junij 22, 2017

Court Permits #NoG20-Camp in #Hamburg – Legal Team Info

The administrative court in Hamburg ruled that the ban of a No G20 protest camp in Stadtpark in Hamburg is inadmissible. Police authorities announced that they will appeal against the court decision. The legal team published information about the legal situation for No G 20 activists.

nog20_3

Submitted to Enough is Enough

The court confirmed its own decision of June the 7th and again allowed a protest camp in Stadtpark in Hamburg from June 30th until the 9th of July. The court motivated their decision that police authorities need to prove that there is a “police emergency” to ban the protest camp. According to the court police authorities failed to do so and the police press department instead stated in German media that the preparations for the G 20 police operations are going well. Police authorities announced that they will appeal against todays court decision.

The legal team published information about the legal situation for No G 20 activists;

Together against repression – also during the protests against the G20 Summit in Hamburg

Political actions often result in problems with the police forces. The Legal Team (EA) is an anti-repression structure supporting you during and after actions. If necessary, in cooperation with solidary lawyers.

The legal team can be contacted under the following number: +49(0)40 432 78 778

This number is NOT A helpline service.

Some hints to effectively counter the repression of the protests to be expected:

during the months before the G20 summit:
  • The repressive forces are preparing themselves for the G20 summit as well, namely with attempts of chatting up, house searches, telephone tapping, surveillance etc. Do not let yourself become intimidated, clean up at home and try to keep any incriminating material outside of your private rooms. Encrypt data carriers and your email and SMS communication.
  • Make yourself familiar with friends, comrades and confidants about any situation you might be confronted with and make arrangements for the joint behaviour and your forms of actions. Also talk about your fears.
  • Exchange your complete names and dates of birth. Memorize the information to be able to speedily inform the EA in case of emergency.
  • It makes sense to take precautions in the event that you will be taken in custody and you may have to spend more than 24 hours in a cell. Who shall be informed? Which dates have to be cancelled? Who will take care of what?
  • Tell people and/or initiatives in your city about the time you are going to leave and of your planned return.
During the action days:
  • It is recommended to take along dark, uniform clothes without particular characteristics (such as patches etc.) and a cap, base-cap.
  • Leave any and all needless data at home (address book, calendar etc.)
  • If you don’t want to do without mobile, get an inexpensive demo mobile with as little stored data as possible.
  • No alcohol, no drugs at actions and demonstrations.
  • Take along eye-rinsing solution and first-aid kit and familiarize yourself with the handling. Take along a second set of clothes.
  • Take along medicines you need regularly in a sufficient amount (guideline: action period + 3 days) and also your health insurance card.
In case of arrest/detention:
  • In case of an arrest/detention, you will be obliged to state your name, your registered address and date of birth. Take along your identity card, passport, visa, residence permits or similar documents. Legal note: if you fail to state your personal data, this will be regarded as an administrative offence and may result in an ED procedure (ED = fingerprints, photos) and even to a detention awaiting trial, depending on the charge involved.
  • In any case, refuse to give evidence. Irrespective of what police is asking for, don’t say anything – it would only harm you and others. Refusing to give evidence is a strong offensive approach wearing down and diffusing police interrogations. The refusal is your right and you cannot be forced to give evidence. They will still try to make you talk with tricks. Do not engage yourself in supposedly harmless discussions and do not comment to the charge made – no matter how absurd it is. Do not make any statement regarding the charge to any other fellow inmate as well.
  • Do not sign any paper. There is no reason for it and may be harmful in case of doubt. You will also get back your belongings without signature.
  • Call the EA. You have the right to a successful phone call, demand this vigorously. Caution: the phone will be tapped, only state your name, date of birth, the place you are and what you are accused of. Do NOT state, what you did or what you didn’t do. In case of doubt, let the EA ask questions.
  • It happens, that you will be subjected to an „ED procedure“ at the police station. This will include fingerprints and photos, up to a collection of physical characteristics. In this case, the procedure must „match“ the allegations – in case of a standard charge, such as „disturbing the peace“, the taking of fingerprints, for example, is not allowed, because this will not help to „clarify facts“. Do not voluntarily cooperate in the ED procedure! Do not walk around in front of the camera („Motion Profile“), do not change clothes for the photo. Do not „voluntarily“ hand over DNA samples. These can only be taken with your approval or upon a judicial decision. File an objection against this. This must not be signed by you as well.
  • You may be kept in police custody until the end of the following day. Upon a judicial decision, however, up to 10 days. Reasons for this would be, for example, emergency response/preventive custody: „in order to prevent the imminent commitment of an administrative offence of considerable importance for the general public or the commitment of a criminal offence“, or the enforcement of a prohibition of access or stay.
  • If police wants to enforce a detention awaiting trial, you will be put before a judge. Urge for legal assistance. Only use the lawyers of the EA. If you are before the judge without a lawyer or only with a police lawyer, insist on a lawyer of the EA and always repeat this request (e.g. „This is not my lawyer, I herewith request a lawyer of the EA and I want to call there“). Do not make any statement here, this is also your right here.
  • The EA will take care, together with lawyers, that you will be out of detention as fast as possible. This will not cost you anything.
  • As soon as you are out, make sure to quickly inform the EA (check out).
Arrest/Detention of young people
  • Legal definition of young people: persons older than 14 but not yet 18 years old.
  • In case young people will be arrested,. the parents or guardians, respectively, must be informed. If these cannot be contacted, the emergency services for children and young people in Hamburg will be informed. If you are on the way with adult friends, try to get a power of attorney from your parents, transferring the educational right to them for the period of the action days. This will enable these persons to collect you.
  • It is not allowed to arrest young persons at all without any charge against them or who do not considerably disturb the operations. If it is impossible to hand over these young people to a guardian or to the Youth Welfare Office, they must be supervised outside police custody. It is not allowed to accommodate young persons together with adults.
  • Often, police officers fail to do so, which might be in the interest of the person involved.
  • It is not allowed to subject persons under the age of 14 to an ED procedure or an interrogation.
Special conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany:
  • It is prohibited to carry or wear objects protecting the body against police violence (helmets, protectors etc.) and weapons or face masks are not allowed. Be careful and consider well, what you plan to use in which situation.
  • Police forces often use close escorting (side escorting) for assemblies, trying to intimidate through presence. It happens, that pick squads enter into demonstrations as a provocation. Pepper spray is used very frequently, also batons and water canons with irritating substances, no rubber bullets.
  • Demonstrations are accompanied by police in uniforms and in civilian clothes. Keep this in mind, if you plan to become active out of the demonstration. Arrests will be made, in particular through plain-clothed policemen even hours or days later. If possible, leave the place and change clothes after actions.
  • Check, whether you got a health insurance in the Federal Republic of Germany and – if not – take out a foreign travel health insurance.

If you get problems with the repression authorities at a later stage, contact your local anti-rep group or the Hamburg EA.

junij 19, 2017

#NoG20 NEWSLETTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTIVISTS June 2017

nog20 international

PDF: International No G20 Newsletter June 2017

DOC: International No G20 Newsletter June 2017

#NoG20 NEWSLETTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTIVISTS June 2017
*** A final info sheet with all numbers and contacts updated will be circulated a few days before the protests. So please stay tuned via the channels provided in this Newsletter ***

Dear international friends and comrades,
In only three weeks we come together in Hamburg from across Europe and the world to protest against the G20´s spectacle of power. Just three weeks until we fill the streets and squares of Hamburg to show that another world is necessary; that it is possible starting with our solidarity on the streets; and until we reject the exploitation, social precarity, wars, ecological devastation and social division that the world’s 20 most powerful leaders and their delegations will organize.
This parade of monsters should decide our future? No, they don’t represent us. It is not just the Trumps and Erdogans, the Temers and Putins, the Modis and Zumas, the Merkels, Mays, Junkers and Macrons. No, the monster is a “system”. A system based on the exploitation and systematic appropriation of work, wealth and land of the many by a few – in its neoliberal form represented by Merkel, Macron and the EU’s transnational elites, and in its nationalist reactionary form represented by the authoritarian, racist and sexist Trump, Erdogan and King Salman. They are two sides of the same coin.
What is at stake in Hamburg is nothing less than the future of our Planet Earth. We already know that their negotiations will not solve any of the current and upcoming wars and military conflicts, will not stop the devastation of the continents, and will not help any of the millions fleeing from war or poverty or those who face impoverishment in the richest economies (see http://g20-protest.info/category/calls/english/).
We know that many of you are planning to come to Hamburg. Others might not make it, but want to follow the news, organize solidarity actions and disseminate information. This is why we’ve compiled as much information as possible in an international newsletter to give you a good overview. However, please be aware that things may change quickly: to stay updated follow us online (see 5 below).

In this newsletter:
1. Overview of the political situation in Hamburg: a compact week of protests against their summit

2. The planned activities: what is planned when, where to go, what to expect, how to participate and where to get more information

3. Logistical matters: accommodation, travel info, bus coordination and where to get information.

4. Legal help and police matters: what you need to know in case of repression, important numbers and helpful information.

5. How to stay tuned for updates and support us: where to find last-minute information and support the activists.

1. Overview of the political situation in Hamburg: a compact week against their summit.
On Dec. 1 2016, the German government took over the presidency of the G20, with many G20 ministerial meetings along the way and the G20 summit itself taking place on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg city centre. It is not only the overall politics of the G20, but also the current representatives of the G20 who will come to Hamburg which need to be criticized, confronted and protested against. Therefore, several initiatives, political groups and representatives of civil society formed a G20 platform and started to organize and coordinate protests with the idea of forming a broad alliance, a transnational convergence of the many under the motto “Solidarity beyond borders” against the G20 and against its global organization of power.
A variety of activities have already taken place in Hamburg and around the G20 ministerial meetings (not to forget the massive protests in Brazil and Argentina these days, both part of the G20). But in Germany for example, in March when the G20 finance ministers met in Baden-Baden; or last week in Berlin, when hundreds of protesters led by anti-racist and refugees groups opposed the Merkel/Schäuble “G20 Compact with Africa,” partly because it will become a feast for multinational corporate privatization at the expense of taxpayer subsidies, partly because the “Africa Partnership Conference” was also clearly about how to secure better the borders of Europe. Other protests will take place in the week before the summit itself (e.g. on July 2 with a “wave of protest” going through Hamburg: see http://www.protestwelle.de).
However, the G20 platform encouraged all groups and networks to organize protest activities against the G20 in a “compact week“ of debate, direct action and a demonstration that gives a picture of how many and how diverse we are. The aim of this compact week is to be in the Hamburg city centre, when “they” are there, to have our protests and critique heard and seen, and to practically link different forms of action and critique.
Of course, such an approach of solidarity, connection and convergence is usually not welcomed by those in power – especially not by the city government of Hamburg. Often we meet bitter opposition to our rights to struggle, to assemble and to protest, from the police or the state. Activists are criminalized and presented as vandals, legal orders are issued restricting the freedom of assembly and movement, a discourse that prioritises “security issues” and fear above the question of democracy and free speech is launched.
In Hamburg, we now see a red-green government delaying talks on / negotiations for public camps for activists. We see a red-green government issuing a broad legal order that declares Hamburg on July 7 and 8 specifically to be a democracy-free zone, outlawing any assembly, movement or camp for July 7 and 8 in an area covering almost all of Hamburg city centre and around (see here for a map). Importantly, the demonstration on Saturday is legally registered and will take place!
There is now a public outcry against repression in Hamburg. Reaching beyond those who are active in the No G20 protests, a “campaign for the right to assembly” has formed and will publish a call for support. Church members will call for “round tables” and public debates, and more will hopefully follow soon. Furthermore, we will of course fight this order through the courts. We will go to court to support each assembly and demonstration that might be affected. Besides, we are building as broad alliances as possible – with all those who don’t accept living in a city that outlaws democracy. And we claim that the right to assemble and the freedom of movement are best preserved when practiced on the streets of Hamburg by as many people as possible.
In 2017 the Bastille stands in Hamburg! Let us be many, let us be loud, let us send a strong and visible sign across the world that we reject the G20 and the politics they represent and practice. Let us demonstrate that another world is necessary, and indeed, is possible and that we are already building it (for the international call to join the protests in Hamburg see http://g20-protest.info/).
We are saying that they don’t represent us – not in Hamburg nor in Africa, the Middle East or Asia, the Americas or elsewhere in Europe and the world (http://g20-protest.info/category/general-information/open-letter-to-hamburg/). We will fight these orders and this discourse through legal processes, by public interventions, and by building broad alliances with movements, civil society, organizations and NGOs, so that tens of thousands of people will be in Hamburg in early July: at the alternative summit, the camps, the transnational demonstration, the mass blockade, the numerous civil disobedience actions as well as many other initiatives and happenings. We will meet, discuss, and practice our vision of a world of freedom, equality and solidarity!
So now, please take some time to look at the variety of activities planned so far. We will be on the streets, we will find accommodation for all of us, we will be together and we will say loudly: Solidarity beyond borders instead of the G20!

