 3-20 people each time. Anti-war stickers have been put up in the underground with slogans like "The state is the main terrorist", "No war", "Bring the army home", "War-money-war" on the walls.
But it isn’t easy: Moscow is full of police and there is a pre-election campaign with the usual attendant propaganda. Most people don't support the protests against the war and the media won’t report anti-war actions.
Crackdown in Indonesia: Report from Front Anti-Fascist (FAF) Bandung
New laws are being introduced, legitimising state terror against resistance groups. Front Anti-Fascist (FAF) Bandung are fighting back.
Article from Black Flag #219 (2000)
Last August, workers went on strike at the PT Rimba Aristama factory in Bandung. One of the strikers, Juju Juliyah, went on hunger strike because she and several other workers had been fired by the factory owner for their activities. Several day later Juju Juliyah died. She died for her beliefs, yet neither the factory management, the government nor the media has shown any concern over the tragedy.
On September 4th, FAF organised a demonstration in solidarity with Juju Juliyah and her fellow workers' struggle. SBI(Indonesian Labour Solidarity) a labour organisation, GMIP, and FMD the radical student organisation also attended. The demonstration began outside the university building in Bandung with speeches. When enough people had gathered they marched through the slum districts, handing out leaflets in the streets. They then made their way to the national radio station headquarters to demand (amongst other things) that they cover Juju's case. But the radio station called in the army and the police to remove the demonstrators. One army truck parked up behind the building together with two trucks full of armed riot cops.
The demonstrators decided to march on to the city hall, only to find the building closed in anticipation of their arrival. Thirty or so demonstrators responded by trying to break down the doors. Again, the cops arrived and prepared to attack the demonstration. The demonstrators responded by making speeches in front of the building, managing to attract enough people's attention to avoid a beating from the cops.
On 13 Sept. about 100 people occupied a local government building to demand abolition of new laws (due to be signed up to on 28th September) that legitimise the use of military force against resistance movements opposed the government and the state. The law legitimises kidnapping, violence, even murder as tools to deal with resistance movements and their members. Demonstrators also made speeches outside the building and handed out leaflets. Those inside stated that they would refuse to leave until the government responded to their demands but that evening more than 500 anti-riot cops entered the building to forcibly evict the occupation.
The next morning more than 500 people gathered outside the building and tried to get back inside. Despite the efforts of 50 riot cops to hold them back, the crowd managed to re-enter the building and once inside made speeches. Eventually local government spokesmen arrived to speak to the occupiers and promised to raise the issue of the new laws with the government. Having achieved their short term aim, the demonstrators left and marched to the national radio headquarters to demand that their message be broadcast over the airwaves. There they were met by riot cops who attacked the demonstrators.
Fleeing the riot cops, they moved on to march to KODAM (a military base) where they damaged a statue outside. When soldiers prepared to attack the demonstration, they marched back to the parliament building. Demands for the government to abolish the new laws were met, again, by 500 riot cops, whose chief tried to negotiate with the demonstrators. There was a battle with the police at 10pm that night when riot cops tried to move them on. Molotovs were thrown and the cops responded with a street blackout (all streetlights were turned off). The cops got very heavy and fired at the demonstrators and many were beaten up badly. Those that escaped moved on to the UNPAD(padjadjaran university) building, and decided to stay there 'til the morning. Four demonstrators were caught by the army outside the building, but released the next day.
On 17 Sept. a chief of the Indonesian military, Wiranto, was due to arrive in Bandung to speak about the new laws against resistance movements. Demonstrators organised to prevent him speaking and to raise public awareness of the new laws. Actions also took place in Jakarta and Yogyakarta.
Several days later further demonstrations took place in Bandung - demonstrators graffitied the local government building, collected signatures for a petition and handed out thousands of leaflets. On 22 September nearly 1000 people gathered in front of the local government building and there were further clashes with the police - this was the last government meeting before the new laws were to be signed and approved. Attempts were made to force the radio station to broadcast their message and windows were smashed at the radio headquarters.
The next day the demonstrators successfully occupied the government building again and were able to broadcast their case over the airwaves for 15 minutes. They held the building all night and set up a stage at the front from which to make speeches. The following morning they closed the road in front of the building and attacked any military vehicles that tried to pass. They showed videos of the previous year's shooting tragedy in front of the Trisakti university to the public and held the building until the following morning.
FAF still want books or other information on anarchist / class struggle politics
All correspondence should be sent to P.O.BOX 1853 Bandung 40018 West Java - Indonesia (do not address mail to FAF as it will be censored - simply send to the PO Box with no name).
Indonesian Anarchist Federation Formed
The first gathering of the Janringan Anti-Fasis (JAF) anti-fascist network was held in December 1999 in Yogyakarta. It is a new anarchist orientated network of radical youth groups in Indonesia. Also known as JAF Nusantara, because "Nusantara" is the ancient name of Indonesia (a geographical description) which means islands in-between two great oceans, the Indian and the Pacific.
The JAF can be emailed at [email protected]; or write to JAF, c/o ISI, Gampingan No. 1, Wirobrajan, Yogyakarta.
SAC Activist Murdered by Fascists
An article from the UK based anarchist journal, Black Flag on the 1999 murder of a Swedish syndicalist by fascists.
Björn Söderberg, a veteran union activist in the Swedish syndicalist union, Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation, SAC, was murdered by fascists on the evening of October the 12th. Söderberg, in his forties, was shot three times outside his apartment in the Stockholm suburb of Sätra. One shot was directly through the head.
He had recently played a crucial role in exposing a well-known fascist, Robert Vesterlund, at his workplace in southern Stockholm. The fascist had won the confidence of his work-mates and had been elected as the local union steward. Upon being exposed however, the fascist was removed from his union position and later left the union. In subsequent newspaper articles Vesterlund was quoted as saying "It's time to get tough." Since then, Vesterlund kept close tabs on Söderberg, amongst other things obtaining his passport photo (by law, a public document in Sweden).
