Statement: hunger striking refugees imprisoned in greece

Statement from Arash Hampay, one of three refugees on hunger strike in the prison camp Moria, greece. The have been on hunger strike for one month already. Copied from his blog.

Yes you can

Yes, you can torture us, imprison us, humiliate us, do whatever your heart desires with us. You know well that refugees are the most refugeless, the lonliest and the most defenceless. If none cares for them and stands with them, none is going to defend them and opposes you for their sake. You know well that our governments are not like the governments of USA, CANADA, GERMANY and OTHERS who defend and protect their citizens when they are in trouble abroad and create international crisis for the sake of their citizens. If we had states who cared for us, we would not be refugees in your countries. We would not be tortured in your prisons. You know that well and you seem to be very comfortable with that knowledge. 

Know very well, that we shall strike as we stroke in our country against injustices, and did not keep silent. 

Both of us shall strike. You strike with your swords, your whips, your prisons but we shall strike with our pen and our candle. We do not strike the sword in the darkness in order to show our strength, we lit our candle. Our pen and our candle is more powerful than your sword. We know and you know that we shall defeat you in this DAVID VERSUS GOLIAT struggle. We are the people, you are the government. At last the meal of victory is going to be eaten by the people, as ever. Instead of applying a healing cream on our wounds, you apply salt. But let that pass as well. 

#KozhinHussein, #BahroozArash has been hunger striking for 26 days. They shall be released as Amir Hampay was released. From this you will only inherit shame. 

We insist on our promise. All three of us are going to continue our hunger strike untill the day when Bahrooz and Kozhin shall be released

Statement: Text by the assembly of the workers of VIOME about the bankruptcy trustee 

Statement from viome, the recuperated and worker-run chemical factory in Thessoloniki, after the latest court decision that say the rights of private parasitical capital are more important than the rights of people to use the means of production for the benefit of society. VIOME workers took over their factory after the parent company of the owners went bankrupt (i.e. the bankruptcy had nothing to do with this operation) and have been resisting efforts for 4 years by Capital and the subservient Greek courts to take it back for useless purposes. 

The workers collective asks supporters to pass resolutions in support at your own unions, collectives, etc, with a draft resolutions underneath the statement text.

Statement shared from the recovered factory‘s website.

Text by the assembly of the workers of VIOME about the bankruptcy trustee 

 After four years that we work the factory and after six years that we, the workers of VIOME started our struggle, the judicial power has never stopped attacking us. 

 Now, after having enforced a despicable regulation for the bankruptcy and having refused the struggle of the workers to work the factory, the judicial power comes to force the partial auctioning of the means of production, that have been feeding dozens of families for four and a half years. This is the point of view about responsibility from the side of the “honest” judges, who in any case all they think of is how to destroy all that we, the workers of VIOME, have created with so much effort. 

 They do so, in order to discourage any other group of workers from thinking of operating the abandoned factories. 

 For these reason we impeach the judicial authorities and the bankruptcy trustee, who by all means, tries to block the operation of the factory directly by us, the workers without any boss.

 We call on you, trade unionists, workers, collectives to support us and altogether to manifest that since they can’t, we can 

 We ask your practical support so that we can keep the factory alive and our families away from fear and poverty. We call for resolutions to support us in order to prove our strength: the power of solidarity that is stronger than any form of capital repression, than any form of economic collapse of the capitalist economy.

In struggle and solidarity

The workers of VIOME
Resolution against the auction of VIOME 
We, …………….. demand that any judicial, economic, political authority stops preventing the workers from operating the factory and to make it easier for them to legitimize its operation, so that to be able to support their families and children.

For us, any attempt to block the operation of the factory of VIOME is immoral. We remind the hard economic conditions that the workers in our country have been suffering and that the judicial authorities have their share in the collective blame of the officers of the authorities, by doing nothing in order for the workers to get back the money owed to them but instead, they did everything to block the workers’ efforts to take the factory operation in their hands. 

