Winter Warmer – November 7th 2017

Don’t miss this festive fundraiser…

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BDS fundraiser 09.12.17

Support Sam Faulder!

Bristol ABC are asking comrades to support anarchist prisoner Sam Faulder.

About Sam and her case: Sam Faulder is an anarchist prisoner currently serving a life sentence in England. Sam is a miscarriage of justice who has done over ten years in the prison system.

She has been an anti-authoritarian her whole life and was relentlessly targeted by police because of her lifestyle choices. After serving nearly two years on remand, Sam’s trial was a disaster. Police corruption impacted her trial and her solicitor firm withdrew from her case three weeks before it began. Her need to appeal coincided with cuts to legal-aid and she has been trapped in the prison system ever since. She is now working with Cardiff University’s Innocence Project on her appeal. Learn more about her case and appeal here: http://freedomforsam.org/about/

About Sam’s health: After ten years experiencing every abuse imaginable, Sam was sadly diagnosed with cancer in 2016.  She has still not had treatment. She has experienced intense medical neglect while being imprisoned in a for-profit prison, HMP Peterborough, run by Sodexo. Read the full story of her cancer situation here: http://freedomforsam.org/sams-cancer-timeline/

Support Sam needs:

  • Please send letters and cards with solidarity messages to: Samantha Faulder A1209CF, HMP Foston Hall, Foston, Derby, Derbyshire, DE65 5DN
  • Please donate to her support fund: http://freedomforsam.org/donate/
  • Organise actions and dedicate them to Sam, this will mean the world to her!
  • Pay attention to the website for action alerts about her treatment
  • Share her story online

For more info please email bristol_abc@riseup.net

Witness callout: Bristol antifascist demo, 10th September

solidarity with arrested antifascists:

Several antifascists are facing trial as a result of participation in the antifascist demonstration in Bristol on 10th September. They need witnesses. If you were witness to any of the police’s actions on that day, particularly surrounding any of the arrests, please get in touch. Having witnesses to support defence cases is very important, and can mean the difference between freedom and prison for a comrade.

Contact us by email at bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net or on 07746741104. We can give advice if needed on making a statement and being a witness.

Antifenix pamphlet. The Fenix verdict: Defendants acquitted

Check out this pdf produced by comrades in the Czech Republic…3 years of lack of evidence – 3 years that fucked up our lives (DOWNLOAD .PDF FILE HERE)

The Fenix case uproar, consists of a lot of accusations of many crimes, ranging from the one of so-called “promotion of terrorism” to the one of preparation of terrorist attacks. These are the ones that were most discussed at the latest Municipal Court Hearing in Prague. During their verdict, the judge acquitted all the five defendants of the Fenix 1 case. Is it a victory? Why this decision isn’t final? Followed article is a translation of a month old overview over the court hearings and some analyses of our situation and experience, originally written in Czech language.

This long court hearing was about five anarchists, three of them accused of plotting a terrorist attack on a train carrying military paraphernalia. Two of them were accused of knowing about such plans and not having stopped the presumed authors. Two of these five people were also accused of preparing an attack with Molotov cocktails on police cars during the eviction of the Cibulka squat. Basically, according to the deployed police agents, there are in total five people and three different crimes involved. (And all this is just for Fenix 1, because some of these people are facing further accusations in the context of Fenix 2).
In the group where the five accused were involved, there were two police agent
infiltrators. These two individuals actively prepared both attacks and they also
partly started them up. However, the judge did not identify their actions as a provocation just because the materials that would detect the provocation are not available.

The Judge, Her Hon. Hana Hrncirova, stressed that she acquitted all the defendants precisely because of lack of sufficient evidence. She highlighted the lack of transparency of police’s work: “The reason why the court took such decision is the fact that during the evidence assessment the judge expressed strong doubts over the police transparency in their methods both before the commencement of the criminal prosecution and when it was legally permitted to involve the deployed agents in the case,” she said.
The judge stressed that the police acted without having a warrant for months and when the defense attorney asked for the records of their activity, the police did not have them: ” The court has no trace of such records, not even one” the judge said. Then she said: “The Defense attorney has tried to get these materials because it can be assumed that, on the grounds of these individual permits, there must be some records somewhere. Such records were never included in the file.”

According to what the police said, the materials from the first months of infiltration “are not existing or cannot be used”. Then, we have another stack of files that are existing, files with a transcript of taped down cell phone communication, and can indeed be used. Especially to prove that the secret agents, the infiltration and the construction of the case are not a matter of the past as we hear very often. Comic was the moment, when the judge raised this stack over her head (it is a volume of about 400 A4 pages) and said that from all these transcripts not a single thing has any value as evidence.