Vesterlund's fascist career began in the youth organisation of the fascist parliamentary party Sverigedemokraterna (the Sweden Democrats). He recently joined the notoriously violent Swedish nazi group, Ariska Broderskapet (Aryan Brotherhood). Vesterlund was also involved, though never questioned by the police, in a car-bombing incident in June 1999, in which an anti-fascist journalist and his eight-year-old son were badly injured. The police have arrested three fascists suspected in connection with Söderberg’s murder.
The SAC held demonstrations across Sweden in memory of Söderberg and against fascist violence on Saturday the 23rd of October. The same day, fascists bombed the SAC-owned house Joe Hill Gården in Gävle. As well as being the offices of the local federation of SAC, the house has great symbolic value as the birth place of Joe Hill. (Joe Hill left Sweden and emigrated to the United States where he earned a name for himself within the ranks of American syndicalist union IWW-Industrial Workers of the World). No one was killed, but parts of the house were demolished.
The demonstrations were, with a few exceptions, organised by the Swedish syndicalists, though other groups such as the large reformist unions, bolsheviks and other leftist organisations gave their support. Demonstrations ranged from 20,000 people in Stockholm, 6000 in Gothenburg, 3000 in Malmö, down to the hundreds in small towns like Borås and Luleå. In all, 25 cities and towns throughout the country saw demos. The Syndicalist Youth federation, SUF, criticised attempts in certain places to tone down the political content of the protests as going "directly against the views held by Björn Söderberg, in whose memory they were holding the manifestation, and against the principles of syndicalism!" The SUF added, "The fascists of Sweden understand that the Swedish syndicalists and workers movement as a whole are the only threat they have to take on seriously."
The most brutal fascists are involved in the NSF (National Socialist Front) and Combat 18. Sweden is also one of the largest exporters of "white power" music. The murder comes against a background of increasing fascist attacks on both anti-fascists and the police. However, according to AntiFascistisk Aktion, "the Swedish State continues to portray anti-fascists and extra-parliamentary activists as "public enemies no.1", while remaining docile in the face of repeated fascist violence." They draw the logical conclusion: "we shall be forced to defend ourselves. The best defence is a good offence."
Originally appeared in Black Flag #219
International News - Black Flag #219 (2000)
Shorter international news items from Black Flag #219 (2000)
Four Spanish war-resisters may face up to two years in prison after being judged by a military court (consejo de guerra). Their crime? - putting giant condoms on cannons!
Of course, in order to do this, they had to get into installations, and in the process violated military rues under which they are being charged despite being civilians. The action was part of a larger campaign which aims to take civil disobedience and non-collaboration with all aspects of the war machine into military institutions. It is a new strategy developed by the Spanish and Basque war resisters and the Army is now fighting back with their own laws.
Taxing times in France
In response to a call by four mining unions for action, on November 30th, in Lorraine, East France, hundreds of miners demonstrated against a pay freeze and a £50 end of year bonus. They set fire to police cars and government offices. In Forbach, 400 miners broke through a cordon of riot cops and ransacked a tax office, pulling furniture into the street and setting it (and the building) on fire. Earlier, in Metz, other miners set fire to 3 police cars and smashed the ground floor offices of another tax office. Furniture and files were dragged into the street and trashed.
Free Trade benefits all?
Faced with the protests in Seattle, the Economist opined that the benefits of Free Trade included faster economic growth. Is this true?
The Brazilian economy is often pinpointed as an example of the positive effects of neo-liberal change. However, here the evidence does not support the Economists assertions. Over the last decade, Brazil's per capita GBP growth averaged approximately 2.5 per cent a year. By comparison, according to UN data, it averaged 4.7 per cent during the period 1960 to 1980 when it followed a more inward-looking path to development.
It could be argued that reform in Brazil has not progressed enough, that Brazil is still a relatively closed economy. If we look at Mexico, a nation much more integrated into the world economy, we discover that, according to data from the IMF, over the last 15 years its per capita GBP growth per year has averaged approximately 1.0 per cent.
Of course, both countries have seen the rich grow richer and inequality increase, proof that neo-liberalism works, only for those who matter in a capitalist economy - the capitalists.
Anti-War demos in Moscow
On 12 December anti-war activists took action against the war in Chechnya on 'Tverskaya', one of Moscow's main streets. The idea was to declare ‘Tverskaya' as an area autonomous from the state and the Russian army. Twenty seven people (mostly anarchists and people from Rainbow Keepers) took part but after ten minutes seven people were arrested. The Transnational Radical Party, Russian Democratic Union, Movement against Violence (Ekaterinburg), Tatarian Muslim Party `Vatan' and Revolution Contact Committi (a new group) have organized several actions but usually with only three to twenty people each time. Anti-war stickers have been put up in the under-ground with slogans like "The state is the main terrorist", "No war", "Bring the army home", "War-money-war" on the walls. But it isn't easy: Moscow is full of police and there is a pre-election campaign with the usual attendant propaganda. Most people don't support the pro-tests against the war and the media won't report anti-war actions.
Anarcha Feminists subverting patriarchal order in Bolivia
"There is nothing more like a rightist macho than a leftist macho."
