January 2011 finds us enthused by recent events around the world that point to the coming year as being a potentially significant one in the struggle against capital and oppression. Events in Belarus, Algeria and a little more successfully in Tunisia, show that many ordinary people can only be pushed so far before fighting back. Despite 2 decades of dictatorship and tightly controlled police states, and despite the consequences of resisting, people in these 3 countries have shown amazing bravery and determination.
We remain enthused by the actions of students and youth in late 2010 across the UK, into Italy, and spreading across Europe, giving a small indication that the ongoing 2 year rebellion in Greece is slowly spreading an anti-capitalist virus that the state has no final antidote to. Encouraging in these struggles have been displays of solidarity with people arrested, and a very fast learning curve amongst protesters of the need for legal info & support.
Most prisoner support and anti-prison groups, like us, are small with meagre resources, and composed of people who are also involved with other projects. Whilst our efforts remain small in the context of larger struggles, we do detect a growth of understanding of the need for prisoner & defendant solidarity, and of the need to expose and defy the growing prison society around us. We send our support to those prisoners who recently at Ford prison and elsewhere have struck back at the petty rules and outright inhumanity inherent in the prison system. We welcome the growth in New Year’s Eve noise & solidarity protests outside prisons – Bristol saw another one this year up in Horfield, and around the world such protests were more numerous and antagonistic. We look to Greece once again as an example of growing links and joint activity between those locked up and those continuing the fight on the outside. If 2011 does indeed contain an explosion in social struggles, we can be sure of one thing – the state and it’s corporate masters will respond brutally, and this will mean many more defendants and prisoners. The provision of solidarity and mutual aid across the UK and internationallly with be crucial in maintaining the growing strength of our social movements and ensuring that nobody is forgotten inside the prison walls. We aim to do what we can to help with this.
To kick off 2011 we have produced the first of an occassional series of newsletters. Download a copy here (pdf): bristol_newsletter1 The newsletter contains a review of some of the prisoners/situations we supported in 2010, along with brief notes on what we do and why. We continue slowly updating and improving our blog, and have several more useful & informative pages to add soon. We have also improved the links to provide easier access to news of resistance and solidarity internationally. We will also continue doing what we did in 2010, publishing a regular prisoner list, hosting letter-writing nights, fundraising and providing info and support.
Although the newsletter was only finalised a week ago, in this fast-moving world it is already out of date! Jock Palfreeman’s appeal hearing came to an end on 19 January, and Jock now has a slow wait for upto 30 days whilst the court considers it’s verdict on his appeal against his sentence and the procedures used in his trial. In Greece the appeal of the Thessaloniki 4, including Londoner Simon Chapman, has begun, and like Jock’s we see plenty of evidence that the cops and prosecution have been telling lies/witholding evidence. You can get daily reports ‘From the Greek Streets’ of the Thessaloniki 4 trial, and communiques & updates from other trials in Greece at Act For Freedom. In Bristol we have joined with Kebele Sound to organise a benefit on Saturday 5 February (see image) for the Thessaloniki 4 solidarity campaign, and for the Bristol DA bust fund which will support those with problems arising from taking direct action.
There will be more to come, for the struggle for freedom remains inevitable.