THE DEMANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE BLACK VOICES AT FREE CAPITOL HILL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
In credit to the people who freed Capitol Hill, this list of demands is neither brief nor simplistic. This is no simple request to end police brutality. We demand that the City Council and the Mayor, whoever that may be, implement these policy changes for the cultural and historic advancement of the City of Seattle, and to ease the struggles of its people. This document is to represent the black voices who spoke in victory at the top of 12th & Pine after 9 days of peaceful protest while under constant nightly attack from the Seattle Police Department. These are words from that night, June 8th, 2020.
For ease of consideration, we’ve broken these demands into four categories: The Justice System, Health and Human Services, Economics, and Education.
Given the historical moment, we’ll begin with our demands pertaining to the Justice System.
The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.
In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons, especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.
We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails. Get kids out of prison, get cops out of schools. We also demand that the new youth prison being built in Seattle currently be repurposed.
We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability. In particular, we demand that cases particular to Seattle and Washington be reopened where no justice has been served, namely the cases of Iosia Faletogo, Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obet, Tommy Le, Shaun Fuhr, and Charleena Lyles.
We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record. Anonymity should not even be a privilege in public service.
We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison after the arrests made at 11th and Pine on Sunday night and early Saturday morning June 7th and 8th, and any other protesters arrested in the past two weeks of the uprising, the name Evan Hreha in particular comes to mind who filmed Seattle police macing a young girl and is now in jail.
We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
We demand the City of Seattle and State Government release any prisoner currently serving time just for resisting arrest if there are no other related charges, and that those convictions should also be expunged.
We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
We demand an end to prosecutorial immunity for police officers in the time between now and the dissolution of the SPD and extant justice system.
We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
We demand autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.
We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.
We demand justice for those who have been sexually harassed or abused by the Seattle Police Department or prison guards in the state of Washington.
We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that each and every SPD officer turn on their body cameras, and that the body camera video of all Seattle police should be a matter of easily accessible public record.
We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.
We also have economic demands that must be addressed.
We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that Seattle Police be prohibited from performing “homeless sweeps” that displace and disturb our homeless neighbors, and on equal footing we demand an end to all evictions.
We demand a decentralized election process to give the citizens of Seattle a greater ability to select candidates for public office such that we are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options. There are multiple systems and policies in place which make it impractical at best for working-class people to run for public office, all of which must go, starting with any fees associated with applying to run for public office.
Related to economic demands, we also have demands pertaining to what we would formally call “Health and Human Services.”
We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.
We demand that the city create an entirely separate system staffed by mental health experts to respond to 911 calls pertaining to mental health crises, and insist that all involved in such a program be put through thorough, rigorous training in conflict de-escalation.
Finally, let us now address our demands regarding the education system in the City of Seattle and State of Washington.
We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.
Transcribed by @irie_kenya and @AustinCHowe. Special thanks to Magik for starting and facilitating the discussion to create this list, to Omari Salisbury for the idea to break the list into categories, and as well a thanks to Kshama Sawant for being the only Seattle official to discuss with the people on Free Capitol Hill the night that it was liberated.
Although we have liberated Free Capitol Hill in the name of the people of Seattle, we must not forget that we stand on land already once stolen from the Duwamish People, the first people of Seattle, and whose brother, John T. Williams of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe up north was murdered by the Seattle Police Department 10 years ago.
Black Lives Matter — All day, Every day.■
The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone is an occupied area of Seattle, taken on June 8 2020 during BLM Protests and encompasses around 6 city blocks. You can find out more, and watch the live streaming at www.caphillauto.zone
The Philippine government is another step closer to revealing its true self: an undemocratic, oppressive entity ready to protect and serve the interests of the powerful, wealthy, and privileged few. Before there was talk of lockdowns and quarantines during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was the issue of updating the Human Security Act, a law defining the parameters of terrorism. After many days and weeks of politicking, grandstanding, and red-tagging, Congress unveiled the 2020 Anti-Terror Bill.1
In it, the government aims to strip whatever semblance of constitutional liberties and rights are left after the Duterte administration’s stints into extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses, that have claimed upwards of 5,000 lives and left indelible marks on the lives of countless Filipino families.2
On the 28th of February 2020, the Senate passed their version of the Anti-Terror bill, with 19 senators voting yes, and only 2 voting no.3 Debate still rages in the House of Representatives on its merits and its dangers,4 however, as of the 29th of May, two congressional committees approved the Anti-Terror Bill.5 As the people of the archipelago face the greatest health crisis of this century without mass testing, public safety, and financial stability, Congress is trying to take advantage of us while we are down and already suffering from pandemic and the excesses of government.
A History of Insurgency
Different insurgent groups exist within our country, whose goals aim to threaten and change the status quo — to overthrow the people who benefit from it: the current ruling class. The most prominent of these groups are the Bangsamoro separatists (such as the MNLF and MILF), the Islamic fundamentalists (such as the BIFF, the Abu Sayyaf, and the Maute Group)6 and the Marxist-Leninist parties engaged in armed struggle (the CPP-NPA-NDF and remnants of MLPP-RHB).7
These sets of militant organizations with their own allegiances and motivations have been operating for decades across the archipelago, challenging government power in rural and urban areas around the country.
It is in this landscape of insurgency that in 1996, then-Senator Juan Ponce Enrile introduced a bill that would create a legal definition for terrorism, and outline what the police and military can or cannot do to catch and prosecute convicted “terrorists.”8 A “watered-down” and “toothless” version of this bill became the Human Security Act, signed into law by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007.9
However, the rhetoric since then has evolved as Rodrigo Duterte became the President of the Philippines. Duterte has condoned and even called for the extrajudicial execution of alleged drug users and pushers as part of his campaign against illegal narcotics.10 He also told soldiers to shoot female rebel combatants in the genitalia, a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.11
Meanwhile, police and military forces regularly illegally detain dissidents, regardless of their affiliation or intention.12 There are even cases where farmers, workers, and activists are murdered as part of “anti-subversion activities.”13 Worse still, indigenous Lumad ancestral land across the country are being occupied illegally, while atrocities against their communities continue to be perpetrated.14
Left and right, in the name of public safety and order, the current administration has committed grave violations of human rights. Civil and military officers even called for the restoration and enhancement of laws and measures to make their jobs easier, presumably so that they could claim more victims and plunder more territory. This included the push by Secretary Año to bring back the Anti-Subversion Law that specifically targeted communists and those with communist sympathies.15
In this context, one cannot help but be skeptical about the government’s motivations in changing the definition of terrorism, and extending the punishment to be meted out to suspects and convicts under this bill.
Reading Between the Lines
In the Senate, this bill was authored by Senator Panfilo Lacson, to “provide a strong legal backbone to protect our people from the threat of terrorism, and at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.”16
Terrorism has been given a different definition under this bill. Simply, terrorism is any organization of people proving to be harmful to the social, cultural, and economic structures of society, capable of causing harm to property or personage, and inciting other people in joining their cause.