The decision is not final because the state prosecutor Pazourek felt that he still has not destroyed people’s life enough and appealed on site. As a former police officer, he believes that the police has acted correctly and hopes that the higher Court of Appeal will confirm his opinion. Surely, he will do his utmost best to find something that “must be there and can be used”. We can then just hope that this hunter of anarchists (who is also the one who proposed at least 12 years in jail for charged ones in Fenix) and also plays role in Fenix 2 will have elements with no value of evidence in the next trial as well.

Unlike Pazourek, The Minister of inferior, gun lover, social democrat, Josef Chovanec, does not have time to wait for the Higher court. The Parliamentary Elections are approaching and he has to give priority to polishing his image, presenting himself as a fair and just daddy. And therefore, after three years, he has suddenly noticed that in the Fenix case something “is not quite right”. In his “Twitter” profile he dropped a few comments by making reference to facts belonging to Czech history: “If it proves, that it was just police provocation, I will ask for a thorough investigation case and a punishment of the culprits. The police of such a democratic state […] cannot arbitrarily destroy the lives of people, and this is regardless of their political thinking.. I hope that the “Omladina trial [1]” belongs to our history and not to our present.” Too bad that he was not there saying such words when, at the time of Martin Ignacak’s imprisonment, main detective Palfiova, looking at the file, stated: “we can do everything!”.

Whether Chovanec himself is directly and or partly responsible for the process against the anarchist movement or not, we do not know and it will take long time before we find out. Surely, if the court would sent the five people behind bars we can bet that he will tap his guys’ shoulders “for the good job they have done”. Now, when the contrary happened, he can blame for their mistakes and abuse of power just a couple of individuals out of a police and punitive apparatus that is otherwise “spotless” and “helpful to all the community”.

The lack of evidence wins
For many of us the Court’s verdict is a relief. For a moment we can breathe, meet up for dinner, and see our friends in a more relaxed state of mind outside the prison walls. These moments are important in life and it is good that we can enjoy them. Prison is a useless institution, it divides relationships, isolates people and destroys lives. This is why the verdict, no matter how much more pleasant than “guilty”, is not a total win for us. We do not forget what three years of infiltration and later investigation meant. Ales, Martin, and Peter have all been incarcerated for 27 months in total, Lukas – 7 months, and before that he had been one year underground. All of them with still awaiting trials (appeal of Fenix 1 and for some of them and two more comrades Fenix 2) Some of them with possible life sentences still in the air. Let’s not forget about Igor, who is today found innocent, was in the hardest custody for three months, is still facing hard restrictions and had been reporting to the probation services for almost year and a half. On top of that, he is still at risk of deportation from the Czech Republic due by his stay in custody.

The families, friends and closest people of the defendants and imprisoned, as well as those who are directly affected by the Fenix case, are facing a great deal of emotional pressure and separation. The Police broke in in several flats and has been taking more and more people for interrogations. The police is using practices in their powers such as taking people to the forest, threatening the partners and the parents of the suspects. A list of what has been done during the various repressive actions (and we are only talking about the last three years on the anti-authoritarian scene in so called Czech Republic) would probably be long and scary.

In short, it is clear that there is nothing to celebrate. The need to smash the oppressive system is still in the game, just there is need to think about a better strategy and find new ways how to fight. In cases like the Fenix, it is necessary to understand what this is really about. From the very beginning, we said that the police is not primarily after long imprisonments of single anarchists. The Repressive units are not afraid of us alone, nor they dont’t fear of Martin, Peter, Sasha, Ales, Katarína, Radka, Igor, Lukas, Ales and the other defendants. What scares them is that more and more people would come out by identifying with our ideas, especially if they start using a wider variety of tactics. The protectors of the status quo invest a lot of strengths, energy and resources to keep people in the belief that this is the freedom they dream for.

Anti-authoritarian and anarchists people that believe that we can live our lives in a more genuine way than the one offered by neo-liberalism and that we do not need State and Politics, can offer an alternative which could interfere with this consumerist life-style. Repression is then seen as the ideal tool to suppress ideas. And by them the state apparatus wants to discredit us through sensationalist media and labeling us as terrorists, to intimidate us by using imprisonment and to divide the movement between “the radicals” and the “the nonviolent ones” and place us against each other. Paralyze us with paranoia.

The question is where this attempt of repression is successful and in which points we can work on ourselves. How not to fall into traps that are invisible at first sight and how to tear down walls in our heads. The walls inside ourselves and between us and other people. How to break these walls and build bridges out of them. How to overcome fear, obtain what are fighting for and respect each other. And last but not least, how not to fall in the urge of winning in a game that is not ours and which only takes us away from important things and activities.