Mujeres Creando ('Women Creating') are, in their own words, "a group of affection and defects, creativity and proposal." Set up with "the intention to be a transforming movement... a movement of cultural space, art and social proposals where we paint, we tell stories, we dance them, we cook them, subverting the patriarchal order. "They draw from their Andean heritage, from feminism, and anarchism to fight patriarchy, power, the State and militarism. "Along with other Latin American sisters," they have "managed to separate what is the feminism of technocracy from the historically useful struggle against patriarchy." The group only has 15-20 members, including the only openly lesbian activists in Bolivia. They run a small cultural centre, as well as publish and agitate. The group is best known for its graffiti, always signed Mujeres Creando. Favourite targets include neo-liberals, smug macho leftists, and mainstream feminists ("gender technocrats"). A website about them describes them as "the country's only organisation that publicly, consistently and clearly speaks up for the oppressed, no matter who they are."
Contact Mujeres Creando at Casilla 12806, La Paz, Bolivia. You can email them at [email protected] There is a website about them at: wwvv.americas.org/News/Features/9906_ Gay_Rights/bolivias_mujeres_creando.htm.
The Zlin Ten
More state victimisation of anti-fascists in Czech Republic
Regular readers will remember the cases of Vaclav Jez and Michal Patera, Czech anarchists arrested for defending themselves against fascist aggression. While Vaclav is now free and Michal is on bail, there is a new case.
In February 1999, a trial began against ten anti-fascists and anarchists in Zlin, a major town in the east of the Czech Republic. The comrades are accused of "ideologically motivated heavy injury and public disturbance committed in an organised group" and could face ten-year sentences. The accusations date back to Spring 1997, when a dozen nazi skinheads from the 'Patriotic Front' clashed with a smaller group of anti-fascists, leaving one nazi badly wounded before they ran away. The police subsequently arrested all the anti-fascists and rounded up well-known anarchists. The police case is that the 10 anarchists attacked without provocation some "innocent citizens" waiting for a bus. Of course, these innocent citizens were nothing to do with the neo-nazis, not even the one wearing a Celtic cross!
Until August 1999, the situation for the Zlin Ten had looked good. Lawyers, paid for by the Czech ABC Fund, proved that several nazis had perjured themselves and it looked like our comrades were not in great danger. Unfortunately, the situation changed, and confidential discussions with lawyers indicate that there is political pressure to give the Ten 5-10 years long sentences.
The Federation of Social Anarchists (Czech IWA section) are asking for international publicity for the Zlin Ten. The Zlin City Court's decision is not final, but it is rare for the High Court to overturn such a sentence.
In the Ghetto
Roma community imprisoned by wall in Czech Republic
Unhindered by the Czech government, a town in the Czech Republic was able to build a wall round an area occupied by Roma, confining them to a Ghetto. The town of Ustinad Labem began to build its two metre high wall of breeze blocks and steel around buildings on one side of Maticni Street at about 4am one morning in early October. It was completed by the evening.
The builders were protected by 80 police. With grim echoes of Nazi occupation, Roma from the new ghetto were not allowed out of their houses while the wall was built. The wall had three brown steel doors to allow access to the block. It was intended that these would be locked at ten at night.
The creation of the Ghetto, probably the first in post war Europe, was fought all the way by Roma activists and Human Rights institutions. Yet the Czech Government displayed extraordinary complacency in its handling of the crisis. The proposal for the wall first appeared in May 1998 and the Czech government was warned that the wall would be a violation of international law.
In March 1999, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination warned that the Czech government was not doing enough to prohibit this unlawful act of racial segregation. More recently, in June, Ramiro Cibrian, the EU envoy to the Czech Republic, said that the Czech Republic could not be considered for EU membership if the wall was built. In May '99, and again a week before the wall was built, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) called on Czech authorities to halt the plans to build the wall.
The first attempt to build the wall took place on 5 October, when builders put up a series of pillars, a gate, and three sections of wall before Roma, acting peacefully, blocked further construction. The next day Romani activists from around the Czech Republic came to Ustinad Labem and dismantled sections of wall, by 7 October Romani activists had taken down the rest. Protests against the wall continued throughout the week both in Usti and around the Czech Republic.
However, other high-ranking Czech officials down-played the importance of the wall and, although legally empowered to do so, Czech authorities entirely failed to prevent its construction. Indeed, the Czech parliament didn't get round to annulling the original resolution of the Ustinad Labem town council to build the wall until the afternoon of 13 October, two hours after the wall was completed.
Rioters Greet Clinton
Greek Anarchists Do it Again!
Athens, 20 November: Almost at the same moment as Clinton arriving at the nearly-empty Athens' airport for his delayed 12-hour visit, hundreds of anarchists rioted through the centre of town and riot cops gassed leftist demonstrators. Clinton's visit was bound to result in this. It was set originally for 17 November, traditionally a day of protest in commemoration of the 1974 Polytechnic Uprising against the US-backed military junta. On top of this the US-backed bombing of Serbia has made Clinton even more of a hate figure in Greece than Bush. Bush visited a few months after the Gulf War — to a similar welcome.
Violence erupted despite the commitment of the KKE [Communist Party] to ensure that anarchists were not able to act. The KKE leadership have a record of attacking, arresting or grassing anarchists. This time they were themselves gassed by the cops as they tried to demonstrate. These arseholes even accused the anarchists of being, "provocateurs in service of the government ... intending to discredit communism and anti-Americanism"!
Social Exclusion in Colombia
Excluded from 'peace talks' by politicians and paramilitary 'leaders', Colombians seek solutions in direct action.
Parties in Colombia are in the middle of peace talks to deal with two armies trying to seize power. The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) thinks it's winning but so does the army and both sides are negotiating for privileges before they will consider talking about peace. Civil society has been systematically excluded from the peace talks, only those in power (including the guerrillas and paramilitaries who have got to the negotiating table by the gun, and union leaders who represent no-one but themselves) have been invited. ELN (National Liberation Army) said they would include civil society in the negotiations and brought in a couple of friends and some representatives of big economic conglomerates but didn't ask a single peasant or poor person to join.