Under the proposed law, suspected “terrorists” can be held for 60 days without an arrest warrant. Aside from this, a 60 day period can also be granted for digital surveillance, meaning any gadget connected to the internet, a phone, a computer, and appliance can be spied on, with a simple suspicion by an involved police or military authority. This basically means that freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and even freedom of conscience can be violated as soon as any investigator deems a person or a group “terrorist.” Anything suspects do can be considered a “terroristic act” and will be subject to the state’s extrajudicial ways and means.
Once convicted, those who will “propose, incite, conspire, and participate” in the “planning, training, and facilitation of a terrorist attack” face life imprisonment. The same punishment goes for any “recruiters and active supporters of a terrorist organization.” Lesser sentences are given to those who “threaten to commit terrorism, incite others to do so, voluntarily join any terrorist group, or be an accessory in any acts they do.” In short, anybody remotely related to any “terrorist organization” can be charged with a crime under this act.17
Overbroad and Overpowered
We can all agree that safety of the public is always the concern of our society. Our safety and the safety of our friends, our family, and our communities have been part of the Filipino psyche for centuries. Once this welfare has been violated, we come to each other’s aid, and struggle to restore it to them. An injury to one is an injury to all.
However, the government has consistently shown itself as the primary violator of our freedom, our security, and our right to live. Whether it be on issues of labor, civil rights, the indigenous peoples, or even human life, the State continues to side with the powerful and supports Capital, the wealthy, and the privileged.
Yet, the State itself has the audacity to declare what is a public threat, what is terrorist or not. Under this bill, any organization can be dubbed terroristic as long as there is enough “evidence” to secure a conviction. Anyone can be convicted as a terrorist just because they called to oust the current president, joined a rally that suddenly became a “serious risk to public safety,” or even shared posts or messages that are remotely critical of the government. They can be detained for as long as the police or military would need to build a falsified, trumped-up case against them.
For years, activists have been discriminated on without any proof from the government. Students, labor leaders, and even indigenous elders from Mindanao have been harassed and persecuted for their views and beliefs. If the Anti-Terrorism Bill passes, anyone the regime considers an enemy can be silenced with practically life imprisonment. No wonder why many people consider this bill as a Martial Law in all but name.
The Terror in Anti-Terror
Mikhail Bakunin once said that:
“The human being completely realizes his individual freedom as well as his personality only through the individuals who surround him, and thanks only to the labor and the collective power of society.”18
This means that freedom is only achieved when all people are themselves equally free. Freedom can only be achieved when a person’s beliefs and actions are recognized by their fellowmen. The fact that our conscience can be arbitrarily punished by any leader in government means that freedom can be punished for being in the way of greed for power.
Once we start thinking about this reality, it then dawns upon us that we have never really been free. We may have freedom to post online, to make our opinion and dissent heard, and to act according to our beliefs and interests. However, as soon as we point our fingers to those in power and disclose their weaknesses and faults, they will do everything in their power to silence us, and hide it from plain view. For years, this facade of democracy reigned over the archipelago. In reality though, it is nothing but a game the rich and powerful play to become even richer and stronger. This bill merely shows us the rules they want to play on.
A society that is libertarian, a society that respects liberty, does not rely on organizations that say they protect and serve us, only to break up protests, discriminate based on sex or race, and kill in cold blood. It recognizes and respects the autonomy of each person, the ability of each person to think, speak, and act however they want. As such, the power to protect themselves and those they care for from the threat of terrorism, perpetrated today by cops, bosses, and government officials.
We have a long way to go before we can even ponder on what we should do to build a better society. Today, we see what little freedom we have left collapse into authoritarianism and fascism. We have seen Bolivia, the United States, and Hong Kong. If this bill is not junked, we could see it too in the Philippines. This is not just an issue for Filipino libertarians and anarchists. This is an issue for everyone in the archipelago, regardless of age, sex, religious belief, or political affiliation. If the State can take away from us, how more are they willing to terrorize us further? Besides, how can we trust fascists to tell us who are the real terrorists? ■
Written by Malaginoo Original post can be found here on Bangilang itim’s website. Bandilang Itim aspires to end the atomization imposed upon us by capitalist society, an alienation that separates us from each other. Bandilang Itim aims to be the banner that rallies together libertarian socialists in the archipelago known as the Philippines.
May 1st is the day of struggle and solidarity. For centuries, workers have been rebelling against the persecution of bosses and the injustice of capitalism in their workplaces; they bring their struggles together in the streets and squares. This year, we enter May 1st on days that are extraordinary for us every day, but this time for the rich. The corona crisis has become a new one of the ongoing crises of the system for young workers who are in crisis every day. We had to grapple with difficulties as hundreds of thousands and millions, both desperate and unconcerned, as well as those who stayed in their homes with their accumulated, paid leave or who did not need a salary to close home already. The struggle for us is every day in our lives, where we have to choose between working disease and staying hungry.
We speak as young workers, those who serve their homes closed under the name of corona virus outbreak measures. It is now time to raise our voices, which we maintain between cashiers, we deliver from one cargo engine to another, and we whisper between parcels on our back, and orders in the kitchens.
Who are we? We are young workers, we are forced to work even under the most inoperable conditions.
We are cargo workers, in our workplaces where measures are regarded as expense or delayed, we are forced to keep up with an increased workload. The simplest mask, as if we had to touch what hundreds and thousands of people touched from home to home, from warehouse to home every day, are the ones who eat little by little in our disinfectant demand. In these days when walking around the street is prohibited, we are the ones carrying shoes from warehouses to houses.
We are warehouse workers. Among the boxes we have to raise for cargoes, we measure the limits of the product that a person can carry by forcing them with his body. We are paying the increase in the workload due to the epidemic by decreasing our salaries despite the increase in working hours.
We are market workers. We are seen as snoring as a source of virus in workplaces where the human tail is not missing at the door. On days when people are afraid to spend even 1 hour outside, we have no employees working for less than 13 hours. Precautionary preparations are not even included in working hours. We are the ones who take care of the departments that they are not interested in before and who are forced to do things that are not responsible.
We are fast food workers. We are those who are not paid or delayed while working in the world’s largest chains. As a reason for this, we are billed for less incoming orders. We are forced to be even faster in the industry where we work fast.
We are waiters, komis, dishwashers who are fired; In this system of injustices, where we do not have the luxury to close home, we are the ones who are taken away from work. We are workers who are forced to use their annual leave and sometimes even use it as luxury.
FOR SOME FREE LEAVE FOR SOME
We, the young workers, have been the most exploited and the most oppressed since the beginning of the process. This violence continued to increase to our friends working in different service sectors, where precarious, flexible working conditions are used as a weapon. While only a few of the workers working in secure jobs were on paid leave, none of the service workers had paid leave. Those who can take leave are either used their annual leave or leave for free leave and are sentenced to starvation at 39 lira per day.
EMPLOYEE EXPLOITATION ALWAYS MORE
For those of us who have to work to live and whose sector is not directly affected, precautions were presented as a reason for our struggle with increasing workload. Our working hours participated in the preparatory phase of the mandatory measures. We have worked more in the workplaces where we have always worked more, this time with our salaries reduced by half. The government said that layoffs were prohibited, but many of us were already laid off until the whole process was over. Legal cases were created for unpaid leaves, with the excuse of banning layoffs.