The Fenix case has become a crucial point in the lives of many of us. We can learn a lot from it. Take it as a point of reference to better understand how the power structures work and to understand each others as well as to critically analyze our own mistakes. We do not want to pretend that we have the answers to all the questions out there. But we have learned one thing. If we want our actions and our organizing to be really effective and dangerous for the structures of oppression that keep us under control, these must come from collective discussions and negotiations that go beyond the outlines given by the state. We learned that there is no point to hide from repression, it is better to be ready to face it and create conditions that will make such operations inactive. As long as people are put in jail first and it is discussed whether this is the right measure to implement or not only after the imprisonment, there is a reason to keep on fighting. That is not to say that if the legal proceedings happen in the opposite order the issue is solved, rather that we need to imagine an entirely different world. A world without prisons, borders and police where we must really solve the problems ourselves rather then hidding them behind the walls.

Fenix is not an operation targeting a few naive anarchists, but an attack to the future of subversion as a whole. It is also a demonstration of Police power and of the work of the secret state agents in democracy we hear as synonymous to freedom so often.

Do not get caught!

In Solidarity, Anarchist Black Cross, Prague, Autumn Equinox 2017.

“My pillar values are: Life, Justice, Freedom, and Equality. People who construct cases and want to imprison people hardly understand such values. I am ready for any verdict, and I will take it holding my head high. A verdict that will affect my life and the life of others.”
End of Martin Ignacak’s Final Speech.

Notes:

[1]In 1894, the Omladina Trial, convened in the Austro-Hungarian regional capital of Prague, ostensibly placed Czech Anarchism and Anarcho-syndicalism before the court as well as specifically convicting 68 Czech Nationalists of radical activities. (Source: Wikipedia)

Court report and thoughts from BDS

Trial report – Direct action against Cardiff arms fair 2017.

A woman from Swansea who took direct action and made hoax calls to try and stop an arms fair in Cardiff was sentenced on 25.10.17 in Cardiff Crown Court. The judge gave her a 12 week suspended sentence for 18 months and she was ordered to pay £2000 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

Members of Bristol Defendant Solidarity joined with many other supporters to accompany D through the legal process and were there throughout the trial to show that she was not alone. A defiant demonstration of our solidarity took place on the first day on the steps of the court.

Here’s some of our observations and thoughts.

Firstly, it’s excruciatingly hard to sit through the patronising pronouncements and finger wagging words of a judge whose authority we do not accept or recognise. It’s infuriating that they have the power to decide the punishment we supposedly deserve and to take away our liberty. Everything in the court is designed to make us feel small, powerless, disciplined and fearful of the consequences of our actions.

So it was very inspiring to hear the defendant, D, clearly tell the judge and the jury that she was not sorry for her actions and that she remains committted to direct action against war and the arms industry. Her explanation of how she could not stand by while arms dealers furthered their profits by marketing mass murder was very powerful. She admitted making the calls, but argued that she was acting to prevent a greater crime by aiming to stop the selling of arms used for “mass indiscriminate killing of civilians”. The judge had ruled the previous week that such a defence is not admissible. Evidently they won’t allow their courts to be used as a means to turn the tables and put the arms industry on trial. But D had a good go at it anyway!

Her moving account of witnessing first hand the destruction wreaked by these weapons in Palestine and her motivations for doing all that she can to stop arms sales brought tears to many eyes. She told the court of her experiences driving an ambulance of medical supplies to Gaza after the Israeli bombing.

“I saw kids my grandchildrens’ age being teargassed on a daily basis” she said. “I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives. That strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade.”

The jury, sadly, were apparently unmoved and clearly suffering from a case of too much respect for the law. They dutifully followed the directions of the judge and on day two their “Guilty” verdict was reached in fifteen minutes and was unanimous. A further reminder, as if we needed it, that what’s right and what’s the law are two very different things. Their courts are not places of justice, they are places of law and of punishment.

Forced to wait until the next day for the judge’s deliberations and sentencing (all part of the punishment!), D and her supporters made final preparations for prison. There was a lot of sadness at the prospect of D being locked up away from us all and her family, but also anger at the power being wielded over us and the stress and pain caused by the state’s legal attack on our comrade.

Day three and the tension was unbearable waiting for the judge’s sentencing. The public gallery was packed and there were plenty of raised fists for D as she looked back at us all from the dock, her prison bags packed and ready by her side. The judge took her time but eventually came out with it – a suspended sentence and an order to pay £2000 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

D was not going to prison. There was much elation and an impromptu demo outside the court. Celebrations (and fundraising!) will continue as will our resistance to the Cardiff arms fair, the arms industry and war.

