June 11th: International Day of Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners

Each year, June 11th serves as a day for us to remember our longest imprisoned anarchist comrades through words, actions and ongoing material support.

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Communication is a Weapon

By now it is a platitude to speak of the isolation and silence that prisons strive to impose. Every week another one of our imprisoned friends tells us that their mail is getting fucked with, the phones on their unit are “broken,” or that our publications are being rejected with no recourse.

For us, one of the most exciting elements of June 11, 2016 was the proliferation of words and ideas shared between and from anarchist prisoners.  Along with spreading material solidarity internationally and keeping the names of our comrades on our lips, our contribution to facilitating that communication is one of our most important tasks. While the starting point of our project was support for Marius Mason and Eric McDavid (the first of whom remains imprisoned in an extremely restrictive unit, while the latter has been freed!), it has been through a spreading web of communications that we have expanded the scope of our project to solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners around the world.  This year, we are seeking to emphasize this communication.

Maintaining communication is a lifeline for those caught in the snares of state repression or locked in its dungeons. Prisons function to isolate those held within these dungeons, to remove them from human community, and to break their will. Receiving letters and publications, being able to connect with individuals outside of the walls, and being able to call upon the solidarity of comrades on the outside are all vitally important to retaining dignity in dehumanizing conditions. When Chelsea Manning attempted suicide, communication enabled her and those close to her to mobilize and act. For prisoners who seem to live under a microscope due to their rebellious activities, a constant stream of letters shows their tormentors that they have friends on the outside and that there will be consequences for any action taken against them. Throughout the September 9th US prison strike, the relationships built over years made it possible to know of work strikes and rebellions happening in prisons all over the country, allowing supporters to organize counter-repressive action.

We must not, however, confuse actual communication with the absentminded chatter of liberal democracy. In totalitarian societies, speaking out can be subversive to systems of power; in liberal democracies it strengthens them. History textbooks teach us to speak truth to power, allowing power to better understand our frustrations so it can then maneuver to undermine us – either by regurgitating and disfiguring our criticisms as popular appeals or otherwise attempting to sell them back to us through edgy marketing campaigns. The more we tell power what we’re mad about, the better the chance they can manipulate us. Ranting on the internet is a microcosm of the pressure valve function of free speech in neutralizing social unrest. We are encouraged to say whatever we want, as long as we don’t actually do anything about it. Free speech becomes a fetish. For people who have never experienced a moment of freedom in their entire lives, freedom of speech is taken for freedom itself.

When direct action actually does take place, it either is castigated as coming from “outsiders,” or framed to fit into democratic rhetoric around speech. After the uprising against police in Ferguson, Missouri, Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote that “riots are the language of the unheard” went viral because it was a way to frame the uprising as revolving around freedom of speech, as if the silencing of Ferguson residents’ voices is what caused the riots, or that their rioting was intended only to amplify their voices.

When we speak of communication, we are not talking about “freedom of information” – media attention and generalized knowledge of the horrific practices and conditions inside prisons will never result in public outrage, nor will they cause a wave of shame that will wash over the authorities and affect them to the point where they’ll change what they’re doing. While trying to bring attention to issues sometimes has it place, we don’t expect anything from the authorities (or the “public”) and we know all too well that, especially in democracies, public opinion usually does very little to affect the policies or practices of the state. We’re talking about something different: that finding and speaking with our comrades is vital to attacking power and living full lives.

Within liberal democracies, prison functions to isolate those who do not take the bait of the democratic illusion.  We amplify the stories of those anarchists serving time in prison who have chosen active revolt against any regime of power rather than played into democracy’s games.  In February 2017, Eric King received sanctions – including loss of phone, visits, and commissary; increase in security level; and loss of “good time” – for writing poems and drawing cartoons depicting violence towards the Bureau of Prisons and the government in general. In early 2017, Sean Swain went on a successful 50-day hunger strike demanding the restoration of his email and phone communications, which had been cut off years ago due to his alleged threats of outside direct action against prison officials. In 2014, Bill Dunne received a 15-year “hit” to his parole, with the parole commission citing his “continued association and affiliation with anarchist organizations” as evidence he “still harbor[ed] anti-authoritarian views that are not compatible with the welfare of society.” Marius Mason is currently being held in the intensely-restrictive federal prison in Carswell, Texas, which surveils and controls his communication with the outside world and imposes harsh limits to his ability to connect with struggles on the outside. The comrades arrested in Italy under Operation Scripta Manent have seen their mail restricted, including a permanent seizure of all material from Croce Nera Anarchica [Anarchist Black Cross].

Despite the state’s best attempts to fetter our comrades’ tongues, imprisoned anarchists continue to contribute to struggles inside and outside of prison. Sean Swain’s Final Straw segments, Marius’ art and poetry, Jeremy Hammond’s incendiary tweets, and prison writings crossing borders and oceans show the innumerable and diverse forms communication can take in the belly of the beast.

That said, we want to share specific news of Marius’ struggles on the inside.  This year was filled with new heartbreak as the Bureau of Prisons developed means of isolating him further.  Beginning last summer, Marius began to see huge gaps in the mail he received, sometime going weeks without personal mail, with movement newsletters even more scarce. It was finally revealed via a phone call with a friend that FMC Carswell had been cutting off all communication about the National Prison Strike and thus any personal mail mentioning the strike was destroyed.

Even with these more obvious events Marius is going into his 10th year of incarceration, friendships and supports on the outside have been pushed to their limit, consistently thwarted in their attempts to get mail past Carswell’s complex and unexplained regulations.  Aside from the few close friends and immediate family he has left, Marius receives very little mail. Mail is his lifeline to the outside world. He needs supporters to recommit to correspondence, and to visits, for those of us who knew him before his arrest (a requirement of the BOP).  Know that letters which mention political actions will not make it through the tight censorship.