The problem with the authoritarian tradition of the left in Colombia is that it insists on the necessity of a vanguard to represent and make decisions for the people, thus spreading the problem of social exclusion to the political arena.
The response has been massive civil disobedience campaigns that reflect people's need to have a say about their own situation. There have been strikes everywhere, highway blockades, hunger strikes and riots in prisons. People are beginning to find their own way and to distrust their leaders. The indigenous movements have been very influential in this process as they have always had alternative - more democratic and horizontal - forms of organisation. As their lives and interests have been affected by the current situation, they have stimulated alternative ways of responding as well as direct action, which had seldom been an option in the past.
If peace talks are to achieve anything, the common people must be included and the only way of achieving this is through direct action. The armies sitting at the negotiating table do not represent anyone, people have to break into the peace talks and they're doing it now.
Those movements which espouse direct action and civil dis-obedience are the ones to watch. The essential work now is to find a way to confederate and articulate these movements. They had, until recently, been isolated from the rest of the political arena, mainly by the powers in control, but partly by the lack of experience of this kind of organisation in a political arena dominated by an authoritarian tradition, a tradition that is finally beginning to break apart.
'Anti Terrorist' Raid at Mehringhof
The latest in a wave of attacks on the autonomist left in Germany has seen the long-standing autonomist centre, Mehringhof, raided and comrades charged under anti-terrorist laws.
The `Mehringhof Centre in West Berlin, once a squatted complex but now a collectively-owned project, has been home to scores of political projects and initiatives ranging from alternative and ecological collectives, Turkish and Kurdish leftist organisations, and autonomist and anti-fascist groups for well over a decade.
Despite a marked decline in the strength of the extra-parliamentary left in Berlin over the past few years, police repression against the (autonomist) left continues. First the wave of repression against the autonomist periodical Interim, then the elimination of the remnants of the squatters movement, now the recent anti-terrorist police raids on the Mehringhof can be seen as part of the 'green-left' German government's determination to cleanse the new capital of all forms of fundamental opposition.
‘Terrorist Hunt' In Berlin
At approximately 6am on Sunday 19 December, the Gneisenaustrasse in Berlin's Kreuzberg district filled with police vehicles. Around a thousand cops, many masked, including members of the GSG-9 anti-terrorist police, staged a surprise raid on the Mehringhof complex, purportedly to search for a weapons depot.
At the same time, Harald and Axel, two volunteers from the Mehringhof, were arrested in Berlin, and another comrade, Sabine was arrested at her home in Frankfurt. They are being charged with membership of a 'terrorist association', the Rote Zora / Revolutionary Cells (RZ). One is accused of storing and maintaining weapons and explosives in the Mehringhof complex and the other two with a 1987 bombing of a government office responsible for asylum policy in West Berlin. Sabine is also alleged to have taken part in an attack the year before on the chief of the foreigners division of the police bureaucracy in West Berlin, Harald Hollenberg. There are also allegations of involvement in another attack in 1987 on the head judge of the federal court in Berlin, Gunter Korbmacher, who was shot in legs.
During the raid on the Mehringhof, about zo people who had been at a party there the night before were detained for five to six hours, during which time they could not use the phone or the toilets or drink water. Two have since been deported. The cops searched all the rooms in the complex, checked the computers, confiscated papers, tore up the floors, and drilled holes in the walls in an effort to find explosives. And what did they find? Nothing but ai986 phone list which included the name of Otto Schily, now Germany's interior minister.
During the raid, about iso people held a spontaneous demonstration, which was then attacked by the cops. Sabine, Axel, and Harald were carted off to Karlsruhe, and then to jail cells in Wuppertal, Dusseldorf and Cologne. Volunteers at the Mehringhof complex estimate the damage caused by the police raid to be over 100,000 DM. The cops have said further arrests will follow.
It is noteworthy that the accusations about concrete activities all come under the statute of limitations, meaning they were all committed too long ago to be punishable by law. These accusations have been cited by the state only to give extra weight to the actual charges which are concerned with the notion of member-ship of a criminal organisation (paragraph 129a in Germany - now being introduced all over the EU as a means of fighting political resistance groups).
Bill Clinton: Champion Of Labour Standards?
Small-scale capitalism is based on wage labour and alienation just as much us 'big business.' Local elites dominate, oppress and exploit as well as transnational ones.
One of the positive aspects of Seattle was the fact that pre-action attempts were made to get workers involved. For example, a 'Labour Mobilisation Committee' (LMC) was formed mainly from rank-and-file AFL-CIO militants as well as IWW members and other labour activists. The LMC's purpose was to mobilise workers for a mass march and rally against the WTO in downtown Seattle on November 30. Hopefully this joint IWW and AFL-CIO activity will spread the ideas of revolutionary unionism amongst workers affiliated to business unions and point towards a more militant alternative. As for students, there was agitation at seven major high schools and four colleges for a city-wide walkout.
Less positive was the side-tracking of N30 aims and rhetoric from anti-capitalism into ‘anti-globalisation'. Increased decision-making by national governments hardly changes the nature of capitalism and the nation-state is not under popular control. Yes, globalisation does make things worse but we shouldn't be fighting for a return to the 1960s. The social democratic consensus was never that great to begin with (as witnessed by the numerous struggles in the 1960s and 70s). The key point is that that consensus was the product of ruling class fear of a revolutionary wave like the one after the First World War. Nor should we be fooled by a North versus South battle — Southern elites are as happy to exploit and oppress their workers and ravage their environments as Northern ones (and many delegates from the 'developing' countries expressed the wish that the police had broken a few heads from the first to clear the streets).