2. The protest week in detail: the main activities planned so far
The social centre collectives are gathering all information on all activities and will publish a map and a reader for all of us to use.
See also:
Links for general overview: http://g20-protest.info/category/week-of-protest/ or https://www.g20hamburg.org/en
Links to maps: protest map (http://g20-protest.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/G20-city-protest-map.jpg)
map of the blue zone (http://g20-protest.info/category/material/)

Wednesday, July 5th
10:00-21:30 – Global Solidarity Summit (Day 1)
More than 50 initiatives and organizations from Germany and abroad are inviting people for the international “Global Solidarity Summit“. As an answer to the G20 Summit on 7 and 8 July, the “Alternative Summit“ will bring together and amplify our criticism, discuss alternatives and, above all, build alliances and develop strategies for the implementation of a policy for global solidarity. There will be 11 panels with international guests, e.g. highly renowned economist Jayati Ghosh, globalization critic and winner of the alternative Nobel Prize Vandana Shiva from India and the leading Kurdish politician Salih Müslim from Rojava. In addition to the panels, there will be numerous discussions and practical workshops.
The location is the Kampnagel, Hamburg
Further information and detailed program: http://solidarity-summit.org/en/

18:00 – Night Dance Demonstration
Organizers: Alles allen (Everything for all is a collective of political hedonists)
Starting from Landungsbrücken (for a map click here)

Thursday, July 6th
10:00-21:30 – Global Solidarity Summit (Day 2)
11:30 – Meeting for international activists:
Here is the space to exchange final questions, concerns, updates within the international circle. Location to be announced but it will be at the site of the Global Solidarity Summit.
15:00 – Final action plenary (until the demo starts):
A general assembly for the Block G20 / Colour the Red Zone activity (Friday) with last-minute information, organizing, Q&A (with translation into English for the international activists) – probably in the camp, location will be announced
19:00 – “Welcome to Hell” demonstration:
“International anti-capitalist demonstration against G20 summit called by the autonomous and anti-capitalist alliance “G20 – welcome to hell!” The demonstration will start with a great opening meeting. There will be cultural, musical and political contributions. From 7 p.m., the demonstration will be approaching the red zone and the final meeting will be held a stone’s throw from the summit’s location in the exhibition halls.”
Starting from: St. Pauli Fischmarkt, Hamburg (for a map click here) Call and further information: https://g20tohell.blackblogs.org/international-anticapitalist-demonstration/

Friday, July 7th
The first day of the G20 summit and the day of disobedient mass actions throughout the city!
Block G20 – Colour The Red Zone
“Together with tens of thousands we will reclaim the streets in the heart of the city. Residents and activists from various countries will jointly block the summit meeting. We will organize ourselves in several fingers or similar structures, acting autonomously but in coordination. From all directions we will surge towards the sites of the summit meeting, to the trade fair (Messehallen), to the City Hall and the Elbphilharmonie, in short to the Red Zone that will be sealed off for the meeting. Where the police will be in our way, we will find alternative paths to our goal. Where necessary we will overcome obstacles and possibly break through police chains. We will go as far as we get. Already on our way to the Red Zone, we will demonstrate our societal alternatives through diverse and creative forms like raves, assemblies and the occupation of public spaces and vacancies. We reserve the right to stay overnight.“
Call, action picture, action consensus and important updates: http://www.blockg20.org/en/

Shut down the logistics of capital!
“Hamburg and its harbour is an important hub for the German export economy and the global goods traffic – and because of that, the perfect venue to disrupt the state and capital. Neither will ever be able to provide a better life for all. We are calling to use the international mobilization against the G20 summit to inflict as much pain as possible on a world where commodities can move freely overseas while at the same time migrants are dying by the thousands in the same oceans.”
Information and updates: https://shutdown-hamburg.org/?lang=en

Student strike – Youth against G20
Student strike with demonstration called by a coalition of social, internationalist, trade unionist and antifascist youth groups, organizations, initiatives and individuals.
Call, information and updates: http://jugendgegeng20.de

19:00 – Colourful Critical Mass
“We don’t car!” (twitter: #cmasshh). Stop the lines of cars of the G20 with a huge bicycle tour, promoting environment- friendly movement.
Starting from Moorweide (S- Bahn Dammtor) (for a map click here)

3 to 9.30 pm – Dialogue-Event “We need to talk: Debt20 meets G20″
organized by erlassjahr.de / Jubilee Germany; at the GLS Bank Hamburg (see also http://erlassjahr.de/termin/wir-muessen-reden-debt20-meets-g20/)

7.30 to 10 pm – “DiEM25@G20
“Constructive Disobedience! Resistance in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism“ – a public discussion with Renata Avila, Angela Richter, Aral Balkan, Srećko Horvat, Michael Hardt, Yanis Varoufakis (video), DiEM25 DSCs + special surprise, at the Audimax of the Universität Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 4, 20146 Hamburg

Saturday, July 8th:
11:00 – Mass demonstration
Central, internationalist and anti-capitalist mass demonstration “Solidarity without borders instead of G20” on the second day of the G20 summit with numerous blocs of different political coalitions and spectrums. Open to everyone who shares our outrage and our hope and wants to take to the streets of Hamburg with us in a loud, colourful and diverse demonstration. The goal of the march is to demonstrate the strength of the alliance in its variety and unity. The march will start together and arrive together (see the demo vision at http://g20-demo.de/de/bild-unserer-demonstration/, for now only available in German)
Starting from Deichtorhallen at 11 am with a (German/Turkish) opening rally with speeches from all parts of the alliance and welcoming words in different languages by international participants (for a map click here).
Join the international representative block right at the front of the demonstration to highlight the global dimension of the No G20 protests. Bring your banners and symbols. A contingent / bloc of the alliance and international delegations, activists and comrades will open the march. Please make sure that you bring posters, banners and signs that tell the world what you want to say in your language, and that help to demonstrate that our alliance, the resistance and protest against the politics of the G20 is indeed international and global.
The closing rally will take place at the Heiligengeistfeld in St. Pauli with a huge stage, cultural/music acts and famous speakers from different regions of the world – the women’s movement / Black Lives Matter, US; the Kurdish movement of Rojava; the climate justice movement from Colombia; and Hamburg’s Right to the City movement. Information, demo picture and updates: http://g20-demo.de/en/start-2/

3. Logistical Matters
Many of you come from far away and travel in larger groups. Here you can find some updates on bus coordination, the information system, accommodation – and how to make early contact with those organizing these matters.

Arrival and bus coordination:
If you are travelling in a larger group or convoy, get in touch with us through international [at] g20-2017.org. Let us know where you are coming from and when, so that in case you experience problems with the police we will be notified. Please include an email address or phone contact for a reliable contact person for the busses from each region. Please notice that this contact address for busses is not appropriate for further safe communication! The task now is to establish the necessary contact with all the busses so that we can then establish communication for later on the trip itself. Shortly you will find this mail address for the busses on the NoG20 International website too (see: http://g20-protest.info), together with a contact phone number.
If you want to participate at the BlockG20 action on Friday, make sure to be at the Camp in Hamburg by 15:00 at the latest for the final action plenary!
Please be also aware that for the G20 the Schengen treaty is suspended. We do not know to what extent the police will prevent activists from crossing the border into Germany. But be prepared for police controls! If you are a larger convoy, you might want to think about bringing press and parliamentarian observers from your countries/regions with you, or at least be in touch with some.

First meeting point:
At Arrivatipark (“Neuer Pferdemarkt” outside the blue zone: for a map click here) you can gather first information, orientation and craft your own protest materials.

Accommodation:
There will be accommodation for you! Two camps are being planned: one by an autonomous preparation group (the so-called “anticapitalist camp”) and one by a broader coalition for everybody. Both have registered campsites with the city of Hamburg: the autonomous “anticapitalist camp” at the Stadtpark and the “spectrum-wide camp” at Volkspark Altona. It has been a long process of fighting, going to court, and negotiating, and we are doing everything possible to have a camp take place; if not, there will be alternatives! Both camps should provide – aside from camping and eating possibilities – political barrios and space for common discussion, final action trainings and plenaries.
For updates and information: http://g20-camp.de/ (spectrum-wide camp) and https://g20camp.noblogs.org/ (autonomous “anticapitalist camp”).

Info hotline and Info channels:
We will have a NoG20 (international) info hotline established for the days starting with your trip (more or less) and ending when you are home or when the last busses have crossed the border. This will be posted on the website (https://g20-protest.info) a few days before July 5, so please stay tuned. The hotline will give you info when needed, and will arrange for legal support in case of troubles with the police on your journey.
There will be infopoints at specific, crucial points in the city (e.g. the central station) as well as a reader and map with all available information.

4. Legal matters
As we know from the previous international mobilizations and protests, preparing for legal matters is of crucial importance. Take your time therefore to check out legal information on the blog of the G20 anti-repression structure: https://g20ea.blackblogs.org/en/ in various languages.

There will be a legal team (twitter: @EA_hh) operating, a demonstration watch /monitoring by the Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy (including people from the OECD Assembly Rights Working Group as well as parliamentarians), a medical team and out of action areas watching out for us and helping us, and people waiting outside the “Gesas” (pre-charge detention center).

We also recommend reading this article about German police history and tactics: https://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/212864
Legal info in various languages: https://www.rote-hilfe.de/downloads/category/8-legalinfo-in-other-languages.

The emergency telephone numbers in case of arrest etc. will be published in the days immediately before the G20 protest week and your trip. Please check with the mailing lists or us if you can’t find them, since you should have them before your trip.

5. Stay tuned for updates and support us
Things change quickly; many things will be decided and finalised only in the last days before the actions and demonstration: so get in touch with us and stay tuned!
For last Info, telephone numbers, action maps etc:.
Subscribe to the mailing list by sending an email to international [at] g20-2017.org
Check our homepage: https://g20-protest.info
Check Facebook (@g20international) and Twitter (@NoG20_Inter)
If you want to participate in the BlockG20 action, make sure to be at the final action assembly on Thursday, July 6 at 15:00!

Support us:
Solidarity Tickets for international activists
We are trying to raise money also to support activists from other European countries with their travel costs by selling so-called solidarity tickets (http://g20-protest.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Solitickets-Bunt.pdf): you can transfer money directly to this bank account and print out the solidarity ticket for yourself (or wait until Hamburg to get a nice one printed):
Name: Adelante e.V.!
Reference: “Soliticket”,
IBAN: DE53430609671168858400,
BIC: GENO DE M 1 GLS

Donations for BlockG20:
Name: Verein Bewegungsfonds
Reference: “Aktion”
IBAN: CH07 0900 0000 6187 7407 8
BIC: POFICHBEXXX

Donations for the Global Solidarity Summit: http://solidarity-summit.org/en/spend/

Donations for the Demonstration:
Name: Hamburger Forum e.V.,
Reference: G20 Gipfel
IBAN: DE32 4306 0967 2067 3173 01,
BIC: GENODEM1GLS

Media coverage, social media, mobilization material.
Please support us during the protest days through your social media. The Twitter hashtags are: #NoG20, #towardsG20, #BlockG20
Please spread the call and news, download and put up posters, and help with anything we haven’t thought of yet. If you have any questions around this please contact us (international [at] g20-2017.org).
Other Support:
We do need your help not only to prepare everything in advance, to get in touch with us, to inform us about your plans etc. We will also need people who can give a helping hand during the protest week itself – whether it is at the food kitchen, with translation or in the kids’ area. Please keep your eyes and ears open when people ask for help.

If you have any question don’t hesitate to ask at: international [at] g20-2017.org
We are looking forward to seeing you all and sending out our message to the world:
Allons enfants! In 2017 the Bastille stands in Hamburg!
International NoG20

 

More info on: http://g20-protest.info/

junij 10, 2017

Corbyn and the #UK Election; A New Day For Electoralism?

The recent UK election handed the socialist leaning Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn a minor though not insignificant victory. Once again many on the left are discussing the tactic and value of strategies focused on voting and electoral change and advocates for this are eager to present the moment as a major break through. But we think it’s important to understand the counter arguments and especially given the recent memory of Syriza in Greece – the “Coalition of the Radical Left Party” which ran on a platform of anti-austerity and once in power quickly caved in to demands from the EU and bankers. This article is by our comrades with the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland

Originally published by Black Rose Anarchist Federation

By Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird

Voting has just ended in the UK election. Many people are consumed with hope that Corbyn could win and implement his reforms “for the many, not the few”. For those of us who work with the broad left, it is inevitable that the topic of elections and voting will come up. Heated debates can occur between those of us who would rather ignore the electoral circus and those who strongly believe in using it as a vehicle on the road to a new society.

Before beginning, it is important to clarify the misconception that anarchists are against voting. We have absolutely no problem with voting – how else could we make decisions? We are against a system that allows for us to tick a box every four or five years which gives whoever received the most X’s to make decisions that affect our lives in a fancy building miles away from us. Politicians once elected do what they like because we can neither mandate nor recall them.

This is a system that divides us into a massive majority ruled by a tiny minority, and that allows for power, wealth and privilege to be concentrated into the hands of that minority. We believe that this democracy is a farce devoid of any real choice; that this form of voting creates the illusion of change while simultaneously reinforcing our current oppressive system. Rather than us being against voting in this system, it is more accurate to say that we are against peddling the belief that any lasting meaningful change can be achieved through engaging in something that has been designed to constrain us.

Genuine radicals who campaign for Corbyn do so under the illusion that his election campaign will significantly boost social movements in a way that putting their campaigning work into workplace, community, and other organizing would not.  Not only is there no evidence for this but the experience of previous electoral campaigns is that failure often demoralizes and demobilizes such movements, as happened after the failure of Bernie Sanders, and success often demobilizes and then demoralizes such movements when the moment of disappointment or betrayal arrives, as happened with Syriza.

The huge amount of energy invested might mean something can be harvested for the future. However the past suggests that only slim pickings are left when the that energy shifts elsewhere. Counterexamples that are sometimes cited, such as Chile under Allende prior to the coup, are not movements built out of electoralism but rather movements which opened up the space for electoral success as a consequence of their own strength.

The nature of an election campaign means there is little space to prepare activists for defeat or betrayal. All hope has to be entrusted in the candidate and even soft criticism has to be avoided lest it deter voters. Elections are not fought and won around the slogan of ‘our candidate although flawed is somewhat better than theirs’ but through insisting that yes indeed they can perform miracles.

This article has been written in response to a piece written by Paddy Vipond titled “Anarchists, It Is Our Duty To Vote”. Throughout I have summarized his arguments before I have dealt with them and so it is not necessary to read his article to understand this one. These headings have been taken from his article and follow the same structure.