We demand that you take a stand in favor of society who are suffering or else you will meet our confrontation 

(your union / group within a union / collective)

(your seal or logo if available)

The electoral politics delusion

Its that time of the season again where a prominent left-wing party or candidate looks like they might just get close to winning an election, and the question is asked, “what if ….”. This time it is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in the UK, but this comes only a few weeks after Jean-Luc Mélenchon was not so far away from the 2nd round (and some say probable eventual victory had he reached that far). And with the failure of the extra-parliamentary, non-institutionalist left-led wave of struggle from 2009-2013 or there abouts, and with the racist right riding a wave at the moment, can you really blame people for getting enthusiastic about something that looks a little bit hopeful for a change?

The thing is though, if elected, Corbyn won’t implement any radical policies, and he will have a hard time implementing even moderate reforms. But I’m not going to argue this like the usual anti-state anarchist cut-and-paste denouncement of any effort to effect change through the state or political parties. Actually, I would ask people in the UK to vote Labour and maybe even join and become active members in their local Party branches. But before all that, let’s take a look at some trends leading us here.

The financial crisis of 2008 and the general capitalist crisis that followed it was so deep that neoliberalism really faced a legitimacy crisis for a while. But instead of trying to save its image the dominant response from governments right or left of centre was to mount a class struggle assault and to undo gains won from below in previous bouts – something so galling that by 2011 the movements of the squares unleashed the most visible ever (at least in Europe and North America) extra-parliamentary extra-institutionalist movement (of which the M15 or Occupy were only the most well known instances of a more general trend of extra-parliamentary and extra-institutional struggles kicking off everywhere), that explicitly said Fuck You to the entire political Class, in the process bringing in thousands of people who had never been active in any political way before.

But in the end, we failed. Even to get minimum objectives. Although the left-led wave of anti-austerity struggle did articulate visions of a radically different type of economy, there were plenty of other non-revolutionary solutions that we would have been happy with. For instance, Keynesianism is far from anti-capitalist and the capitalist class would have been ok with this as a peace-treaty had we forced it on them. A plane ordinary stimulus solution is even less anti-capitalist. But while capitalism should have been entirely discredited, not only did it survive, but it actually led an assault and pushed beyond the previous peace-lines. The fact is that nowhere has anybody – autonomist left, institutional left, or reactionary right (who regardless of posturing obviously aren’t going to challenge neoliberalism, what with their business leaders support) – was able to win anything: not revolution, not return to Keynesianism, not an end to austerity.

In 2012 we saw Syriza jump from 4.6% to 12% of the vote. But with Golden Dawn making a frightening jump (from a lower starting level of support), and with the general movement still going strong, this was kind of forgotten about. But then, not so long later, as 2014 drew to a close, it looked like this party was likely to win in the election in January. This was certainly different from the movement of the squares, and it was one of the first times a Party that made significant anti-austerity noises had been in a position that they might have a chance of winning. So naturally people across Europe started asking the question: ‘What if…”

Well we soon found out what happened.

But I’m not the type to write-off any prospects for an institutionalist solution just because it didn’t work once. There are any number of reasons why what happened to Syriza would not necessarily happen elsewhere. For example, they were the first openly challenging austerity politics to get to a position where they could technically do something about it. So the Greek and European establishments rallied to prevent it. It is by no means certain such an alliance could hold out indefinitely and wait out the legitimacy crisis if faced with a series of similar situations in country after country (although obviously an unrealistic ‘if’). It was also Greece, the hardest hit of the austerity laboratories, and as a test case the neoliberal cadre has a lot invested in seeing how far they can push this one. It might have been easier to extract concessions if the Syriza phenomenon had taken place in, say, Portugal or Ireland (again, and unrealistic ‘if’).