In the epidemic, capitalism continued to exploit child labor without slowing down. For other young workers, double standard practices… After the declaration of curfew under the age of 20, young workers who could work with a permit were granted “privilege”. A small amount of assistance for basic foodstuffs and other needs could not be accessed, we were forced to take care of our families trying to get along.
We are entering May 1st when we are most aware of the increasing pressure, exploitation, and our lives trying to be devalued. We call on our fight against bosses who steal our lives with or without viruses. We call on all young workers to participate in the program we have prepared for May 1st and to raise the sounds we make amongst us. ■
Declaration of May 1st from the Young Workers Association (Genç İşçi Derneği) of Turkey. You can find them on Twitter
Originally posted (and in the original Turkish) on Meydan.org
Every year, more than two million people worldwide are killed as the result of work-related accidents or diseases, more than the annual total of every person who is killed in every war across the world. This means that every fifteen seconds, a worker is killed. My use of the word, ‘killed’, is intentional; the majority of these deaths were preventable, but, of course, the profits of the Capitalists are always prioritised over even the most basic of measures necessary in order to ensure the healthy and safety of the workers.
People are not fools and do not willingly accept these risks, but they are forced to accept them if they want to access food, water and shelter. By maintaining their control over the means of production, Capitalists take workers hostage- work or starve- and attempts to demand better, bearable conditions are suppressed with the constant threat that there is always another desperate person willing to take the job, in spite of its dangers.
It doesn’t have to be this way; if workers controlled the place they work, they would not subject themselves to unnecessary dangers and would ensure that the workplace was as safe and hygienic as possible, but, as long as Capitalism exists, thousands of people are condemned each day to die, sacrificed to sate the gluttony of an ever-growing economy. In the midst of a global pandemic, with thousands of people being forced to work in cramped, unsanitary conditions that allow for the rapid spread of the virus, this fact bears down on us more harshly than ever.
Workers’ Memorial Day, which takes place on the 28th of April each year, was originally started in 1989 by the AFL-CIO in the U.S.A, but it soon became international, being formally recognised by the Canadian Parliament in 1991 and adopted by the International Trade Union Confederation in 1996. Now, International Worker’s Memorial Day is formally recognised in at least 18 countries, and commemorated by workers across the entire planet, celebrating the lives, struggles and contributions of the countless workers who have been killed at work, whilst also providing a solemn reminder of the alienation, oppression and danger that the overwhelming majority of workers still face in their day-to-day lives.
The commemorations are made in a wide variety of forms, ranging from a minute of silence, to the laying out of empty shoes, to direct, workplace action, such as strikes or slow-downs, attacking the system that took the lives of the workers. Whatever action you feel like taking, we hope that you’ll join us this Worker’s Memorial Day to remember those whose lives have been taken by the Capitalist system, and to continue the struggle to overthrow it once and for all! ■
During statements made in Yacuiba, to the media on April 23, 2020, by José Quecaña of the Transitional Regional Executive of the Autonomous Region of Chaco, utilised language that violated the dignity of the Public University and which are aimed at guiding the actions of the State to provocatively violate University Autonomy.
For this reason, the “Autonomía” University Front affiliated to the FEBA and adhered to the IFA associative pact, pronounces:
First. The Repudiation of any declaration or intention by the Bolivian State to violate the University Autonomy.
Second We demand, a public retraction of the José Quecaña of Transitional Regional Executive of the Autonomous Region of Chaco, for his statements that violate the legal principle of University Autonomy.
Third Confirmation that, faced with threats to University Autonomy, the student body will unite in the sole cause of defending the dignity of the University.
Fourth We request solidarity support from the student movement, to stop any attempt to violate the grounds of the University Campus of Yacuiba. ■
For context of the situation students face in Yucuiba here is a report from el Popular
For José Quecaña “the university autonomy does not matter” and affirms that the state will have the environments of the UAJMS in Chaco
The Transitional Regional Executive of Chaco, together with other local authorities, decided to use the University Campus of the Juan Misael Saracho Autonomous University (UAJMS), so that its facilities are transformed into a temporary shelter for more than 500 people with Bolivian nationality, who will return from Argentina after being stranded in that country.
The repatriation of Bolivians is scheduled for the first days of May 2020, the Minister of Defense, Luis Fernando López, together with the authorities of the Region, toured the environments of the UAJMS in Yacuiba, which will be used as a temporary shelter. or quarantine center.
Subsequent to this determination, the Rector of the UAJMS, Gonzalo Gandarillas denied the use of the environment for the installation of the Yacuiba quarantine center.
The Rector reminded the Chaco authorities of the existence of a co-government for decision-making within university autonomy, “there is a definitive legal impediment that makes it impossible to grant the requested university properties, due to the rule of law and why doing so otherwise -as provided by the EOU- commits the university authorities to authorize such legal nonsense and manifest illegality, before our own regulations, “explained Gandarillas, in a formal letter sent to the Minister of Defense.
In addition, he warned that following the request to use the university premises located in the north of Yacuiba, as a quarantine center, would put the continuity of the semester at risk, it was categorical, the students would lose the semester.
“The fact of following the request of his ministerial office, considering that the entry of compatriots would be the first days of May and they must be in quarantine for 14 days, would seriously jeopardize the health of our students and teachers who provide services in the Faculty of Integrated Sciences of the Gran Chaco – Yacuiba and would determine the loss of the semester ”
In relation to this response, the Transitional Regional Executive of Chaco, José Quecaña, recalled that all the infrastructures in the Region were built, with economic resources from Chaco, “no one has to oppose,” he warned, explaining that it will be the State (referring to the central level), which will have the environments “the infrastructures in the Chaco are of the State (…) you cannot tell the State (referring to the response of the Rector of the UAJMS) that you are not going to provide an environment that the State built” Quecaña indicated. “Now there is a (negative) answer, it can be autonomous, not autonomous (referring with disdain to university autonomy) the State has to enforce,” he said, stating that the UAJMS will not have the last word regarding the use of environments. from the Yacuiba university campus, infrastructure that must be transformed from the last week of April into a Quarantine Center.
The Opportunism of Martial Law In March 2020, the people of the archipelago known as the Philippines were alarmed at the rate of local transmission of the disease known as COVID-19. On March 12, police and military forces were mobilized to enforce a community quarantine for the whole of Metro Manila scheduled to start on the midnight of March 15. This quarantine was later generalized for the whole island of Luzon, a population of some 53 million souls. That the mobilization of the state’s apparatus of violence was more noticeable than the mobilization of medical and social resources is telling of the administration’s priorities.
A regime of violence is in place. Soldiers with assault rifles set up checkpoints; one questions the necessity of assault rifles against the coronavirus—do these people plan to shoot it? At these checkpoints, some women report being sexually harassed. Local police and Barangay officials took it upon themselves to creatively experiment in punitive measures like caging alleged lock down violators in a small cage. A police officer was recorded threatening to shoot residents for purportedly breaking lock down while hitting residents with a stick in a Muslim community in Quiapo. A homeless lola was violently arrested for being outside during curfew hours—essentially arrested for being homeless! Houses are still being demolished during a time when people urgently need homes to stay in. A teacher and her son in General Santos were arrested without warrants over Facebook posts. A congregation of people looking for relief goods in Barangay Bagong Pagasa were arrested. The National Bureru of Investigation is subpoenaing people for “unlawful utterances” on social media. President Duterte went on record threatening warrant-less arrests against “disobedience” and in a later speech threatened to shoot people for going out of their homes. Indeed, someone was shot by police at a Bulacan checkpoint, the police washing their hands of it like they did with the drug war.