Legitimacy

The most common argument that anarchists make about elections and their legitimacy is that a vote represents a vote of confidence in this system. This is one of the weaker anarchist arguments against voting, one that any electoral leftist could argue against with ease when issues such as damage limitation come up, and so I was surprised that it did not appear in this article. Instead it argues that the anarchist belief is that voting legitimizes the government – rather than the system. His argument against this is that “governments take their legitimacy regardless of voter turnout”. This is very true. However it is also an argument I have never seen an anarchist make. I am thus not familiar with it as an anarchist argument against voting.

Of course if you vote for the Tories and they make it into power then that is legitimizing the Tories. But if you vote against them and they make it into power anyway, that is hardly legitimation. No one, let alone any anarchist, would argue against that because it is a basic logical conclusion. Rather, as anarchists we argue that through voting you are legitimizing the system. Through voting you are expressing faith in the “democratic” systems put in place. If the Tories win despite you voting for someone else you are required to respect the “democratic process”. Of course, there are many other reasons, systemic reasons in particular, why the Tories could very well win this election and many more, effectively argued by Andrew Flood in this article.

Vipond next goes on to illustrate a strange hypothetical scenario where the voter turnout is at 0%. In this scenario, the 0% turnout means that the ruling government remain in power and therefore that a dictatorship takes hold. Not only is this hypothetical situation unhelpful in being unlikely in the extreme, but anarchists don’t aim for as few people as possible to vote. In the US, only 40% of the population vote in the elections. While there are a variety of reasons behind this, active and deliberate disenfranchisement being one of them, much of it is because people simply don’t see a purpose in voting. If a real aim of anarchism were to reduce voter turnout, then the face of every anarchist should be completely covered in egg as it would be bizarre for anyone to claim that the US is a shining model for anarchism. In reality it is a country where the masses have been driven to despair and apathy; we have no interest in this kind of society. As anarchists we don’t want 0% turnout, it’s not our aim. Our aim is a society where we are transformed from passive observers to active participants in making political decisions about our lives.

Further along this section Vipond claims that any principled refusal to engage in electoral voting, is “a selfish badge of honor”. He claims that through not voting we are trying to absolve ourselves of any responsibility of the political mess we find ourselves in. I would like to assume positive intent on his behalf here, and so I’m left with no alternative than to believe that this argument is based on the author’s personal experience with anarchists local to him. This attitude is certainly not one prevalent in the Irish anarchist scene. This seems to be a description of an attitude the author dislikes rather than addressing any positions we hold as anarchists against voting in electoral politics, though.

Fairness

In this section of his article Vipond does not actually offer any solutions to the unfairness of the system, which he acknowledges. Instead, Vipond makes arguments about how withdrawing from the system does not make it fairer and does nothing to change it. This is hardly a groundbreaking observation. However anarchists do not argue for withdrawal from the system; we argue for its dismantling instead.

Costs

Oddly Vipond claims that anarchists argue we should abstain from voting because of the time required (i.e. the cost) to educate yourself on parties, policies and representatives. I am concerned again about the personal experiences that this writer has had with other anarchists as it hasn’t been an argument made by any anarchist organization I am aware of. Organized anarchists spend quite a lot of their time organizing in opposition to the current order. This includes familiarizing ourselves with ruling – and otherwise – parties, policies, and representatives. We know this system very well, it’s why we oppose it and work towards a new world. It would be ludicrous for us to want people to have no knowledge or understanding of how broken and oppressive the system of the ruling parties is. Only through this understanding of the system will people struggle against it..

When discussing elections and costs, an argument that is typically made by anarchists is that if we were to engage in them, and perhaps even to use them as a platform for our ideas, it would come at too high a cost. This is a cost associated with electoralist campaigning rather than personally voting, and has  nothing to do with investing time in researching our opponents but rather in reinforcing the idea that “someone else will fix it” which is rampant in our society. As argued by Alan MacSimoin in this article: “Elections are about leaving the vast majority of people in the role of passive observer of political life rather than active participants. Anarchists want to see working class people take an active role in bringing about change in society. Participation in electoral politics has the opposite effect. The cost is too high a price to pay.” I highlight this as yet another major omission and lack of understanding on the part of the author of what the anarchist arguments against voting are.

Effectiveness

In this section the author argues that “the reality is that voting does change things and there is absolutely no denying that.” On the contrary, we can deny that. Voting attempts to provide the population with the illusion of change while in reality it reinforces the current system. A policy here and there may change, the faces may change, but the system of a wealthy minority ruling a poor majority remains.

So then what happens when voters in England are faced with two opposing choices between a socialist and a bloodthirsty Tory? A situation we now see with Corbyn and May. How could a broke anarchist student possibly resist the allure of supporting someone who would scrap university fees? I’ll admit, I’d probably vote for him if I lived in his constituency simply because I can’t afford my university fees and I will do anything to try to get out of paying them. I remain unconvinced, however, that he can deliver any lasting and meaningful structural and political change, especially with the Blairites in his party who might as well be Tories who will attempt to thwart him at every opportunity.

True power does not rest in parliament. Members of Parliament (MPs), Teachta Dála (TDs – elected members of parliament in Ireland) and otherwise are little more than the “committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” The markets dictate what decisions are made in parliament rather than parliament dictating to the markets. We cannot elect the revolution because capitalism has a backup if any of its opponents do make it to parliament. This backup comes in two forms: the first is the soft force of economic terrorism (the markets), and the second is the much harder force of a military coup orchestrated through the secret state. These arguments have been articulated in more detail by Andrew Flood in this article on Syriza.

I’m also cautious of this being seen as unchecked pessimism, as this is not my motivation. Capitalism is all about quick fixes, about the speed of service, about receiving something in an instant, this is deeply ingrained within us. So when we are presented with a quick fix, a vote to make all our problems disappear, of course we are going to be viewed as pessimistic when we maintain that it’s not going to work, that we have to build a more sustainable resistance. Rather, we would prefer people didn’t spend their time getting sucked into this system of parliamentary democracy in the first place and instead fought against it and for a new world.

To return to the article, Vipond makes an astounding claim that voting has played a major role in social change since the beginning of the 20th Century. This is not true. It is a shocking erasure of the mass movements that lie behind every great social change. Societal change occurs in our mass consciousness long before it is reflected, through the pressure of those masses, in parliaments and other ruling class institutions. In these instances it was not voting that was effective, but the work that occurred on the streets, within homes and workplaces and other places in changing opinions.

So, Why Vote?

In this section Vipond argues that non-voting protects the state, therefore implying that voting weakens it. I don’t see how participating in something that makes people believe that their vote every four or five years gives them any input into their lives does damage to a system based upon the furthering of this belief. The author seems to think that stating that voting is “a right enshrined by law” would convince anarchists to vote. Given the widespread awareness of the unfairness of the rule of law in anarchist circles, which has seen many anarchists imprisoned for acting against it, I think Vipond is barking up the wrong tree with this argument.

The author then proceeds to make an argument for damage limitation, and of course if you are in a constituency where it is a neck and neck competition between a UKIP candidate and Labour candidate no one could blame you for voting for Labour and if I was in such a situation I would probably do so. But to do so without actively fighting – capacity permitting – against the conditions that has led to such a dangerous level of UKIP support is shirking of the highest order by anarchists.

This argument naturally leads to one of choosing between the lesser of two evils. We saw very recently in the US where voting for the lesser evil eventually gets you. It led to a choice between a “pussy-grabbing” living breathing manifestation of all oppression and a war-mongering symbol of capitalism and imperialism. When all you can envisage as your role in changing society is constantly choosing between the lesser of two evils in this society, it allows for those who represent that evil to push their boundaries. Instead of the levels of evil decreasing the opposite occurs.

Vipond goes on to make an attempt at pragmatism by advocating “evolution through the ballot box whilst awaiting the necessary conditions to enact a revolution in society.” Organized anarchists don’t sit around “awaiting the necessary conditions to enact a revolution in society”, we work very hard to try to create them. History has shown us that when fighting for these conditions to be realized with electoralism as one of those tools, we see fighting becoming subservient to electoralism. Those of an electoral persuasion involved in campaigns are forever on the lookout for opportunities to get their profile out there, or are trying to find ‘leaders’ who could perhaps contest the next election. This isn’t necessarily done out of ego, it is done because those who subscribe to this ideology believe in using the platform of elections to advance their own ideals.

The remainder of the article is an argument for the benefits of reform and pushing parties to the left through voting. This reinforces the illusion that there is power in your vote. Fighting this illusion is a cornerstone of anarchist belief and action.

The article lacks a comprehensive understanding of how this system operates and how voting ties into it, as well as a basic understanding of the anarchist arguments surrounding voting. In many instances he argued against arguments that no anarchist organization would ever make. When we argue against voting we don’t mean that abstaining is the route to anarchism. We make this argument to try to highlight the scam that is voting and to encourage people to make political decisions and actions in other ways and to become directly involved in building communities of resistance and support. We have absolutely no interest in encouraging apathy. Yet Vipond seemed to imply this was the aim, or at the very least a direct consequence of anarchist campaigning that we are willfully neglectful of.

The most dangerously inaccurate statement made in this article is the claim that “voting in elections is not only a duty of anarchists, it is the single easiest weapon at our disposal”. After highlighting all of the negative effects that voting can have – of course exceptions can be made such as the case of UKIP vs. Labour that was mentioned – it is clear that voting in parliamentary elections is far from our single easiest weapon. Indeed it is clear that it is the single easiest weapon of the ruling class in fooling us into thinking we have any say in this society.

Whoever is voted in tomorrow, we still have a world to win and that fight will continue until every institution and manifestation of oppression is dismantled. While institutions of oppression remain we have a fight on our hands; while we’re still placing an X in a box every couple of years in the belief that this is true power or democracy we are not free.

Here’s to solidarity among all those who suffer and who struggle for change: “It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” – Audre Lorde


This article originally appeared as “Anarchists, Is It Really Our Duty To Vote?” and the spelling has been modified for a US audience.

#BuildMovementsNotElections #BuildPowerFromBelow #Corbyn

junij 9, 2017

Statement of #CityPlaza squat against the threat of eviction

cityplaza2

Statement of #CityPlaza squat against the threat of eviction (En, De, Sp, It, Fr & Gr)
—————————————-

(English)

City Plaza will not bend

“Resist the immigration and
passport bureaus
the frightful flags of states
and diplomacy
war weapons factories”

Michalis Katsaros

——————–
The court order for the evacuation of the Refugee Accommodation Space City Plaza is the latest scene in the repressive management of refugees and the solidarity movement. From the closure of the borders to the shameful EU-Turkey deal, from the prisonlike camps to the evacuation of squats, a policy of casting refugees as a peculiar enemy is being articulated. An enemy that must be dealt with by direct and indirect state violence. The violence on the bodies of foreign nationals breeds fear in the minds of the locals and sinks the entire society deeper into barbarism.
Over the past 14 months, City Plaza, along with all the other refugee housing squats, is a “crack” in the public space where the repressive and racist discourse against refugees is constantly reiterated. City Plaza has not only proven that refugees and locals can live togather in harmony and with dignity. It also signifies, along with other similar initiatives, that there is a Europe that is different to the Europe of the Eurogroup and Frontex. A Europe of solidarity, struggle, humanity. And it is precisely this that is a nuisance to those in power.

We will not be afraid, we will not bend, we will not back down.

We are calling on mass support for City Plaza and all refugee squats by any possible way.

Refugee Accommodation Space City Plaza
__________________________________

(Franch)

City Plaza ne se pliera pas
“Resistez aux administrations des étrangers
et des passeports, aux drapeaux terribles des états
et a la diplomatie,
aux fabriques des matières de guerre”
Michalis Katsaros

L’ordonnance du procureur pour l’évacuation de City Plaza Area est le dernier épisode du traitement oppressif des réfugiés et du mouvement de solidarité. Depuis la fermeture des frontières a l’accord honteux avec la Turquie, et des camps de prisonniers a l’évacuation des squats, s’élabore une politique proclamant les réfugiés come un ennemi singulier. Un ennemi qui doit être traitée par l’utilisation directe et indirecte de la violence de l’État. La violence sur les corps des étrangers cultive la peur dans l’esprit des indigenes, plongeant une société totale dans la barbarie ..

Pour 14 mois, le City Plaza, tout comme les autres occupations pour le réfugiés constituent une « dissonance » dans l’espace public où se répéte sans cesse un discours répressif et raciste sur les réfugiés. City Plaza n’a pas seulement prouvé que les réfugiés peuvent vivre avec la population locale en harmonie et avec dignité. Il donne également le signal, ainsi que toutes les autres opérations similaires, qu’il existe une autre Europe que celle de l’Eurogroupe et de Frontex. D’une Europe de la solidarité, de la lutte, de l’humanité. Et,c’est exactement ce signal qui dérange principalement les dirigeants.

On n’a pas peur, on se pliera pas, on ne reculera pas.

Nous appelons au soutien massif de City Plaza et de touts les squats des réfugiés.

Espace d’ Hebergement des Réfugiés CITY PLAZA
–——————————————

(Italian)

Il City Plaza non si arrende

“Resisti alla burocrazia dell’immigrazione e dei passaporti
Alle spaventose bandiere degli Stati
Alla diplomazia
Alle fabbriche di armi da guerra”

– Michalis Katsaros –

L’ordine del tribunale per lo sgombero del Refugee Accommodation Space City Plaza è solo l’ultimo atto di uan serie di attacchi repressivi nei confronti dei rifugiati e del movimento di solidarietà internazionale.