But these hypotheticals aside, looking at what has happened since, I still say a Corbyn government will not be able to deliver, not revolution, not return to Keynesianism, not an end to austerity. It is generally accepted that Mélenchon would not have been able to do much with a presidency despite the unique circumstances, reflective of a general legitimacy crisis in politics in France, where all you need is 20% to win. But because the support of a similarly diverse parliament is required, only a candidate of the establishment could actually do anything. This of course served to support Fillon or Macron, but Mélenchon or Le Pen would only have survived in the presidency if they made the right compromises. That is leaving aside whether Mélenchon would have actually beaten Le Pen in a second round run-off. Because while the Mélenchon campaign were criticised (correctly in my opinion – but more on that further below) for not showing unambiguously enough a Republican Front stance and instructing their voters to vote against Le Pen, I actually have serious doubts whether Fillon or Macron would have directed their supporters to do the same, because it is quite possible that the Capitalist class would prefer a racist fascist to a communist.

Looking at Labour, the two-round system and the separation of the executive and legislature are not a factor in the Uk and so the challenge for Corbyn is not in institutional structure. But look at what he has faced since being proposed as a candidate for party leadership in 2015: an incredibly hostile media (even including the historically progressive Guardian), and a Party elite which has tried every dirty trick to undermine him and has shown contempt for the internal democratic party process. And they have done this without fear of of negative media coverage, indicating a widespread establishment alliance to get rid of him. This alliance will only get stronger and more determined in that event that Labour wins a majority. And if in the very unlikely event that some radical or even moderately reformist measure was put to vote, it is almost certain that the right-wing Labour MPs will side with the Tories and vote against it.

But earlier in this post I did say that I would ask Uk-based people to vote Labour. After all this criticism, that hardly seems logical. The reason is because an anti-austerity campaign needs a strong and organised movement. Labour in government will not do that. But Labour narrowly missing out on government, with a confident militant grassroots of activists (which I think is Corbyn’s biggest achievements) would be far more effective in defending communities and extracting concessions from the Tories than would a Labour government.

In France, the << ni ni >> campaign (neither Macron nor Le Pen) scored an important victory (although at the time I was against it: Fascism is too dark to gamble with). Although their ‘candidate’ did not get elected, the campaign, and the election results, made it very publicly known that Macron did not win the Presidency – people voted against Le Pen. This makes Macron a much weaker opponent for the French left to extract concessions from than a hypothetical Mélenchon presidency needing the support of a centrist parliament.

And similarly, looking ahead, the Corbyn-inspired grassroots activism in the Labour party is probably the most significant and engaging level of political activism in Europe since the 15M movement and the equivalents in Greece moved out of the city-centres and into the neighbourhoods. Whatever about short term policy changes that may or may not (probably not) be achieved by a government, this kind of mass and sustained activism is what is needed – both to achieve short-term anti-austerity victories here and ther, and also for building community-based militancy capable of pushing for more in the medium to longer term. Unfortunately this is currently being realised through a political party. And when I say unfortunately I’m not talking about because it generate false hopes in a parliamentary solution, but because despite the level and radicalism of involvement, all this energy is always under risk of being co-opted or extinguished by a party hierarchy (whether involving a compromised Corbyn or the Labour right-wing after another one of their coups). What is needed is further movement-building and democratisation of the movement to be able to to resist, or eventually become independent of, the party. And both things can only come from a narrow Corbyn defeat.

Best of October

2016_10-calais
The “Jungle” camp in Calais, where refugees attempting to reach britain lived, was dismantled last week by the French state, with people being ‘redistributed’ to different centres around the country, in complete disregard for the choice of people forced to leave war conditions. Image shared from Liberation.

The biggest story is still the inspirational prison strike in the US. Most important to share is a compiled list of calls for support. Resources and contact details for offering

2016_10-the-national
Front page of the National following the uk conservative party conference where they announced plans to expel non-essential foreigners, have schools and workplaces report their foreign pupils and workers, exempt the army and police from following human rights legislation, revive a class-appartheid education system, among other atrocities. Source: The Canary

support to different local campaigns. As ever, things change quickly so follow the links for updates. And indeed, one of those links leads to an excellent article about an uprising as the strikes started in a prison in Michigan. Try also another piece from the same blog (great blog, by the way, itsgoingdown.org) on solidarity organising with prisoners, which also contains lots of avenues for you to show support with specific struggles and campaigns.