On the outside, new projects which seek to break down the barriers imposed by prison have flourished. Comrades all over the US and elsewhere have started publishing prison newsletters, giving wings to the ideas of our imprisoned comrades, enabling them to spread seeds in the “free world” and in the prison cells. Individual support websites, counter-information websites, zines collecting prisoners’ writings, the Certain Days calendar, the new Black Bridge website, and other efforts keep our comrades behind bars connected with us, and us connected with them – through creative expression, mutual contribution to theory, and strategizing for continuation of struggle.

This extends also to the realm of action, with solidarity rooting itself in the spirit of combative, internationalist struggle against prison and its world. Following the arrest of Pola Roupa and Konstantina Athanasopoulou and the detainment of Pola’s six-year-old child Lambros-Viktoras, diverse and combative actions took place, resulting in Lambros-Viktoras’ grand-mother gaining custody of her grandchild. The actions taken all over the world in solidarity with the US prison strike in September 2016 offer a clear vision of how words and deeds can mix in the cauldron of revolt. We also want to mention the upcoming Fight Toxic Prisons convergence in Texas, drawing the important connections between ecological devastation and prison society and rooting both in active solidarity with imprisoned comrades.

This year we challenge ourselves to weaponize our words and gestures to one another, to give them teeth. Let’s find ways to fight the censorship of those sending messages from the inside, and those sending strength and support from the outside. Let us not be satisfied with merely expressing our desires and ideas to whoever is listening, but really live them, and develop them together. The state wishes to crush our comrades by separating them from communities of struggle. We will not let it succeed!

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Overview about recent development of repression in the Spanish State

PDF version of the text.

Intro to the text: Maybe you have already read about the new spanish citizen security law, commonly called “Ley Mordaza (Gag)“. About how with it, the State mechanism wants to repress any kind of civil disobedience. Maybe you also read about the recent denounces against singers, poets, and Tweeters… because their lyrics or jokes have been consider terrorism apology. Clearly, the State forces are working hard in Spain!! With this article, we want to show and explain which kind of laws legitimate the Spanish State actions. Where they come from and where they are going to. Past and future of Spanish repression…enjoy!!

The current anti-terrorist law source is the one from 1984, proposed by the Spanish Socialist Party – PSOE.(1) I don’t know why we get still surprised by them. As the judge Jose Manuel Bandres said already during the 80s(2), this law was THE way to force an undercover exception state. With the excuse of being the legal instrument to fight against the ETA terrorist group(3), basic social rights were rooted out(4). Some of the mechanism helping the authorities to protect us (from us) were: possibility of being detained for ten days; if one person belonging to an organization was condemned, the authorities can decide to dissolve the political group; detentions, house searchings, surveillances and telephone tapping/email searching were allowed if the government authority consider them appropriate; and broadcast media closure or occupation were allowed by mandate of the judge. These actions were/are in conflict with the constitutional rights of: a maximum of 72 hours detention, inviolability of your house and your phone/mail without judicial warrant, freedom of speech, and the right to be informed, to meet, to associate and to not be discriminated. Anyway, so much for the constitutional rights.

The law has being updated in the last ten years, with great modifications.The Criminal Penal Code was reformed in 2000 to expand a term already existing, “apology of terrorism”, to punish those who exalted or incited terrorist crimes. The maximum period of detention of 10 days was decreased to 5 days (that’s the only good thing), suspects can be put in solitary confinement (maximum of 13 days)(5), can not inform family or a 3rd person, cannot receive or send correspondence or communications, or receive private doctors visits, relatives, friends…no one. During this detention time the person has no right to hire a personal lawyer, or have a private interview with them. The whole investigation can be under “secret of summary” (secret of judiciary investigations) and can be declared totally or partially secret for all the parties involved.

Due to the consideration of the Kale Borroka (young radical independence left movement from Pais Vasco, active in violent protests against the government) as low level terrorism, the authorities allowed minors to be judged by the Audiencia Nacional, with punishments up to 18 years of prison(6). In 2002, the modification of the Parties Law allowed to outlaw some political groups of the “abertzale left” because:

Political parties which attack this democratic regime of liberties, […] or politically support the violence and activities of terrorist groups, complement or politically support the action of terrorist organizations, with the purpose of subverting the constitutional order, or seriously alters the public peace, terrorize the public authorities or certain individuals or groups, can be banned.

In 2003, Herri BatasunaEuskal Herritarrok and Batasuna were banned (alleging they were the political arm of ETA), and afterwards, because linkages, Accion Nacionalista Vasca and Partido Comunista de las Tierras Vascas were also banned, and then Herritarren Zerrenda, Autodeterminaziorako Bilgunea…and more(7). In 2006, the Communist Party of Spain – PCE was also banned because links with GRAPO(8), and in 2009 the state tried to banned Iniciativa Internacionalista to avoid their election for the European Parliament.

Prison policies were also modified, with maximum penalties for terrorist incremented from 30 to 40 years, with dispersion policies (just 3% of ETA prisoners are in the Pais Vasco or Navarra), with an automatic “first grade” classification for terrorist prisoners, or preventing advance probation and other benefits for them. In July 2015 some sections of the Criminal Code related to terrorism were again amended, including a broader definition, and allowing the apology of terrorism to be now punished with up to 3 years in prison, and therefore the authorities can order “pre-trial detention/remand”.(9)

Who is the institution in charge of judging this terrorist crimes?

An organization specially designed for this task. Terrorism crimes in Spain do not fall within the jurisdiction of the normal regional courts, but within the jurisdiction of the Audiencia Nacional(10), located in Madrid and created in 1977. It can judge everyone who is “a member, or a supporter of an armed band”(11). Thus, this entity judges crimes against the crown, that alter national economy, organized drug traffic, crimes committed outside the national territory, or foreign courts criminal proceedings under international laws (but concerning Spain), as well as European extraditions and detentions.