Dalla chiusura dei confini al vergognoso accordo tra Unione Europea e Turchia, dai campi di prigionia agli sgomberi degli spazi occupati, si articola una politica mirata a rappresentare i rifugiati come un nemico. Un nemico che va combattuto con l’uso diretto e indiretto della violenza di Stato. La violenza sui corpi degli stranieri genera paura e fa sprofondare la società in una ancora più profonda barbarie.
Negli ultimi 14 mesi il City Plaza, insieme a tutte le altre occupazioni abitative di rifugiati, ha rappresentato un’anomalia nell’uso dello spazio pubblico, opponendosi alla costante riproduzione del discorso repressivo e razzista contro i rifugiati. L’esperienza del City Plaza non solo ha dimostrato che i rifugiati possono vivere in armonia e con dignità insieme alle persone del luogo ma, insieme alle altre iniziative simili, rappresenta la concretezza di un’Europa diversa da quella dell’Eurogruppo e di Frontex. Un’Europa di solidarietà, di lotta, di umanità, che dà fastidio a chi sta al potere.

Non abbiamo paura, non ci arrendiamo, non faremo un passo indietro.

Lanciamo un appello per un sostegno incondizionato al City Plaza e a tutte le occupazioni di rifugiati.

Refugee Accommodation Space City Plaza
———————————————————

(German)

Das City Plaza wird sich nicht beugen
“Wehrt euch gegen die Pass- und Ausländerbehörde,
gegen die furchtbaren Flaggen der Staaten
und die Diplomatie,
gegen die Fabriken für Kriegsmaterial”
Michalis Katsaros
——————–
Der Gerichtsbeschluss zur Räumung der Geflüchteten Unterkunft City Plaza ist ein weiterer Schritt in dem repressiven Management von Geflüchteten und Solidaritäts Bewegung. Von den Grenzschließungen bis zu dem EU-Türkei Deal der Schande – von den Gefängnislagern bis hinzu den Räumungen von Besetzungen, es wurde eine Politik Geflüchtete als Feinde zu vertreiben genutzt. Ein Feind der mit direkter oder indirekter Staatsgewalt bekämpft werden müsse. Gewalt an Körpern fremder Nationalitäten, die Angst in den Köpfen der Bevölkerung erzeugt und die Gesellschaft noch tiefer in die Barbarei stürtzt.
Über die letzten 14 Monate, ist das City Plaza, ebenso wie all die anderen Besetzungen zur Geflüchteten Unterbringung, ein Störfaktor im öffentlichen Raum, gegen eine Kulisse der konstanten Wiederholungen repressiver und rassistischer Diskurse gegen Geflüchtete. Denn das City Plaza hat nicht nur bewiesen, dass Geflüchtete und Anwohner*innen harmonisch und in Würde miteinander leben können. Es zeigt auch, gemeinsam mit anderen, ähnlichen Initiativen, dass da auch ein anderes Europa ist, dass anders ist als das Europa der Euro-Gruppe und Frontex. Ein Europa der Solidarität, des Widerstands, der Menchlichkeit. Und genau das ist es, was für die Machthaber*innen eine Störung darstellt.

Wir werden keine Angst haben, wir werden uns nicht beugen, wir werden nicht klein bei geben.
Wir rufen auf zu massiver Unterstützung für das City Plaza und alle Geflüchteten Squats, auf jedem nur möglichen Weg.
Geflüchteten Unterkunft City Plaza
——————————–

(Spanish)

City Plaza no se rendirá.

“Resistir en contra de la burocracia de las migraciones
las espantosas banderas de los estados
y la diplomacia
las empresas de guerra”

Mijalis Kacharos

La orden de desalojo del Refugee Acomodation Space es la última escena de intento de represión del movimiento organizado entre refugiados y voluntarios. Desde el cierre de las fronteras hasta el pacto de la vergüenza entre la UE y Turquía; desde el encarcelamiento en los campos hasta el desalojo de los espacios ocupados, está siendo articulada una política global que convierte a los refugiados en nuestros enemigos. Un enemigo que debe ser combatido, directa o indirectamente, a través de la violencia estatal. Esta violencia sobre los “extranjeros” es la que fomenta el miedo entre los locales, introduciendo a la sociedad más profundamente en la barbarie.
Durante los últimos 14 meses City plaza, junto con los otros espacios ocupados por refugiados, es la primera “grieta” en el contexto internacional en contra de la constante repetición del discurso racista y represivo hacia los refugiados. City Plaza no solo ha demostrado que refugiados y locales pueden vivir en armonía y con dignidad juntos, sino que también existe una Europa diferente a la del Eurogrupo y Frontex. Una Europa basada en la solidaridad, la lucha y la humanidad. Esto es precisamente una molestia para aquellos que están en el poder.

No tenemos miedo. No nos rendiremos. No vamos a echarnos atrás.

Pedimos apoyo masivo para City Plaza y todos los espacios ocupados.

Refugee Acomodation Space City Plaza
————————————

(Greek)

“Ἀντισταθεῖτε στὶς ὑπηρεσίες τῶν ἀλλοδαπῶν
καὶ διαβατηρίων
στὶς φοβερὲς σημαῖες τῶν κρατῶν καὶ τὴ
διπλωματίαστὰ
ἐργοστάσια πολεμικῶν ὑλῶν”
Μιχάλης Κατσαρός

Η εισαγγελική εντολή για εκκένωση του Χώρου Φιλοξενίας City Plaza αποτελεί το τελευταίοι επεισόδιο της κατασταλτικής αντιμετώπισης των προσφύγων καθώς και του κινήματος αλληλεγγύης. Από το κλείσιμο των συνόρων ως η Συμφωνία της Ντροπής με την Τουρκίας, και από τα στρατόπεδα-φυλακές ως την εκκένωση των καταλήψεων, αρθρώνεται μια πολιτική που αναγορεύει τους πρόσφυγες σε έναν ιδιότυπο εχθρό. Εχθρό που πρέπει να αντιμετωπιστεί με την άμεση κι έμμεση χρήση της κρατικής βίας. Η βία στα σώματα των ξένων καλλιεργεί τον φόβο στα μυαλά των ντόπιων, βυθίζοντας συνολικά την κοινωνία στη βαρβαρότητα.

Εδώ και 14 μήνες το City Plaza, όπως άλλωστε και οι υπόλοιπες προσφυγικές καταλήψεις, αποτελεί μια «παραφωνία» στο δημόσιο χώρος όπου επαναλαμβάνεται διαρκώς ο κατασταλτικός και ρατσιστικός λόγος για τους πρόσφυγες. Τo City Plaza δεν έχει μόνο αποδείξει ότι οι πρόσφυγες μπορούν να ζήσουν μαζί με τους ντόπιους αρμονικά και με αξιοπρέπεια. Δίνει το σήμα επίσης, μαζί με όλα τα ανάλογα εγχειρήματα, ότι υπάρχει μια διαφορετική Ευρώπη από αυτήν του Eurogroup και της Frontex. Μια Ευρώπης της αλληλεγγύης, του αγώνα, της ανθρωπιάς. Κι αυτό ακριβώς το σήμα είναι που ενοχλεί κυρίως τους κρατούντες.

Δεν πρόκειται να φοβηθούμε, δεν πρόκειται να λυγίσουμε, δεν πρόκειται να υποχωρήσουμε.

Καλούμε στη μαζική στήριξη του City Plaza και όλων των προσφυγικών καταλήψεων.

Χώρος Στέγασης προσφύγων City Plaza

 

Originaly posted onCityplaza

junij 8, 2017

Times of resistance – International meeting with citizens resisting democratic regression in Europe – 9-10th of June 2017 in Belgrade

vreme otpora

What connects the social movements and protests which emerged in  different countries in Europe in the past few years, is the discontent of citizens towards incapacitated or alienated institutions they depend on.  Beside the right-wing appropriation of discontent, which leads Europe to further disintegration, social movements and protests against inequality, racism, authoritarian usurpation of power and for the defence of basic  human rights show how far the regression of democracy has gone and point to the obsolete or corrupted mechanisms which are not resisting the wave of conservative counter-revolution.

Our conference is the initial event of a solidary action, putting together methods, ideas, programs, experiences, chances and obstacles, in order to build a stronger front for democracy. Critical thinking, resistance and international solidarity are the fundamental values of Europe, which we evoke to rethink our common future and overcome the consequences  of

the de-legitimization of democracy. Democracy has been taken for granted, but it is a practice that has to be thought through and developed every day. That is why we invite movements and protests which carried and continue to carry the idea of democracy in the streets and squares throughout Europe, reclaiming public space and public good, to meet and find common ground for future wider actions, to transform the memory of freedom into its social reality.

Democracy will either revolutionize or fall to  counter-revolution.

 

Center For Cultural Decontamination (CZKD) in cooperation with CCFD-Terre Solidaire

 

FRIDAY — JUNE 9th
10.00

INTRODUCTION

Greetings by the team:

Borka Pavićević, Aleksandra Sekulić, Florent Schaeffer, Clémence Beugnot   Video Overview of recent movements and processes in Europe by Ivica Đorđević and Adam Ranđelović

 

10.30
Introduction speech by Igor Štiks

 

11.00
OVERVIEWS OF THE TURMOIL — Panel discussion

All around Europe large movements have emerged. Why? In which political context? Analysis and critical views on several recent citizens’  protests.

•  Michał Sutowski — Krytyka Polityczna, Warsaw

•  Özge Çelikaslan — bak.ma, Istanbul

•  Filip Jovanovski — FRU Faculty of things that can’t be learned,  Skopje

•  Irena Pejić — Mašina, Belgrade

• Jelena Veljić — Social Center Oktobar, Belgrade

Moderated by Borka Pavićević and Aleksandra Sekulić —   CZKD

 

13.00
Coffee Break

 

13.30
PROTESTING AND CONTESTING — Panel discussion

In the past few years the social injustice, corruption, election frauds and media censorship gave reasons to people for protests, solidarity actions, strikes. Resistance in the streets and in the workplace can trigger change, either in the realm of political mechanisms or in a new form of solidarity for future actions.

• Klementyna Suchanow — Polish Women’s Strike and International Women’s Strike, Warsaw

• Mateusz Kijoswski — KOD Committee for the Defence of Democracy,   Warsaw

• Iva Čukić — Ministry of Space, Belgrade

• Damir Arsenijević — Workers’ University, Tuzla

• Andreea Petrut — Demos, Bucarest

• Matija Medenica — Marks21, Belgrade

• Ljubica Slavković — Ne Da(vi)mo Beograd

Moderated by Florent Schaeffer — CCFD-Terre Solidaire and Aleksandra Sekulić — CZKD

15.00
Lunch time

 

16.00
CULTURE IN RESISTANCE — Panel discussion

How the experience of the independent culture and its emancipation during the transition can contribute to establishment of a dynamic public mobilization field around social and political issues? The examples from Croatia can be a starting point for the discussion.

• Mirela Travar — Alliance Operation City, Zagreb

• Aleksandra Sekulić — CZKD

 

16.30
Coffee Break

 

17.00
“STORIES OF THE STREETS“, ISTANBUL — Presentation by Özge Çelikaslan Social movements and human rights activism in Turkey through research on video activism, documentation and digital archiving of political  acts.

 

17.30
Coffee Break

 

18.00
REFUGEES AND EUROPE: KINEPOLITICS — POLITICS OF MOVEMENT  — Panel discussion

Migration is one of humanity’s most basic instincts — to go in search of new horizons. If we use the term crisis, it is appropriate to speak about the crisis of the fundamental European values and the regression of European vision regarding    the dealing with the refugees. It is inclusivity that brings security — belonging, not belongings.

• Žarka Radoja — Journalist, Belgrade

• Aleksandar Obradović — Philopolitics, Belgrade

• Ifigeneia Kokkali — Expert in Refugee Education, Greece

• Sara Kekuš — Center for Peace Studies, Zagreb

Moderated by Lola  Joksimović  — CZKD

 

SATURDAY – JUNE 10th

10.00
Workgroups, networking, informal  meetings

 

14.00
Lunch time

 

15.00–20.00
PUBLIC FORUM: SOLIDARITY AND FUTURE ACTIONS

Plenum discussion and articulation of a common  declaration

The open gathering of all, “plenum”, has been a form of organizing the students’ rebellions in Zagreb in 2009 and Belgrade in 2011. During 2014 protests in Bosnia, plenums became for months a public space to bring citizens back to politics and take collective decisions.

Summing up the shared views and information about the initiatives, examples,histories of resistance, we invite our colleagues and wider public to a free discussion in the form of plenum. The equal treatment of all the participants and the direction of the discussion will be moderated by Igor Štiks. Our hope is  to come up with a declaration on our future solidarity and potential modality of common actions.

Moderator of the Plenum discussion: Igor Štiks

Rapporteur: Clémence Beugnot — CCFD-Terre Solidaire

Simultaneous translation will be provided for this plenum.

 

The program including participants’ biographies is available here.

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Serbian/

Ono što povezuje društvene pokrete i proteste koji su nastali u različitim državama u Evropi proteklih nekoliko godina, je nezadovoljstvo građana prema nesposobnim ili otuđenim institucijama od kojih oni zavise. Osim desničarskog prisvajanja nezadovoljstva koje vodi Evropu u dalje rasipanje, društveni pokreti i protesti protiv nejednakosti, rasizma, autoritarne uzurpacije moći i za odbranu bazičnih ljudskih prava pokazuju koliko   daleko je otišla regresija demokratije i ukazuju na zastarele ili korumpirane mehanizme koji ne pružaju otpor talasu konzervativne kontra-revolucije.

Naša konferencija je inicijalni događaj solidarne akcije, spajajući metode, ideje, programe, iskustva, šanse i prepreke kako bi se izgradio jači front za demokratiju. Kritičko mišljenje, otpor i međunarodna solidarnost  su fundamentalne vrednosti Evrope, koje mi evociramo kako bismo preispitali našu zajedničku budućnost i prevazišli posledice de-legitimizacije   demokratije. Demokratija se uzima zdravo za gotovo, ali to je praksa koja mora biti dobro razrađena i razvijana svakog dana. Zato mi pozivamo   pokrete i proteste koji su nosili i koji nastavljaju da nose ideju demokratije po ulicama i trgovima širom Evrope, ponovo preuzimajući javne prostore i javno dobro, kako bismo se sreli i pronašli zajedničko tle za buduće šire akcije, kako bi se sećanje na slobodu pretvorilo u društvenu  realnost.