Ultimately, the issue is capitalism and the state. Small-scale capitalism is based on wage labour and alienation just as much as 'big business.' Local elites oppress and exploit as well as transnational ones. Unless we recognise this, we will be lost in the politics of compromise, ‘transitional demands' and supporting the lesser imperialist powers — in other words, the politics of reaction and state capitalism.
The North v South issue is complicated. The US is happy to share our critique of labour and environmental standards in the South when it suits, i.e. to impose terms on ‘southern' capital. Unless we recognise that processes of imperialism still exist we run the risk of siding with the North against the South. Living standards in the third world are issues for third world workers. We should show solidarity with them, not to Clinton or the AFL.
Anarcho-Syndicalist Review (No. 27) notes that some independent unions in South Korea and Brazil have expressed concerns about spreading (crap) US labour standards across the world. Strong unions and confident workers movements are what raises labour conditions, not sham agreements. Even if the ill-fated WTO meeting had prioritised labour standards, they would fall to be discussed again at the next round of the WTO, typically in six to eight years. If this led to agreement, they could begin to be implemented by 2014. And some people wonder why anarchists argue for direct action, international organisation and struggle!
On to Davos
Davos is an exclusive ski resort in the Swiss Alps. You're more likely to find Fergie and a posse of paparazzi than masked-up militants ordering a Big Mac to go J18 style. Bringing the World Economic Forum to town so soon after Seattle (early February) can't have seemed such a good idea as riot cops had to protect the meeting with tear gas, which sadly does not distinguish between delegates, skiers or demonstrators.
Militants from the French unemployed/ workers' movement Droites Devant, the small farmers' Confederation Paysanne and Italian-based unionists from the COBAS were amongst the 2,000 protesters.
International conferences will attract international protest. In Thailand the government preparations for an international conference next month have included 1,500 arrests. International protests show that our resistance is global and lucky away results like Davos are as heartening as Seattle. However, without grass roots resistance these spectacular events are no more use than a photo of Fergie skiing into a tree.
N30: Global Capitalism Global Protest
There were actions against the WTO all over the world, including Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Iceland, Turkey and the places below.
Article from Black Flag #219 about the protests on November 30th 1999.
Activists damaged electricity transformers serving the WTO headquarters in an attempt to wipe out computer links to the ministerial meeting in Seattle. The action caused a short-circuit and explosion in a small power supply building adjacent to the WTO. A two-hour power cut ensued, plunging the building into darkness and blackening computer screens. Computer servers were only restored four hours later at 9am.
Eight thousand members and activists demonstrated outside the US embassy and the Presidential palace and there were massive demonstrations in Central Philippines against the 1995 Mining Act which allows 100% foreign equity in local projects, despite the objections of local tribespeople.
In India, grass roots movements representing indigenous peoples, farmers, slum dwellers, women, victims of corporations such as Union Carbide, workers, students and other social sectors directly affected by the destructive process of capitalist globalisation took to the streets in several states to express their rejection of the WTO regime and demand India's withdrawal from it.
Karnataka demonstrate against Monsanto and WTO
Several thousand farmers, activists and unionists from Karnataka gathered at Mahatma Ghandi Park in Bangalore with banners and placards stating "We Don't Want Monsanto's Bullshit", "Keep Organic Free from Genetic Engineering". The police tried to prevent a sound system being used for speeches, but gave up after the farmers threatened to take the demo onto the surrounding streets. At the end of the demonstration they issued a 'Quit India' notice to Monsanto, urging the company to leave India or face direct action against its activities and installations.
A speaker from the Bellary district, where more than 18 tonnes of Monsanto's sorghum seeds were recently destroyed, said,
"Farmers who used Monsanto's seeds are suffering. This year the entire crop of Monsanto's sorghum failed... ruining more than 1000 families. We already warned agribusiness when we destroyed the Cargill office in Bangalore in 1993... if you don't leave India soon we will kick you out physically."
Another from the Raichur district, declared
"In November 98, when we found that Monsanto was holding field trials in Karnataka, we decided to burn the crops in the action 'Cremation Monsanto'. We will continue taking direct action until these TNCs go away."
Union delegates warned,
"Because of multinational corporations 7,000 Indian industries are closed today. If we keep quiet the whole country will be in the hands of transnational investors. This is the time for farmers and industrial workers to come closer and fight with unity... The WTO is trying to deliver countries like ours into the hands of transnational monopolies. But we will not allow them to interfere in our lives. We don't want multinational seed companies, we don't want genetically modified seeds. We have our own technologies and we are very happy with them."
Bullock-cart rally in Narmada valley
An anti-WTO demonstration with bullock-carts was organised in the village of Anjar by Rewa Ke Yuva (Youths for Narmada). More than 1,000 people from around 60 villages participated in the colourful procession.
Action against WTO and the Maheshwar Dam, New Delhi
Five hundred women and men from the Maheshwar area of the Narmada valley came to New Delhi to protest against the capitalist model of so-called 'development' at a three-day sit-in at Raj Ghat, the burial place of Mahatma Ghandi's ashes. Their action had two specific targets: the collusion of Indian industrial interests, multi-national corporations and the German state to build a dam in Maheshwar, and the WTO regime, for its global vandalism.
At the same time, 10 representatives of the Save the Narmada Movement and supporters delivered more than 11,000 protest postcards written by people from the Maheshwar area to the German Embassy. (The German government is considering approving a Hermes guarantee for the dam which would remove all risk for the foreign corporations which are investing in its construction). The ten representatives were arrested whilst 100 other activists protested outside the embassy.
Back at Raj Ghat, activists from Jagerti Mahila Samiti (Committee for the Awakening of Women, a local grassroots movement organising in the slums of Delhi), Prawaha (a students' organisation), the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements and several local organisations burned a statue symbolising the WTO and made speeches.