The existence of this repression structures will not just affect activists. Every person can easily be guilty of terrorism apology, illicit association, or for being part of an armed band…because you never know when your perspectives and opinions will crash with the legal authority’s ones.

Some recent cases (in between 2009 and 2015 the Audiencia Nacional has opened 1115 proceeding of terrorism exaltation) that have shown how the state is using this anti-terrorist law to banned opinions critical with their policies are:

  • 2014, Pablo Hasel, a rap singer, was accused and condemned because exaltation due to his lyrics (12)
  • 2014, a 21 year old was condemned to prison (12 months), absolut disqualification for 7 years and to pay the cost of the trial…for sticking an ETA sticker in a wall in front of police.(13)
  • Aitor Cuervo, a poet that on 2014 was accused of doing terrorism exaltation because the content of his work, Twitter and Facebook posts (e.g. “It is more painful the death of a worker than the execution of a “pepero”-from PP right wing party-councilman “), and that has been condemned to 18 months of prison by the Audiencia Nacional.(14)
  • Cesar Strawberry, singer of the group Def con Dos, who was charged with the prosecution demanding 20 months of prison for the content of some of his lyrics (“e.g. Esperanza Aguirre fascism without complexes makes me even miss the GRAPO”). He was released without charges.(15) During January 2017, Cesar Strawberry was condemned to 2 years of prison by the Supreme Court, without another trial, accused for terrorism apology.
  • These two persons prosecutions were part of the “Spider Operation III and II – Operacion Araña (there was a I)” – which chased more than 40 persons for terrorist apology (mostly using social media).(16)
  • Jose Valtonyc, a rap singer that was accused recently of exaltation of terrorism (“e.g. armed occupation of Marivent”- which is a palace from the spanish monarchy in Palma de Mallorca).(17)
  • Los titiriteros, a puppet/theater players which were detained (and isolated) because a really bad joke (“Gora ALKA-ETA”, which is something like “Cheers ALKA-ETA”) that can be consider as terrorist exaltation within the spanish law. They were released without charges.(18)

In 1992, the Citizen Security Law, commonly called the Corcuera Law (kick on the door)(19), allowed the entrance to private houses if the police had some suspicion that something illegal was happening (it was banned one year after, because of unconstitutionality); the obligation to identify yourself with an identity card (DNI); and give the possibility of being detained (not jailed) without a lawyer. In July 2015, there was an upgrade of this “protection of public safety” law, now called: the Mordaza (Gag) Law (kick on the mouth). It was approved JUST with the People’s Party (Partido Popular) votes, and with great concerns even from international human right organizations, such as Amnesty International*(20) (PP did not need anyone else due to the awesome democratic system). This law allows (21):

  • Hot devolutions (repatriation) of migrants.*(22) – Aliens Law were also amended to allow mass deportations from Ceuta and Melilla.
  • Black lists (art 43.1) – and the Ministry of Interior will be the keeper of these grey statistics from 1 up to 3 years.
  • Police statements/declarations to be enough proof (probative value) in “disrespect” cases (art 52).
  • Preventive identifications and searchings (art 16). And if you do not give your ID, you can be held in the commissary for up to 6 hours.
  • Police can record you…but you can not record the police.
  • Severely limitation of freedom of assembly.

And…is a law completely full of ambiguities and holes. It is not clear why you are accused, or how what you did was illegal, because “perturbation of citizen security” (punishable with up to 600 000 euros) or “disrespect to police officers” are pretty subjective terms. The type of repression achieved with this law is the so called Burorepression. The state suppressed penal/criminal offence (there were 2 different penal levels, severe and minor) and has converted them into personal offense still inside the penal criminal code (e.g. when somebody punch you, you denounce the person), and administrative infractions, the ones against public order. These last are no longer inside the Criminal Penal Law, so you have not legal guaranties (at least the guaranties that a judge can give you) because the police and/or administration will be the judge. So in some cases the judiciary power and the executive are the same.

As an example, the next infractions can be directly punish with fines(23): From 100 to 600 EURO:

  • Meetings in public spaces.
  • Climbing buildings.
  • Occupation or in a building which is not yours.
  • Occupation of the public space.
  • “Making ugly” public goods.
  • Peddling.

From 601 to 30000 EURO:

  • Demonstrations in front of the congress, senate or autonomous parliaments.
  • Refusal to dissolve a meeting.
  • Preventing eviction.
  • Resistance to the authority.
  • Informative pickets.
  • Publishing of images of the state security agents.

From 30001 to 600 000 EURO

  • Protests in telecommunications infrastructures such as RTVE.
  • Celebration of public entertainment/shows/recreational activities…that have not been authorized.
  • Ilegal demonstrations

What has been happening since the approval of this security law?

In the period ranging from the approval of the law until February 2016, 40000 sanctions have been registered (18.3 million euros in fines) – 47% denounces have been for drugs and 38 % due to citizens security. Mostly of the last ones were for disrespect to the security forces (30 persons/day during the time studied), punishable with in between 100 to 600 euro. Just remember that in these administrative causes, the denounciation of the agent is enough to be fined. (24)

31/10/16 Ivan Fernandez was fined by the Ertzaintza for using a jacket with the letters ACAB in a demonstration against the new education law (Lomce) in Bilbao.(25)

27/10/16 Verstrynge (politologist) faced a prosecution of 3 years in prison after being detained in a demo against Felipe VI. (26)

07/10/16 A person was charged after calling some agents, on Facebook, “mierdas de pikoletos” (police assholes).(27)

22/07/16 A person was charged after calling some agents, on Facebook, something like “lazy bastards” (28)

05/07/16 A guy was fined because he called the police who was doing him an alcohol test “colega” (dude).(29)

07/06/16 600 euro fine to 2 yayoflautas (elder activist) from Cordoba, because police said that they did not identify themselves when complaining to police about PP electoral publicity being given to school children.(30)

23/05/16 Belen Lobeto was charged by the police for wearing a bag with a cat face and the message “All Cats Are Beautiful”(31)