Demokratija će se ili revolucionalizovati ili pasti u kontra-revoluciju.

 

Centar Za Kulturnu Dekontaminaciju (CZKD) Beograd u saradnji sa CCFD-Terre Solidaire

 

PETAK — 9. JUN
10.00

UVOD

Pozdrav od strane tima:

Borka Pavićević, Aleksandra Sekulić, Florent Schaeffer, Clémence Beugnot

Video pregled nedavnih kretanja i procesa u Evropi — Ivica Đorđević i Adam Ranđelović

 

10.30
Uvodni govor Igora Štiksa

 

11.00
PREGLEDI NEMIRA — Panel diskusija

Širom Evrope javili su se veliki pokreti. Zašto? U kom političkom kontekstu? Analiza i kritički pregled nekoliko skorašnjih građanskih  protesta.

•  Michał Sutowski — Krytyka Polityczna, Varšava

•  Özge Çelikaslan — bak.ma, Istanbul

•  Filip Jovanovski — FRU Faculty of things that can’t be learned,  Skoplje

•  Irena Pejić — Mašina, Beograd

• Jelena Veljić — Zadruga Oktobar, Beograd

Moderatorke Borka Pavićević i Aleksandra Sekulić — CZKD

 

13.00
Pauza za kafu

 

13.30
PROTESTI I NADMETANJE — Panel diskusija

U prošlosti, nekoliko godina društvene nepravde, korupcije, izbornih krađa i medijske cenzure su dali ljudima razloge za proteste, solidarne akcije, štrajkove. Otpor na ulicama i na radnom mestu može da izazove promene, ili u sferi političkih mehanizama ili u novom obliku solidarnosti za buduće  akcije.

• Klementyna Suchanow — Štrajk žena Poljske i Međunarodni štrajk žena, Varšava

• Mateusz Kijoswski — KOD Komitet za odbranu demokratije,   Varšava

• Iva Čukić — Ministarstvo prostora,  Beograd

• Damir Arsenijević — Unverzitet radnika, Tuzla

• Andreea Petrut — Demos, Bukurešt

• Matija Medenica — Marks21, Beograd

• Ljubica Slavković — Ne Da(vi)mo Beograd

Moderatori Florent Schaeffer — CCFD-Terre Solidaire  i Aleksandra Sekulić — CZKD

 

15.00
Pauza za ručak

 

16.00
KULTURA U OTPORU — Panel diskusija

Kako iskustvo nezavisne kulture i njene emancipacije tokom tranzicije može da doprinese uspostavljanju dinamične javne mobilizacije oblasti oko socijalnih i političkih tema? Kako samoorganizovani mediji otvaraju prostor za refleksiju borbe novih generacija i održe svoju kritičku slobodu? Primer Hrvatske može da bude početak rasprave.

• Mirela Travar — Savez udruga Operacija Grad, Zagreb

• Aleksandra Sekulić — CZKD

 

16.30
Pauza za kafu

 

17.00
„PRIČE SA ULICE“, ISTANBUL — Prezentacija Özge Çelikaslan Društveni pokreti i aktivizam ljudskih prava u Turskoj kroz istraživanje video aktivizma, dokumentacije i digitalnog arhiviranja političkih  činova.

 

17.30
Pauza za kafu

 

18.00
IZBEGLICE I EVROPA: KINEPOLITIKA – POLITIKA KRETANJA — Panel  diskusija

Migracija je jedan od najosnovnijih nagona čovečanstva – da traga za novim horizontima. Ako koristimo termin “kriza”, treba da govorimo o krizi osnovnih evropskih vrednosti i regresiji evropske vizije u suočavanju sa problemom izbeglica. Uključenost donosi sigurnost – pripadati, a ne   posedovati.

• Žarka Radoja — novinarka, Beograd

• Aleksandar Obradović — Philopolitics, Beograd

• Ifigeneia Kokkali — Stručnjak za obrazovanje izbeglica,  Grčka

• Sara Kekuš — Centar za mirovne studija, Zagreb

Moderatorka Lola Joksimović — CZKD

 

SUBOTA – 10. JUN

10.00
Radne grupe, umrežavanje, neformalni sastanci

 

14.00
Pauza za ručak

 

15.00–20.00
JAVNI FORUM: SOLIDARNOST I BUDUĆE AKCIJE

Otvoreno okupljanje svih, „plenum“, je bio oblik organizovanja pobuna studenata   u Zagrebu 2009. godine i 2011. godine u Beogradu. Tokom protesta u Bosni    2014. godine plenumi su mesecima služili kao javni prostor za vraćanje građana ka politici i donošenja kolektivnih  odluka.

Sumiranjem zajedničkih pogleda i informacija o inicijativama, primerima, istorijama otpora, pozivamo naše kolege i širu publiku na slobodnu diskusiju u obliku plenuma. Jednak tretman svih učesnika i pravac diskusije će moderirati Igor Štiks. Mi se nadamo da ćemo doći do deklaracije o našoj budućoj solidarnosti i potencijalnoj modalnosti zajedničih akcija.

Moderator Plenarne diskusije: Igor Štiks

Izvestilac: Clémence Beugnot, CCFD–Terre Solidaire

Simultano prevođenje će biti dostupno za ovaj plenum

 

Celokupan program sa biografijama učesnika možete preuzeti u PDF formatu ovde

Program možete preuzeti ovde, a biografije učesnika na ovom linku. 

 

maj 29, 2017

15M Appropriations and Revolutions: Fragmentary Visions in Spain

Perhaps the most radical legacy of 15M lies in the ways in which the expansion of self-managed forms of life have reshaped subjectivities, which in turn feed back into those forms.  ¨With 15M”, writes Carolina León, “like a slap of turmoil and spring with its precariousness, I knew that their existed a politics in each one of us, and that was an experience of transcending solitude.  … [T]he “revolution” has already triumphed, because it allowed a countless number of people to get out of themselves, to concern themselves with more than what belonged to them and pursue the discussion about living together.” (Carolina León, Trincheras permanentes, 11-2)  But to so speak of “revolution” does presuppose that it be re-conceptualised (the dogmatism on this issue by some anarchists is precisely the reason why Tomás Ibáñez thought that it was a good thing that 15M was free of anarchist organisations); a re-conceptualisation that is called for even if within anarchism, the idea of revolution as a single, insurrectionary event was always accompanied by a notion of social change that imagined revolution as emerging from expanding initiatives of self-management.

 

15mobletnica.jpg

Originally published by Autonomies

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe so they are able to read what is going on and for documentation only.

Revolutionary change, the revolution, should begin from this moment on, beginning with the undoing of the authoritarian relations in each instant and place of daily life, breaking with the logic of obedience that power, every form of power, tries and will try to impose on us, resisting, practicing disobedience and giving the example of how we desire to live, for it is and will be these actions, including “the smallest actions of protest in which we participate”, that are those which convert themselves “into the roots of social change”.

Octavio Alberola, Revolución o colapso

On the 15th of May, a few thousand marched in Madrid to the Puerta del Sol to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the movement that would come to be known simply as 15M.  Smaller observances were held in other cities.

Almost a week latter, on the 20th, Podemos would rally over 10,000 in the same square, signaling an allegience to this recent past, but also demonstrating its divorce from it.

Tomás Ibáñez, the anarchist, writing of 15M in 2011, stated that the “worst that could have happened to 15M, and the future of social struggle, would have been for it to have allowed itself to be led by the libertarian movement … or that it have assumed as its own the principles and objectives of the the libertarian movement.” (Ibáñez, Anarquismos a contratiempo, 269)  The “worst” thing, he qualifies, excluding 15M ending up in the hands of some left-wing, extreme left-wing or nationalist political parties.  The rise of Podemos would seem to confirm the worst.

A Podemos political rally is an exercise in controlled demagogy.  The spectacle is staged, each moment generating ever greater emotional reaction and expectation.  The event begins with the expected political folk music, followed by the entry on stage of the nucleus of the Podemos parliamentarians: their age young, their appearance “cool”, they hold each other, smile and punch the air with their fists … “los compas” some in the crowd cry out, “the comrades”.  These are the ones who will lead the assembled to justice and freedom, they are the ones who will sweep away the corrupt, bring order to the State, enforce and pass laws in defence of the citizens, the people, the “fatherland” [“patria”: the word will be repeated without end]  At first, they could almost pass as a rock band, readying themselvs for a grand concert; but no, they are “our” warriors, our “justicieros” in whom faith must be had.  Then come the speeches, often written, seemingly rehearsed, each strictly timed to keep things moving quickly.  Thought and reflection are not expected.  The sequence of speakers itself alternates between parliamentarian and ordinary “citizen”/”worker”: unemployed, student, fisherman, longshoreman, and so on.  The refrain, to be read in the bodies and voices of the common man and woman: Podemos is the party of the people.  The order of the politicians is itself sequenced from the least well known to the leader.  All are presented as heros, indefatigable fighters for our dignity.  The cheering, the chants, follow rhythmically.  Nothing is left to chance, to spontaneity.  When the leader finally does step onto the stage, the crowd explodes in euphoria; it is Pablo Iglesias, white shirt, jeans, long hair held loosely in a pony tail, left hand raised in a fist, moving, pacing in a circle on the square stage like a boxer about to meet his opponents: the enemies of the patria, of the people and of their honest work, and of those who wish to work; the thieves, the crooks, the liars who sack and pillage the country.  Finally a man to fight for us, someone worthy of our trust.  And it is this that Iglesias asks for: faith in him, in his party, in his revolution.

The distance is great that separates the multiple and mass assemblies of 15M in Sol and the Podemos orchestrated show.  However politically limited and fragile the assemblies were, they were assemblies, largely open, horizontal, self-organised and self-managed.  And if they sometimes lost themselves in the self-confession of speakers, as individual after individual took the microphone, what was said was direct, pained or joyful, reflected or impulsive, to be then embraced or rejected by the very many who listened.  Those gathered before Podemos were not asked to listen but to react, in reflex, to words, names, slogans.  The speakers were chosen, pre-selected; those assemblied were the audience.  But so that the latter did not feel themselves entirely passive, they were greeted as the people, the speakers humbled themselves before them, thanked them for their presence, and recalled to everyone the history of their presence:  that as the assembled people, they were the direct descendants of the occupations of the squares of 15M and, even, of the country’s popular uprising against fascism in 1936.  And yet the truth strained, the lie was there for everyone to see.

Iglesias said to all of those present that they would be able to tell their children where they had been on the 20th of May, 2017, for the spirit of History was with them.  The motivation for the gathering was ostensibly to justify and gather support for the future introduction of a motion of no confidence in parliament by Podemos, to bring down the government of the Mariano Rajoy.  This would not be the action of a political party, but of the people, those assembled in Sol, and by extension, in the imaginary of the those gathered, the assembly of all of the people of spain.  The demonstration was thus both testimony of the synchrony of the party and the people, and justification of the party as the party of the spanish people.

The no confidence motion however will fail in parliament.  The party leadership knows this, for the majority of the political parties have denounced the exercise.  What game then is being played out?  In part, it would seem to be one further effort by Iglesias to undermine and fracture the Socialist Party (PSOE: Partido Socialista Obrero Español) that holds its leadership primary elections on the same weekend.  In other words, it is another act in the play in which Podemos seeks to situate itself hegemonically on the “Left”, to thus lay the basis for the conquest of political power.  The “historic” day in Sol then was but theatre, with the “people” as the extras for a game that will be decided elsewhere.  And when the show was over, those in the square could do little more than return home.  Indeed, to so gather the people, Podemos was obliged to rent some one hundred buses to freight people into Madrid from all over the country.  It is not that there is a distance between Podemos and 15M; there is an abyss. (El País 21/05/2017)

Carlos Taibo, in a recent chronicle on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of 15M, could still say, with justice, as he has said repeatedly in the past, “that the 15M that we have known until today has maintained a proud, and fortunate, engagement with self-organisation at the basis of society, in neighbourhoods and small towns, before the paraphernalia of endless entities remote from, and foreign to, what occurs in our daily life.”  For the same reason, 15M has visibly demonstrated itself to be distant from leaderships and personalised power. (Carlos Taibo, “Desde Abajo, Sin Separaciones: Seis Años del 15M”, madrid15m, Nº 58, May 2017)

Podemos is not 15M in political costume.  And if Podemos could not exist without 15M, 15M is not reducible to Podemos.  That Podemos has drained away activism from non-party political militancy is no doubt undeniable – for reasons which cannot be simply swept aside.  Podemos however is nothing more than “a return to reformist politics and this presages, undoubtedly, some social changes of greater or lesser importance.”  What has to be asked though is what is the nature and value of these changes.  That social-democratic reformism can bring about positive changes for ample sectors of the population – though never for the whole population, and more importantly, on a global scale, only ever for a minority – seems undeniable.  But at what price?  If the latter includes “the consolidation, revitalisation and perpetuation of the system that it reforms, then it is not certain that the price is not excessively high”.  And does not such a reformism also contribute to the domestication or deactivation of the multiple struggles that have marked the last years and upon which new political parties like Podemos support themselves?  The Podemos circuses, rather than being affirmations of authority, may prove themselves instead to be spectacles of a phantom life.  (Ibáñez, 279-81)

To consider 15M as Taibo does, that is, as at least in part an autonomous movement aspiring to generalised self-management,  renders any comparisons with Podemos and its capacity to mobilise on the streets, with the party shining brightly while 15M fades into historical oblivion, misplaced.  If 15M began with the mass occupation of city squares, and continued “visibly” in large public protests for another two years, the emphasis on self-management invites us to look elsewhere, at the proliferation and intensification of groups of direct action and collective mutual aid which have since 2011 emerged and/or developed outside the shining light of the spectacle of politics.