 

And on the theme of prisons, ROAR has a story about how the Greek government under Syriza are blocking access to educational leave to an activist imprisoned and tortured for involvement in the anti-austerity protests that brought them to power after having from opposition issued statements supporting his right to educational leave during a victorious hunger strike. Until they got into government a few months later and failed to implement what Demokratia-PASOK had conceded. From the same blog an interview with the authors of one of the three high profile English-language books to date on the Democratic Confederalist project in Rojava. Book is called Revolution in Rojava, originally published in German, written by three activists based in Germany and Turkey after spending a month in Rojava. And translated by Janet Biehl (who also interviews the authors in this article), collaborator and partner of Murray Bookchin, said to be a leading influence on the philosophy behind the revolution.

2016_10-woman-is-not-incubator
Woman is Not Incubator – sign displayed at Czarny Protest, a womens’ strike in Poland against legislation banning abortion. Source unclear.

Four years ago an Indian woman, Salvita Halappanavar died in a hospital in Ireland because doctors refused her requests to terminate her fatal pregnancy, and threw in a good measure of racist slurs at her and her husband while she was dying. A blog post commemorating her death and calling out the patriarchical, racist and statist systemic violence that killed her and continues to deny bodily autonomy to women. Shocking but important that the story is shared. The Black Lives Matter UK group introduce themselves and their agenda to combat the same type of intersectional violence.

2016_10-sisters-uncut
britain-based Sisters Uncut let off green and purple (colours of the Suffragettes) smoke flares after disrupting the in-session local council in protest at the cuts to domestic violence response services. The council sits on 1,270 unoccupied social housing units while 47% of domestic violence survivors are turned away and told to go back to the abuse. Image shared gratefully and in solidarity from the Sisters Uncut fb page.
2016_10-black-lives-matter
Black Lives Matter UK action in July. Image from Red Pepper

But to finish on some positive notes, this post tells the story about how the solidarity network supporting VioMe (an occupied factory in Greece that the workers have been running as a cooperative for four years now) prevented another attempt by Capital to auction off the property. To be clear, the factory was economically viable, but the owner closed it down after going bankrupt because of a different venture. In London, students recount how a rent strike was won. And in Bristol, homeless people defeat an injunction by the local council trying to evict their encampment, a camp that actually brightened up the area and got the community involved.

2016_10-anti-fascist-protest
“With solidarity and self-organisation we defeat facsim” – Syrian activists in Greece at anti fascist demonstration in august. Image from the New Internationalist.

Speaking from inside: two statements from prison movements

I came across two statements worth sharing today. The first is from the Korydallos Womens’ Prison in Greece, where prisoners have been protesting for months about issues of overcrowding, excercise facilities, and medical mismanagement. It is significant that the highest concentration of solidarity actions with the US prison strike have come from Athens, many of them from inside prisons. Therefore it is only right that the rest of us share the stories of the struggles in greek prisons. Text shared from InsurrectionNews:

On Friday Oct. 14th a delegate from the Ministry of Justice came to the women’s prison as per our request. During the meeting we discussed in depth our issues and proposed solutions in order to re-allocate the prison space and satisfy the needs of women prisoners. The main issues concern the integration of the story below our wing into the women’s prison in order to achieve decongestion as well as the necessity of an area for our yard time where we could spend time outside in humane conditions. The discussion moved within the framework of providing information without the ministry making any commitment. However, there was a mutual understanding of our fair demands and a promise to provide solutions to our problems. Until those promises become actions we decided to continue our mobilizing which basically means that the prison will remain open during midday lock down and delay evening lock down by one hour.

Korydallos Women’s Prison

And secondly, The Ferguson National Response Network have issued a call for support for Joshua Williams, jailed for taking part in the Ferguson uprising in response racial murder by police. He has been placed in level 5 custody with violent offenders. The message is simple – if you protest against the institutions of the state you can be tossed in the worst parts of prison where fuck knows what will happen you. Call shared from itsgoingdown.