21/05/16 600 euro fine for a Catalunya Radio journalist, due to disobedience to authority (police did not allow journalist to enter the judiciary dependences)

06/05/16 Jose Manuel Rodriguez was fined 600 Euro because of a video on Youtube showing how police requisitioned fish in Cadiz. (32)

06/04/16 “Argia” Axier Lopez published without permission images of a policy operation, 600 Euro fine (images were about the detention of Naroa Ariznabareta) (33)

13/02/16 Police fined a baker woman (Emilia Navarrete) for saying loudly that a police car was parking badly (and the police owner of the car was buying some sweets there) (34)

16/08/15 A woman was fined with €800 for posting a photograph of a police car parked illegally in a disabled bay.(35)

15/02/14 Repression to the PCE (communist party), police assault to the social center 13 Rosas in Alcala de Henares (Madrid), where they detained 2 people (Elena and Jesus, still waiting for the trial) and hurt 5 more. (36)

December 2015: A member of the platform No Somos Delito (We are not a crime) was detained and judge because a demonstration against the Ley Mordaz

Clearly, these reinforcements in both the anti-terrorist (broadening of the term terrorism apology, deprivation of access to a lawyer, increase on detention time, isolation and solitude confinement, deprivation of communication, prison dispersion) and the public safety (punishment of escratches(note1), symbolic actions, protests, right of demonstration and meeting) laws want to protect the current status quo, and are completely oriented to avoid social fights against this situation…they are tying up loose ends, as action-reaction forces.

*note 1 Name use in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay… and Spain for a type of direct acction where a group of activists go to the house/workplace of someone they want to denounce, that they want to protest againt, to show to the public and visibilize what horrible things they are doing. Social harassment to politicians and untouchables.

References

*1 https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislaci%C3%B3n_antiterrorista_espa%C3%B1ola

*2 http://elpais.com/diario/1985/04/22/espana/482968810_850215.html

*3 Documentary: Memoria, dignidad y lucha https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9jzOIN6Jk8

*4 http://www.lahaine.org/est_espanol.php/ley-antiterrorista-de-espana-ejemplo

*5 https://web.archive.org/web/20081115024604/http://www.hrw.org/spanish/informes/2005/spain0105/6.htm#_Toc93468088http://www.elconfidencialdigital.com/politica/Juzgado-Menores-Audiencia-Nacional-Castro_0_520747936.html

*6 http://sociedad.elpais.com/sociedad/2006/03/23/actualidad/1143068403_850215.htmlhttp://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2007/11/24/espana/1195908375.html

*7 https://web.archive.org/web/20040618171714/http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/esp-summary-esl

*8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_of_October_Anti-Fascist_Resistance_Groups

*9 https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/libertades/29391-enaltecimiento-la-pintada-al-twitter.html

*10 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiencia_Nacional_%28Spain%29

*11 http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/200510/0/prision/okupa/girona/

*12 https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/libertades/29390-condenen-por-canciones-dice-mucho-del-estado-vivimos.html

*13 http://www.poderjudicial.es/search/doAction?action=contentpdf&databasematch=AN&reference=7491673&links=enaltecimiento&optimize=20151014&publicinterface=true

*14 https://twitter.com/Aitor_Cuervohttps://www.diagonalperiodico.net/global/29615-poeta-aitor-cuervo-se-enfrenta-restricciones-la-libertad-expresion.html

*15 http://www.elmundo.es/cultura/2015/05/19/555bafb8268e3ee5418b4597.htmlhttp://www.elmundo.es/pais-vasco/2015/05/19/555ae2b8e2704e874d8b456e.htmlhttp://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2016/07/19/actualidad/1468922662_941636.html

*16 http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2014/11/06/actualidad/1415258932_240977.htmlhttp://politica.elpais.com/politica/2014/04/29/actualidad/1398796114_166592.html

*17 https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/libertades/32177-valtonyc-luchare-por-la-libertad-expresion-aunque-exista-riesgo-entrar-la-carcel

*18 https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/panorama/29282-caso-titiriteros-madrid.html

*19 http://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/uepei/corcuera.htmlhttps://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ley_Org%C3%A1nica_sobre_protecci%C3%B3n_de_la_seguridad_ciudadana_(1992)

*20 https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/spain/report-spain/ https://www.es.amnesty.org/actua/acciones/espana-ley-seguridad-ciudadana-oct14/

*21 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/world/europe/spains-new-public-safety-law-has-its-challengers.html http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/Ley-Mordaza-vigor-manana_0_403859798.htmlhttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/12/spain-security-law-protesters-freedom-expression http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/opinion/spains-ominous-gag-law.html?_r=0http://www.infolibre.es/noticias/politica/2016/02/10/el_fiscal_pide_ahora_puesta_libertad_los_titiriteros_44612_1012.html

*22 http://www.elmundo.es/espana/2015/02/25/54ec973322601d65728b456d.html

*23 https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/tags-tags-tematicos/ley-mordazahttps://www.diagonalperiodico.net/blogs/laconquistadelderecho/la-ley-proteccion-la-seguridad-ciudadania.html

*24 http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/sanciones-diarias-Policia-Ley-Mordaza_0_489951750.html http://www.eldiario.es/andalucia/APDHA/primer-aniversario-Ley-Mordaza-ultimo_6_536556347.html http://kaosenlared.net/mas-de-17-mil-personas-multadas-en-el-primer-ano-de-la-ley-mordaza-averigua-los-motivos/

*25 http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/Multan-Ley-Mordaza-ACAB-Bilbao_0_575342867.html

*26 http://www.eldiario.es/politica/Verstrynge-paso-vamos-quedar-calabozos_0_573943553.html

*27 http://www.eldiario.es/cultura/tecnologia/Admiten-denuncia-Facebook-pikoletos-agentes_0_566943564.html