World Bank occupied in New Delhi
More than 300 Adivasis (indigenous peoples) from Madya Pradesh jumped the fence of the World Bank building on the 24 November. They blocked entry to the building, covered it with posters, graffiti, cow shit and mud, sang slogans and traditional songs at the gate, and left only after Mr Lim, Director of the World Bank in India, came out to receive an open letter signed by Adivasis movements. The letter denounced the destructive impact of World Bank investments in forestry and of liberalisation of the timber trade enshrined in the WTO system. The letter clearly stated
"We fought against the British and we will fight against the new form of colonialism that you represent with all our might."
Mr Lim's attempts to deliver a speech were shouted down by the Adivasis, who, after talking with World Bank officials for the last five years, had concluded that such ‘dialogues' only served to betray, mislead and deceive while protecting commercial and industrial interests.
Schiphol, Amsterdam Airport ...Let's Fly to the WTO!
Dutch activists asked three airline companies who were sponsoring the WTO summit, to provide them with a charter to Seattle. A letter, sent to Lufthansa, North-west Airways and United Airlines stated:
"The decisions made in Seattle are of direct influence in our lives. We would like to use the opportunity you give us by sponsoring the summit. Let us express our opinions about the policies of the WTO. An estimated 300 people intend to travel with the free charter to Seattle. Our group will check in on 30 November at 12.30 to collect our tickets to avoid causing any inconvenience to other passengers."
On the day roughly 100 people gathered at noon, watched by a crowd of police and press. Flyers were distributed to explain the action to fellow passengers. There were plane 'tickets' for the free flight to Seattle, luggage labels and t-shirts declaring 'Seattle here we come'. After a short introduction to WTO and the action, banners were unrolled and the group entered the departure hall. Surprisingly their visits to the three check in desks produced no tickets. So, unable to take to the air, the group played football, staged sit-ins, and generally made a nuisance of themselves, handing out a list of the addresses of the sponsors of the WTO summit.
Altogether, 80,000 people joined protests across the country, including a 20,000 strong demo in Paris. Our favourite was Eastern France where 800 miners clashed with cops ransacking a tax office and burning cars in two towns.
In Dijon forty activists occupied the Dijon Industry and Business institute and one bank agency 'place du theatre' in the financial centre of Dijon. As ten protesters wearing 'Enslaved by Money?' shirts blocked off the entrances of the two buildings using D-locks and arm-tubes, other groups threw fake blood and money on the pavements, glued anti-capitalist / anti-WTO posters on the walls, hung banners and handed out flyers and free drinks to passers-by.
WHAT IS THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION?
The WTO is an international organisation of 134 member countries which is both a forum for negotiating international trade agreements and the monitoring and regulating body for enforcing the agreements. The WTO was created in 1995, by the passage of the provisions of ‘Uruguay Round’ of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Their aim is to turn the world into one big market, with business having the power to force governments to remove socially and environmentally protective laws in the name of ‘free trade’. This has already been achieved in many countries. It is the cutting edge of the neo-liberal agenda, the means by which capital hopes to erode the last vestiges of the post-war social democratic consensus.
N30: Stateless In Seattle
Fifty thousand on the streets, thirty thousand of them trade unionists... the WTO meeting abandoned... declaration of martial law... clouds of tear gas and volleys of rubber bullets... dockers shutting down West Coast ports from Seattle to San Pedro... hang on, we thought the class war was dead?!
From Black Flag #219, 2000.
30 November 1999 saw worldwide protests against global capital, and specifically, against the millennium World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle, USA. The tens of thousands of protesters on Seattle's streets came together from a huge spectrum of political and social backgrounds, including trade unionists, anarchists, pacifists, environmentalists, anti-racist activists, liberals, communists and local residents. Given the diverse (and often conflicting) views, aims and choice of tactics represented in this mass of people, the result (total shutdown and ultimate failure of the WTO talks), was quite an achievement.
Sheer force of numbers meant that, despite the declaration of a State of Emergency and the best efforts of a police force armed to the hilt and dressed like extras in Robocop, the demonstrators were able to block entry to the conference venue and close downtown Seattle for hours on end. Tactics were, in the main, non-violent. The police response was anything but. Whilst the cops were busy teargassing and beating the shit out of the crowds (and local residents), a small, but plucky group of anarchists (the `Black Block') seized the opportunity to do a bit of proletarian shopping! Their efforts do not appear to have been universally appreciated...
Thousands were arrested, but used their predicament to cause virtual shutdown of the penal system. Arrestees refused to co-operate — refusing to give names or statements, refusing to get out of police vehicles and making thorough nuisances of themselves. The state's response was predictable: more beatings and worse inside the jails. We reproduce below various eyewitness accounts of the actions in Seattle and in the rest of the world. We also include a brief piece on the tactics of (and rather peculiar response of some protesters to) the Black Block.
FOUR DAYS OF PROTEST
It kicked off in Seattle on the Sunday with a protest rally of solidarity. The next day the rallies got bigger. On these two days it looked like the policing was being handled by the young cops and trainees. Tuesday (the 30th) saw the biggest crowds, tens of thousands — a truly enormous carnival —human chains blocking the World Trade Centre. It was then that the cops got jumpy — only about 27 delegates got into WTO, mostly US and British. A new group of police — tactical police —moved in and gassed people, shooting rubber bullets. Young kids, maybe 100, hit back by breaking some windows in retaliation.
That night the police gassed all of downtown from 3pm till 6pm. The kids broke some windows — McDonald's, Starbucks —they burned a few garbage cans. At 6pm a State of Emergency was declared. The police chased the kids outside the city limits, and started gassing that area too, gassing the neighbourhoods where the regular people live. The local people got mad too and joined those who had been herded out of the city. Soon there were 500, including the neighbourhood people all very angry. Then people set up barricades at Seattle Central Community College. The cops spent about an hour getting themselves together before moving in and gassing the area.