Perhaps the most radical legacy of 15M lies in the ways in which the expansion of self-managed forms of life have reshaped subjectivities, which in turn feed back into those forms.  ¨With 15M”, writes Carolina León, “like a slap of turmoil and spring with its precariousness, I knew that their existed a politics in each one of us, and that was an experience of transcending solitude.  … [T]he “revolution” has already triumphed, because it allowed a countless number of people to get out of themselves, to concern themselves with more than what belonged to them and pursue the discussion about living together.” (Carolina León, Trincheras permanentes, 11-2)  But to so speak of “revolution” does presuppose that it be re-conceptualised (the dogmatism on this issue by some anarchists is precisely the reason why Ibáñez thought that it was a good thing that 15M was free of anarchist organisations); a re-conceptualisation that is called for even if within anarchism, the idea of revolution as a single, insurrectionary event was always accompanied by a notion of social change that imagined revolution as emerging from expanding initiatives of self-management.

The question of revolution can be approached from any number of perspectives, but a reflection that appears in Carolina León’s essay Trincheras permanentes is valuable here.  Writing about the acampada of the Puerta del Sol in Madrid in 2011, she finds in the characterisation of the occupation and its multiple, daily assemblies as the realisation of politics, in the sense that Hannah Arendt gives to the term, an unsustainable contradiction.  If, for Arendt, politics depended on labour and work, it was not reducible to either or both of these.  Politics, as the public space of appearing and self-creation, rests upon the satisfaction of physical needs secured privately through labour and work, but does not share in the latter’s qualities.  The private sphere is a space of hierarchical authority, patriarchal authority in ancient greece, whereas the public space of politics is free and equal.  So different are the two, that the colonisation of politics by society (that is, the private management of life made public), that has become for Arendt the fundamental character of modern politics, translates into the death of politics.  What Arendt though assumes is that the private satisfaction of needs is a-political, or worse, anti-political, when it is in fact eminently political.  It is politically that the ways and means of needs satisfaction, and which needs are to be satisfied, are determined, all of which in turn shapes the space of politics.  Arendt in other words assumes the separation or divorce of politics from other spheres of life, when they are, on the contrary, overlapping and mutually sustaining.

León brings this forward in the expression of the “impure agora”.  “The squares rather than Chimeras, were very real.  They were not however delimited spaces separated from life, nor pure places of deliberation.  They were mixed spaces that reproduced themselves through the concrete and unavoidable labour of bodies.  Not of all, nor equally and without grabbing the same attention of other facets of the event.  The tasks that its maintenance demanded remained below, buried beneath the visibility of the debates, working groups and the assemblies of thousands of people.  And not everything was idyllic: in an experience of such intensity, tensions, bad stuff and criminal offenses such as sexual assault, also occurred.  The diversity was brutal because of its very openness.” (León, 160-1)  And if the acampadas were finally lifted, along with their specific politics, it was fundamentally because they could not be sustained, that is, physically reproduced.  In León’s terms, politics and care collided.  The question then becomes, for her, and I believe for any radical, anti-capitalist politics, how can the two be brought together, reconciled, so to speak (for they are in fact always together, with politics though parasitically feeding upon the many hidden activities or labours of social reproduction).

If “care” is understood as the discrete, daily and indispensable actions attending to the “needs of the body”, that provide what is essential for the perpetuation of life and if “politics” is any collective activity that produces a “common world” (in both cases, paraphrasing León, 156, 165), then the crossing of these two terms-activities-agencies is best captured in the notion of a form-of-life: of life lived and shaped collectively in and through itself in relations of affinity (it is friends who care for each other), and in affinity and/or tension with other forms-of-life.

In its most radical expression, 15M has entrusted to us a concept of life as politics and politics as life.

We have to abandon the idea that there is only politics there where there is a vision, a programme, a project and a perspective, where there is an end, decisions to be taken and problems to be solved.  There is no true politics except where it arises from life and makes of it a determined, oriented reality.  And that is born from those who are close …

comité invisible, Maintenant

maj 29, 2017

From #Chiapas to #Rojava: The Rise of a New Revolutionary Paradigm

“Power to the people“ can only be put into practice when the power exercised by social elites is dissolved into the people.»

(Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism)

Originally published by the Cooperativa Integral Catalana.

The largely unknown until recently Kurdish city of Kobane managed to attract the attention of the world with its fierce resistance [i] against the invasion of the Islamic State and became an international symbol, compared to the defence of Madrid and Stalingrad. The bravery and heroism of the People’s Defence Units and the Women’s Defence Units (YPG and YPJ) were praised by a large spectrum of groups and individuals – anarchists, leftists, liberals and even right-wingers expressed sympathy and admiration for the men and women of Kobane in their historical battle against what was often seen as IS “fascism.” The mainstream media was forced to break the silence over the Kurdish autonomy and soon numerous articles and news stories were broadcasted and published, often depicting the “toughness” and determination of the Kurdish fighters with a certain dose of exotisation, of course. However, this attention was very often selective and partial – the very essence of the political project in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) was left aside and the media preferred to present the resistance in Kobane as some weird exception to the supposed barbarism of the Middle East. Without surprise, the red star, shining on the victorious flags of the YPG/J was not a pleasing image in the eyes of the Western powers and their media. The autonomous cantons of Rojava represent a home-grown solution to the conflicts in the Middle East, encompassing grassroots democracy, ethnic, social and gender rights and all this in rejection both of IS terror but also of liberal democracy and capitalist economy . Although the West preferred to stay silent on this issue, this ideological foundation is the key for understanding the spirit that wrote the Kobane epopee and fascinated the world, as the Kurdish activist and academic, Dilar Dirik, claimed recently[ii].

As the battles for every street and corner of the city were intensifying, Kobane managed to captivate the imagination of the left and specifically of the libertarian left as a symbol of resistance and struggle and soon it was placed on the pantheon of some of the most emblematic battles for humanity, such as the defence of Madrid against the fascists in the 1930s. It was not by accident that the Turkish Marxist-Leninist group MLKP, which joined the YPG/J in/on the battlefield, raised the flag of the Spanish republic over the ruins of the city in the day of its liberation and called for the formation of International Brigades[iii], following the example of the Spanish revolution. It was not the battle for Kobane itself, but the libertarian essence of the cantons of Rojava, the implementation of grassroots direct democracy, the participation of women and different ethnic groups into the autonomous government that gave ground to the comparisons with the Spanish revolution. Another association was mentioned briefly in several articles – the revolution in Rojava and its autonomous government were compared to the Zapatistas and their autonomy in the south of Mexico. The importance of this comparison might be crucial in order to understand the paradigm of the revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan and what it means for those who believe another world is possible.

The Zapatista movement is probably one of the most symbolic and influential elements of the revolutionary imaginary in the world after the fall of the state-socialist regimes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the morning of January 1, 1994, an unknown guerrilla force, composed of indigenous Mayas, took over the main towns of the southern-most Mexican state – Chiapas. The military operation was carried out with strategic brilliance and combined with the innovative back then use of the internet to spread the message of the revolutionaries, it echoed around the globe to inspire international solidarity and the emergence of the Alter-Globalisation movement. The Zapatistas rebelled against neoliberal capitalism and the social and cultural genocide of the indigenous population in Mexico. Ya Basta, Enough is enough, was their war cry that emerged from the night of “500 years of oppression”, as the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle stated. The Zapatistas rose up in arms when global capital was celebrating the “end of history” and the idea of social revolution seemed to be a romantic anachronism that belonged to the past. The Zapatista Army for National Liberation was forced out of the cities in twelve days of intense battles with the federal army but it turned out that the deep horizontal organisation in the indigenous communities could not be eradicated by any military intervention or terror. The masked spokesperson of the rebel army, Subcomandante Marcos, challenged the notion of historical vanguard as opposed to revolution from below, which does not aim to take power but to abolish it and this concept became central to the most mass anti-capitalist movements since – from Seattle and Genoa to the Syntagma and Puerta del Sol occupations and even the Occupy Movement.

Where are the similarities with the Rojavan revolution?

From Marxism-Leninism to Autonomy – a shared historical trajectory

The roots of the democratic autonomy in Rojava can be understood only through the history of the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK), the organisation, which has been central to the Kurdish liberation movement since its creation in 1978. The PKK was established as a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla organisation in Northern Kurdistan, part of the Turkish state, combining the ideologies of national and social liberation. It grew to a substantial guerrilla force under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan and managed to challenge the second biggest army in NATO in a conflict that claimed the lives of more than forty thousand people. The Turkish state displaced hundreds of thousands and reportedly used torture, assassination and rape against the civilian population but did not manage to break the backbone of the Kurdish resistance. Since its inception, PKK has expanded its influence both in Turkey and in the other parts of Kurdistan. The leading political force in the Rojavan revolution – the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is affiliated with it through the Kurdistan Communities’ Union, KCK, the umbrella organisation that encompasses various revolutionary and political groups sharing the ideas of the PKK. The ideology, which unites the different civil and revolutionary groups in the KCK is called democratic confederalism and is based on the ideas of the US anarchist Murray Bookchin, who argued in favour of a non-hierarchal society based on social-ecology, libertarian municipalism, and direct democracy.

Although the Zapatistas are famous for their autonomous government and rejection of the notion of historical vanguard, the roots of the organisation were also related to Marxism-Leninism and just like in the case of the PKK, the idea of self-governance and revolution from below were a product of a long historical evolution. The EZLN was founded in 1983 by a group of urban guerrillas, predominantly Marxist-Leninists, who decided to start a revolutionary cell among the indigenous population in Chiapas, organise a guerrilla force and take power through guerrilla warfare. Soon they realised that their ideological dogma was not applicable to the indigenous realities and started learning from the communal traditions of governance of the indigenous people. Thus, Zapatismo was born as a fusion between Marxism and the experience and knowledge of the native population that has been resisting both against the Spanish and later the Mexican state.

This shared ideological trajectory demonstrates a historical turn in the understanding of revolutionary process. The Zapatista uprising and establishment of the autonomy in Chiapas marked a break with traditional guerrilla strategies, inspired predominantly by the Cuban revolution, this was made more than clear in the letter EZLN spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos, wrote to the Basque liberation organisation ETA:

“I shit on all revolutionary vanguards on this planet. [iv]

It was not the vanguard to lead the people now; it was the people themselves to build the revolution from below and sustain it as such. This is the logic PKK has been shifting towards in the last decade under the influence of Murray Bookchin and this shift demonstrates an evolution of the organisation from movement for the people to a movement of the people.

Cantons and Caracoles – freedom here and now

Probably the most important similarity between the revolution in Rojava and the one in Chiapas is the social and political reorganisation that is taking place in both places that is based on the libertarian ideology of the two organisations.

The Zapatista autonomy in its current form originates from the failure of the peace negotiations with the Mexican government after the uprising in 1994. During the peace negotiations the rebels demanded the government to adhere to the accords of San Andres, which give the indigenous people the right to autonomy, self-determination, education, justice and political organisation, based on their tradition as well as communal control over the land and the resources of the areas that belong to them. These accords were never implemented by the government and in 2001 president Fox backed an edited version that was voted for in congress but did not meet the demands of the Zapatistas and the other groups in resistance. This event was labelled as “treason” and it provoked the EZLN to declare two years later the creation of the five rebel zones, centred in five Caracoles (or snails in English) that serve as administrative centres. The name Caracoles came to show the revolutionary concept of the Zapatistas – we are doing it ourselves, we learn in the process and we advance, slowly, but we advance. The Caracoles[v] include three levels of autonomous government – community, municipality and Council of the Good Government. The first two are based on grassroots assemblies whereas the Councils of the Good Government are elected but with the intention to get as many people as possible to participate in the Government over the years through a principle of rotation. The autonomy has its own educational system, healthcare and justice, as well as cooperatives, producing coffee, cattle, handcrafts etc.

We learn as we make things, we did not know about autonomy and that we were going to build something like it. But we learn and improve things and learn from the struggle– told me my Zapatista guardian Armando, when I visited the autonomous territory at the end of 2013. Freedom could only be practiced here and now and revolution was a process of constantly challenging the status-quo and building alternatives to it.

The Rojavan cantons indeed resemble the autonomy in Chiapas. They were proclaimed by the dominant PYD in 2013 and function through the established popular assemblies and democratic councils. Women participate equally in the decision-making and are represented in all elected positions, which are always shared by a man and a woman. All ethnic groups are represented in the government and its institutions. Healthcare and education are also guaranteed by the system of democratic confederalism and recently the first Rojavan university, the Masepotamia Academy, opened it’s doors with plans to challenge the hierarchical structure of education, and to provide a different approach to learning.

Just as it is in the case with the Zapatistas, the Revolution in Rojava envisions itself as a solution to the problems in the whole country, not as an expression of separatist tendencies. This genuine democratic system, as claimed by the delegation of academics from Europe and North America [vi], that visited Rojava recently, points to a different future of the Middle East, based on direct participation, women’s emancipation and ethnic peace.

Women’s revolution

Gender has always been central to the Zapatista revolution. The situation of women before the spread of the organization and the adoption of women’s liberation as central to the struggle, was marked by exploitation, marginalization, forced marriages, physical violence and discrimination. This is why Marcos claims that the first uprising was not the one in 1994 but the adoption of the Womens’ Revolutionary Law in 1993, setting the framework for gender equality and justice and guaranteeing the rights of the women in the rebel territory to personal autonomy, emancipation and dignity. Today women participate in all levels of government and have their own cooperatives and economic structures to guarantee their economic independence. Women were and still form a large part of the ranks of the Zapatista guerilla force and take high positions in its commandment. The takeover of San Cristobal de las Casas, the most important city the Zapatista troops captured during the uprising in 1994, was also commanded by women, headed by comandanta Ramona, who was also the first Zapatista to be sent to Mexico city to represent the movement.