*28 http://www.ecorepublicano.es/2015/07/demo-que-le-aplican-la-ley-mordaza-por.html

*29 http://www.forotransportistas.es/discussion/4612/ley-mordaza-300-euros-de-multa-por-por-llamar-colega-a-un-guardia-civil#Item_1

*30 http://www.eldiario.es/andalucia/cordoba/Multa-protestar-propaganda-electoral-PP_0_524247713.html

*31 http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/Multada-Ley-Mordaza-siglas-ACAB_0_518998719.html http://www.eldiario.es/rastreador/siglas-ACAB-extienden-Twitter-Malasana_6_520457954.html

*32 http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/Multado-Ley-Mordaza-Youtube-actuacion_0_513049210.html

*33 https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/libertades/29933-multan-por-primera-vez-periodista-por-la-ley-mordaza.html

*34 http://www.forotransportistas.es/discussion/5999/un-policia-multa-a-una-panadera-por-comentar-que-ha-aparcado-mal-el-coche-patrulla/p1

*35 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/16/spanish-woman-fined-gagging-law-photographing-police

*36 http://www.eldiario.es/tribunaabierta/dia-sentimos-mordazas_6_576802352.html

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Joel Released after one year of imprisonment

Until.jpg

WELCOME HOME!

“FACED WITH THE GROWTH OF FASCISM, IT IS MORE THAN EVER NECESSARY TO GIVE AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE WORKING CLASS WITH ANTIFASCISM” – NAHUEL

NAHUEL HAS BEEN RELEASED AFTER OVER A YEAR IN JAIL. HE IS NOW WAITING FOR HIS TRAIL TO BEGIN. READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH HIM HERE:

FOR HOW LONG WERE YOU IN JAIL AND WHAT ARE YOU BEING PROSECUTED FOR?

I’ve been in jail almost 500 days. I was prosecuted for “terrorism”. Most of the Fiscal charges is about graffitti (Some of them are from google images or for other cities/countries), lyrics of hardcore bands, quotes of books, phylosophers or even memes!

The biggest accusations are the burning of two ATMs. Interestingly, the police have not shown, nor wanted to be shown, evidence as geolocation, or more importantly, the recordings of the cashiers (Something fundamental in some cases here in Spain).

I was like 9 months in isolation, but I got a judge to take me away from that place and were moved to a unit with other inmates. (Something that could help some political prisoner that wanted to be out of isolation) and in less than a year I was moved by 5 differents jails (Something unusual)

HOW DID YOU COPE WITH THE TIME IN JAIL? WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR TIME?

Studying law, italian, japanese, reading a lot and running!
I remember that a lot of people were surprised that it was vegan, so they usually told me that I would be “tired” all the time and that I could not even last 20 minutes to run. I ran in the courtyard of either isolation or “module” (When you live with other prisoners) for about 45 or 60 minutes each day; Something necessary for the time I took away during the day and for the excessive amount of French fries and industrial pastries (the few “vegan” products were the least healthy) that I ate per day.

In Spanish jails there is a very serious problem of drug addiction. Especially in the conflictive modules, which is where I was always sent after leaving isolation. Being Straight Edge served me a lot in that regard. In jail I took it with greater conviction, which filled me with pride and with the capacity to withstand any adversity that arose (which was almost every day).

I can sum it up with the lyrics of “La marca del honor” (“The mark of honor”) of the band VSXE argentina NUEVA ÉTICA.

“Today I’m going to continue
Building my destiny
My will refuses to lose
In this fight I must continue.
For the pride I feel
Commitment is not broken.
For the pride I feel
Loyalty is not broken.
I turn my back on your insults
My pride is still intact
The loyalty that resists
The feeling that refuses to die.
Far from being defeated
This flame is still burning
Today stronger than ever
Our voices are heard.
For the truth, for the honor
What makes me feel
For the truth, for the honor.
Our words every time
Are stronger
True at any price
Accepting the commitment
Our lives make sense
For the truth, for the honor
That makes me feel.
For the truth, for the honor
That makes me feel,
Be part of the NEW ETHICS
Loyalty today will follow one more time. ”

Especially this phrase: “For the pride I feel
Commitment is not broken.
For the pride I feel
Loyalty is not broken”.

DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU WERE DIFFRENTLY TREATED BY THE PRISON AUTHORITY BECAUSE YOU WERE A POLITICAL PRISONER?

Of course. The first day of entering the prison I was sent to isolation and I was introduced to a special file called FIES (File of Special Follow-Up Interns). The truth is that it is a curious thing to be a file, which in the end becomes a special life regime, because it has no legal basis and is considered to be illegal according to European and international standards.

Being included in that file, specifically FIES 3, led me to be in confinement for a long time. However, many political prisoners may be in that position.

“Certain inmates in Spain’s penal system have been placed under the FIES, which exercises total control over them, places them in solitary confinement and deprives them of their privacy by recording all of their written and oral communications .

The country has been subject to certain prisoners for this system for years. The European Prison Rules, adopted by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on 11 January 2006, establish (in Rule 60.5) that solitary confinement may only be imposed in exceptional cases and for a short period. In May 2015, the United Nations Committee against Torture reiterated, in point 17 of its observations, that excessive use of solitary confinement constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or even torture if it exceeded 15 days “.
(Http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do…)

HAVE YOU GOTTEN ENOUGH OF SUPPORT DURING YOUR TIME IN JAIL?

I received the support of many people. Although it was impossible for me to know about what was happening outside, the truth is that through letters I felt a lot of solidarity. Many people wrote me constantly, especially from Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

Anything I can say will never express the feeling of gratitude to all the people who have given their best effort to help me.

I KNOW YOU WERNT ALLOWED TO SEND AS MANY LETTERS AS YOU WANTED. HOW DID YOU KEEP CONTACT WITH THE PEOPLE ON THE OUTSIDE?

Through my family and friends. The problem is that just sending 2 letters a week and having only 8 calls of 5 minutes a week became eternal. Although, in the end, you always manage to find some way to contact as many people as you can.