Under the state of things, it is not an exaggeration to say the government of the Philippines has effectively imposed martial law in fact, if not formally declared in law. At a time of crisis, the gut instinct of the State was to mobilize and deploy its apparatus of violence. The deployment of medical resources is secondary to the assault rifles deployed. Instead of the deployment of increased medical resources, we have uniformed forces aimlessly and needlessly straying city borders with no other purpose than installing themselves as the false faces of the state’s peace and order. It is peace and order and not public health that is the priority of the state.
This martial law is extralegal, not that legality has significance to anarchists in the archipelago. Activists of all stripes understand that the state apparatus of violence is not limited by what they prescribe in law. State violence has always been both legal and extralegal, never mind that legality is a pointless distinction when the balance of power favours the state. Legality is meaningless when what is violent can simply be legalized in an act of congress or municipal ordinance—indeed that is what happened with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
The deployment of the apparatus of violence to literally combat a medical emergency betrays a certain opportunism from the state. The state is opportunistically using the crisis to expand its police power. While the purported purpose of the lock down is to quarantine, it is also a godsend to the fascists in the police and military as an excuse to crack down on dissent. And what of the new laws they put into place now? What guarantee do we have that the extreme measures the state takes today do not become the new normal after the end of COVID-19 crisis?
We have seen an unprecedented expansion of the surveillance state with drones and cameras being drafted to keep a close eye over public spaces. Instead of using their resources to feed people, they instead use this crisis as an opportunity to expand their ability to do surveillance!
In a special session, congress railroaded the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act with its controversial provisions on granting special powers to the Office of the President and dramatic jail time and fine penalization for dissenters.1 This is the use of shock doctrine, or the opportunistic use of crisis to pass controversial or questionable laws. First described by investigative reporter Naomi Klein, the shock doctrine is used specifically during crises like our own to take advantage of the difficulty to build resistance to these policies due to the crises. The state is using this crisis as an opportunity to expand its power. This is not a phenomena isolated in the Philippines; Hungary is now practically a dictatorship after Prime Minister Viktor Orban used the crisis to expand his powers to practically dictatorial levels and now rules by decree.
We anarchists are sceptical of authority itself. We do not think those in authority have our best interests at heart. We think they are there only to reproduce and expand their own power. After the crises passes, the state of emergency will be lifted, but the new powers and the new state of surveillance will stay.
Solusyon Medikal, Hindi Militar! We anarchists in the archipelago do not contest the need for a quarantine. After all, a quarantine and social distancing is needed to protect the most vulnerable among us like the immunocompromised, people living with HIV, and our elderly.
With that said, a quarantine enforced by violence and guns is clearly the wrong way to implement a quarantine. It does more harm than good. The checkpoints are made up of squads of large men with guns with barely any medical equipment in sight, not to mention the repeatedly noted lack of trained medical professionals. Reports of the vagueness of protocol, sexual harassment, and sometimes outright robbery and extortion on the part of the police and military personnel are being posted by people who go through the ordeal of dealing with them. What is even more alarming is the possibility of the checkpoint officers becoming vectors for the diseases themselves with reports of checkpoints without face masks or police and soldiers in close contact with the people they check. Checkpoints also risk becoming a place where people are forced to congregate, creating possible vectors for viral transmission. Ultimately, soldiers and police are trained in violence, not empathy or care-giving. Thus when confronted with homelessness, these people respond with violence—arresting the homeless instead of giving them a home, as was the case with lola Dorothy Espejo.
The severe discrepancy between resources devoted to militarized policing versus medical needs is made even more apparent by this trend of “VIP testing.” Politicians, oligarchs, and elites are able to jump the line and gain priority access to COVID-19 testing all the while people are being turned away from critical treatment due to lack of testing.
On April 1, the elitism of the regime was apparent where people congregated at a national highway in Barangay Bagong Pagasa upon hearing a rumor that food packs would be distributed there. They were met with mass arrests, purportedly for breaking quarantine. Instead of meeting needs, the state opts to just arrest them all. Meanwhile Senator Koko Pimentel who wilfully broke quarantine protocol knowing that he was a patient under investigation is still a free man without any repercussion other than public outrage. Pimentel scandalously endangered critical medical personnel when it was revealed later he was positive for COVID-19. One also remembers that convicted plunderer and widow of the old dictator Imelda Marcos is still a free woman despite the courts deeming her criminal. It is clear that law and protocol only apply to toilers and dispossessed while the elites can live as they will, wilfully endangering working people around them.
We also see the discrepancy in the dismal provision of relief packs. Endless emergency funds are activated but relief provided is paltry. These dismal relief goods are contrasted with images of agricultural traders in the Cordilleras destroying and discarding vegetables simply because they cannot sell these! Vegetables are being thrown away while people are being arrested for protesting their hunger. In these times of crisis the need for an economy to fulfill needs instead of profits is increasingly urgent. One wonders why with all these emergency funds activated from the crisis, government agencies cannot simply purchase all these produce before they are discarded.
Against a militarized quarantine, the people of the archipelago demand in one voice: Solusyon Medikal, Hindi Militar!—Medical solutions, not military! Against the elitist privilege in accessing COVID-19 testing kits, activists cry out: free mass testing now! Against the paltry provision of goods, the people organize in mutual aid and bayanihan networks that seek to fulfill needs.
Quarantine and capitalism are incompatable. During this time of crisis, it is increasingly apparent that quarantine and capitalism are incompatible. A quarantine requires people to stay at home, limit going out, and practice social distancing. But how can people stay at home if they are precarious workers under a no-work no-pay scheme and live pay check to pay check? How can people confine themselves to their homes if their needs are dependent on their pay checks? If workers are laid off, how will they afford groceries and rent while in quarantine?
A quarantine needs to fulfill the needs of the people as a irreducible minimum for the reproduction of daily life, that is to say, to be able to access food, water, medicine, and other things needed to stay alive. But production under capitalism does not revolve around meeting needs, it revolves around meeting profits. Thus when a state of emergency shuts down the engines of profit, so does the engine of wages shuts down, and with that the needs are left unfulfilled.
Against the contradictions between capitalism and quarantine we need a system that meets needs instead of profits. We need a quarantine that ensures people do not starve. Without work and against the demand of rents and profits, our demands must be to distribute according to need, to cancel rent, and to cancel residential utility bills. And after the crisis, to keep thesecancelled.
For a non-militarized, self managed quarantine In the face of a martial law dressed in medical gowns, what can we count on? Each other.
Regular people, people like you and me, are doing what they can to make sure that not only they survive, but to ensure the well-being of those around them, too. We see people practicing mutual aid, or as it is known in the Philippines, bayanihan. We see people making masks and medical gear, not for profit, but because there is a need for it. Mothers in Los Angeles are taking over abandoned houses in search of quarantine like Kadamay did in Bulacan. Neighborhoods all over the world are helping each other out by pooling together what little they have, and like the political dissident Jesus breaking bread and fish, are able to fill each others’ needs with the most shoestring of supplies. These are seeds for a future post-capitalist economy based on needs rather than profits.