It is not difficult to compare the mass involvement of indigenous women in Chiapas in the Zapatista ranks to the participation of women in the defense of Kobane and in the YPJ – the Women’s Protection Units, both depicted in a sensationalist manner[vii] by the Western media in the last months. However, their bravery and determination in the war against ISIS is a product of a long tradition of women participation in the armed struggle for social liberation in Kurdistan. Women have played a central role in the PKK and this is undoubtedly connected with the importance of gender in the Kurdish struggle. The Rojava revolution has a strong emphasis on women’s liberation as indispensable for the true liberation of society. The theoretical framework that puts the dismantling of patriarchy at the heart of the struggle is called “jineology”, a concept developed by Abdullah Ocalan. The application of this concept has resulted in an unseen empowerment of women not only in the context of the Middle East but also in the context of western liberal feminism. The women’s assemblies, cooperative structures and women’s militias are the heart of the revolution, which is considered incomplete if it does not destroy the patriarchal structure of society, which is one of the fundamentals of capitalism. Janet Biehl, an independent writer and artist, wrote after her recent visit to Rojava that women in the Kurdish revolution have the ideological role of the proletariat in the XXth century revolutions.

The ecology of freedom

The Ecology of Freedom is probably the most important among Bookchin’s works and his concept of social ecology has been adopted by the revolutionaries in Rojava. His idea that “the very notion of the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human” links patriarchy, environmental destruction and capitalism and points at their abolition as the only way to a just society. Such a holistic approach has been advocated and implemented by the Zapatistas as well. Sustainability has also been an important point of emphasis, especially after the creation of the caracoles in 2003. The autonomous government has been trying to recuperate ancestral knowledge, related to the sustainable use of the land and combine it with other agro-ecological practices. This logic is not only a matter of improving the living conditions in the communities and avoiding the use of agrochemicals, it is a rejection of the whole notion that large-scale industrial agriculture is superior to the ‘primitive’ way the indigenous people work the land and as such it is a powerful defiance of the logic of neoliberalism.

The road to Autonomy – the new revolutionary paradigm

The similarities between the system of democratic confederalism that is being developed in Western Kurdistan and the Autonomy in Chiapas go far beyond the few points I have stressed in this article. From slogans such as Ya Basta, adapted in Kurdish as êdî bes e to the grassroots democracy, communal economic structures and participation of women, the similar path the Kurdish movement and the Zapatistas have taken demonstrates a decisive break with the vanguardist notion of Marxism-Leninism and a new approach to revolution, which comes from below and aims at the creation of a free and non-hierarchal society.

Although both movements have received some bitter criticism[viii] from sectarian elements on the left, the very fact that the only major and successful experiments in radical social change originate from non-western, marginalised and colonised groups, comes as a slap in the face to the white and privileged dogmatic “revolutionaries” of the global north who have hardly been successful on challenging oppression in their own countries but tend to believe it is their judgement what is and what is not a real revolution.

The revolutions in Rojava and Chiapas are a powerful example for the world, demonstrating the enormous capacity of grassroots organisation and the importance of communal links as opposed to capitalist social atomisation. Last but not least, Chiapas and Rojava should make many on the left, including some anarchists, trash their colonial mindset and ideological dogmatism.

A world without hierarchy, domination, capitalism and environmental destruction or as the Zapatistas say, the world where many worlds fit, has often been depicted as “utopian” and “unrealistic” by the mainstream media, education and political structures. However, this world is not some future mirage that comes from the books – it is happening here and now and the examples of Zapatistas and Kurds are a powerful weapon to reignite our capacity to imagine a real radical change in society as well as a model we can learn from in our struggles. The red stars that shine over Chiapas and Rojava shed light on the way to liberation and if we need to summarize in one word what brings these two struggles together, it would definitely be Autonomy.​

Notes

[i] Dicle, Amed (2015) Kobane Victory, How it Unfolded

http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/insight-research/analysis/kobane-victory-how-it-unfolded.html

[ii] Dirik, Dilar (2015) Whi Kobane Did Not Fall

http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/why-kobani-did-not-fall.html

[iii] International Brigades Form in Rojava (2014)

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2015/01/international-brigades-form-in-rojava-no-pasaran-video-3100250.html

[iv] Marcos (2003) I Shit on All Revolutionary Vanguards on This Planet
http://roarmag.org/2011/02/i-shit-on-all-the-revolutionary-vanguards-of-this-planet/

[v] Oikonomakis, Leonidas (2013) Zapatistas Celebrate 10 Years of Autonomy With Escuelita
http://roarmag.org/2013/08/escuelita-zapatista-10-year-autonomy/

[vi] Joint Statement of the Academic Delagation to Rojava

https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/joint-statement-of-the-academic-delegation-to-rojava/

[vii] Dirik, Dilar (2014) Western Fascination With “Badass” Kurdish Women

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/10/western-fascination-with-badas-2014102112410527736.html

[viii]

Anarchist Federation Statement on Rojava (2014)

http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/international/435-anarchist-federation-statement-on-rojava-december-2014.html

maj 25, 2017

Transnational Social Strike (TSS) meeting, Ljubljana, 19-21 May

tssljubljana

Last weekend, Rog hosted the fourth meeting of Transnational Social Strike (TSS). This platform has emerged in order to connect workers (locals and migrants) as well as unions and activist groups throughout Europe, who fight against exploitation. Due to the fragmentation of the production process and the divisions created between workers, labour struggles need to be carried out by adopting new approaches. Since processes of exploitation don’t stop at the borders of nation states – that is, occur transnationally – these processes can only be deconstructed through transnational and social strikes.

The meeting in Ljubljana took place under the name ‘From Balkan to Europe: Confronting divisions’. As is the case for all countries which were part of the so-called ‘Balkan route’ or ‘Balkan corridor’, the way the Slovenian authorities have dealt respectively deal with migrants, shows that ‘a transnational process against exploitation and neoliberalism today needs to deepen the connection with the mass movements of migrants and face the ongoing political reorganization of the European space’.

In the opening session on Friday evening, it was stated that migrants are at the core of attempts in recent years to challenge neoliberal policies by the EU and its member states. Especially in the Balkans one can see that, although the repression by authorities is extensive, migrants keep pushing through and striving for a humane treatment. ‘Europe’ is thereby obstructing processes, by on the one hand tarring the countries in Southeast and East Central Europe with the same brush, and on the other creating differentiation between them. It was therefore stated, that Brussels keeps treating the Balkans ‘only as periphery’.

Another core player in actions against oppression are women. An example is the mass protest last year by Polish women against a proposed abortion ban. In the context of TSS, this year’s Global Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day (March 8th) was detected as an even more noteworthy and crucial event. Both women and men, and both people who hitted the street to speak out against domestic violence and the decomposition of the welfare state, mobilized. It emphasised once again, how closely connected striving for women’s rights and opposing neoliberal values – as patriarchy – are. This is the core of TSS: attacking exploitation in all its forms by intensifying the renewed presence of strikes. Actions by Amazon and Deliveroo workers and strikes against the reform of the ‘code du travail’ in France are other revealing examples.

Workshop ‘Freedom of movement and the right to stay’

On Saturday, in several workshops which took place in Social Center Rog and Živko Skvotec, specific topics were addressed. In the workshop ‘Freedom of movement and right to stay’, several representatives of organisations in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, and Sweden, shared information about the situation in these countries. All of these countries are involved in dubious acts of ‘push backs’. A representative of no border serbia emphasised, that the big majority of the 7000-8000 refugees which are currently in Serbia, tries to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border. In Belgrade, they have been confronted with the poisoning of their barracks. Besides that, tents have been destroyed. If refugees refuse to register in Serbia, they are pushed back to Bulgaria or Macedonia.

Hungary was termed a special case, because the media are almost under total control by the ruling party Fidesz. This results in far-right rhetoric in the biggest media outlets of the country. In Slovenia, the ‘violence is becoming less brutal, more systemic’. Activists in Italy have recently been criminalised. They have been termed ‘friends of terrorists’, and therefore it’s even more difficult for them to offer migrants help. In Sweden, attacks on solidarity movements by the far-right have occurred. A new law is proposed, which would introduce a special minimum wage for migrants. What follows out of this, is that the initial political solidarity in Sweden now belongs to the past.

After the reports, the discussion brought about, that acts by migrants question the legitimacy of nation states throughout Europe. They should therefore be seen as protagonists instead of victims. For example in Italy, migrants are the main actors in strikes in recent years. By cooperation between the different groups involved in TSS, the EU member states and other countries involved should be forced to take their responsibility. The observation, that finding and formulating the political connection between the actors participating in the workshop is needed in order to be able to implement a transnational approach / action, was an important outcome of this meeting.

‘Logistics labour’ workshop

*Logistics is the organization and implementation of a complex operation. In general, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption. The logistics of physical items usually involves the integration of information flow, material handling, production, packaging, inventory, transportation, warehousing, etc.*

In this workshop, logistics were being considered as something more than solely the logistics sector – the definition of which is outlined above – but instead as a strong driving force transforming the way in which production and labour are organized across boundaries in a transnational and neoliberal manner. Therefore, it is crucial to understand logistics in order to counter neoliberal reforms and disrupt infrastructure projects, especially in regards to the Balkan route which is being developed for global trade and exploitation, and in concern to the ever increasing exploitation of migrant workers as their presence in the labour market expands. In a widened context of logistics’ workers organizing, the situation of Amazon and Deliveroo employees transnationally in Europe was also addressed, as well as other sectors involved in the re-organization of labour and production in the rising gig economy.

Beginning with the organization of workers who are exploited, there is a need for a platform in order to address the social and also political conditions of employment as more companies expand transnationally through neoliberal discourse, which of course means the reliance on exploiting cheap labour in local areas. It was highlighted that whilst platforms used by companies to organize workers, this same platform was also then developed by workers to organize themselves in some instances. However, this did not immediately result in political power to fight the conditions of labour, and these struggles have a political limit especially in terms of migrants.

Logistics translate into global chains of labour and due to this a link between the local and transnational is created. This is represented in the development of ports as being connected entities, the ports of Koper and Rijeka are examples of this, where service ports for production chains are outside the local area and goods produced are not in the hands of the workers or distributed within the local area. Despite this connectivity and transnational ties, the communication between workers employed in the ports is very low and there is little organization. However, focusing on the Koper port, there has been a strong presence of a radical trade union over an extended period of time that is opposed to the privatisation of the port, whose presence and actions are of heightened importance in contemporary times due to the involvement and interest of foreign governments in neoliberal reforms of the Koper port. There have been numerous strikes and blockades from the workers, and effectively from the crane operators proving to be very successful as they hold an influential position to stop global production chains. The Koper port trade union also connects and coordinates workers on the ship, harbour and warehouses, which is a successful strategy to address not only the exploitation of workers on different yet very much connected levels, but also to attack and disrupt the logistics of global labour chains, and to confront the flow of commodities in relation to global capitalism.

Another topic that was discussed was the connection between trade unions and political collectives and how to politicize a social struggle, as social, economic and political issues are inter-related. This is especially so with the destruction of welfare infrastructure whilst isolation is present in terms of closing borders throughout Europe. Politicising struggles with the aim to expand and connect European port workers who are organising outside of trade unions was deemed necessary as trade unions can be rejected by governments (Sweden was used as an example, whose port workers are employed in precarious situations), as well as the presence of governments appropriating production and blaming strikers for harming the economy as a way to fight against or reject politically organised workers. The need to find a common ground between transnational workers is imperative, possibly in the form of politicising struggles and by demonstrating the connectivity of capitalist logistics across work places, and then in turn the effectiveness of shutting down of these capitalist logistics through economic transport infrastructure such as ports, harbours and borders in a collectivised manner, namely by using the weapon of strikes and blockades. However, due to the increased presence of precarious labour many workers are afraid to loose their jobs, therefore trade unions must find a way to include precarious workers (the outsourcing of workers within the postal service in Slovenia was used as an example).

Finally, the automisation of labour was briefly described as a tool to fragment workers, as well as Amazon workers collectivizing (differing nationalities addressing global companies organization and discourse through a network operating across borders in the form of transnational workers meetings). However, this is not the case for the majority of Amazon workers, that due to the very nature of their work and how the workplace is structured, have little communication with trade unions or political collectives, especially so since many employees are migrants in precarious labour.

Workshop ‘Global Women’s Strike’

In the workshop ‘After the Global Women’s Strike: struggles against patriarchy, capitalism and precarization’ was dealt with the question how the aforementioned success of the strike on March 8th could and should be given a decent follow-up. The workshop was opened with the stories of three women, who came from Afghanistan to Slovenia last year. By sharing both their experiences so far and fears about a potential forced return to their homeland, they made clear that changes are needed, and quickly.

These women experienced extreme violence towards themselves and their families, and fled Afghanistan to escape oppression comprising no right to work, no right to education and no freedom of movement, only to be met by equal circumstances in Slovenia. The view of many European governments, among which the Slovenian, that Afghanistan is a ‘safe country’, is the result of wrong information or the incorrect interpretation of sources. This has serious implications for refugees (men, women and children) from Afghanistan, whose status is continuously rejected on these grounds, despite the violence experienced and perpetuated. It was stated, that the first thing that is needed, is a stop of the deportations to countries that are unjustly seen as safe, as well as the creation of a transnational platform for refugee women across Europe in order for their voices and dangerous situations to be heard. It is also worth mentioning that refugee spaces, such as that of Second Home in Rog, are often male dominated and women do not feel safe in such spaces, especially since their children are often with them. The introduction of an ‘unconditional European residence permit’ was mentioned as a goal.