From Ferguson National Response Network

Josh Williams, who was jailed for his role in the Ferguson uprising, has been placed in level 5 of the prison, a violent environment which threatens his safety, and is asking for help in first getting moved to a different level, and also to be moved to another prison closer to home.

Phone numbers: (573)-751-2389 and (573)-751-3222

Emails: constituentservices@doc.mo.gov, InspectorGeneral@doc.mo.gov, comofc@oa.mo.gov, doc.media@doc.mo.gov

Message: “Hello, I am a concerned citizen contacting you on behalf of Joshua Williams #1292002, who is currently housed at the ERDCC in Bonne Terre, MO. Joshua Williams has been unjustly housed with violent offenders in level 5 at this facility, when he should be in level 2. Joshua Williams is a non-violent, wrongly convicted young man with no priors. Because the prison has jeopardized the safety of Joshua Williams and housed him haphazardly, we are also demanding that Joshua Williams be transferred to a facility closer to his home in St Louis, MO.

We need Joshua Williams transferred from level 5 to level 2, and his transfer papers should be approved and in process immediately.

I need this message to be passed on to the director, deputy director, and any other parties who can expedite this process. This is an emergency and of the utmost importance.”

You can also drop Josh a line with a few words of support at:

Josh Williams #1292002
E.R.D.C.C.
2727 Highway K
Bonne Terre, MO 63628

ONLINE OCT 19, 20, 21 Flood the Phones for Joshua Williams Call 573-751-2389 or 573-751-3222

Best of September

2016_09-dignity-cannot-be-imprisoned
“Dignity can’t be imprisoned” – banner drop in Korydallos Prison in Athens in solidarity with prison strike in US. Image from insurrectionnews.

The event of the month this month in my opinion is the prison strike in the US. I’m not getting great coverage of it here but the following articles are worth sharing: a good introduction piece here about slave labour and the prison industrial complex and the organising (or lack thereof) which led up to September 9th, although it was published on the first day of the strike so probably out of date at this stage and doesn’t really tell us anything about what happened. A more recent discussion article about reasons why women prisoners are not joining the strike in large numbers (yet!), most of the reasons rooted in patriarchal nature of grievances and tactics, and an exploration of ‘everyday resistance’ and how the movement might strategise around this. And finally a really useful summary of events day-by-day, and and most importantly with resources for how you can help. Support-wise, it is a bit US focused, but there are somethings there that people elsewhere can use. As I said, with lack of media interest it is kind of difficult keeping track of what is going on there. If somebody does have some good overview readings on the strike – preferably ones that don’t rely on the US dept of justice or other official sources for their info – then please do share.

On the same note, I haven’t come across any really good writings on the protests following the latest killings of black lives by police in the US, so please share if you have one or two to recommend.

2016_09-helsinki-anti-racist-rally
A huge demonstration against racism in Helsinki following a recent murder by militant far right group. Image by @yonatankelib.

The best thing I read this month came out just on the last day of September: a piece written by a group of militant organisers trying to organise among the low-wage immigrant working class in London. The focus of the article is about a text written in the 1970s by a US group – the Sojourner Truth Organisation – who had similar objectives, on the subject of how race and class intersect and the challenges this poses for collective consciousness. The London group discuss how the Sojourner Truth Org document is relevant and not in their context, what potential and problems there is for race-focused campaigns in London (such as Black Lives Matters in the US), and what are their principal challenges to organising with immigrant workers in racist UK.

2016_09-contre-la-loi-travail
Although not as lively as the strikes that brought France to a standstill in June, the movement against the Loi Travail continues. Image liberated from Liberation.

And another late post is the transcript of a 1994 talk about similarities between Marx and Kropotkin, and their shared visions of moneyless, stateless communism. Fair play to the libcom library crew for digging this one out.

2016_09-polandabortion
Demonstration in Poland in June against restrictive abortion laws. Polish women are to initiate a work stoppage Monday 3rd October in response to recent proposals to further restrict and criminalise abortion – essentially a complete ban. Image shared from Lebedev’s notindependent.co.uk.

