The Federación Anarquista de Gran Canaria or FAGC celebrates its 10 years of existence this month. In the past we already translated a series of articles written by them outlining their ideological approach in what they call “neighbourhood anarchism”. But to celebrate this anniversary we decided to translate a summary of their history in these 10 years where they went from disrupting speeches by reforminist unions during the 15M square occupations to being the single entity in Gran Canaria that has facilitated more houses for people. All of this while enduring police repression and torture, internal conflicts and splits, twitter censoship, attacks and outrage from stablished anarchist and much more.
These are the victories, mistakes, and the many lessons learnt from both, of the FAGC. Congratulations on these 10 years and we wish you many more to come!
¡Viva la FAGC! ¡Viva el anarquismo de barrio!
- Anarchist Federation Member & Translator
This August the FAGC (Federación de Anarquistas Gran Canaria) celebrates ten years of existence, 10 years of neighbourhood anarchism. We are gonna do a quick and brief overview of the historical trajectory of the FAGC. We have to return to 2011, to a society shaken by the demonstrations of indignation of what would become known as the 15M
On the 16th of May a group of young anarchists burst into the San Telmo square handing out a leaflet. It said things like this:
Something has been put into motion and we can’t content ourselves with just looking. First of all, we are gonna receive a lot of shit, many insults and defamations. Both the parliamentary left and right, with their pretend feud, have polarized the social life of the State; now they see we don’t want either of them, that there’s only two groups: them and us, oppressors and oppressed, rich and poor, they cower in fear and close ranks. The fear they show for a “simple protest” is a symptom showing that this can be something more.
But this cannot be the only thing that worries us; this enemy is easy to identify. What we have to make sure is that this movement is not used by anyone but by the social discontempt itself. A lot of “fathers” and “tutors” are gonna appear out of nowhere, many who are gonna try to redirect us “poor idealists” to a more “practical” and “constructive” way. Don’t be fooled! Everything that smells like politics, not understood as the administration of the polis but the “art of governing”, will try to disassemble this movement and turn it into a tool for their own interests. Our only chance is to spit fire in the face of the “firefighters”, of the career politicians that want to turn this into their electoral campaign. To reform the laws? To refund the system of free exchange and try to radicalise the electoral left? To ask for state intervention? This is hanging ourselves by the neck with our own hands but using the noose they give us. Ricardo Flores Magón said: “Revolutions fail because, once they triumph, they let everything in the hands of the new revolutionary ‘government’, instead of doing it themselves”.
There hasn’t even been a total insurrection and yet and we are already asking the law and the system to reform they would they themselves created? What we need is free access to utilities, housing and food. What we need is for the workers to control the production. The financial and banking system cannot be “redirected”, but destroyed. It must be us, in whatever way we decide, who manage our own lives. Don’t let yourself be infected by the “pragmatism” of the moderates. If you want Everything, don’t ask for it: TAKE IT.
What was the reaction of the first 15M integrants to this leaflet? An urgent assembly was called to...EXPEL THE ANARCHISTS.
Students indignated because we were “”proposing a revolution and they only wanted to “change things a bit”. Puritans of political parties saying they should call the police on us to kick us out (from a public park, yes). But there were also voices defending us.
They could not kick us out, not even if it was decided by a majority they didn’t have. We found out that they had used the same procedure to kick out feminist compas for a placard: “The revolution will be feminist or it won’t be”
With all this mess, did we leave or stay? The easy option was to leave, but as anarchists we never choose the easy way. To leave meant to leave the square to the parties and the opportunists. We went into the Respect Commission, with the objective of showing a different way of solving conflicts.
Our intention was to keep the police out of the square (to whom the “indignados” themselves called for any reason), avoid the exclusion of the homeless compas who were camping and generally show that our ideas were useful.
In little time the perception some of the “indignados” had of us changed. A lot of people started to come to us saying they were anarchists, but didn’t say when we arrived because we entered “like a bull in a china shop”.
More and more people joined: old militants of the COA (Colectivo de Objeción de conciencia y Antimilitarismo / Collective of Conscientious Objectors and Antimilitarism) from the 80s, people from inestable Grancanarian CNT, punks, young people who sympathised but didn’t know anything about anarchism, independentists, etc. The “black block” emerges.
In actuality this was the name given by our detractors, but we thought it was funny. During the month of July we started to think about creating a federation, a FAGC. We also thought it was funny, because of the FAI and because of “Fuck” (yes, we were very young)
Around the middle of August (the exact date is a mystery), in San Juan Park, Telde, the foundational assembly of the FAGC takes place. No document was written. No photo was taken. Most of the current FAGC didn’t attend this assembly. But that’s where everything started.
When San Telmo is evicted, we anarchists are on the front-lines. And also when it comes time to give a solution for the homeless compas that with the eviction also lost their refuge. An abandoned hotel is occupied. The first official squatting of the FAGC.
And also the first official trial of the FAGC for usurpation. The compas would be found innocent and there was a great mobilization from the healthiest and more committed part of the 15M.
Around this time the first important action of the FAGC takes place: to take lead of the a demo aways from CCOO and UGT (Two reformist unions from Spain). The slogan? “The only good Constitution is a burning one”.
Around that time the parties launch a powerful offensive to control the 15M in San Telmo. There’s a rumour going around that “the anarchists are a majority in the assembly and they are radicalising us”. The truth is that we were never more than 15, with a lot of sympathisers. (Read more)
The people who fear the 15M would end up becoming another political party, come to the anarchists to counter that influence. But the FAGC has an internal “rule”: to participate in the 15M as individuals, to not speak about the 15M in assemblies of the FAGC. In short, to not rule.
So Ruy developed an organisational model (to counter others who wanted that a collective/party voted and had the same weight as a neighbourhood assembly) that ensured the assembly’s autonomy. Ruy’s model won by majority.
In the model it reads:
The structure of a Movement that is horizontal, headless (without leaders) and popular cannot be understood as a “top down” correlation.
To stop any attempt at verticality we must try to organise things from the simple to the complex, promoting that the sophisticated depends inexorably on the basic.
But if the circularity scares the hierarchy, it will be the federal method what will allow to maintain the autonomy of the assembly. According to this principle, every assembly is autonomous and if we understand the Assembly as a method of collective decision-making in opposition to the powers that be, we understand that on it, and not in any other organ, is where sovereignty resides. This makes commissions mere tools that must only implement what the Assembly agreed.
We haven’t forgotten that the Collectives, unlike other social groups (workers, the unemployed, students, retired people, neighbours, etc) are united by ideological affinity, and that the horizontality must prevent any kind of outside control.
The successes come with police attention. In the next demonstrations and strikes a dynamic was repeated: the police charging against the anarchists and the confrontations with the “security” of the reformist unions.
We are now in 2012. Chaotic year. That’s when we kicked out, together with young independentists, the Nazis from Respuesta Estudiantil from a demonstration where they had agreed their participation with the biggest student collective of back then.
And also took place of our greatest hits: the taking of a platform that belonged to the reformist unions and their expulsion from it. An action that, although discussed informally, happened spontaneously to try to avoid the massacre of our block.
The FAGC from the outside gave an image of being “powerful”, but in reality it had suffered its first split a few months before and it was immersed in a debate about its nature and objectives. Everything started around the squatting of abandoned land.
Even then you could see in the FAGC two different sectors, one with more inclination with the “conventional” anarchism, with its typical actions: campaigns of apostasy, recreational activism, etc; and another more “from the neighbourhood”, more focused in reaching the people around them.
The discussion developed around an issue: to share part of the harvest with neighbours without resources and invite them to join the project or to take everything harvested for ourselves? We didn’t know how to manage the disagreement and little by little the supporters of the second option left.
Around then the FAGC was being mentioned in the local news (negatively) and it attracted young anarchists angry with everything, but our real effect in our neighbourhoods was minimal. We were very combative, but we didn’t speak to our people, only to ourselves.
We had a period of deep analysis, of contemplating the Canarian misery in all its depth and reach. Why, if most of us were from La Isleta, El Polvorín, Jinámar, Las Remudas, San Cristóbal, El Risco, Las Chumberas, etc (Different villages from Gran Canaria) we didn’t speak with our neighbours?
The period of demonstrations had been ok, it was very necessary to build strength. But in two years hundreds of demonstrations had taken place, and besides scaring the bourgeois, we hadn’t accomplished anything.
The battle for the horizontality of 15M had been a crash course on “realpolitik”. But beyond joining forces and bringing our ideas to a new public, did it make sense to continue in a “movement” that was only a collective now?
We started by opening our doors to our agricultural project. It was the first time that, as the FAGC, we worked with non-anarchist people on an anarchist project. That’s how “Land And Freedom” was born.