It is clear we can expect no salvation from the state or capital. Against the quarantine with martial law characteristics, it is urgent that we forward a liberatory alternative based on solidarity and mutual aid instead of militarism and impunity. It is possible to have a self-managed quarantine that is not enforced with assault rifles. For example, residents among urban poor communities in Metro Manila have taken the initiative of setting up their own self-managed checkpoints, sans assault rifles and macho egos. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, quarantines are not enforced by force of arms but rather by the collective responsibility of everyone. A quarantine without coercion and violence is possible if we care to look.
Indeed, abetter world is possible if we care to look. ■
by Simoun Magsalin with input from the Bandilang Itim Collective Originally hosted by Libcom
Bandilang Item (Filipino for “Black Flag.”) aspires to end the atomization imposed upon us by capitalist society, an alienation that separates us from each other. Bandilang Itim aims to be the banner that rallies together libertarian socialists in the archipelago known as the Philippines.
“Pasaway daw ang mahirap? Residents of Manila’s poorer districts defend against the coronavirus by putting up makeshift barricades to halt movement in its tight alleyways and jampacked slums where social distancing is nearly impossible.”
“The government says it will exercise “human compassion” as a COVID-19 positive senator broke quarantine rules. Here’s a thread of how / why Filipinos don’t feel this on the ground. First, from Manila police today: ‘Anyone out at the wrong time will be shot, you sons of bitches.’”
“May demolisyong nagaganap sa Pasay city yes po tama kayo ng basa demolisyon sa kabila ng banta ng COVID-19 at pagsasabi ng gobyernong ‘manatili sa loob ng bahay’ ay tatanggalan nila ng tirahan as usual ang mga maralita. Fuck this government!”
“Di lang si Mayor Vico. Pati ordinaryong mamamayang nagpo-post ng hinaing online, pinapatawag ng NBI. Tinanggap ko ang kasong ito dahil di na makatao ang nangyayari. Ang dami nang namamatay, pati frontliners, pero imbis na COVID, kritiko ang gusto nilang puksain. #ProtectThePeople”
“Let’s help them get their produce to Manila, please! #SupportFarmersPH http://gogetfunding.com/supportfarmersph WATCH: Almost a ton of pechay wasted in Benguet due to scarcity of buyers during #LuzonLockdown.”
There is open revolt in Iran and for some reason and no one seems to be talking about it.
Protestors first hit the streets over the issue of rising fuel prices and they met with a brutal crackdown by the Iranian regime. The situation escalated at an alarming rate with an internet black out starting on the 16th of November near masking the news while comrades international were focused on Hong Kong, Bolivia and Chile.
By the 19th, Amnesty International said that at least 106 people had been killed and that the number may be much higher, Iran’s government called it “baseless allegations and fabricated figures.” Meanwhile a UN agency said that it was looking to be more like 200 and Anarchists on the ground put the figure closer to 3/500.
It’s was hard to pin a figure on the dead with only the broadcasts of the Iranian government to turn to and they were pouring out a mixture of protestors burning Qurans in Tehran and pro-government rallies in an attempt to alienate the protestors from their communities. Through VPN’s and the occasional bit of signal the odd status update or picture leaked out, however these calls for support seem to have been drowned out in the reams of shocking footage coming from elsewhere.
So here is the situation. In 2015 the US imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran and there was a subsequent economic collapse. This ofcourse overwhelming affected the working class Iranians, the parasites in control remained quite comfortable. President Hassan Rouhani’s solution was to raise the fuel price (as opposed to say increasing the taxation of the economically wealthy and this saw an explosion of civil unrest. Iran has the cheapest petrol prices in the world, sitting on top of the fourth largest oil reserves . Petrol is seen as a something which should be accessible to all in abundance. A rise of near 200% was simply intolerable to working class Iranians.
However the fuel price increase is simply the straw that broken the camels back as the people face a constant waves of government corruption and wide spread poverty which sees millions unemployed or living extremely precarious lives, depriving them education, healthcare, food, and housing.
Protestors were initially met with water cannons and tear gas. This quickly escalated to live ammunition and local Anarchist comrades reporting tanks on the streets and people being shot at from helicopters.
On the 25th, the internet was restored. Reports came out indicating at the very least there were 400 deaths, 4000 injuries and some 10,000 arrests. Anarchists comrades report protests in 170 cities being composed of a mixture of workers, students and homeless, identifying it as a class war. The protesters were now demanding the overthrow of the Iranian regime, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) due to their corruption and the plague of economic problems and the lack of freedom and fundamental rights.
A statement by The Iranian leftist diaspora in the United Kingdom, France and Germany, formed by a loose coalition of academics and militants calling upon the global left to express solidarity with those struggling in Iran was issued later that day:
world is on fire. Not only forests but also cities are burning all
over the world. Social conflicts of all sorts are erupting, spreading
their flames across the planet: Algeria, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Hong
Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, you name it. Located within this global
context of struggles against the social hell of neoliberal,
financialized capitalism, there has been another mass uprising in
Iran since November 15 …
…. There are many videos showing
the police shooting demonstrators in the head and chest — as we
observed before in the case of Iraq. This happened mainly in the
Kurdish and Arab provinces whose discriminated people are once again
at the very forefront of the uprising and have paid the highest
… The left needs to learn from
the oppressed classes to simultaneously oppose US imperialism
(especially US sanctions) and the Islamic Republic’s interventions
in the region.
We, the undersigned academics and
militants, urge the global left to break its silence and express its
solidarity with the people of Iran and their resistance.
It is pointless for us to demand
anything from the Islamic Republic, but we will demand from our
comrades and progressive forces all over the world to be — in any
possible form — the voice of the oppressed people in Iran
suffocated by the forced isolation. We also call on the international
left to condemn the atrocities of the regime against its own people.
Finally, we stand in solidarity
with the Iranian protesters who are reclaiming their dignity by
refusing austerity, authoritarianism, militarization of society, as
well as any other form of domination that stifles their autonomy and
“The Anarchist Union of Iran and Afghanistan believes that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime will not hesitate to massacre millions of Iranians, like it has done in Syria and Iraq as well as in Iran these these last few days. Therefore, the Anarchist Union of Iran and Afghanistan is prepared to declare that it will cooperate with all Kurdish, Arab and Baloch armed opposition forces. With respect to the widespread repression of defenseless people in Iran, we must be able to provide them with the right tools to defend themselves, before there are more dead and the people’s movement has been permanently suppressed. Therefore the need to form an armed revolutionary front to support and defend the people against the Islamic regime’s executioners is urgent and necessary. If it is possible to transport weapons to people inside Iran, you should not hesitate for a moment to prevent more people from being bled and buried. The duty of the revolutionary and radical opposition outside of Iran is to provide logistical and strategic support to the struggles and resistance of the people inside Iran”
These statements come just days after President Hassan Rouhani celebrating on the 20th remarked “our people have been victorious against… the enemy’s conspiracy” stating that “Those anarchists who came out onto the streets were few in number,” he said, insisting “this is the biggest display of the power of the nation of Iran”.