Perhaps the only problem I had to communicate was when they forbade me to be able to make calls with anyone other than my mother. I had the maximum restriction, 3 months.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS TO SOMEONE WHO ARE FACING TIME IN JAIL IN PRISON?

I think the best thing you can do in that situation is to face it as something painful that is not eternal. Sometimes we are afraid of pain or suffering forgetting that it is part of life. I think it is essential to take advantage of this pain to continue and understand that time in prison is not the end of your life but a new chapter where to continue a new struggle by changing reality within.

To support the day to day I used to make very strict schedules of studies, training and to write letters. Having such a fragmented time, having scheduled schedules makes the stay faster.

ANY FINAL WORDS?

Faced with the growth of fascism, it is more than ever necessary to give an alternative to working classes with antifascism. We can not forget that extreme right parties or their leaders are nourishing themselves with an absurd hatred and a cynical and hypocritical anti-capitalist discourse. This shows us that people want a change, the question is Where did that change go?

“In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense – not as a struggle for the Sheer means of existence, but a struggle against all natural conditions unfavorable to the species.
(…) The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay. ”
– Kropotkin.

Solidarity is our best weapon.

“Side by side
Standing tall
With clear minds
We’ll never fail
Join with us
In our fight
In our hearts
The flame burns bright”
– Few and the proud, Turning Point.

Nahuel, Vegan Straight Edge.

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Largest protests seen in Belarus in the last 10 years

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In Belarus last weeks people took to the streets to fight the law against social parasitism – law that was signed by dictator Lukashenko in 2015, but started troubling population only at the beginning of the 2017. Thousands took to the streets in Minsk, Brest, Gomel and many other smaller cities all around the country, to show their discontent with the law and the current regime. The protests seems to have little influence from “official” opposition- instead of that people previously not involved in the politics are organizing together. In several places anarchist played quite a big role in the protests. Last week belarusian government started repressions against those on the streets – up until now over 48 people were detained and prosecuted for different violations.

Social parasites

Belarusian government started talking about social parasitism somewhere after 2010 elections. The idea was not new to the region – previously in soviet union people who were not officially employed were always under threat of prosecution. This time belarusian government was doing the same – Lukashenko wanted to punish those who are not working or working but not paying taxes.

Slowly step by step through several ministries the idea have crystallized – the law was written and presented to Lukashenko who eagerly signed it. Inside it was stated that every person who is not working for more than 6 months in a year have to pay a “tax” to the state to cover the “social” state – free public health care and education. The sum to pay for many people was quite big – around 180 euro per year, with an average salary somewhere between 200 to 300 euro per month depending on the region of the country.

This was done next to already existing humiliating quantity of 15 dollars per months for those officially registered at the unemployment center – money that you would only get after one day of work assigned by the unemployment agency.

Of course in 2015 there was already a certain level of discontent, but it never turned into real protests – the law promised to start working only in 2017, and a lot of people were expecting that the government would back off. Instead of that by the end of 2016, beginning of 2017, people began to receive something that got nicknamed “letters of happiness” where it was stated that due to their “financial inactivity” in 2015 they have to pay a tax to the state. And that was the moment when it stroke a lot of people – by the official state media around 450 000 people are affected by the law (with the working population around 5 000 000 people).

You could avoid paying the tax if you go to the governmental commission and explain yourself and your bad financial situation. This is one of the most humiliating procedures that belarusian people facing financial troubles has to go through.

There is a women in front of the mentioned comission. She is working as a housekeeper and a cleaner and did not get enough days in a year not to be considered a "parasite". During the commission she started crying because of humiliation.

There is a punishment as well – those who are not capable of paying the law can be sentenced up to 15 days of forced labor or to pay a fine together with the tax.

Marches of nonparasites

First march against the law took place on 17 February 2017 in Minsk. It gathered around 2000 people on a demonstration not allowed by authorities. After a short symbolic march from the palace of republic (main square in Minsk) to the parliament the demo was over and the organizers from the opposition were calling people to go home and come back in one month, giving time for Lukashenko to cancel the law. One of the most organized and loudest groups during the demonstration were the anarchists – and they were the only group that was shortly attacked by the police after demonstration – one banner was stolen, however people were unarrested and left home. Huge support for the anarchist came from usual people that were also resisting the police, escorting participants of the anarchist block to the safe place.

During next week the demonstrations in Gomel and Brest took place, with several thousand participants all together. They were the biggest protests outside Minsk in the whole history of Belarus. In Brest small group of anarchists took over the demonstration from opposition, that was trying to organize a meeting with the local mayor. Instead of that people occupied the streets and went through the city chanting “No to decree #3, Lukashenko go away” (Decree #3 is the official registration number of the law). After the success of the march in Brest several anarchists were arrested at home and sentenced to 5 days in jail. Later on protests moved to smaller cities all around the country with hundreds to thousands participating in different places: Orsha, Bobruisk, Kobrin, Luninec are among those – probably places that you have never heard in your life. Those small towns haven’t seen any demonstrations over decades, and now people are protesting against the law together.

Under the pressure of the protesters Lukashenko had to back off – he officially announced the freezing of the law for 2017, and the return of the money to those who have already paid the tax, but just if they are currently working or will find a work in 2017. This didn’t stop protesters, who are now demanding not only the cancellation of the law but also the retirement of Lukashenko and his government.

Raisins in the bread rolls

Last week on Monday the belarusian state TV has issued a propagandist movie where the whole protesting movement is split into two parts – those who are genuinely affected by the law and deserve compassion, and mere “provocateurs”. The state TV is pointing these “provocateurs” as people who are there to create another Maydan in the region and destroy the country stability. The film explains that among those “provocateurs” are the anarchists who are considered to be chaotic foot troops of liberal nationalists. The movie makes clear that the government is not going to back off under the pressure of the protesters and will repress those who are not conforming.