On Wednesday the Longshoremen's Union held a union rally down at the docks and then marched to Third Avenue. As soon as they got there the cops started gassing them. There was an old lady there. She had gone downtown by bus to buy something. This lady was in her seventies and I saw her trying to run, but she couldn't breathe. She was in shock.
Wednesday saw mass arrests. Clinton was on his way, weeping crocodile tears about how he just LOVES peaceful protest. This police attack was US foreign policy, not some action decided by some bureaucrat in Seattle. This was the State Department.
On the Wednesday the police decided to limit any assembly close to the WTO convention. I went downtown and joined a group of about 200 protesters sitting and holding hands in a public square, surrounded by robocops dressed in full riot gear. We were all arrested. Because we were not charged and hadn't seen a lawyer, we decided not to let them process us and bottle-necked the system. At the same time the next lot to be brought to the cop shop simply refused to get off the buses. After ten hours of delay they finally let us see our legal team who told us 510 arrests had been made that day.
Some of us were dragged violently to have our pictures and fingerprints taken. Then our feet and hands were chained, and we were taken to the jail bus again. On our way out we saw that the other groups were still in the buses (15 hours later!) They later told us that they built a 'toilet' using banners as walls, around a gap between the bus stairs and back doors. They also got rid of the plastic handcuffs using nail clippers. The police finally used tear gas inside the bus to evacuate them.
”I want to emphasise, these protestors were not violent people. They were the most non-violent people I have ever seen. Even when I was screaming at a cop, this girl came up to me and said ‘Do not scream. This is non-violent.’ These people were too much to believe. They must meditate all the time, I don’t know.”
At 11pm our group finally arrived at the jail. They put us in a closed concrete cell for four hours, before letting us into our cells to sleep. I later heard that when one of our group refused to move until he saw a lawyer, the screw hit him, chained him to a chair, pepper sprayed his face, and covered it with cloth so he couldn't avoid the spray.
The next day at noon we were chained again and taken to court. At around 4pm we heard the 1000-strong support crowd outside the courts shouting, "Let Them Go!" The prosecutor was totally confused as our personal numbers (none of us gave names) and the police report file numbers didn't match. Some could have got away at this point, but to maintain solidarity with each other, everyone stayed. The idea was to stay in the system, clog it up and demand the same charges for everyone.
The next day we were again brought before the judge, while our legal team negotiated with the District Attorney. After two days the negotiations stopped and we were released on bail. The demonstrations went on for the duration of these four days, and tents were erected outside the courthouse. They were dismantled when all of us were finally processed out of the 'justice' system. During the days that we spent in jail, there were hundreds people demonstrating and blocking the court entrances.
”There was impressive solidarity shown with the prisoners, with banners reading ‘Free the Seattle 500, Jail the Fortune 500’ and people camping for days and nights outside the jail. We began to hear shouts from the outside calling ‘Let Them Go!’ During the days that we spent in jail, there were hundreds of people demonstrating and blocking the court entrances.”
The police gave up arresting people in recognition that the system could not cope with any more detainees.
An IWW member, we'll call her Marie, and her partner were the first to be arrested in Seattle. Using the tactic of non-compliance, they refused to give any information to the police. The tactic was used to clog up the system and promote widespread solidarity within jail. To break Marie down, the Seattle Police Department strapped her to a chair and beat her. They then kicked her while lying prone on the floor. She was separated from her partner and they threatened to strip her naked and periodically would unbuckle the harness she was wearing intimidating her with the threat of gang rape. She continued to refuse to give any information despite being pepper-sprayed.
Another group were brought in who knew nothing about jail solidarity and gave the police all the information they asked for. When Marie and her partner began coaching the new arrestees on jail solidarity, they were again thrown into isolation, beaten and then left in solitary for 18 hours. When the entire group were brought before the court, it transpired that there were no records of Marie and her partner's arrest nor any official documentation of their presence. They were immediately released into downtown Seattle, traumatised into the middle of a riot.
”When we got here, the Steelworkers weren’t very queer-friendly. As the week went on, they got more comfortable with us. My nipples stand in solidarity with the Steelworkers and Teamsters and all labouring people!”
THE BLACK BLOCK
Nice to see young people enjoying themselves
There was considerable media hype around the group of masked-up anarcho types from Eugene (and others who joined them) who trashed some shops. The media excitement was mostly in the US and allowed an array of unhelpful tired old divisive opinions to be aired. You would think this was the first time anyone had smashed a window.
Report from one section of the anarchist Black Block
Several groups of individuals in the Black Block attacked various corporate targets in downtown Seattle. Among them were (to name just a few): Fidelity Investment, Bank of America, US Bancorp, Key Bank and Washington Mutual Bank, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Gap, Nike Town, Levi's, McDonald's, Starbucks, Warner Bros and Planet Hollywood.
The activity lasted for over five hours and involved breaking storefront windows and doors and defacing facades. Slingshots, newspaper boxes, sledgehammers, mallets, crowbars and nail-pullers were used to strategically destroy corporate property and gain access (one of the three targeted Starbucks and Nike Town were looted).
The Black Block was a loosely organised cluster of affinity groups and individuals. Unlike the vast majority of activists who were pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets, most of the Black Block escaped serious injury by remaining constantly in motion and avoiding engagement with the police. We buddied up, kept tight and watched each others' backs. Those attacked by federal thugs were un-arrested by quick-thinking comrades. The sense of solidarity was awe-inspiring.
”They are worried about a few windows being smashed. They should come and see the violence being done to our communities in the name of liberalisation of trade.”
