WSF (1996): “International Anarchist/Syndicalist News”

WSF (1996): “International Anarchist/Syndicalist News”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 2, number 2, third quarter 1996. Complete PDF is here

Anarchist Students Jailed in Greece:

(From: Workers’ Solidarity Movement/ Ireland).

More than 100 Greek students, self- described Anarchists, have been given prison sentences ranging from 4- 40 months by the courts. This followed a three day occupation of the Athens Polytechnic in November 1995. More than 2000 protesters took refuge in the Polytechnic following clashes with the police on November 17, the anniversary of a bloody student uprising against the 1967- 1974 military dictatorship.

The media attempted to portray the occupation as the work of a handful of teenage hooligans and went as far as using footage which was actually from riots last year. In actual fact of those arrested only 40 were under 18. This is the latest of an apparent wave of repression directed at Greek anarchists which has included bizarre accusations like blaming them for the forest fire that swept a suburb in Athens this year.

The Anarchists were convicted of various charges ranging from: invading the Polytechnic, causing extensive damage and destroying a national symbol by burning Greek flags. They said that they would appeal against their sentences.

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Anarchist Students Win in Australian NUS Election:

(From: Workers’ Solidarity Movement/ Ireland).

Reports from Australia indicate that an anarchist influenced student initiative, called the Non- Aligned- Left (NAL), has been elected to almost all the regional National Union of Students (NUS) officerships and is the largest faction on the national officerships. The NUS represents some 450, 000 students. It is the first time the Australian Labour Party has lost control of any state NUS branch and the first time non- Labour [Party] factions have had a majority of the national executive.

According to NAL activist, Marcus Westbury, the NAL has existed only for two years. They have grown from a handful of delegates to the second largest NUS faction primarily because of their commitment to participatory decision making, a non- hierarchical structure, and their non- binding nature.

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Swedish Trade Union Stays Anarchist- Syndicalist:

(From: Workers’ Solidarity Movement / Ireland).

The Anarchist- influenced SAC trade union has rejected attempts to play down the union’s anarchist- syndicalist politics. Kieran Casey, the SAC’s international secretary explained, “an internal crisis arose when due to economic constraints the union decided to lower the number of “ombudsmen” [ full time experts in labour law] while continuing to support our weekly paper “Arbetaren” [The Worker]. It was also necessary to increase union dues which had remained still for the past few years. The following referendum resulted in a small majority voting for a relatively high increase.”

Members who wanted to cut back on overtly political activities and concentrate on more conventional trade union work split away but only took 15 from the 120 local branches with them. About 1:400 members resigned. While this was happening five new SAC branches were set up, and these recruited a few hundred members by the end of 1995.

“Otherwise the SAC has enjoyed a steady, if slow, increase in members, mainly in large towns with young people dominating. The ratio between men and women is about 60:40 and the gap is diminishing. This is a healthy sign and a source of optimism. To finish off, let us remember on this anniversary of Joe Hill’s execution [ an American Anarchist/Syndicalist activist framed and executed in 1914], his focus on the word “organise” [his final words were “don’t mourn, organise”]. We organise ourselves not only to struggle to change this rotten system of wage slavery but also to gain experience and learn how to build a future society based on self management and mutual aid” said Casey.

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Repression Against German Anti- Fascists:

17 Members of the Autonome Antifa (M), a German anti- authoritarian left wing organisation which has consistently taken up the fight against fascists and racists, will go on trial on the 14 August 1996. What is their crime? They are being tried for being members of the Autonome Antifa (M), which the government is charging for being a criminal organisation. In reality this means that they are being tried for fighting fascism and racism!!!

The charges are part of a wider attack on the left wing organisation. This has included raids on the Berlin group K.O.M.M.I.T.E. E. and the banning of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in 1993. Anyone who speaks out for freedom for the colonised Kurdish people places themselves in danger of being banned. The fight against fascism and capitalism- the root of fascism- will be weakened if organisations such as the Autonome Antifa and the AA/BO are repressed. Fascists and racists, who have increased their attacks and terror on people of colour in Germany since 1992, need to be stopped. Join this campaign and help defend anti-fascist resistance!

Write to: Autonome Antifa (M) c/o Buchladen, Rote Strasse 10, D-37073 Goettingen, Germany.

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Anarchist Report from Lebanon:

The following report is based on a report from Basinia Bassan, a Lebanese anarchist, which originally appeared in the French journal “Alternative Libertaire.”.

RELIGIOUS DIVISIONS
The second Lebanese Republic faces serious problems. Although the war was ended by the 1989 Taef agreements, the underling cause of the war- the religious divide- has not been addressed, so the situation remains explosive.

For example, although the Taef agreements required that civil service recruitment must ignore religious denomination, we still find near- perfect segregation between, and within departments. This mirrors the division of the higher political functionaries- President of the Republic, President of the National Assembly etc.- into Christian positions and Muslim positions. What is worse is that you cannot choose to remain beyond these divisions- if you want to marry, for example, you must have a religious service for it to be recognised. You can be an atheist only in your thoughts, no more…

SOCIAL SITUATION.
The situation is charged by the continuing presence of Syrian and Israeli troops. What’s more, civil liberties are coming under increased attack. In July of last year, the General Union of Workers (an umbrella organisation similar to COSATU) decided to organise a general strike to protest against the 40% increase in the price of petrol. The government replied with a ban on all demonstrations, and called in the army to enforce it. The Lebanese unions did not retreat, and held a huge demonstration in August to force the government to rethink their position. Even this, though, fall far short of the changes that are needed.

Lebanon is a land of unrestrained capitalism., with a government in favour of economic liberalism and privatisation- this country with little electricity, few telephones, and little clean drinking warier. The wages of the most impoverished continue to fall, while the rich avoid paying taxes, and what money there is the government spends on luxuries for its ministers.

OPPOSITION – AGAINST WHO AND WHAT
There is little to say about the Lebanese left- much of it is identical to the petite-bourgeois parties, more interested in getting a bigger slice of the cake than with real change. Its members actually support the liberal economic policies of the government- it is strange to sometimes hear the old Maoists quoting Marx to justify their “provisional return” to capitalism.

THE NEW LEFT
Following the repression of the July demonstrations, the radical communist left is starting to regroup. It is made up of many political strands, but it is noticeable that even the nationalists are becoming more influenced by libertarianism, even anarcho- syndicalism. There is, then, a glimmer of hope, providing everyone learns the bitter lessons of experience. If we can work together in our areas of agreement, we may be able to regain the good years of 1970- 75, before the war overtook the radical left.

In conclusion, the Lebanese left will have no chance to progress if it is not open to all who agree with certain fundamental criteria: combating the Israeli occupation, fighting for secularisation, collectivisation of vital sectors (health, education…), the safeguarding of public liberties, equality between men and women, openness to the “advanced west”, openness to agreement on the left….

STRIKING BACK
The Lebanese General Union of Workers called a strike and demonstration for February 29th . Their claim was for increased wages to keep up with inflation, more freedom of expression and an end to bans on demonstrations. On February 27th the government and army declared a curfew for the 28th and 29th.

There was no demonstration but the strike took place all over the country. This is the first time we have seen a curfew used to stop a demonstration. The government is afraid of workers’ anger, the minimum salary is $150 but the cost of living is as high as in Europe. The governments justification for this ban is the conflict with Israel!

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