Two days later protestors burnt down a bank in Behbahan.
It would seem he is wrong.
It would seem that Iran is gearing up for a revolution.
FACT. What just happened in Bolivia is a coup d’etat if we consider the dictionary definiton which is “the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements. “
It is being said the former president Evo Morales
resigned so he was not overthrown. It is also said he committed fraud
and that is why he left. It is also said it is not a coup because Evo
himself called it ‘civic and police coup’ as oppose to military
This view is quite simplistic and does not go deep
into the history of Bolivia, how the elections were held, and votes
counted, and what was achieved in 13 years 9 months and who benefited
and who did not, and who took power, how and what has happened I
Bolivian streets since then.
During what his opponents call ‘dictatorship’,
Evo Morales Ayma, the first Indigenous president ever in
Bolivia, and South America, reduced poverty from 35% to 15%,
increased the minimum wage 127%, and very importanly, nationalised
natural resources including natural gas and lithium, redistributed
the lands among indigenous peasants, and made healthcare universal
and free. Also, Bolivia was named by the UN as free of
illiteracy, and unemployment levels fell.
Bolivia held elections on the 20th of October.
After the count of the overall votes he was declared victor with 47%
against Carlos Mesa, right wing, with 36%. The latter immediately
challenged this supported by the Church, and the governments of the
USA, Brazil, and Argentina’s soon to be ex president, Neo-liberal,
Macri, with the complicity of the American States Organisation (OEA)
whose General Secretary, Luis Almeguer said in press conference on
12th of November that what was happening in Bolivia was not a coup
and the military was not involved. All of this should should ring
Evo Morales agreed to have international observers
after his opponents accused him of stealing the election. On 2th of
October he called for a second election. In the streets, there were
clashes between supporters and police and opponents. Evo Morales was
forced to resign to avoid bloodshed and was offered political asylum
by Mexico who sent a plane to Paraguay for him which he boarded on
the early hours 12th of November.
But that is not all that happened. During all this
time, right-wing opposition gangs kidnapped family members of cabinet
ministers and forced them to resign, burnt Evo Morales’ sister’s
house, looted his own home, and burned the homes of some politicians
loyal to the regime, and Patricia Arce, mayor of Vinto, was attacked,
asasulted and publicly humiliated by an angry right wing mob.
Ordinary people, mostly indigenous supporters, were also attacked,
and graffiti appeared saying ‘Indios out” and “Bolivia free of
“Indios” and the Wiphala flag, a symbol of unity of Original
Nations has been burned and taken from police officers uniforms.
The perpetrators of this coup, some alleged quite
simplistically is the USA. The European left forgetting that Latin
American is a continent still colonised mentally and in all aspects
of life. We do have agency and reactionary and fascist powers of our
own that do not really need US support, even f they do look for it
and they do get it.
That the CIA has backed every single coup in our
continent since the 50’s is a given, however it is a fact that the
plots come first from within. The USA usually provides money, weapons
and a blessing.
The perpetrators of this very Latin American Coup
D’Etat, which started being arranged as early as July 2019 ,
according to audio and documents seen by the new progressive elected
government of Argentina to be made public soon, are many.
Carlos Mesa, the neo- liberal candidate to
presidency, a privateer of course, but he is not leading this. The
real brain behind this is Luis Camacho, a multi millionare religious
fundamentalist which much to lose in a plurinational nation led by a
socialist president. His family profited from the sale of Bolivia’s
natural resources and health insurance. He is also a fascist leader
of the separatist Union Juvenil Crucenista,(UJC) whose young members
seems to have taken a leaf from the SS and Hitler Youth book. There
are pictures of them sieg heiling, in fact.
The role of the evangelical churches in this coup
and the far right in the whole continent must be mentioned too. The
UJC are fanatics and there is now also an army of Christian youth in
Argentina with fascist leanings, too. The Catholic church, as they
have done historically in Latin America, are either keeping quiet or
actively preaching to keep the oligarchy in power.
Important to mention the fact that the coup
happened just a week after Evo Morales stopped a multimillion deal to
exploit the country’s lithium resources.
Camacho entered the Palace of Government as soon
as Evo had resigned waving a flag, and donning a bible. A sign of
things to come. He has made speeches quoting the bible and has vowed
to bring it back to governmental circles.
In terms of the army involvement, the Chief of the
Armed Forces, General Williams Kaliman called for Evo to resign and
after he did, the general gave a speech consecrating the army to
Jesus Christ. They have also attempted to bribe Evo Morales’
security with 50 000 dollars to hand him in before he had to flee.
The army, too, have being asked by the police
force to assist them in the streets to control the thousands of
people who support Evo and who have pledged to revolt if he is not
reinstated. I am talking about Indigenous organisations, Community
leaders, Farmers and doctors.
Contacts in Bolivia now have reported to me that their friends have been arrested or attacked by young fascists or the police, with video evidence, and, oddly, they say a large number of indigenous people out in the streets last night seem to have vanished. There is also the fear of not knowing what side the neighbours are in or if they can leave the house.
The resistence is huge and grassroots and
Indigenous, and community organisations are leading it. EveN doctors
have taken to the streets. A the time of writing this, the Bolivian
Workers Central (COB),who reject the coup, has pledged to call for a
general strike and deploy all its affiliated workers to La Paz if
consitunional order is not restored in 24 hours (13th of November
23.00 GMT) . 20 provinces are, I am told, going to La Paz to resist.
Unfortunately, today after midnight GMT, Jeanine
Anez, a right wing senator proclaimed herself president of Bolivia,
clutching a bible, with NO elections but standing by her side were
Luis Camacho, and a leader of the UJC and was approved by the army,
police and the elite. No indigenous people around despite them being
62% of the population. It must be stressed that this goes against
articles 161, 169 and 420 that forbid this categorically.
Make no mistake. In words of Adriana Guzman,
leader of Feminists of Abya Yala (The pre colonial name for what is
now South America in Guna language) “The coup d’etat in Bolivia
is racist, patriarchal, ecclesiastic and oligarch” A very Latin
American coup, then.
Tais is a Mexican Native and activist based in London. She has been part of the student and Indigenous movements in Mexico and has been involved in animal rights, Antifascism and solidarity work in Ireland and the UK for many years.
The Kurds’ reward for defeating ISIS is being sold out to a psychotic dictator. “World’s Greatest Dealmaker” indeed.
Red n Black Salamander has had their work has shown up in
Occupy Wall Street zines, South Korean anti-government pamphlets, Rojava
fundraisers, more anarchist meme pages than they care to count, the
wall of a small hippie diner deep in the Colorado Rockies, and even a
few of the more mainstream liberal publications like Huffington Post and
In September, one of our members got a message from a contact in DAF (revolutionary anarchist action) group, based in Anatolia (I used to refer to DAF as being in Turkey, but I was however corrected when I got there; they see Turkey as the oppressive state, which they want nothing to do with!). I quickly piped up and said how interested I would be in going along, mostly as I had met someone from DAF three years earlier, and had been very impressed by them. Luckily I did not have to fight for the chance to go, and on 11 October, I found myself on a flight from Birmingham to Istanbul.