The Peace Police
Unfortunately, the presence and persistence of the 'peace police' was quite disturbing. On at least six separate occasions, so-called `non-violent' activists physically attacked individuals who targeted corporate property. Some even went so far as to stand in front of the Nike Town superstore and tackle and shove the Black Block away. Indeed, such self-described 'peace-keepers' posed a much greater threat to individuals in the Black Block than the violent uniformed 'peace-keepers' sanctioned by the state (undercover officers have even used the cover of the activist peace-keepers to ambush those who engage in corporate property destruction).
The antics of the 'peace police' and the widespread disapproval in the US left-wing circles of the property destruction prompted the response below from Ward Churchill and others. Unlike in the UK, where the validity of attacking corporate property is hardly questioned, it's a burning issue in the US. During the campaign against the Criminal Justice Bill in Britain there were reports of uncomradely behaviour from some 'fluffy' elements, but nothing approaching the fanatical fervour of some protesters in Seattle who sunk to such depths as cleaning up the damage done to Nike Town, and beating and de-masking fellow protesters. Seriously weird!
”If you were alive, the police gassed you. People coming back from work, kids, women, everyone. People would go out of their houses to see what was happening because these tear gas guns sound like a cannon – and they would get gassed. A block away there was a Texaco gas station – they threw tear gas at the pumps, believe it or not – they were like vandals. They gassed a bus. I saw it with my own eyes. A bus. The driver, the riders, the people just abandoned it. They were also shooting this paint that you can only see with a fluorescent light. They would paint anyone and everyone and then go hunting them.”
Don't Throw the Radicals Overboard
"The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated," chanted marchers protesting the WTO summit in Seattle. However, one of the most striking elements of the protests was the level of conflict between adherents of 'non-violence', and those who preferred to express more concretely their feelings towards global capitalism. A tide of reaction has been swelling against the latter, with great arrogance on the part of the former. As a group of activist intellectuals, we feel the need to state our support for the group the media has been calling, only somewhat inaccurately, "the Anarchists from Eugene."
We... controlled the streets of downtown Seattle from 7am on Tuesday to roughly 7pm. After that period, with declaration of martial law and the violent offensive by the cops... the streets became a war zone, but during that period, they were a liberated area. Inside a spectrum of protest and resistance activities took place, many of which warmed our hearts. Violence against property, as we'll call the attacks against corporate chain stores by activists, was one of the conscious strategies that was employed... Throughout the day activists, protecting their identities with hoods and kerchiefs, formed 'Black Blocks' to move en masse to attack unoccupied chain stores such as the Gap, Nike, Levi's, Disney, and Bank of America.
”We are really worried about these people. They seemingly have no fear of authority.”
Adherents to `non-violent' protest methods preach against targeting corporate property. We feel that this is an uncritical acceptance of the dominant value system of American consumer society: private property has a higher value than life.
We witnessed `non-violent' activists linking arms to protect Nike Town from the aggressive acts of a Black Block. Riot police soon replaced the 'peace advocates' as if to say, "We'll take over now. You're only volunteering to protect property, we do it for a living." Elsewhere throughout the day 'non-violent' activists de-masked, and on at least one occasion beat, an individual who was acting against property. Many elements of the broad Left community have been alarmingly willing to distance themselves from direct, militant forms of protest. In its December 1 issue, the World Trade Observer, a daily tabloid published by a network of mainstream environmental and fair trade organisations, identified as a "troubling theme" the practice of "the police singling out peaceful demonstrators for gassing and beating... while ignoring black-clad hooligans breaking windows and spraying paint."
”I never got on with environmentalists until I realised we were all fighting for the same thing.”
Michigan Steelworker, made redundant four years ago.
Other 'non-violent' protesters criticised the police, not for waging chemical warfare against protesters, but for failing to enter the crowd to extract the practitioners of militant protest. The implication is that the crowd would have handed over some of its members to the police, if the police had only asked.
There will undoubtedly be repercussions from the fact that we took control of a major city for twelve hours, as the leading administrative body of global capitalism met to brainstorm for the next millennium.
”The most significant division that emerged in our ranks occurred on Tuesday in front of Nike Town. A group of ghetto dwellers arrived there in the midst of the street festivities (the liberating of public space from corporate colonisation – called ‘violence’ by some) to enjoy footwear normally reserved for wealthier clientele. They were stopped and blocked by a determined crew of pacifists who warned them about giving the action ‘a bad name’. Apparently that was too much for these kids, at least three of whom punched the pacifists before leaving.”
Without the support of the rest of the WTO protesters, the direct action practitioners are at great risk. Gas-masks were declared illegal in Seattle under martial law, and the donning of hoods is being explored by prosecutors in Eugene as a possible excuse for sentence enhancement. The price of protecting oneself and one's identity from police violence is rising. As people who are interested in counteracting the ill effects of globalization and ensuring a liveable new millennium, we need to consciously confront the criminalization of radical political philosophies. We feel that those who belittle and distance themselves from the actions of "the Anarchists from Eugene" have either ignored or simply did not realise the level of contributions anarchists made towards bringing the N30 Festival of Resistance into reality. These include the innovative and joyful protest methods of the Direct Action Network, a sustained consciousness-raising effort from Left Bank Books, alternative social structures offered by Food Not Bombs and Homes Not Jails, the Anarchist hotline, housing networks, and so on.
ACTS OF SOLIDARITY
The Longshore & Warehouse Union shut down the Port of Seattle and dozens of ports along the West Coast. Seattle taxi-drivers chose 30 November to strike over worsening pay and conditions. The Fire Brigade refused to turn their fire hoses on protesters despite repeated requests from the police. A delivery boy handed over his pizzas to the demonstrators outside the Westin Hotel, rather than deliver them to the right-wing talk radio presenters who had ordered them.
”I haven’t been marching but when the cops turn your neighbourhood into a war zone, it’s time to get involved.”