We continued our analysis of the Canarian situation and we saw that housing and evictions were two of the things that worried our neighbours more. A roof over your head, a house, warm clothes, the basic, the necessary. Our vegetables plot covered the first, but what about the rest?
For the clothes we created “Solidarity Meeting Space”, a network to freely exchange and share clothes, toys and other goods. Informally, it still continues. As well as 4 vegetable plots that feed 2 communities of 260 people and several more families.
But housing was much more complicated. We had already squatted before (some since they were teenagers) and we had stopped evictions with the 15M, but all the legal shit was beyond our understanding. We tried to unite with the local PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, network of groups involved in the housing struggle) and squatting movement.
The idea was that the PAH would take charge of the legal part, the squatting movement of the rehousing and the FAGC of the eviction resistance (our true speciality). But it didn’t work… The PAH at that moment didn’t deal with cases of renting or squatting.
Involved in a legalist and institutionalist process, it didn’t wanna have anything to do with the anarchists, so we limit ourselves to go to their assemblies to kick the hornet's nest and fish for neighbours unhappy with their “half measures”.
The squatting movement did rise to the occasion for months, stopping evictions with us and rehousing. But its internal dynamics, the thing about spaces for “travelers” or meditation, made it last little. The FAGC had to make the decision of being all-encompassing.
We immersed ourselves in legal law (like the atheists who read the bible) and we started to create our reserve of socialised houses (the plan B) and we started to stop evictions by ourselves. The “Grupo de Respuesta Inmediata” (Group of Immediate Response) was born.
We made the first “Assemblies of Renters and Neighbours” of which the first public squats were born, together with the neighbourhood. In the photos you can see two assemblies (the first one just after the arrest of two compas) and one “socialisation caravan”.
We made our first rehousings, but it’s exhausting to limit ourselves to single-family houses. This is when, towards the end of 2012, the possibility of creating the “La Esperanza” Community was born. In february of 2013 we let in the first family. 20 families by May.
The overload of work starts to be brutal. There’s compas for who liked the theory of “working with non-anarchist people”, until it was time to put it into practice. Personal disappointments, communitarian conflicts… the theory spoke nothing of that.
A lot of compas don’t organise anymore, the weight falls on very few people and there’s then a conflict and the second and last split. There’s people who want to “do other things” and some others who want to continue in “La Esperanza” and in housing, but with the participation of everyone.
The first sector is the majority. The second one leaves and continues to squat, letting the first one do whatever they want with the name. In a month the FAGC doesn’t exist anymore. “La Esperanza” is allowed to manage itself however they want.
Months later the neighbours from the community contact the minoritarian group: they need a hand with those “assamblearian” and “horizontal” things because they tried a presidential system and it had been chaos.
We still have the minutes from the first assembly of the Community when it reinstituted the assamblearian model:
A periodic Neighbourhood Assembly will be constituted to manage the common matters. Said Assembly will have the capacity of making decisions about the opening and set up of new homes, rehousings, establishment of fees, bank procedures, maintenance, etc.
It is decided to “start from scratch”; past conflicts and grievances won’t be taken into consideration.
It is established that all neighbours are equal and therefore there’s no need for any position of leadership, management, presidency, etc. All decisions are made in common.
In the case of unforeseen expenses, an emergency assembly will be called to decide on the need of a collective fund to pay for them.
Taking into considerations the minimum expense of the community, it is established a quota of 25 euros per month for each house.
The payment of the quotas can be done between day 1 and 30 of each month and will be given to the treasurer. If a neighbour can’t pay the quote in its entirety, they’ll contribute whatever they can (Ruy promises to pay the difference in case of proved need).
The assembly bluntly rejects the extortion or intimidation of any neighbour for not paying. No neighbour can be evicted or denied water or electricity because of not paying.
We needed a platform to spread our voice and by petion of the neighbours, and seeing as the compas who kept the name had stopped using it, the FAGC was refounded in 2014. A very different FAGC from its beginnings.
The more we organised with non-anarchist people the more ideological anarchists started to disappear and more neighbours were joining the FAGC. It starts the golden times of self-management, with the first massive experiences, with the first failures, but also satisfaction.
Even before “La Esperanza” a self-managed community had been started (still continues to this day, it’s “El Project”, whose location remains secret). But “La Esperanza” is way bigger, 210 people and it allowed to experience “anarchy” in our own flesh.
From 2014 to 2015 the FAGC was busy experimenting with the limits of self-management. With all its contradictions and conflicts. Two blocks in disrepair of “La Esperanza” are rehabilitated and the last 5 families are rehoused (76 in total) and the project is considered finished.
It’s around this time when agents from the Guardia Civil (Militarised police unit from Spain. Known for being bastards among bastards.) illegally detain Ruy and torture him on the station. By accessing the police report we see that for the Guardia Civil “La Esperanza” is a “hot spot” and they criminalise the community without remorse when preparing the intervention.
All the alarms go off. The timid attempts at letting ourselves be known are set aside and a state-wide campaign is initiated to avoid any kind of reprisal. That’s when “La Esperanza” became known as the biggest self-managed community in the State.
In 2016 the mayor office of Guía (town where the Community is located) commanded the neighbours to abandon the community in a month (as if they were able to) and panic spread. Fearing a preemptive eviction, the FAGC and the neighbours start a powerful campaign. A month later the neighbours are still there. This February it turned 8 years old.
Also in 2016 the FAGC starts “Las Masías”. A community to house migrant compas escaped from the CIEs (Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros, internment camps for immigrants) and persecuted by the police. Today 70 neighbours live there.
The resistance of “La Esperanza” also allowed a lot of young people and students to contact and become interested in the FAGC. Some of them, those who went down to Guía to lend a hand with the eviction, are today valuable members of the FAGC.
In the FAGC there’s very few anarchists and a lot of neighbours, who do not necessarily feel comfortable with the label of “libertarian”. There’s attempt to create big-tempt groups like the “Office of Popular Expropriation” but they don’t work because in the end they are the FAGC under a different name.
During the whole of 2016 there’s talks and debates about the need to create a Renters Union, like those started by the CNT in the last century. The FAGC is again on a situation of internal crisis, and it is thought to dissolve the FAGC if the SIGC doesn’t work out.
It is in January of 2017 when, without a lot of hope, an assembly is called in “La Esperanza” to decide the constitution of a renters' union. The response from the neighbours is a surprise: they throw their 50 cents quote to the table and ask for their membership card. They do understand what an “Union” is.
The SIGC (Renters Union of Gran Canaria) is born and out of it three new communities: “El Refugio”, “La Ilusión” and “El Nido”. All except the last one still continue. The lesson from “El Nido” is still important. We are talking about a socialised school.
The idea was to turn it into a shelter for survivors of sexist violence, since in the “shelters” of the state the treatment is infamous. The school is made liveable and everything is ready. But it’s then when some neighbours make a fatal decision.
They decide to contact the mayor of the town to “legalise their situation”. For two hours the mayor kindly listens to them. Gets out to make several calls, but returns with the same cordiality and good disposition. The neighbours are very happy.
When they return home they find that the school has been walled off with all their things inside. While the mayor distracted them, the operatives condemned the house. It’s been a hard lesson, but it served to make the communities realise the nature of the institutions.
This year the compas fromInercia Docs produce the masterpiece that is “Precaristas: cronic of the struggle for housing in Gran Canaria''. A graphic manifestation of our reality, our militancy and our neighbourhood anarchism.
This year we also stopped the massive eviction of “Los Barracones del Conde” (The Baron’s Bunkhouses). The FAGC and SIGC come into contact with a different reality, the rural, the caciquism, the aristocratic, those of the exploited labourer who live in shacks. The struggle spreads from north to south.
In the beginning of 2018 SIGC started to feel the excess of activity. Some compas fall sick, some get tired. The SIGC takes some months off. With hundreds of evictions stopped (some of them massive), docens of rehousings and three new communities. The wear is obvious.
The FAGC is more used to these moments of ebb and flow, so it continues its activity while the SIGC takes some time to reflect. We start an Advisory Office for Precarious People, specially cash-in-hand workers.
Many of the compas who come to us are prostitutes. We start to write accusations against pimps and police abuse, to learn the steps to claim benefits, we organise workshops on job retraining and on how to write CVs.
One of our vegetable plots is currently managed by the compañeras that are advised by our Office. Hundreds of kilos of oranges, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes or zucchini come out every month. We don’t moralise. We give tools so that no one is stepped on by no one.
We also develop a small healthcare network to give basic cover for migrant compas who fear being arrested if they come to the Canarian Healthcare System. This network, with its clinic, it’s still active today.
Towards the end of 2018 the process to evict “La Ilusión” was initiated. The FAGC answers the call and by petition of the neighbours themselves the SIGC is refounded. From here starts a Union that stops the eviction of “La Ilusión” and an average of 400 every year.