When I got there, I had
to find my way to one of DAF’s 26A cafés,
based in Taksim (the main district of the European side of Istanbul).
I was going to be picked up, but as the Turkish state had invaded
Northern Syria a few days before, everyone in DAF was at an emergency
meeting. When I got to the 26A café,
I was met by several comrades, who gave me food, tea and a long
explanation of who they were. I was happy that one of them asked
which pronouns I preferred (they/them), and I explained my
appreciation of this; they were shocked to hear how some people who
call themselves feminists are transphobic in the UK, and started to
talk about how this could be possible, also noting how ridiculous
this was! Luckily someone noticed how tired I was, and I was shown
the commune. This was a two-bed flat, with a living room, bathroom
and no kitchen – but as it was based above the 26A café,
they did not need one. I found out that seven people lived here, and
that they had strict rules around cleanliness, and a no-drug policy
because a lot of the local gangs involved with the drugs trade were
in the pockets of the state, and would happily beat up anarchists. I
was given the living room to sleep in, which had a fold-out sofa bed.
That night, I heard the police shouting and probably beating someone
up outside; a regular occurrence, I later found out!
Next morning I was
woken at 8.30am for a shared breakfast (and more tea), where no one
is allowed to start until everyone who is sharing is there. I was
told that there was a Saturday Mother’s protest a few streets over
at 12pm and they wondered if I would come? I replied that I would,
and just before 12, we were off. I was advised to only bring my ID.
On the way there, we were patted down by armed police which held a
line across the narrow street, and just round the corner there were
police in full riot gear lining the side of the street and across it
at both ends. We had to squeeze past them to get into the kettled
demo, which was outside the human rights association, down a back
street. We were handed out pictures of the people who went missing
during the 1980’s and 90’s, these were people who were captured
by the state, tortured and then murdered. The mothers want justice
for their loved ones, and to bring about recognition of
militarisation of the Turkish state, and state violence. I was told
that they had had over 750 protests, and that they used to have their
protests in a square, from which they were banned last year. Each
week they talk about a different person who has been disappeared by
the state. I was also warned that this is the first protest since the
invasion of Northern Syria, and if anyone was to mention it, then the
police would be violent. Most of the people there were elderly, and
many of the mothers have died, never being able to properly say
farewell to their missing love ones, as they were never given their
remains to bury.
The speaker started her
speech, mentioned that this week’s son’s mother had died, so she
would talk on her behalf. Shortly into her speech she mentioned the
invasion, and instantly there was a shout from the police, and they
started pushing forward. At the same time, the police line behind us
moved to block off the street leading towards the big square, leaving
us one escape route. I was grabbed by the arm by one of the comrades
and taken away. They told me that it would be bad for me if my face
was recorded as being there, as a foreigner. We waited round the
corner and saw an older women come round the corner and collapse,
where she was caught and carried into a nearby building by several
protesters. The people I was with walked me away, and we went a long
route back to the café.
I have to admit I was crying at this point as to let out my emotions;
in the UK when we see police violence, as anarchists we usually run
to it, and are able to let out our anger, unless we are massively
outnumbered! But on the mainland UK, the police never use tear gas or
rubber bullets on protesters, as of yet! Anyway, back at the café,
the anarchists sat down and did a write up of the protest and put it
up on social media, sharing the video and pictures that had been
taken. Having the café
enabled them to have a place to meet and write together.
A little while later
that day, we went for a walk down to the harbour and got a boat over
to another district, called Kadiköy,
on the Asian side of Istanbul. After a disorientating walk through
the little crowded streets, we got to the café,
to find that a line of riot vans and cops were filling the street. I
was told this was unusual, and that there must be a game on in the
sports centre on the other side of the street. We sat down at a
table, and more tea was ordered and pasta. We were only a couple of
meters away from a cop armed with a machine gun. Everyone ignored
him, so I tried to as well, though I was very anxious. At this point
I will explain the economics of DAF. The cafés
are volunteer-run, but all the money that they make is communal; it
is for everyone in DAF to pay for what they need to survive, and this
includes rent, bills, clothes, and travel money, etc. If you turn up
to the café as a an
anarchist, the food and drink and free. The rest of the money goes to
paying for their publications and activism. A lot of the members
lived in shared flats which they call communes, but they didn’t
seem crowded, as most of the time everyone hangs out in either of the
two cafés or at their
workshop space. Whenever DAF are running low on money, then they all
go and get work elsewhere for a bit, to help raise the collective
fund. It is rather impressive, especially as they have such a range
of people involved, from young children and those in high school to
workers and older members.
After having our lunch we went to their workshop, a few streets over, passing a few friendly street doggos on the way. People seem to really love the street cats and dogs in Istanbul and leave food and water out for them. In the workshop, I talked to the translator for my talk and explained a few phrases like “cat herding”, in that trying to organise anarchists in the UK is a bit like trying to herd cats; very difficult, this being due to everyone being in separate groups, and the remains of the individualist anarchist ideology. I gave my talk about the AF and anarchism in the UK later that day, but it didn’t seem enough time. There is so much that goes on here, and so many things that have come up that we have had to deal with and learn from. The usual current questions came up (Brexit and Extinction Rebellion), and I went into details on these topics and the problems with them. They seemed to enjoy the talk and we had a picture taken before I ended up in another long talk with my friend Hüsseyin.
This is when I found
out that they do not refer to themselves as Turkish! Oops. We talked
till late and I learnt more about their anarchist theory; in that
they are revolutionary anarchists, holistic (intersectional), and
have long discussions so that everyone is on the same page when it
comes to theory, so that things can be decided by full consensus.
This may seem a long way to do it, but considering we have so many
fallings out and splits in the AF, I am starting to wonder if full
consensus is a better way to do it.
The next day we went to
a memorial back at the workshop. It was in memory of two of their
Ali Kitapci, who
died in a union anti-war meeting in Ankara on 10th
October 2015. The MIT (Turkish state special intelligence), had given
the information about the meeting to ISIS, who suicide-bombed the
meeting. It killed 103 people, and while everyone was trying to help
one another from the building, the police came in and gassed
everyone. It took the first ambulance 30 minutes to arrive. Mercan,
another anarchist told me how Tayfun was like a father to a lot of
them in DAF, he kept trying to tell her to go back to university, as
he never got the chance! Tayfun was father to two of the members of
DAF, both of whom came to the memorial. At the memorial we watched a
short documentary about Tayfun, and they plan on doing documentaries
of all the 103 that were killed. They ended on singing a song about
fallen comrades, and how we must continue fighting.