Lukashenko made a statement as well last week to address the problem. Apart from long tirades from the good king about the bad bureaucrats who understood the law wrongly, he also made a statement saying that there are “special” elements inside of the protests that have their own agenda and are not interesting in the prosperity of the belarusians. Those are again anarchists and opposition activists. Trying to make a metaphor he called those people raisins in the rolls – obviously Lukashenko doesn’t like raisins.

First arrests were made even before the movie was done – several people from Brest were caught after the demonstration by the civil cops that hunted them all around the town. Later on, arrests of some famous opposition members also took place. Last days demonstrations in several towns also ended up with prosecutions again journalists and participants

By now over 48 people were detained and prosecuted for different violations: starting with violating the law on public gatherings and ending up with accusation of immoral behavior on the streets. Different activists got from 5 to 15 days in jail and some of those who were already sentenced to 5 days were rearrested and prosecuted again for swearing in public in front of the prison gates – common tactic of police forces that are rearresting people inside of the prisons without even letting them out.

Map of people arrested can be found here – http://www.svaboda.org/a/28365086.html

The next march is planned on Wednesday 15.03. and people are expecting different scenarios – Lukashenko can freak out completely arresting everybody showing up, or attacking and arresting people after the demonstration. At the same time everything can go smoothly and police will not escalate the conflict. The second is less likely.

Taking into account the recent statement about raisins and anarchist role in destabilizing the whole situation, we out here expect an increase of repressions, and more people detained/arrested than it was in last years.

More Information about repression in Belarus: https://abc-belarus.org

If you feel like supporting anarchists repressed in Belarus you can always donate money to Anarchist Black Cross via:

paypal – belarus_abc@riseup.net

bitcoin – 1CcxWEswKjXZgXQCds5KcHfemzrAASVbuv

or bank transaction:

name: VpKK e.V. IBAN: DE 40850205 0000 0361 5700 BIC: BFSWDE33DRE name of the bank: Bank für Sozialwirtschaft subject: Donation ABC-B

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Antifascist Prisoner From Belarus Needs Your Support

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Vadim Boyko is an antifascist supporter of FC Partyzan from Minsk. He was detained on March 22, 2016 together with other people on suspicion of participating in the attack on the right-wing hooligans that happened about two years ago. His trial is set for February 3, 2017 and we ask for financial support to pay the legal advice. The approximate cost of the legal aid for him is 5000 euros, part of which has already been covered by us.

Here is a full story.
FC Partyzan (former MTZ-RIPO) is an antiracist football club that doesn’t exist any more, while there are still some active groups of hooligans involved in street fights. As reported, on June 29, 2014 a mob of Partyzan supporters attacked a trolley-bus carrying a gang of right-wing hooligans of FC Torpedo. The attackers blocked the vehicle and broke a few windows. In the following days the police detained five Partyzan fans on suspicion of the attack, but they were eventually set free with no charges. The case was frozen.

On March 22, 2016 cops carried out a series of searched in the flats of Partyzan supporters and detained a few people. As a result three of the detained – Ilya Volovik, Vadim Boyko and Dmitry Tsekhanovich – remained in custody with charges of aggravated hooliganism facing 10 years in jail. Later Dmitry was released with travel restrictions, the other two remain in custody. At the moment there are 6 defendant to the case, including 2 former hooligans who were accused of selling drugs and allegedly testified against the others.

Meanwhile, the cops initiated another case against Ilya Volovik – leadership in an unregistered organisation, claiming that he was the leader of a hooligan gang. The case files count around 40 volumes and the process is expected to be long.

It should be pointed out that antiracist football hooligans are not always close to anarchists in any ways. Part of them shares patriotic, homophobic, sexist tendencies, and we wouldn’t like to support such people. At the same time we can’t close our eyes on the clearly political connotation of the case, since last year was rich in repression against both left and right-wing groups, no matter how politicised they are. A lot of antifascists and right-wingers were put in jail on charges of possession of drugs, distribution of pornography (posts in social networks) and illegal business in addition to ordinary street conflicts with each other. The new charge of participation in an unregistered organisation testifies to this, too.

We call all of you having the possibility to offer financial support to do so. In this case we only support Vadim Boyko, since so far we didn’t get any information testifying that he is sharing openly patriotic, sexist or homophobic views, also he is trying his best not to cooperate with the law enforcement, unlike some other defendants including those mentioned before.

Our PayPal: belarus_abc@riseup.net

Bitcoin: 1CcxWEswKjXZgXQCds5KcHfemzrAASVbuv

European Bank account:
Account Holder: VpKK e.V.
IBAN: DE 4085 0205 0000 0361 5700
BIC: BFSWDE33DRE
Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
Note: Donation ABC-B
Please make the Note as stated above!

https://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/203552

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Dozens Of Anarchists Arrested In Belarus After Anti-government Protests

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On March 15 in three major cities of Belarus – Minsk, Mogilev and Grodno – people took the streets protesting against government attempts to collect tax off the unemployed (details of the story HERE). In Minsk, demonstrations managed to gather more that 1 500 people, in Mogilev and Grodno 1 000 each. These are the biggest protests those cities have seen in decades. It is worth mentioning that most of the protesters are far from major political powers in the country and do not align with any opposition stream, rather prefer to point out the hard economical conditions and results of 24 years of Lukashenkos rule.

Around 40 anarchists organized in a separate block participated in the demonstration with banners saying “For the people, the main social parasite are the bureaucrats, politicians and the police” (referring to the law against social parasites introduced 2015 that is the major reason for recent protests). To make the demonstration a little bit more fun, a samba band in black joined the block. Inside of the demonstration, anarchists were by far the most organized force that took a lot of attention from the police.