The community of "Los Girasoles", started just before the reflection period of the SIGC, it’s joined now by the "Miraflor" Community. SIGC currently has more than 600 members and 80 organisers, with different degrees of involvement.
In the beginning of 2020 “Precaristas” was premiered for the first time in Gran Canaria. The event is an special occasion on the isle. It’s celebrated where it should be: in the square, in the neighbourhood of Guanarteme, in the outdoors, with our neighbours, with our people.
In april of 2020, the FAGC and SIGC help to promote the first rent strike in the State in the 21st century (it was only appropriate, being the SIGC the first renters union in the State in the 21st century, a fact that bothers many).
Some day we should write the internal history of this strike. Sabotaged by some, attempts to control it by others, criticised by many. We distanced ourselves quickly from the official current and we limited ourselves to creating strike committees and advising thousands of people.
More than 600 people (we only talk about data from the FAGC, the SIGC on its own will count with as many) in Canarias and in the Peninsula (yes, we dealt with many cases from the whole State) won concessions through direct negotiations.
The moratories or payment reductions we don’t even count, because they weren’t the objective of the strike. It wasn’t a general strike and the government (not fearing the “friendly fire”) didn’t suspend the payments. We did manage that organised neighbours defeated big landlords.
Even today there’s people who still enjoy a reduced rent. Others only started to pay after the State of Alarm ended, without any landlord dying because of it (in fact we have ended advising some small landlords with a mortgage).
Towards the end of 2020 FAGC starts “El Refugio II”. A community for migrants who are being persecuted where 190 people live. It’s been necessary to develop a whole infrastructure of self-sufficiency (with gardens, ovens, etc) and a buying network, increasingly needed less often.
During the hard months of the pandemic, the FAGC also developed a mutual aid network with purchases of 50 euros for each family. More than 30 of our neighbours benefited from it, and avoided having to grovel in front of the NGOs who humiliated them and even controlled the brand of pads.
In the beginning of 2021 the "Los Olmos", with its strike committee, reaches an agreement with the proprietors to live there 8 years in exchange of 2000 euros per year. Everything thanks to that “shitty strike” looked down on by the militant elites and the “wise-men committees”.
In the beginning of this year we were also notified that the trial against our compañero Ruymán has been restarted. The FAGC and SIGC return to the streets. It is still an ongoing struggle and we need you, all of you, to win.
Many Koreans gathered in Manchuria to avoid oppression from the Japanese empire and formed their own society. Kim Jong-jin, having been inspired by anarchism under Yi Hoe-yeong, aspired to create a society in which all were equal without privilege and discrimination and free to develop and improve as they please. He believed in order to achieve a revolutionary movement, they needed to maintain a long struggle by a detailed plan and a complete organization and Manchuria was an adequate spot to have as a base. So he divided and surveyed the region and reported the results to Kim Jwa-jin.
He suggested to reform the Shinmin prefecture to prevent the invasion of Marxist-Leninists, defeat those who claim “scientific socialism” and hold a long struggle against Japanese imperialism.
Meanwhile in Manchuria, Korean anarchists had created an organization called 자유청년회 (“Ja yu cheong nyeon hoe”) and its members were working all across Manchuria. Kim Jong-jin, along with Yi Dal and Kim Ya-bong gathered all members and formed 흑우연맹 (“Heug u yeon maeng”) focusing on propagating anarchism. More youth organizations converged under the activities of 흑우연맹 and formed 북만한인청년연맹 (“Bung man han in cheong nyeon yeon maeng”) which also studied anarchism and focused on enlightenment of the population. Kim Jong-jin and Yi Eul-gyu established the Korean Anarchist Federation in Manchuria (재만조선무정부주의자연맹) using 북만한인청년연맹 as a base.
On the other hand, nationalists in Manchuria had failed to unify their factions of 3 prefectures in Manchuria and their innovative congress had disbanded without making much progress. Also, since they have expropriated resources from the populace while reigning over them, they were losing support and the populace were leaning towards Marxist-Leninists. Feeling threatened by this development, the nationalists and anarchists joined forces to create the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria (한족총연합회).
북만한인청년연맹, through their announcement, exposed the Japanese ambitions of Manchurian invasion and opposed political movements. They also opposed capitalism and foreign rule, and sought to respect the will of the individual and established the rule of free association, thus rejecting centralised governance.
The Korean Anarchist Federation in Manchuria, included a society of no rulers, free development via mutual aid and free association, work according to one’s ability and consumption based on one’s need into their programme. They sought to revolutionize the mind and lives of peasants and build an ideal society and progressing the liberation efforts based on it.
Their immediate program:
2. We strive to foster the organization of our fellow compatriots through the self-governing cooperative structures to promote the economic/cultural improvement of Korean-Chinese people
3. We strive with all our might to the education of the youth in order to strengthen the anti-Japanese force and the cultural development of the youth.
4. We as farmers run our own lives with our own strength through collective labor with the farmer population and at the same time focus on the improvement of the lives of farmers and farming methods as well as cultivation of ideologies.
5. We carry a responsibility to research our own affairs and to regularly report self-criticism
6. We have the obligation of friendly cooperation and common operatives with ethnic nationalists on the anti-Japanese liberation front.
According to the rules of the KPAM, its members were comprised of revolutionary Koreans, those who have lived in the region for longer than 3 months had rights and obligations such as donating funds, enlisting in the military, voting and passive suffrage. On its central institution, they installed the representative, executive, conference agencies and military, farming, education and economy committees. The representative agency was the top resolution agency which was held every January by those gathered by the executive agency and the head was picked by the executive agency to represent the meeting. Executive agency composed of over 15 to under 21 members which handled the affairs decided at the meeting and their term was a year. The conference agency composed of members from each committee and handled the connections between each committees and handled the PR decided by the executives.
Within each regional division of the KPAM was the agriculture association and it served as a regional administration handling matters ranging from executive, judicial, finance, to education, security and picked over 5 to under 9 members to carry them out. Also they installed the associations of education and security to handle those matters respectively.
The KPAM sought for maintenance of the region in order to acquire a structural base in it. They also focused on building elementary (소학교) and middle schools(중등학교).
They also built rice mills in order to protect the Korean peasants from being duped by Chinese merchants.
The prefecture started to fall with the assassination of Kim Jwa-jin by Gong Do-jin, a 화요파 (“Hwa yo pa”) communist party member, during the attempt by the Marxist-Leninists to dismantle the nationalist organization as the conflict between both factions escalated. KPAM then blamed and executed 2 figures which brought further condemnation and more assassination attempts from Marxist-Leninists.The association moved its HQ to Jilin and sought to unite the ethnic organizations against the communist party once more and attempted to subjugate the Marxist-Leninists. They also tried to calm down the population and fix its structural problems but ran out of funds so they had to request some money from a meeting in Beijing (무정부주의자동양대회). They got the money and planned to use it to rebuild the commune but 10 members got arrested by the Chinese police who were collaborating with the Japanese embassy. The police confiscated the funds. China based Korean anarchists quickly gathered around Manchuria to resume and rebuild Shinmin efforts.
After gathering, anarchists tried to restructure and enlighten the population once more but their efforts remained in vain for 2 reasons. The first being the internal division in the association and the second being the conflict between nationalists and anarchists. The Anarchists soon found themselves rejected from the main positions of the association as the conflict grew worse. The nationalists assassinated Yi Jun-geun, Kim Ya-un, and Kim Jong-jin, thus finally closing the chapter of the Shinmin prefecture as the anarchists fled from Manchuria.
Why it failed
The KPAM did indeed operate in an anarchistic manner. It was structured in accordance with anarchist principles of bottom-up organization based on free association. Each region would send their share of delegates which would manage the main issues of the association, and the general association would take care of all paperwork and decide on foreign affairs and public relations. Each region would hold a meeting to choose delegates and write proposals to the main branch. However, due to the situation in Manchuria and the lacking state of the Shinmin prefecture forced the association to adopt a top-down approach where they would select a couple candidates for each structure and hold elections respectively.
However, the KPAM had a fundamental flaw. While it was operated and structured by anarchist principles, it was not unified by anarchism nor did every member agree with anarchism.
For example, one phrase of their programme says, “We strive for the complete independence of the nation and thorough liberation of the people”. This meant they did not deny the state rather they acknowledged it. Despite the state being one of the top authorities that oppresses people according to anarchists, anarchists in Shinmin have deviated from anarchist principles by recognizing its existence in order to collaborate with the nationalists as they needed the regional base from them.
This “non-anarchistic” element eventually led to the internal division within the association and between anarchists and nationalists. Despite nationalist ideology having fundamental difference with anarchism, anarchists cooperated with nationalists which was a self-contradiction.
They had not established a regional base by themselves and borrowed it from the nationalists, this carried a certain dangerous factor that ultimately led to their failure from the beginning.