Regarding the connection between women’s rights and neoliberalism, emphasis was put on the fact, that exploitation of men contributes to wishes and attempts to dominate women. That is, patriarchy and neoliberalism go hand in hand. It is therefore needed to address these issues together as much as possible.

 

General assembly and critical analysis / criticisms

In the general assembly on Saturday evening, the conclusion was, that completely fragmented working conditions are at the core of issues regarding the rights of actually all human beings, which are confronted with exploitation. In this sense, focusing solely on a certain exploited group, is not the best strategy when it is attempted to change the current state of affairs. However, this is easier said than done. Because of fragmentation – which is the result of neoliberal practices – the struggle to change this might be more tough than ever. That’s why we’re urged to address the challenges together.

Despite the overall positive goal shared by all who attended the workshops and meeting of countering neoliberalism, exploitation and patriarchy through collective processes, it’s also worth mentioning or highlighting some issues encountered.

Primarily, the issues of language exclusivity and how meetings were structured became an obvious problem, as the language and discourse used across all topics did not allow for the inclusion of a variety of perspectives, especially from those who were not directly involved in groups present from the formation of TSS. Some refugees stated that they did not attend the event as they viewed the weekend as intellectuals pushing out migrants and refugees in order to focus and implement their own political agenda. In regards to this issue, the structure of the meetings in terms of how open or closed they are, needs to be assessed. The presence of a hierarchy in relevance to outsiders or newcomers to the meetings and those that, as mentioned previously, had been there since the beginning, was also noticed.

Secondly, no concrete actions were discussed or organised in the final assembly, despite what was discussed in the Global Women’s Strike March workshop in regards to the precarious and extremely dangerous present situation that refugee women are confronted with, and despite the fact that the need for a unified, transnational action, report or campaign was repeated in the assembly.

maj 18, 2017

#NoG20 From Across The World Together Against The G20

No G20 activists wrote an open letter to the people of Hamburg. “Do not be afraid, because we come as friends”, says Patrick Bond, economist and activist from South Africa, when he talks about coming to Hamburg to protest against the G20 summit. “We want to take away the fears of us, which are fueled by politics”. In the letter co-written by him to Hamburg’s civil society it says: “The true invaders and destroyers of our cities are the G20 and we must protect ourselves together. If they want a democracy-free zone in Hamburg, we want a G20-free Hamburg.”

nog20international

 

Download, print, read and spread From across the world together against the G20: an open letter to the people of Hamburg in PDF Format: Open_Letter_G20

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

 

Already for months people from countries like Argentina, France and Ireland plan their journey to Hamburg. The International No G20 coordinating groups clarifies that they want to protest in July in solidarity with the people living in Hamburg: with respect for their neighborhoods and the inspiring activities within them, that emanates solidarity and freedom. Bettina Müller from Attac Argentina says: “I am looking forward to Hamburg and its people and hope that one gets to know each other during the protests”.

The International No G20 group is part of the global preparation of protests against the G20 summit in Hamburg and is composed of different groups from Europe and the world. This includes for example Attac Argentina, the network “BRICS from below”, social centers from Italy, left groups from Eastern Europe and human rights groups. The protest plans include a congress, blockades, actions of mass civil disobedience and a big demonstration.

nog20intlogo

From across the world together against the G20: an open letter to the people of Hamburg

Dear people of Hamburg, you might wonder who is writing to you.
We are women and men from all over Europe and the world, citizens or
activists in many different networks, and from all walks of life. We have
very different ages and political persuasions.

We’re the people who aim to join you in Hamburg, your city, to support the
protests this July when the leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful
countries will meet in the very heart of the city.

You have mostly heard about us from politicians and media who want to
make you afraid of us, describing us as “troublemakers” or “vandals”…
However, with this letter to you we want to join hands with you since we
are all subjected to the same global policies created at these summits,
where the few think they can decide for all of our lives.

You are subjected to red, yellow and blue zones. You’ve seen control
stations, police forces and machinery in your city before, as at the OSCE
summit, and you will see even more soon. We can imagine how you feel,
when your freedom of living, movement and assembly and those of your
friends, neighbours and colleagues are suspended – even if only
temporarily.

We also know this from our own worlds. In recent months, we’ve been
hitting the roads of the US, raising up a million voices and marching in the
growing resistance to Trump, asserting racial, social and gender justice
against the racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic, xenophobic, climatedenialist,
corporate-controlled United States he is building. We know that
many of you are also fighting the Right, against the AfD or autocratic
rulers such as Erdogan, and that many of you share our opposition to the
constant warfare exported around the world.

Often our rights to assemble – like yours – are violated in these struggles.
We have fought for years to defend our planet from the threats posed by
climate change and ecological crisis, from the expropriation and
devastation, from the multinationals’ resource extraction and exploitation
of the lands where we live. Some of us were in North Dakota to put our
bodies in front of the Access Pipeline. Some of us have opposed the longlasting
violence against the Amazon rainforest – as you have fought
Moorburg or against useless, expensive mega-projects like the Olympics or
fought to re-communalize water and energy.

Others of us have protested against undemocratic, corrupt regimes in
Brazil (35 million on general strike against Temer’s austerity this April),
Russia (100 cities staged anti-corruption protests against Prime Minister
Medvedev’s corruption), India (180 million workers fought Modi’s
neoliberalism one day last September), China (with more than 100,000
protests each year), and South Africa (regular mass and micro protests
against Zuma’s neoliberal plutocracy) – showing from below that BRICS
elites are no better than the other G20 rulers.

Last year many of us met on the streets in Paris, against the elites who
threaten our very lives by continuously reinforcing precarious labour and
living conditions. The Loi Travail was a dramatic turning point for this
process in Europe, but we also know how it feels to work at so-called minijobs,
as millions of young people do in Germany – and we experienced how
these struggles feel – for young and old – in times of a “state of
emergency”. But we know this is a struggle for survival and solidarity. And
you – like people everywhere – showed this by welcoming fellow citizens of
the earth fleeing war, hunger and devastation, when you opened your
homes and city for those in need. It is obvious; Merkel’s dirty EU-Turkey
deal against refugees represents neither you nor us.

However, we often meet bitter opposition to our rights to struggle, to
assemble, to protest – from the police or the State. The governments of
Hamburg, Germany and other powerful G20 states would like to silence
and remove us from the public scene, so that they don’t have to hear that
we are many and that we are loud, and that they don’t represent us –
neither in Africa, Europe, the Americas or elsewhere in the world.

The choices that the “powerful Twenty” will discuss and propose in
Hamburg in July are the same policies turning our cities into playgrounds
for high-profit real estate and financial speculation; making rents
unaffordable and raising the cost of living; pushing ordinary people out of
urban centres; making our neighbourhoods uninhabitable; privatizing
public services and common goods; and other policies making life
increasingly difficult for the great majority.

They are the real invaders and destroyers of our cities. We must
defend and protect ourselves from them together!

So we ask you to open your city to us, not to be scared but to welcome us
when we come to raise our collective voice for social equality, freedom
and democracy. They want capitalism without democracy: we want
democracy without capitalism. This is what we already demanded in
Frankfurt, at the European Central Bank opening. We learned there that
where the “powerful Twenty” are, and where capitalism and violence are,
there can be no democracy.

When Trump, Erdogan, Putin, Temer, Modi, Zuma, Macri, Xi, May, Peña
Nieto, King Salman, Merkel and the other crooks and tyrants meet,
planning their next moves to exploit our lives and our territories, we must
stand up to block them.

If they want a democracy-free zone in Hamburg, we want a G20-free
Hamburg instead.

In solidarity with you, people of Hamburg, we will come together in July to
show that there is another world, an alternative one to theirs. We will
carefully respect the city and its activities, because we are really
happy to come to Hamburg and visit your neighbourhoods with
such lively, diverse cultures, with such a strong sense of freedom
and solidarity, with such an important history of struggles for
social, environmental, economic and civil rights for everyone. And
we hope that we will join and come to know each other in the streets!
We are many, we are loud and we will be in Hamburg with all of you – to
show the entire world and become the alternatives to today’s misery.

Hamburg, Planet Earth, May 2017

No G20 International

maj 16, 2017

Medika ostaje!/Medika Stays! #medikaostaje

medikaostaje.jpg

(Scroll down for English)

Dana 8. svibnja na adresu korisnika prostora bivše tvornice Medika stigao je Poziv Gradskog ureda za imovinsko-pravne poslove i imovinu grada na predaju prostora kojim se traži iseljenje i napuštanje korisnika/ca prostora u roku od osam dana (krajnji rok je u utorak, 16.5.2017.). Ovaj dopis kulminacija je višegodišnjeg procesa sustavne prakse srozavanja i zatvaranja mjesta nezavisne kulture u gradu Zagrebu, a pritisak na “Mediku” od strane gradskih vlasti traje već duže vrijeme.

Prostor bivše tvornice lijekova Medika već je deset godina mjesto susreta i djelovanja brojnih umjetnika/ca, kreativaca/ki, radnika/ca u kulturi, udruga civilnog društva, nezavisnih kolektiva i pojedinaca/ki koji taj prostor uredno plaćaju Gradu Zagrebu, u njemu planiraju i provode programe i aktivnosti koji su djelomično financirani čak i od strane samog Gradskog ureda za obrazovanje, kulturu i sport. Usprkos tome Grad Zagreb sustavno zanemaruje svoje obaveze infrastrukturnog održavanja tog prostora (prostor održavaju i poboljšavaju korisnici vlastitim sredstvima) te prijeti oduzimanjem istog i pražnjenjem “od osoba i stvari” – na isti način na koji sustavno prazni i marginalizira čitavu nezavisnu kulturnu scenu.

Provedba ovog Gradskog rješenja značila bi prekid svih programa koji su u tijeku i pripremi, u koje su uložene godine truda i znanja. “Medika” predstavlja trajnu potrebu u životu mnogih koji je koriste i osmišljavaju – omogućuje učenje, vježbanje, okupljanje, stvaranje i predstavljanje svojega rada drugima. Ne promovira kulturu pasivne konzumacije nego aktivne participacije.

Prostor je otvoren novim inicijativama i podložan stalnim mijenama, prema kulturnim i društvenim potrebama grada; kroz “Mediku” su prošle, i ostavile trag, tisuće mladih, umjetnica/ka, pojedinki/aca i kolektiva. Svi koji su imali ideju, a nisu imali prostor, suradnike/ce, tehniku ili publiku – ondje su ih mogli pronaći.
Uslijed godina vrijednih sadržaja i odnosa koji su rezultat napora velike i fluidne zajednice građana, tražimo Vašu podršku u zaustavljanju Grada Zagreba u provođenju ovog rješenja. “Medika” je ključno mjesto slobodne, nezavisne kulture i undergrounda u gradu Zagrebu. Kulturni sadržaj “Medike” rezultat je zajedničke i ravnopravne inicijative brojnih sudionika koji su se u nju kraće ili trajno uključili, a ne nečiji privatni biznis i interes. To je čini neophodnom u životu Grada Zagreba, ali i značajnim akterom nacionalne i međunarodne nezavisne kulturne scene.
Prostor slobode mora postojati.

Pozivamo Vas da podržavajućim pismom svoje organizacije ili vlastitim potpisom podržite našu inicijativu, kako bi se spriječilo njeno nestajanje.

#medikaostaje

Zajednica udruga i pojedinaca korisnika prostora “Medika”
i Autonomni Kulturni Centar – ATTACK!
Pierottijeva 11, 10000 Zagreb

http://attack.hr/medika-ostaje/

Kontakt: medika.ostaje@gmail.com

– – –

On May 8th, residents of the space of former Medika factory (Zagreb, CRO) received a request from the City Office for Legal-Property Relations and the City’s assets to vacate and leave the space in the period of next 8 days (until May 16th). This request is a culmination of a longterm practice of marginalizing and shutting down independent culture sites in Zagreb, and Medika has been under pressure from the City Office for some time already.

The space of the former medical factory has been a meeting and working place of numerous artists, creatives, cultural workers, civil society associations, independent collectives and individuals who have been ordely paying rent and utilities to the City, while conducting programs and activities partially supported by the City Office culture department itself. In spite of this, the City neglects its duty to infrastructurally support this space (it is physically maintained and improved by the residents own means), and recently is threatening to cancel the permit to use the space and will empty it of “people and things” – in the same manner it has been treating the entire independent cultural scene of the city.
Meeting the City’s request would require to halt a multitude of cultural programs already happening and being prepared based on years of effort and experience. Medika is a continuous need in the life of its many participants and creators – it enables learning, training, meeting, creating and presenting work. It opposes the idea of culture as passive consumption and promotes active participation.

Medika is permanently open to new initiatives and undergoes constant changes, reacting to the social needs of the city; thousands of young people, artists, individuals and collectives have passed through the space and left their mark. Anyone who had an idea but lacked space, collaborators, equipment or audience – had a chance to find them here.
Due to our many years of worthy content and relations arising via collaborations of large and fluid communities of citizens, we ask for your support in stopping the City of Zagreb to execute this request. Medika is a key site of free, independent and underground culture in Zagreb. Its cultural content is a result of shared effort of many who joined the project for some time, and not a centralized business vision nor private interest. This makes it indispensable in the life of Zagreb, as well as an important spot of international independent culture scene.
A place for freedom must exist.

In order to prevent this forced eviction, we invite you to support our initiative by signing this petition or forwarding us your organization’s Letter of Support.

#medikaostaje

The Community of Associations and Individuals based in “Medika”
and Autonomous Cultural Centre – ATTACK!
Pierottijeva 11, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

http://attack.hr/medika-ostaje/?lang=en

Contact: medika.ostaje@gmail.com