Elsewhere:

2016_09-abdelssalam-eldanf
Banner to commemorate Abdelssalam Eldanf. Shared from Struggles in Italy.
2016_09-ni-saoirse-go-saoirse-na-mban
Two YPJ (Womens Defense Units) soldiers take a break from defending Rojava’s experiment in autonomous democratic confederalism from both ISIL and Turkey to raise fists in solidarity with Irish campaign to legalise abortion. The sign reads in Irish “There is no Liberation without Womens Liberation”, above “Repeal the 8th”, a reference to the 8th amendment to the irish constitution outlawing abortion. Image shared from wsm.ie.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HOUSING SQUAT FOR REFUGEES/MIGRANTS NOTARA 26 ABOUT THE ATTACK OF AUGUST 24th

Statement from Notara 26, a squat in Athens which has been hosting refugees and migrants until they were hit in an arson attack the other day. Call for solidarity and support, for open borders and against racism. Shared from Insurrection News.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HOUSING SQUAT FOR REFUGEES/MIGRANTS NOTARA 26 ABOUT THE ATTACK OF AUGUST 24th

On Wednesday August 24th at 3:45 a.m. the Housing Squat for Refugees and Migrants Notara 26 received an incendiary attack. The acting method of the arsonists we consider to be a clear murderous act, organised with the goal to cause – apart from the serious material damage – also loss of human lives. The timing of this cowardly act was chosen during August, when as the arsonists believed the reflexes of the solidarity movement would be sluggish. In vain though…

After the attack with molotov and gas-bottle bombs the safeguard of the refugees and the assistance of the solidarity acted immediately, using the fire extinguishers of the squat. The over 130 lives that where seriously endangered where saved solely by the immediate reaction of the total of the residents, of the solidarity and the neighbours of the squat, as well as with the participation of the fire department – although it derogatively characterised the Notara 26 squat as a storage in its press release, implying that no people where resident at the location.

This particular event is one link in the long chain of attacks against the migrant squats, refugees, as well as the free social spaces, which consists of a cooperation of state and parastate – where the first acts using the law (Orphanage, Nikis squat, Hurriya) and the second with the usual mafia practices (Vancouver, Avtonomo Steki, Zaimi, Analipsi, Kaniggos) – targeting the solidarity movement.

After the first months of humanitarian mentions in the media about the drama of the refugees and migrants, the emerging reaction of xenophobia and racism radically changed the position of the mainstream mass media and the state, from a “friendly” approach to the matter to one of phobic confrontation of the solidairs and them being targeted unambiguously.

Such actions are incapable of terrorising our solidarity! The fascist scum who prowl in the darkness are very well aware of the consequences they’ll suffer. Their racism has no social basis. It is expressed only in cowardly actions characteristic of the underworld, as a rule uncompleted and failed in the end. Our rage against the state and its terror mechanisms strengthens us and arms us with persistence. Our projects will continue to exist and multiply, housing the damned of the world and frontally crushing fascism where society is active. Our movement creates the necessary cracks in the imposed normality of the state, the media and their fascist goons.

For the last 11 months we, the solidairs and refugees of the Housing Squat for Refugees and Migrants Notara 26, act together according to the foundations of equality, solidarity and horizontal operation in a common day to day struggle for a better life, away and overcoming separations of any kind. Almost 5000 refugees and migrants have passed through the squat, where with the values of self-organisation and self-management, and despite the adversities, the needs for housing, food, education, legal representation, health care and entertainment where covered. A solidarity which is realised continuously from everyone together.

In response to this incendiary action everyone, individuals and collectives, are called to actively support the solidarity projects, thus giving a vigorous answer to the attempted terror regime of the state and the fascists.

Everyone at the demonstration on Monday, 29/08/2016, 6 p.m., at Propilea (Panepistimio metro station)

OUR SOLIDARITY WINS! YOUR TERROR CRUMBLES!

P.S.: As for the smiles of the cops on the corners, we return them! Notara 26 is alive and will remain standing!

Open Assembly of the Squat NOTARA 26
Athens, 25/08/2016