Afterwards the anarchists fled from Manchuria to mainland China, where they resumed their focus on terrorist activities. Unlike in Korea and Japan, there was no Korean populace to rally the movements with and because the efforts to build a base for a liberation movement was shattered as foretold, the only option left for Korean anarchists at the time (early to mid 1930s) was direct terrorism. They were also heavily discouraged from the failures of Shinmin and having to live far abroad, which led them to nihilist terrorism. The remaining anarchists began collaborating with nationalists like Kim Koo as both groups had a common objective that is to achieve liberation through terrorism.
Kim Koo and nationalists had the funds and anarchists had people to carry out assassinations. Another reason is that they had experience cooperating with nationalists in Shinmin. The anarchists also loathed the Marxist-Leninists after they killed Kim Jwa-jin which was a key factor of the fall of Shinmin, which led them to anti-ML activities. ■
Article composed with reference to Dr. Yi Horyong’s Anarchism in Korea and proofread by a couple others including @wrkclasshistory.
In the early hours of this rainy 5 May 2021 in Caracas, Nelson Mendez passed away at the age of 68. A tireless propagandist, editor of the publications Correo (A) and El Libertario, author of several books and dozens of opinion and research articles. Nelson died as a result of complications associated with Covid-19.
Nelson Méndez: (Caracas, 1952) had a degree in Sociology and was a professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). Linked from his youth to social activism and anarchism from 1980 onwards, from the end of the 1990s he was part of the editorial team of the newspaper El Libertario. He was also one of the animators of the Centre for Libertarian Social Studies (CESL), which operated in Sarría for several years. His most recent book is "Gastronomía y anarquismo. La utopía intensa de unir fogones, barricadas, placer y libertad" ("Gastronomy and anarchism. The intense utopia of uniting cookers, barricades, pleasure and freedom" 2021). He previously published "Un país en su artificio. Itinerario histórico de la ingeniería y la tecnología en Venezuela" ("A country in its artifice. Historical itinerary of engineering and technology in Venezuela" 2011) and, co-authored with Alfredo Vallota, "Bitácora de la utopía. Anarquismo para el siglo XXI" ("Logbook of Utopia. Anarchism for the 21st century").
Nelson was a reference for several generations of Venezuelan anarchist activists. His cubicle at the School of Engineering of the UCV was an epicentre of libertarian publications coming from various parts of the world and meetings to plan organisational and propaganda activities. He was a consistent anti-authoritarian, rejecting the inequities of the Venezuelan governments before and after 1998, as well as the coups d'état of different ideological signs that occurred in 1992 and 2002.
His colleagues at El Libertario would like, with these lines, to pay him a heartfelt tribute. His example continues to be an inspiration to us and we will always carry his joy and kindness in our hearts. Our heartfelt words of affection and consolation go to his partner Mina and his son Salvador. ■
Venezuelian comrade Nelson Mendez has passed away at the age of 68 by Covid-19. In the early morning of this rainy May 5 in Caracas, Nelson Mendez has passed away at the age of 68. Tireless propagandist, editor of the publications «Correo (A)» and «El Libertario».
Author of several books and dozens of articles of opinion and research. Born in Caracas in 1952, he had a degree in Sociology and was a professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV).
Linked since his youth to social activism and anarchism since 1980, he was a consistent anti-authoritarian, rejecting the inequities of the Venezuelan governments before and after 1998, as well as the coups of different ideological sign in 1992 and 2002.
Rest in power Nelson. ■
Today, different anarchist groups, collectives and organizations, publicly manifest ourselves against the tax reform's hikes on essential subsistence goods. But not only because we consider the reform as an organized robbery to the pockets of the working class, peasants, service workers, self-employed and freelancers. But also, we make evident the failure that constitutes this Uribist government of Iván Duque and the disaster that is the whole state apparatus of this country. Which has tried to hide with public works, laws, decrees, media propaganda and cheap nationalism, the organized robbery that it really is over the totality of the people of this region of the continent.
The taxes that Duque -falsely- talked about reducing, regardless of the president in office, were, are and will be the same a general theft from the people, since they have guaranteed, through the clientelist mafia, the access to power to no more than 20 families throughout the country. 20 families who have corruptly enriched themselves and continue to exercise power in the territories -many times- through the use of arms, whether legal or illegal. And also benefiting from legal and black market rents, -understood as- drug trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, land fattening, dispossession of land from peasants and illegal mining.
How can they expect the people to continue to believe in the state, if the same government that controls it, acts systematically against them?
The handling of the pandemic is disastrous, not only the duquismo made the covax option fall apart when it could have ensured the supply of vaccines for Colombia. But they also dare to do business with the health care of the people, at the expense of the taxes that they steal from the workers. The pressure on health workers, the overexploitation they suffer day by day, is not exclusive. The teachers have also been deeply affected, not to mention all the people, who with their sweat, tears and effort sustain a state that takes more than it really gives back to them.
The war, which is maintained in the territories, has been continued because of political decisions against the people. The same people who continue to pay its toll in deaths, and continue to suffer the abuse of the state, the repression of the security forces that only serve to maintain the privileges of those who control the political and/or economic power. From the unfulfilled promises that have led to the beginning of a new cycle of violence, the betrayal of agreements that sowed hope in the population of Colombia . At the end, they decided to harvest a fire fueled with gasoline.
For all this, and much more, is that we, the anarchists, express ourselves in resounding opposition to the simple actions, which is to make a parade along the Séptima Avenue. Instead, we call for an indefinite General Strike, that leads to move the status quo for the benefit of the people: from its local oligarchs and bourgeois minorities, to the wide, long, broad and diverse peoples that make up the majority of the population in of the population in the Colombian region.
Recovering the municipal autonomies, the collectivization of the territory among those who inhabit it ancestrally or traditionally, and the ancestral or traditional inhabitants (not among those who, by usurpation, dispossession and displacement, obtained it), exercising assembly, communalism and horizontality, all decisions collectively, an open, participatory, diverse and permanent assembly, rejecting any authority, caudillism, gamonalism, patronalism and patriarchy. It is not necessary for the state controlled by the elite to decree the AGRARIAN REFORM, its the communities, towns and municipalities themselves, who can do it without intermediaries, they only need to agree to an assembly and start it.
¡!!Abolish the relations of subordination to the narco-oligarchic state!!!!
¡!!!End of passive activity, it is time to go out to the streets!!!
¡!!!!Obstruct the exercise of repression!!!!!
¡!!Build autonomous neighborhood and municipal assemblies!!!!
Abolish the relations of male-dominated and patriarchal oppression: diverse participation and gender equality, agreements of renouncing the war, ¡¡¡¡unarmed civil disobedience!!!!
Avoid the tax reform, avoid pension reform, avoid labor reform.
Abolish the state.
¡!!Constitute the Assemblies!!!!
Colectix Kaos Kreador Antifacista – Banderas Negras – ULET-AIT ■
1st of May 2021. Greetings of the Secretariat of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF/IFA)
The Secretariat of the International of Anarchist Federations sends its greetings to this international meeting for May Day 2021. Founded in 1968 at the International Anarchist Congress in Carrara, the International of Anarchist Federations continues carrying out the values of social justice, antiauthoritarianism and internationalism that inspired the struggle of the Paris Commune 150 year ago and of the five Martyrs of Chicago 135 years ago. Still inspired by these values, our member federations are committed to build an anarchist alternative for a world that is increasingly devastated by the crimes of capitalism, the logics of states and armies, the ever-growing environmental depredation.
In the last year, this situation has been tragically worsened by the current world pandemic, whose consequences are burdening the working class. Exploited and oppressed people are those most affected by the pandemic, and at the same time most committed to protect everyone’s health. Yet, in various regions of the world we are witnessing the deterioration of the living and working conditions of hundreds of millions of people. In many countries the military budget has been increased and war tensions between states are exacerbating alongside a growing concert of racist, fascist and nationalist propaganda. Governments all around the world are strengthening security measures, tightening control and repression on their populations and are widening the power of police forces. Meanwhile, all over the world, an increasingly segregated population is living in total deprivation in places such as poor neighbourhoods, detention camps for migrants and prisons.
Nevertheless, in every corner of the world there are forms of resistance. In some cases movements of struggle are not only resisting the harshening of authoritarian policies but they are trying to create an alternative. We stand with people revolting in the USA against racism and police, in Nigeria against special security forces, in France against a new police state, in Chile against the
militaristic neoliberal State and the genocidal violence used to repress the Mapuche people, in Great Britain against patriarchy and gender violence. We are with those who are struggling for equality and liberty against dictatorships in Turkey and Belarus, and against authoritarian regimes in Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia. Where it is present, the anarchist movement is an active part of these struggles, trying to develop their revolutionary potentialities and to counter any authoritarian degeneration. In various regions of the world anarchists are engaged daily, defending spaces of freedom, supporting striking workers, building solidarity and mutual aid networks to tackle poverty, gender violence, inaccessibility to protective equipment and medical treatment.