Afterwards, and with
much more tea, I was told about how DAF have seen the PKK over the
years, from a Marxist organisation, similar to Maoism with Abdullah
Öcalan as their leader,
a nationalist group they could never support, move towards the
democratic confederalism that it practices now. How, after their
leader was imprisoned and the headquarters bombed, the Kurdish people
within the group started to self-organise, have massive protests, and
burn cars. It is now a people’s liberation movement; it’s still not
anarchist, but it’s something that anarchists could get involved with
and help to change. Anarchists in 2009, who founded DAF later in the
same year, were the first to raise an anarchist flag at Newros
(Kurdish new year). They were welcomed, although everyone kept on
asking them who had died, as black is the colour of mourning. Every
year DAF hold Newros celebrations, something that is banned in
Turkey, along with a lot of other cultural things, and many Kurdish
people attend. I should point out at this point that DAF is made up
of people from many different cultures, including a lot of oppressed
ones, and they celebrate these cultures by putting on events for
When war first broke
out in Syria, a lot of refugees fled into Turkey. The Turkish state
responded by going to the border, putting people into camps, bombing
local settlements so people couldn’t stay in them, and by arming
ISIS members. DAF members went to the border and helped people across
the border in both directions; getting those who fled from the war
across the border and deeper into Turkey to avoid the camps, and
those who wanted to go fight for Rojava and other free regions in
Syria. It was difficult, as they had to avoid both the Turkish army
and ISIS, and they also had to find mine-free areas so that they
could help people through.
DAF had the idea to
start up a route for anarchists across Europe to get into Northern
Syria to help rebuild the area and support people there, as well as
push the whole revolution in a more anarchist direction. However in
July 2015, a media declaration of some young anarchists and
socialists, who planned to go and take toys for the children stuck in
Kobanî, and to stay and
help out, was attacked by ISIS, killing 33 people. Not long after
this, the border became more difficult to cross, and is now closed
for people going either direction. Again it is believed that the
Turkish state gave this information to ISIS so that it would be
I also learnt about other campaigns DAF are involved in, like the conscientious objectors. In Turkey if you’re male and in your 20s, you have to do one year of military service. In the years before, a million people might object each year, and would have to go to court to defend themselves. DAF try and find these people and call events to invite them along to, so that they can organise them. DAF have a solicitor member who can help them with these cases. For example, it helps them to say they are a member of a conscientious objectors’ association. If the military court thinks you’re not a conscientious objector, then they may try and make you join the army, or you can go to prison. It is illegal for them to do this, as Turkey signed a European agreement which says that it is a right to conscientiously object, but a lot of people don’t know this, so DAF try to raise awareness. If you’re gay, then you will given a pink paper, which says you’re gay and not a proper man, and that you are sick. One man that they helped refused to take the pink paper, and got six months in prison for it. At the end, he got a different piece of paper that told him he was mentally unwell. These papers mean that is impossible for you to get a state job, such as a nurse or teacher. There is a lot of pressure on young men to join the army, and family have ceremonies, like weddings, for when the young men go off to do their service. Those who are from oppressed cultures, like Kurdish, Armenian and Allavi, are usually sent straight to the front, as the state wants them to die. It has become more difficult for DAF to organise conscientious objectors as Erdoğan (the fascist president of Turkey) changed the law on military service to one month if you pay £30,000 Turkish Lira (about £5,000), which is a lot of money for people, or you can do only eight months if you graduate from university. Despite the expense of this, it seems like many have taken it, and there are only around 200,000 objectors each year now.
DAF also do a lot of
prison support. From the 60s to the 80s, the left were big in Turkey.
A lot of people were unionised and the syndicalist unions were
strong. Because of this, a coup happened, and one of the first things
the coup wanted to do was to separate the political prisoners from
the normal prisoners. As you can expect, there was a lot of protest
about this inside and outside the prisons, as they were good places
to organise people. Prisoners went on hunger strike, took over the
prisons and threatened to kills the guards. The state responded by
knocking down the walls and ceilings of the prisons, and throwing in
chemical weapons; many were killed or lost limbs in the attacks. The
two types of prisons were installed, and that system remains today. I
was assured that, despite losing the ability to organise prisoners,
it makes it not so bad to go to prison, as you end up in ones which
you’re politically aligned to. So, as an anarchist you go to
anarchist prison, a great way to meet each other and develop
anarchist theory and write articles. It is still a prison though, and
since Erdoğan got into
power (and the coup against him, and following state of emergency),
the prisons have become overcrowded, and prisoners’ rights seem to
have been neglected. Prison rooms built for three people now house
15. Letters never get to prisoners, and visitors are denied. DAF try
and support those prisoners who protest these conditions. Recently a
Kurdish anarchist comrade went on death strike due to being kept in
an overcrowded cell, in the wrong prison (he wasn’t in an anarchist
one), and not being allowed to see his family. Due to the publicity
given to him by DAF and his death strike, his demands were met and he
is now with comrades and allowed to see people. Umat told DAF of a
trans-woman prisoner who is being kept in a male prison and they are
helping her try to get re-located into a women’s prison. The
comrade that told me all of this can no longer go into the prison to
visit people, as he is worried that he will get grabbed and sent into
I learnt a little bit
about the other groups within DAF, the high school group who fight
against exams, the women’s group who fight for so many things as
patriarchy is worse there than in the UK. It seems very common for
women to get beaten by fathers and by husbands. No-one will rent to
you if you’re an unmarried couple, or if you’re sharing a house with
friends. They also have an ecology group; a subject very close to
their hearts. And they have a kids’ group; they do workshops for
kids, including one on how to make films! Their newspaper collective,
which publishes every month, spends a week writing and editing, and
then another week going to different places to hand them out. They
also have several others I didn’t have much time to find out about.
Each group it seems has their own magazine and website. I later found
out that DAF came together in 2009, forming out of several of these
groups. Each group meets weekly, and once a week they have a 9am to
11pm meeting where everyone in DAF comes along, and discusses ideas
and plans for the week and upcoming events. They have several talks a
month, including talks by internationals like the one I did. They
have even invited famous scholars like Dennis Fox, a critical
psychologist who I myself have been influenced by.
On my last day, I got a tour of Gezi park and other places of interest to an anarchist. I saw the main streets with their tall buildings, built by Amenians who were then killed or deported by the Turkish state. I also saw the square where the Saturday Mothers used to protest, where now a new building stands, and the rest is cut up by a road, or fenced off with a armoured vehicles filled with armed police inside. They showed me the Ottoman Bank, which was occupied and bombed by Armenian anarchists in 1986. Then there is Gezi park, where massive protests of up to one million people took place, due to Erdoğan wanting to build on it; thought it was saved, it is now cornered off at one end by armoured vehicles. That end, I was told, is where a lot of the main clashes happened with the police. I was shown the cafés which doubled as medical stations; all the doctors and nurses that helped the protesters there lost their jobs, following the 15 day protests. I was shown the patch of grass which was dug up so people could plant pepper and tomato seeds; though none of them took, as it wasn’t long enough! The site where the cultural building used to stand, formerly occupied by the protesters has since been knocked down, due its history of having banners hung from it. And finally, my guide
showed me the new big mosque being built on Taksim Square, intended
mostly as a bit of a fuck you to the protesters!
To be honest I am rather amazed by DAF. They are very well-organised, and have done so many great and inspiring actions. I feel that they have something that we lack in anarchism in the UK; they are co-ordinated and have political cohesion. I feel that the economy that they have, where everything is shared and being able to be together, enables them to have long discussions and respond quickly to things that happen. This may be out of necessity, as things in the Middle East (their words) are a lot more difficult for them than they are here in the western world. Seeing what they are achieving makes me want to replicate what they do, and makes me adamant that we must be more organised. If we were as organised as them, and with the amount of anarchists we have here, I feel that we would have a very strong movement. ■ Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet – Revolutionary Anarchist Action -DAF