During the whole demonstration, 20-30 civil cops were constantly following the anarchist block and at the end of the demo tried to arrest some people. Anarchists together with other participants of the demo managed to de-arrest people and get into public transport – a tactic that was quite successful in the past months, when anarchists managed to get out safely. However it was stopped a couple of minutes later by a bus without license plates and civil cops rushing into the public transport. To get the people out , the pigs used not only brute force beating up people, but also pepper sprayed the trolleybus (an action one of the football hooligans got 10 years in jail for in Belarus just last week). At the end of the confrontation, around 30-35 people were detained including several bystanders, who were trying to help people resist the police. By the end of the day, some activists were beaten up so badly that the cops had to call an ambulance.

Right now, all the arrested are in jail in Minsk police stations awaiting trial tomorrow. Judging from recent developments, most probably they will be punished with 15 days in jail.

Furthermore it has been reported that over 9 people from the demonstration were detained in Mogilev. Their destiny is not clear yet.

Lawyers and food parcels are covered so far by human right activists. But you can always support people with solidarity actions next to local embassies or Lukashenko’s mansions. Apart from that you can share the news, and make the topic more visible around you. 

By the moment this article is written, over 150 people were detained and sentenced to fines or some short prison terms for protests in last weeks in Belarus.

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‘Down with patriarchy: On the social, racist & patriarchal problems faced by women in prison’ – Letter from imprisoned anarchist comrade (Germany)

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Below we publish a letter from our anarchist comrade who is locked up in a German prison, in Köln, since several months. She is accused of carrying out a bank robbery in Aachen and is already facing the trial. She wrote this letter in the context of the 8th of March, International Day of Women’s Struggle.

Down with patriarchy: On the social, racist & patriarchal problems faced by women in prison 

It is generally well known that German society is rife with inequality. The upper classes are secure and cared for, they have no existential concerns and, despite all the wider problems of the world, they are able to offer their children a promising future which is not available to the under classes. Whilst a small minority of people are able to get richer, the majority are left to exist on the bare minimum, working for a shitty low wage and constantly being pushed towards pointless consumption so that the profit driven system that we live in can continue to function. 

While some sun themselves on their extravagantly expensive yachts in the Mediterranean, or get flown around the globe in their private jets, many cannot afford to go on holiday once in their lives, or to pay their rent or electricity bill or to buy a couple of new teeth. While the super-rich save their abundant wealth from taxes by securing it in off-shore tax havens or mailbox companies, for which they never face any serious judicial proceedings, the poor are doing months or years in prison for fines or petty crimes- for sums of money that the rich spend in minutes on a daily basis.

The state and the media promote the idea that every child is born into a world of equal opportunity, but every child knows that those who are rich and powerful don’t end up in prison because they are able to afford an expensive, good lawyer. Those who have a bad lawyer or, due to social or racist reasons, are perceived as one of the ‘usual suspects’ are simply dealt a bad hand. Those who aren’t able to use the German language or who aren’t able to read or write have practically no chances of being defended and are constantly dependent on the help of others which is often not available. Society doesn’t care about any of this. As per usual an image of the enemy is created around the idea of the criminal foreigner, the Arabic and north African terrorist and the dangerous refugee who should all be either locked up or deported as quickly as possible. Germany likes to promote itself as a country that is open to the world and that takes in refugees but this is only the case when they either successfully integrate into the work system so that they can be profited from, or when they allow themselves to be labelled as victims. When, however, they come to Germany as families or in their so called ‘gangs’ logically hoping to find a better way to survive in a richer country where people have more than they do, then they are not only locked up or deported but are also made an example of and used to justify xenophobic politics. For the state this is all about the protection of the rich and their property. Those who reject this notion of ownership will be punished hardest. Prisons are filled with so called burglars, fraudsters, robbers and thieves, not with murderers and rapists as is so often presented. And of course the quota of foreigners is very high but not because foreigners are more criminal than Germans are but because in general they belong to the under-classes. In a land of immigrants like Germany this was always the case and this is how it will stay.

There is another point that must be mentioned here that perhaps even surpasses the already stated inequalities and structural oppressions: patriarchal violence. And that affects the women in prison even more. Women make up a tiny percentage of the prison population. As a whole and for this reason their needs are hardly considered. The health, medical and hygiene related options available to women in prisons or women’s facilities are shockingly bad. There are fundamentally more activities, sports options and educational or training options for men than for women. Most women come directly from situations of domestic or sexual violence, often they will have been forced into stealing or shop lifting by their husbands or fathers or are imprisoned because they have defended themselves against their tormentor. If women take part in criminal activity the state and society scandalises them on a sexual level especially if the women take on roles that normally men fulfill. Aside from this the state even now maintains its hold on and decisive power over women’s bodies and, when necessary, holds them criminally responsible if they refuse to give their bodies up to authority. Nothing has really changed since the middle ages, it is simply the case that instead of women being burnt at the state they now end up in prison.
While men are often visited by their wives in prison, the reverse is much more rare. Often the husbands of women in prison are also incarcerated themselves, on the run, or do not take care of them. In addition almost all women in prison have children on the outside and therefore the problem of who is able to look after them. So women are forced to look after their families and to keep them together from inside prison despite it being enormously difficult to organise. In the best case the women still have contact to their own mother. Finally, in almost all cultures women in prison are frowned upon and scorned at, and even more so if they are suspected of having been violent as any act of self-empowerment rejects the classical role of women. In this way it can been seen how patriarchal state structures and the law work together with family power dynamics towards the complete domination and oppression of women.
And despite this crushing reality small initiatives of self-determination and self-organisation between women in prison continue to exist. It is perhaps the case that empathy is stronger than between men, in certain situations people will sometimes help each other and show solidarity with those who are weaker or less privileged or rebellious. Each example of such behaviour and gestures, although so small, is vital to each individual in prison but also as a sign against oppression and the structures of repression.

The struggle continues- until all prisons are destroyed!
For total liberation from all social, racist and patriarchal power structures.

Strength, rage and rebellion for all those in struggle!
Freedom for everyone!

January 2017

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