While it would be impossible to summarize all the activities which are being supported by our comrades and federations in different countries and realities, these include experiences of mutual aid which include, among other possible examples: Creating groups of mutual aid that help one’s community/house/neighbourhood to cope with the virus, for instance with distribution of food, protection equipment and medicine; Opening up new spaces for living and for making cultural activities, including occupations of spaces by homeless peoples; Circulation of books, journals and other supports and explanations to deal with the crisis; Promoting and practically implementing anticapitalistic alternatives to the existing economic system such as solidarity shared funds; Promoting activism to support abused and vulnerable groups such as indigenous people.
Now, more than ever, it is necessary to strengthen the internationalist dimension of anarchism, to oppose the ongoing authoritarian processes and to relaunch a revolutionary perspective in a world that capitalism and state have brought to the point of collapse. In this May Day, a date which is crucial for both our history and future, we confirm and continue our worldwide fight for fostering internationalist solidarity in the workers’ movements worldwide, to go ahead building day by day the new world that we bring in our hearts. ■
The IFA Secretariat
Secretariat: [email protected]
Social Media: www.twitter.com/IntFedAnarchist
AUDIO READING : www.youtu.be/VLl6VXhT-A4
[TW: sexual violence]
Since Organise’s last update on Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has announced that Eritrean troops will leave the region of Tigray in Northern Ethiopia. This comes as a surprise, since Abiy has spent the last few months denying the presence of any Eritrean troops in Ethiopia at all. Yet, even as he was denying the existence of the Eritrean troops fighting a war against a group he declared victory over in November, reports from the UN and Amnesty International were confirming that, not only were they there, they were colluding with Abiy’s government to carry out numerous atrocities. When they leave on their as-yet-unspecified date, a slew of corpses—which could very well number upwards of 100,000—will be in their wake. This prompts the question: who is Abiy’s audience for these lies? Who is a sincere believer, any more?
The flagrancy of Abiy’s lies are echoed in the obscenity of the violence. As accessibility to the region has grown over the past few weeks, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have made little effort to curb their violence under this heightened scrutiny. On the 23rd of March, soldiers beat and threatened an MSF driver and killed at least four men extrajudicially while MSF staff were present. MSF also reported that “most” of their 100+ hospitals in the region had been looted or destroyed.
As is often the case, much of the genocidal violence redounds heavily on women, as Amharic soldiers talk of cleansing them of their Tigrayan blood. A recent article in The Daily Telegraph quotes doctors and nurses from the region: “Soldiers enter hospitals as they like. They cross wards and threaten patients, nurses and doctors. There were recently seven raped women from Zalambessa who disappeared from their beds after seeing soldiers in the hospital,” says a doctor in Adigrat. A nurse says her rehabilitation centre for survivors of sexual assault was threatened with closure in order to stop these stories coming out, but still the attacks continue and still the stories get out.
The story of Selam, a 26-year-old coffee seller from Tigray who was abducted by Eritrean soldiers with 17 other women in January, deserves to be heard in full [TW: extreme sexual violence, HIV]: “They [Eritrean soldiers] took us into the forest. When we arrived there, there were around 100 soldiers who were waiting for us. They tied the hands and feet of each one of us. And then they raped us without mercy. We stayed that way for three days. After three days the soldiers killed five girls who had been tied with us. They poured [alcohol] over our wounds. They danced standing over us.”
The story continues: “After the first attack, [Selam’s] abusers were waiting for her as she returned to her house from the hospital with contraceptives and post-exposure HIV drugs. “Why the hell did you want this? We want you to be sick. That is what we are here for. We are here to make you HIV-positive,” Selam recalled one of the men as saying.”
To try to suppress the stories even though everyone knows what is going on speaks to a regime unburdened by any need to justify its own actions. Without oversight, the cover-up becomes a mere formality which will allow for the execution of more and more extreme violence. As mentioned in the last article, the importance of an independent inquiry by the UN cannot be overstated. A joint inquiry between the UN and the Ethiopian Human rights Commision will not deliver justice, since the EHRC are state-funded and lack the trust of the Tigrayan people whose voices should be at the centre of the report. Pressure should be put on UN member states to help achieve this.
Abiy’s multi-ethnic electoral coalition—the Prosperity Party—and his dream of a more centralised Ethiopia looks more and more futile and more and more bloody by the day. With or without Eritrea, the atrocities are likely to continue for some time and there is a real possibility that the entire country will fracture or even balkanise, as the regional animosities which saw thousands dead and arrested in a wave of 2014 protests come to a head again.
What’s more, tensions with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which would give Ethiopia unprecedented control of the Nile’s water flow into those countries, are building. On April the 11th, talks between the three countries over data sharing came to nothing. Leaving the Kinshasa summit, the Sudanese Irrigation Minister said Ethiopia’s offer ‘implies suspicious selectivity in dealing with what has been agreed upon.’ Again, we see how the lack of trust in Abiy’s government could have serious ramifications for the region.
In light of all this, the upcoming 2021 elections (if they go ahead) may seem trivial, but given how much of the violence has been fueled by Abiy’s desire to cling on to electoral power, they have the potential to change the dynamics of the conflict. Abiy used the elections held by the TPLF last year as a pretext to kill thousands of civilians. The TPLF has since been excluded from competing and it remains to be seen what the ostracisation of the Tigrayan people from the political landscape will mean for the Abiy’s longevity.
Citing COVID struggles, the Ethiopian government has recently turned to the IMF and World Bank to raise funds, offering the state-owned internet provider Ethio Telecom up for partial privatisation and asking for a restructuring of its loans to put off repayment until a later date. The military has already seen its budget steadily increase under Abiy: per the human rights non-profit Omna Tigray, military spending currently averages 4% a year, while health spending sits at 3.3%. It is highly likely that this extra financial flexibility will be used to exacerbate the conflict further.
While we should be loath to put our faith in the world’s financial elite, this does provide the institutions of capital with the opportunity to put pressure on Abiy’s government and we in turn should pressure them to do so, by lending our support to Omna Tigray’s campaign on the issue.
Meanwhile, Abiy’s counterpart in Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, who, like Abiy, previously garnered praise from the West (Bill Clinton called him a ‘renaissance African leader’) while committing numerous human rights abuses, is in a similarly precarious position. He faces being scapegoated by Abiy in order to deceive the international community, with EU sanctions already being levied at Eritrea, while domestic dissent over the country’s involvement in the unpopular war grows. The further destabilisation of Ethiopia though, could give Afwerki room to maneuver in the ever-tightening political knot that he has found himself in, as the hot potato would pass back into Abiy’s hands.
If Ethiopia does fracture then, the competing interests of Eritrea, Egypt and Sudan would complexify the conflict and snowball the violence. As ever, it will be ordinary people, like Selam, whose bodies will be pawned for the personal-political gain of autocrats like Abiy and Afwerki or sucked deeper into the scramble for ever scarcer resources.
On the 15th of April, two weeks after Abiy’s announcement that Eritrean troops would leave the region, the under-secretary general of humanitarian affairs told a UN security council that “neither the UN nor any of the humanitarian agencies we work with have seen proof of Eritrean withdrawal.” There have been reports of Eritrean troops indiscriminately killing civilians as recently as the 12th. Some have even begun to disguise themselves in Ethiopian uniforms. It would seem then that the withdrawal is yet another lie. Despite Abiy’s words, the genocide simply goes on.
The fact is that no one is a sincere believer. Not Abiy (despite his Pentecostalism), not his defenders and certainly not the oppressed and displaced Tigrayans. This is because the lies of politicians like Abiy, as with Trump or Bolsonaro, no longer aspire to sincere belief, so easily are they refuted. Their lies are mere instruments. Their ideological utility is not located in their capacity to dupe people into believing them, but in the continued violence they make space for by discarding the aim of duping altogether. If no one believes what they are saying, everything becomes negotiable. It is not then a case of ideology being “a set of lies experienced as true,” but “a set of lies experienced as lies, but acted on anyway”—or as the Marxist academic Theodor Adorno wrote, “the lie has lost its honest function of misrepresenting reality.” It no longer posits another reality, just debases the original, no longer demonstrates an awareness of one’s actions as morally condemnable, only a will to continue the morally bankrupt act. In short, there is no longer anything left to unmask, for the mask is already, obviously, painted plastic. ■
Pretty much everyday various comrades in Myanmar put out lists of links documenting the day. Updates on checkpoints,deaths, medical call outs, tactical reports, videos of atrocities. Many of these links soon go silent, get blocked, turned private or account removed.