Throughout it all D remained really strong, defiant and absolutely solid. She puts this down to the “amazing support” she received and knowing that she was not alone. We would do well to remember that there are thousands of people on the receiving end of the “justice” system who are not lucky enough to be able to access the solidarity and support offered to D. So many people fighting back in different ways will never gain the sympathy of the judge as seemingly happened in this case.

So when we get a “win” in court (which in this case was not going to prison!) let’s keep an eye on the bigger goal of doing away with the police and court apparatus of repression, the primary weapons of the state against us all.

The Cardiff arms fair:
The Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) took place at the Motorpoint arena on 28th March this year. It is an opportunity for the arms industry and government representatives to conduct their murderous “business as usual”, leading to the arming of brutal regimes everywhere with all the latest tools for repression and wars. It was forced to move from Bristol in 2014 as a result of determined demos and actions and activists in Cardiff and beyond are aiming to do the same there. Get involved and help shut them down next year!

Lastly, supporting D, alongside several other comrades with impending trials, has used up a lot of much needed BDS funds. If you can help in any way with fundraising and/or donations for our ongoing solidarity work, please get in touch:
bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

After trial statement of D

It has been evident to me for a long time that war and internal
oppression has been the main cause of death and misery among the
ordinary people of this World. The Arms Industry is the most profitable of all global industries. Arms manufacturers are dealers in death, reaping vast profits by sacrificing people like you and me, motivated purely by greed. The development of the
F-35 jet fighter cost £288 billion (The Economist). A hospital costs on average £75 million, a school £35 million. Since 2001 when the US declared a ‘war on terror’ arms sales have been rising at an alarming rate.

My name is D. Murphy. I live in Swansea, I have children, grandchildren and now a great-granchild and have worked for over 20 years in the voluntary sector. I have been a long-time campaigner against the arms trade and have gone down every avenue available to me to voice my opposition to it. In the early days this was signing petitions, writing to my MPs, leafletting and picketing Parliament and arms companies and the banks who invested in them, going on marches and demonstrations etc. But I have realised no one is listening.

In 2009-10 3 of us from Swansea drove an ambulance with medical aid to Gaza in Palestine as part of a humanitarian convoy. I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war, where the Israeli government had carried out a sustained bombing campaign of a city no bigger than Swansea. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives and the senselessness of it all. That experience strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade.

Most people will know that since 2014 a coalition of Gulf states led bySaudi Arabia has been waging war on the desperately poor country of Yemen (where I spent a day when our flight stopped over there). The result of this war has been over 5,000 civilian deaths and 20,000 casualties and a cholera epidemic raging with nearly half a million affected and over 2,000 deaths.

The British Government is arming Saudi Arabia in a special government to government contract. And BAE Systems is the main supplier. Saudi is then using British weapons for mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen which is a war crime. ’Made in Britain’ bombs have been found amidst the rubble of a housing complex where 67 civilians were killed.

Meanwhile, British Aid organisations can’t bring aid into that country because of the destruction of ports, roads and airports by the Saudi coalition. What irony. According to the UN the whole country is on the verge of famine with over 20 million people in need of aid.

All of this leads me to where I am today and why I took the action I did at the DPRTE, Defence Procurement Research Technology and Exportability, Arms fair in Cardiff on the 28th of March this year. Its very name cloaks what it really is. On its own website it claims to be the “UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event”. According to the dictionary ‘defence procurement’ is ‘the action of acquiring military equipment and supplies’. It is an Arms Fair, no matter how the arms dealers try to disguise it. The UK Ministry of Defence is directly supplying Saudi and DPRTE is an Ministry of Defence Arms Fair. DPRTE is sponsored and attended by most of worlds largest arms companies all of which supply arms currently being used in Yemen. BAE Systems as always were present.

I joined about 70 protestors outside the Motorpoint Arena, and from early morning we protested with banners, placards, leafletting and chanting, but as on other occasions the arms fair went ahead. After nearly 20 years of protesting against the arms trade nothing we did seem to be making any difference.

On that day I acted in the only non-violent way open to me. I acted not out of a desire to do harm but precisely to PREVENT harm to innocent civilians in Yemen and by seeking to get the event peacefully and safely evacuated. I wanted to stop the fair, to stop the selling of arms. That was my intention.

Yesterday I was found Guilty by a jury in Cardiff Crown Court and today I was given a 3-month sentence suspended for 18 months. I said when I was first arrested that it was the Arms Dealers who should have been arrested in my stead, and I still believe it’s the Arms Dealers and the UK Government who should have been in the dock on trial for their complicity in War Crimes.

My resolve in opposing the Arms Trade has only been strengthened by this experience and I hope to see a huge protest outside next year’s DPRTE Arms Fair at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

My thanks for all the support I have been shown – Solidarity is a Weapon.

d. Murphy.
25/10/17