This is a translated extract from the March 27. These headers are direct translations, copy and pastes or summing up. Fair warning many of the links take you to horrific pictures and the like.
This is A Day In Myanmar and the days are continuing like this.
Medical team is urgently needed in West Mogok city. Too many injured people!! ️(Still Shooting)
Today News report that there have been over 90 people who died from military and police shooting against anti-military protests across the country.
Sexual threat “I will rape your daughters in front of you tonight at the rock canal. If you don't have a daughter, I scream to your women. “
100 Dead in Ahlone/Yangon.
Current Mandalay. Patients can't win at all. They're shooting the rescue vehicles. There are so many fallen people. Those who got wifi please help spread the word. Let the international know
Another killed in Bagan Nyaung Oo In Nyaung-U, a tour guide was shot dead in the morning and another was shot dead on the way from Nyaung-U to Meikhtila Hospital, said a Nyaung-U resident.
Footage of Military shooting in Mogok.
Motherfuckers Two people shot my sniper. (graphic pictures)
Madalay There are almost 15 deaths and 3 victims. It's not over yet. Still shooting
58th Street Mandalay. (photos of someones brain on the concrete)
Trending is in so please keep tweeting.
Mandalay 87/41 Nyaung Pin top Kyauk Wye Park one fell down. My heart is hurting.
North Dagon Bridge 50 ward shootings yesterday.
Mandalay road / 82 Street. (Photos of dead people)
Taung Nyunt train win 13 years old. Maung Waiyan Tun has fallen with his head open. (Just in front of my house) Edit-I took the corpse. source my home
List on ongoing resources and situation reporting.
Insein Fawkan one fell 2:40 .p.m.
Bago hairdresser. He said he got a mouth bullet and opened his head.. 2 pm in the afternoon.
Name - Ko Chit Lin Thu Age - (21) years old Yangon / Insein school gate Fall Date-27.3.2021
The young man who was shot and arrested while riding a motorcycle in Dawei has not died yet.
I cried watching it again. How heartbroken are parents? My baby boy
I have a headache in Sanchaung. The condition is very bad. There is a lot of bleeding. I have been sent to the hospital
Tamu is a small town on the border of Sagaing Division
The situation is bad at 26th Street 91 * 92 I could hear gunshots coming from the house
The situation in Mandalay is deteriorating. The death toll from gun violence by militant council members has risen.
Thila Up to two Vd in front of the eyes
6 people hit the history 1 ward. Edit-2 people reportedly dead..
Electricity cut off early in the morning at 1 Ward.
Private groups for 1/2 Ward News
We've shot our house, plenty of adults and kids stuck at home, can't get close. History 1 Ward, 11th Street, Mayangone LaWa office straight from front of the office. Bro, Sis and Maung Milk Kyar Kung, Rubber Bullet touch. Please help me.
Another one fell. RIP.
There is a sound bomb blasting near North Dagon School Road. There is a sound bomb blasting everywhere (like every ward).
Strike that march with full force in Sagaing Shwebo city has been destroyed. 3 to the bullet, 1 to the eye. 2 people touched the leg. Nyaung Oo city boycott was destroyed and 2 people were hit by bullet. 1 are not in good condition at all.
Breaking News-One dead in Dawei terrorists gang shooting.
Out of 5 Wards in Kamayut Township...17 boys have been caught... 2 of my friends are in!!!
Military Council's attempt to gather protest in Hlaing Thar Yar city. 3 arrested and detained in one place in Hlaing Thar Yar city due to breaking in.
13 year old girl died in Meiktila.
15 year old 7th grader who was shot into the house in Meiktila.
Please come to the nearby cities as they are surrounded by everywhere... Hit 6 and found out one is falling.
Bullet hit brother has fallen
Shooting on 37
Citizens are being dragged in Yangon Yuzana Park, Army dragged drool, death is possible.
If there is any medical cover near Insein Pinne Kone, please come and give me. The one who has touched the arm has not been treated yet. Because it's not easy to go out to the hospital.
Dagon North (Histaing) (Group)
Dogs are entering Innwa Road, standing at the top of Innwa Road (Nandawan Market)
Burning fire between 29th street 84 and 85
3 Lashio people are down. Source: in comment. Please go and tweet on save Twitter.
Shot by real bullet. It was known that he died when he was in the hospital.
Kyeik Htoe/ Two. One ti head. One to neck Shooting with a real bullet
A man who broke down terrorists and soldiers were killed and 4 girls were arrested in Hopin City, Kachin State for protesting this morning.
Wat Kone market caught in tea shop 3 people included.
Mya Mountain War has been destroyed according to this current situation.. (20) people have been arrested.
81 Don't come around 39 82 83. I'm shooting where I see people and I'm drying with guns.
37 81 corner bone pot pagoda is also drawn into pagoda.
Today 27.3.2021 around 8:00 am 80 and 80 am Soldiers are of the public Burning barriers and shooting guns. Warriors are driving around that road. Trying to figure out exactly for military water.
Ta Oo Brani Road, now enter.
Don't come to South Ou and don't come on Yadanar Road .
There are over points in May City...Take care my relatives
Many more military cars went up to Thanlyin General side.
In 2019, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed Ali, received the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a 20-year border dispute with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s long-term, regional rival. By the 19th November 2020, Ethiopian and Eritrean state forces had joined together to occupy the city of Aksum in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. They carried out a series of atrocities including door-to-door extrajudicial killings, looting of food stores and pharmacies, sexual violence and indiscriminate shelling, culminating in the massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians on the 28th-29th. Aside from the horrifying testimonies of survivors, the only imagery able to puncture the state-enforced communications blackout are satellite shots of disturbed earth—evidence of recent graves—around the churches and up the roadsides. It is a genocide with the lights turned off.
Since then, the massacres have continued unabated, with humanitarian aid blocked off and MSF hospitals routinely destroyed. As in the Yemen, ongoing environmental degradation and the intentional destruction of food and water supplies have exacerbated already existing scarcities and deprivation. A full-scale famine looms—a UN estimate puts the number of Tigrayans requiring urgent, live-saving assistance at 4.5 million, with 2.5 million children malnourished. 2 million Tigrayans have been internally displaced and over 60,000 have fled to refugee camps in Sudan. For many, this has meant returning to the same camps they found refuge in during the civil war which ended 30 years ago.
Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
The seeds of the central government’s war on the region of Tigray may be found in the first lines of the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia, the founding document of the modern Ethiopian state. The document begins ’we, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia.’ This emphasis on the horizontality of Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic makeup is irreconcilable to the modern nation state’s desire for top-down vertical power and capitalism’s conceptual need for individual financial actors.
The result, as student activist Walleligne Mekonnen wrote in the 1960s, is a ‘fake Ethiopian Nationalism advanced by the ruling class.’ For Mekonnen, this nationalism was fake because it privileged the Amhara and Amhara-Tigray people above Ethiopia’s many other ethnic groups. Now, this fake nationalism smuggles in the supremacy of the state under the guise of preserving the universality of its own self-conception.
Abiy Ahmed Ali became Prime Minister in 2018. While initially from the Oromo Democratic Party, a party in favour of Oromo nationalism, in 2019 he formed and became leader of the new Prosperity Party, a merger of every existing political party except one—the TPLF, a formerly Marxist-Leninist party which is the regional authority in Tigray and was the dominant party in Ethiopian politics from 1989 to 2018. They support the current federalist arrangement, while Abiy's Prosperity Party aim to bring Ethiopia beyond that ethno-federalism and closer to a citizen-based model of the state. In short, they wish to scrub out the “nations and nationalities” part of the constitution.
Because of this, the Prosperity Party has won the respect of some liberals in the Global North, despite the potential misgivings they may have about the slogan which is becoming associated with Abiy—”የኢትዮጵያ ከፍታ,” or “Make Ethiopia Great Again.“ Their platform posits itself (in opposition to the TPLF) as unideological and rational, folding every ethnic-oriented political tendency into their neo-liberal, individualist conception of a pan-Ethiopian politics.
This model is more friendly to capital. The dissolution of old hierarchies onto a purportedly horizontal plane of individuals makes the country more amenable to investment and wealth extraction by Imperial hegemons such as the US and China. What’s more, the state-owned railway, maritime, air transport, logistics, electricity, and telecommunications sectors are all slated for privatisation and foreign capital will be hoping ethnic divisions don’t get in the way of the coming energy windfall from the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which sees Ethiopia gain access to the hydro-electric goldmine of the river Nile.
In response to the flattening of the political landscape into the single Prosperity Party, the TPLF cried illegality and, in a second affront to Abiy, continued to hold elections in the Tigray region last summer, ignoring Abiy’s postponement of them until an undisclosed date, an act which echoed Viktor Orbán’s fascist government in Hungary by citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification. The government declared the TPLF’s elections illegal at the same time as the TPLF were declaring Abiy’s leadership illegitimate.
On the 4th of November, the TPLF put several military bases under siege, claiming to be acting in self-defense. In the days that followed, a mere month after the disputed elections, tanks arrived in Tigray and set about, in the words of an internal report by the US government, “deliberately and efficiently rendering Western Tigray ethnically homogeneous through the organized use of force and intimidation.”
It is obvious how the state-enforced imposition of a politic based on individualism is not only internally paradoxical, but also in tension with the diverse ethnic makeup of the country. Trying to scrub out the “Nations and Nationalities” inevitably has precisely the opposite effect—ethnic divides become further entrenched. Accounts from Tigrayans in wider Ethiopia talk of landlords using their ethnicity as a pretext for evictions, of illegal detentions by the state, of being fired from jobs and of not being able to speak their own language in public for fear of recriminations from fascists or state actors. The war on Tigray has inevitably become a war on Tigrayans.
A Secular, Holy War
As his political project comes more and more to resemble the bloodthirsty, hyper-partisan regime that it purports to be against, Abiy is at pains to show the world that this is a mere law enforcement operation.
Domestically, the TPLF are designated as a threat to the nominal horizontality of the Ethiopian state, when in reality the inciting threat is to Abiy’s position at the top of the vertical hierarchy of that state. Scenes from the Mai Kadra massacre, the perpetrators of which are, like many others, highly disputed, play on the news, while massacres by Eritrean and Ethiopian state forces, like the one in Aksum, are ignored.
Internationally, Abiy will hope that deceived Western eyes will view the peace deal with Eritrea as the object-cause of the conflict—if the TPLF are seen as a threat to that peace, the international community will be more amenable to state repression of the region. As it is though, the deal already looks rancid, a cynical way to leverage condescending and performative Western prize-politics to squeeze out political rivals and engage in extreme oppression (here, Abiy’s fellow traveler is the now-coup-d'état-ed leader of Myanmar, the Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and her genocide of the Rohingya people). On signing the deal, Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki made this cynicism explicit by calling it ‘game over’ for the TPLF.
What we are left with trying to analyse Abiy’s politics is an abstraction of political maneuvering and ethnic cleansing onto the plane of universal values—war for the sake of peace.
On the 30th of November 2020, as survivors of the Aksum massacre were digging the mass graves which were soon to be picked up by satellite, Abiy’s address to parliament amplified this paradox. ‘After all,’ said Abiy, ‘we would like to tell them [the TPLF]—please, understand us, we need peace and it is necessary to know that we don’t compromise anything which comes against our honour.’ In effect: we need peace and we won’t compromise on our need for peace even if that means going to war and compromising on our need for peace.
In Strategy of Deception, Paul Virilio uses the term ‘secular, holy wars’ to describe conflicts which are persecuted with the crusader’s fervour and the human rights lawyer’s moral framework. We might think of how China’s insistence on the “harmonious society” apparently necessitates the repression of the Uighurs or how Western nation state’s offer humanitarian justifications for genocidal interventions in the Middle East.
The war in Ethiopia is a secular, holy war. Unlike territorial wars (though secular, holy wars may initially be territorial in nature), these wars leave no recourse to diplomacy, nor even victory, as the values they are fought under are always already undermined by the sheer brutality of the engagement, the meaning of the conflict immediately lost in a mire of senseless violence.
It is easy to label such wars as ordinarily bloody conflicts decorated with ordinarily misleading state propaganda, but it is not a case of whether any given war is actually being persecuted in the name of peace or not. The point more specifically is that such wars in their contradiction lay bare the continuity between state-determined peace and state-sponsored violence. The two are inextricable—what the state deems “peace,” “harmony,” or a “humanitarian intervention” is a managed violence of which an uncontrolled escalation must always be left possible in order to substantiate the qualifier “managed.”
It is not simply that the state has a monopoly on violence, then. It has a monopoly on violence which posits its very non-monopolisation as the premise of its monopoly. Any violent act, such as Abiy’s continued embargo on international aid and humanitarian groups in Tigray or the Ethiopian army’s destruction of MSF hospitals or any of the numerous crimes against humanity his regime has committed, may be justified in the name of preserving the monopoly on that violence, which trickles from the state, through the ruling class—the landlords who evict Tigrayan tenants, the bosses who suspend Tigrayan workers.
Ethiopian Anarchisms and International Solidarity
In many ways, the situation in Tigray is not only devastatingly sad, but completely disheartening. Aid still can’t get through. The communications blackout is a conscious attempt to foreclose on solidarity, a war without photos. Reports emerge of massacres a month after they have taken place, compounding the sense of uncertainty for those who have loved ones at risk.
Meanwhile, disinformation is rife on both sides. Almost every claim in this article is disputed by the group opposite the one making the claim. In a further paradox and a further Trumpism, Abiy has called for sympathetic Ethiopians in the country and in the diaspora to combat “TPLF fake news” with social media support—you will see photos of Abiy in camouflage as if on the front line, but zoom in and the uniform will turn out to be a Ukrainian soldier’s, an Abiy-esque goatee shopped onto his face; you will find many single-issue accounts parroting various pro-government or pro-TPLF lines of attack, as the distinction between sock-puppetry and genuine political action becomes blurry.
Virilio, writing at the dawn of the internet, quotes the Whig historian Alexander Kinglake’s assessment of 19th Century warfare: “insofar as the battlefield presented itself to the bare eyesight of men, it had no entirety, no length, no breadth, no size, no shape and was made up of nothing.” Although magpied from an entirely different era, this remains an accurate and depressing summation of the experience of post-modern information warfare, where the excluded voices of those human beings at the heart of the conflict are replaced by the cold work of bots filling their absence with long copy-and-paste comment chains, interrupted occasionally by video footage of extreme, casual violence, rotting corpses and weaponised rape (though you wouldn’t find these in any state-sanctioned media).
It is an intentionally hard war to access from the outside, made harder by the indifference of a Western media hamstrung by their need to locate a bogeyman, such as they do with China. Abiy, with his Nobel Peace Prize, unremarkable dress sense, his individualist governmentality and supplantation of the Marxist-Leninist TPLF, makes for a poor Third World despot to journalists that traffic in spectacle and Orientalism.
In this fog, Abiy will try to get away with everything he can. It is incredibly important therefore that our eyes remain firmly on the region. The MapEthiopia project has been tracking the conflict since the 4th of November and is a good way to stay up to date with the changing situation.
Calls should also be made and actions taken to ensure that the UN investigates the situation independently. This can be done through protests and admonitions to whatever member state you reside in. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, a state body that will almost certainly sterilise its findings to be more sympathetic to the government, cannot be allowed to handle the investigation.
Anarchism has historically been succoured by the puncture wounds of state-on-state violence. This was the case with the CNT in Spain and the Makhnovists in Huliaipole. Both those places already had an underlying anarchist presence which Ethiopia lacks, but it's not unreasonable to imagine necessity creating the need for collective interventions which organise into an anarchism under a different name, such as has happened in Rojava and Chiapas. In the last year, for example, Horn Anarchists have emerged as an anarchist project in the region and are aiming to medical aid and supplies to refugees stranded in Sudan (their Mutual Aid fund can be found here).
Finally, I have been at pains throughout this article to make the situation comparable to other contemporary instances of state violence. Although the violence in Tigray is extreme, it is unexceptional—China, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar are all executing similar genocides and this violence is in potentiate everywhere that state control exists. What I have tried to do is show how a 21st Century genocide looks like—it doesn’t come in jackboots, but is cossetted in the applauding hands of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. It lies in potentiate everywhere. It talks of citizenship and rationality (soon, it may also talk of preserving the environment). It won’t involve a takeover of state power, but will already be continuous with the normative aims of the state that executes it. ■
For Further reading check out Omna Tigray and Horn Anarchists, the latter of whom spoke to The Final Straw radio broadcast earlier this month. Ethiopia Map is also a usful account to understand the topography and ongoing issues.
Jailed musician and activist Igor Bancer (Ihar Bantsar) is on dry hunger strike. Igor is refusing to drink water or eat. Today is his ninth day. The authorities continue to keep Igor in jail and refuse to transfer him to a hospital.
Igor is preparing for his court hearing which is scheduled for March 12 (tomorrow) in the Lenin District Court in Grodno. He faces up to three years in prison and has already been in custody since the 20th of October 2020. The long standing antifascist activist and lead singer of the Belarusian Oi/punk band Mister X was arrested along with thousands of others during the protests in Minsk and across Belarus.
The prosecutors case is that Igor has allegedly demonstrated his genitals to a police officer during a short dance in front of police car. Igor's position: it was a dance performance, during which he did take off his shorts, but was wearing underwear. He also was wearing a waist bag. The police officer, who saw Igor's dance, has no complaints against Igor. In his testimony he noted that initially he regarded Igor's act as a drunken prank, not a criminal offense.
Last year Igor Bancer was detained three times for participating in protests, he spent 18 days in jail for administrative cases. He is 41 years old, married with three small children. The family conveys their support to Igor through a lawyer, thought they are no longer trying to dissuade him. "It's impossible, because he is resolute," Igor's wife has told RFERL.
Igor remains in jail and has not been transferred to a hospital. He is being monitored, his blood pressure is being measured in jail. On average, a man's body requires 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids intake per day, according to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Potential consequences of untreated dehydration include seizures, severe kidney and other organ failures. According to one study, most elderly persons (85%) - who have voluntarily chosen to hasten death by refusing food and fluids - died within 15 days. In general, another study suggests, survival time at dry hunger strikes may vary from 8 to 21 days. ■
RFERL (translated by Denis Kazakiewicz, edited by Organise!)
If Igor survives, the address to write letters:
Bancer Igor Romanovichul. Kirova 1, Turma-1, Grodno 230023 Belarus
Игорь Банцер, Кирова 1, Гродно, 230023 Belarus.
(Subject to change double check with Belarus ABC)
Original report [in Belarusian] on Svoaboda
Studies of survival time of dry hunger strikes:
This is a call for solidarity with Ruymán Rodríguez, anarchist repressed, tortured and persecuted by the Spanish state for housing the poor. Below is a statement by GAF London as well as a translation of the one released by Federación Anarquista Gran Canaria. These two pieces were originally shared via Green Anti-Capitalist Media (here). Ruymán Rodríguez is the author of Street Anarchy, a collection of three articles which we translated and published May 2020.
The editor wishes to express our complete solidarity Ruymán and other Anarchists who are suffering at the hands a brutal and uncaring state. Solidarity is a weapon of liberation and you comrades, have mine. - P
Here is the statement by GAF London followed by the translation below.
We’ve translated an statement published by the Federación Anarquista Gran Canaria (Gran Canaria Anarquist Federation) where they detail the political persecution of their member Ruymán Rodríguez, who is facing false charges to cover up the brutal violence they inflicted upon him as part of a ploy to repress the radical housing movement in Gran Canaria. The FAGC he’s part of has been involved in a very successful social movement for housing in Gran Canaria and has helped hundreds of families left abandoned by the state. Like any other threat to its legitimacy, the state couldn’t allow this to continue unchallenged.
This happens as the protests for the political incarceration of Catalan anti-fascist rapper Pablo Hasél continue. And if fact just as it’s announced that 8 anarchists have been arrested accused without evidence of participating in the burning of a police van during these protests. This is is clearly a move against the whole of the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movement, which they seek to use as the scapegoat to try to smother the flames of revolt spreading all over the Spanish state after years of pent up rage for the many injustices the people have suffered under it.
It’s also difficult not to notice the significance of this happening only a day after we remembered the anniversary of the death of Salvador Puig, an anti-capitalist killed by the Francoist regime in what became the last death sentence in Spain to date, precipitating the end of the dictatorship soon after. As we can see, the transition to democracy made little in the way of stopping the political repression or solve any of the issues accosting the people. Rather, it has allowed for the crimes of the dictatorship to go unpunished and for all the institutions that create misery for the people, such as the guarcia civil that tortured Ruy, to continue operating unchallenged. This is the nature of democracies: a more stable and cunning form of domination.
We therefore cannot see this as anything else but as the continuation of the campaign of social warfare states wage against their people to keep them under their rule. This war is always takes place unilaterally by the state even when there’s not significant opposition to it, but it escalates as soon as its subjects attempt to fight back by abandoning the useless calls for civility and non-violence, the meaningless gestures, marches and electoral aspirations. The arrival of a the “most progressive government in the history of the democracy” in Spain has done nothing to stop this. And in fact, it has allowed it to continue more efficiently and brutal than ever by buying the support of parts of the left with electoral promises of representation.
It’s in this context that we call on all members of the international anarchist, anti-authoritarian and antifascist movement to extend their solidarity to Ruymán Rodríguez and the FAGC as well as to everyone else suffering the repression of the Spanish state. Just as they ramp up their campaign of violence, so must we increase the intensity of our fight for freedom. Messages and shows of solidarity are needed, but also actions that target the state and its institutions. No matter in what part of the world you find yourself, our enemy is the same. And any threat to one of its parts affects the whole. Let them feel the fear of those who won’t bow down to their violence.
Solidarity with Ruymán Rodríguez!
Solidarity with the victims of state violence!
Burn down the prisons, free all prisoners!
– GAF London
This is translated statement originally published by the FAGC:
We’ve been notified that on the next 24th of March our pal Ruymán Rodríguez will be taken to the court. “Casually” it’s been little more than a month since we came back to have a presence online. The prosecution asks for 1 year and 6 months of jail time (and a 770€ fine) for a baseless crime of “assault against authority”.
Let’s illuminate the background of this case. End of April 2015. Ruy is about to leave for his job (taking care of the elderly) when two guardias civiles (Spanish militarized police force in charge of civil policing) approach him in the bus stop of Guagua. Without even identifying themselves, they kidnap him and take him to the station.
There it starts the session of insults, death threats, abuse and finally slaps, beat ups and strangling…they only stop after he starts spitting blood.
Ruy refuses to make a declaration, requests the Habeas Corpus, medical assistance and that a lawyer of his choosing is informed. He also threatens them with publicly denouncing the tortures. Like he finally did. This is when the guarcias civiles start to be afraid. They haven’t arrested a helpless person incapable of reacting. This is where the accusation of assault against authority is born, to justify Ruy’s injuries.
They accuse him of kicking in the groing one of the guarcias civiles who was torturing him in the interrogation room. The accusation of assault against authority, a “crime” that happens after the arrest, is also an attempt to justify the police actions.
They justify the kidnapping due to the need of identifying Ruy because, according to them, he refused to identify himself. And why was it supposedly necessary to identify him? Because of an accusation made by a person who entered into “La Esperanza” community without permission, without giving any of the required documentation and who made an accusation against all of the “Rehousing Commission” that came to confront him. These are the requirements (in Spanish). In total 6 people were accused of “coercion”. None of them, logically, were arrested. Ruy, the only one who wasn’t present when this took place, the only one whose name the accuser must have known, is “casually” the only one arrested.
Do you think that’s where this this pantomime stops? When Ruy was arrested it had been days since the accuser, to whom we had been able to explain the rehousing protocol, HAD ALREADY WITHDRAWN ALL THE ACCUSATIONS. There was no reason to identify Ruy, or to detain him or to arrest him.
This is the truth: since 2011 the FAGC has been taking actions that the system couldn’t assimilate. Hundreds of expropriations and rehousings and hundreds of evictions stopped. We’ve helped more people to access a house than any other institution in the Canary Islands. We’ve also promoted the biggest housing socialization project of the Spanish state: 76 families, 200 people, most of them kids, living autonomously in “La Esperanza”. Currently there are 10 other communities of similar characteristics only in this island.
“La Esperanza” was a cause of distress for the Guarcia Civil in Guía. An ancient municipality with high standard of living, but little social and cultural activity. As the Community grew so did the police hostility. During the almost 24 hours the police had Ruy arrested the guarcias civiles said things to Ruy like “you are making Guía full of scum”. Also “go to Las Palmas to burn containers and leave that rehousing shit already”.
The hate for the poor by the police and the institutions and the government’s worry that an incipient anarchism got in contact, after many year of self-isolation, with destitute families, migrants and the homeless. This is the background to understand the arrest of Ruy.
They wanted to cut at its root what later would become a potent housing movement with libertarian influences that would end up crystallising in the “Sindicato de [email protected] de Gran Canaria”. They wanted to stop this: https://kolektiva.media/videos/watch/21e32246-2afa-42d9-a70a-c5d16c7cc9ba
We ask all the social collectives, independent media, etc to make theirs our demand of #RuymánLibertad (#FreeRuyman) and that they be ready to sound the alarm if the legal situation of our pal worsens. Without solidarity we are destined to be defeated.
They ask prison sentences for those who protests, fight and question. For those who, like in this case, have done nothing but help poor families to have a roof over their head. We are immersed in an escalation of repression which we’ll only be able to confront if we are united.
They want to punish Ruy because they believe that with this they’ll be able to destroy what we’ve been building for almost a decade in this island: a neighbourhood anarchism by the poor for the poor. They don’t understand what it means to face off against a social project that comes from bellow.
They are naive if they think we are going to allow them to crush us. Not even with all their gags they’ll be able to stops from continue to shout: “Bring down the walls of the prisons!” “Political or social, let all prisoners out” And of course: #RuymánLibertad (#FreeRuyman). ■