Tag Archives: repression

Russia: Repressions summary for January-February 2014

via Autonomous Action/Moscow ABC

fa6d7cfdb568From now on, we are going to publish summaries of repressions against anarchists, antifascists and social activists in Russia on a regular basis, as well as on how the state opposes our activity. In the January-February issue: sudden amnesty of antifascists in Moscow, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, attempt to ban “Avtonom” zine due to

“extremism”, detentions during Jan19 actions, verdicts in Moscow, Murmansk, Petersburg and other “heroic deeds” of cops from “E”-department. If you think that we have missed something in our article, or you know about other cases of repressions, please write to abc-msk@riseup.net On donations for ABC-Moscow check guidelines from here: http://wiki.avtonom.org/en/index.php/Donate

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United States: Anarchist Jerry Koch Imprisoned for Refusing to Testify to Federal Grand Jury

via Jerry Resists

jerrysketch-webJerry was taken into custody of US marshals today at 4:18 PM. Throughout his hearing, he did not answer any questions; he remained silent the entire time.

Over a hundred people showed in support of Jerry. The court room was packed, and he knew as he was taken by the marshals that we support and love him. The crowd yelled out their support for him as he was escorted out of the room.

Jerry asked that we release this statement to his supporters after his incarceration:

By the time you read this, I will be in the custody of the United States government for continuing my refusal to cooperate with a federal grand jury. This is the right thing to do.

I continue to believe that the government is using this federal grand jury in an abusive manner to force me to divulge information about my political associations and social networks.

If we mean what we say when we talk about radical politics, then we do not participate in witch hunts, inquisitions, or the assembly of black lists. As an individual, I will not lend legitimacy to government brutality and intimidation; I will not be used. As an anarchist, I will summon the courage to be stronger than the forces of the State’s all-too-real repression; I will not break.

Your show of truly powerful support has done nothing but strengthen my resolve in refusing to cooperate. We must not let ourselves be isolated by the government’s heavy-handed tactics. We must not give the state that last inch it tries to break in every one of us.

With Love, with Dignity, in Solidarity

Jerry Koch

If you haven’t already, please sign up for a recurring donation so that we can ensure that Jerry has immediate access to his commissary and will be able to be in touch with his loved ones.

Catalonia: Five ‘Black Flag’ Anarchists Arrested in Raids in Catalonia

via Darker Net

spainFrom comrades in Barcelona we have been informed that five members of ‘Black Flag’ have been detained in dawn raids on the anarchist-syndicalist CNT centre in Sabadell near Barcelona, Spain. They are accused of belonging to a terrorist group. The Police broke into and searched the Anarchist Workers Centre (Ateneo Libertari) in Sabadell. The operations included another raid and search in Sabadell and two more in other municipalities in Catalonia, one of them in Avignon (Bages County). On the same day police evicted the Can Piella ‘Land and Liberty’ squat. International solidarity is requested.

UPDATE: a statement from the FIJL (Federation of Iberian Libertarian Youth) has been released and is published below at end of article.

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United States: FBI Subpoena NYC Anarchist For Second Time To A Federal Grand Jury

via Jerry Resists

Statement by Jerry:

My name is Gerald Koch and I have been subpoenaed to a federal grand jury based in the Southern District of New York regarding the 2008 Times Square Military Recruitment Center bombing. This is my second subpoena concerning this matter; I was also subpoenaed in June of 2009. I refused to testify at that time based on the assertion of my First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, as I will be doing again for the duration of this grand jury. During the first grand jury, the government informed my lawyers that it was believed that I was at a bar in 2008 or 2009 where a patron indicated knowledge of who had committed the bombing. When I was first subpoenaed to the grand jury in 2009 I had no recollection of any such incident— a fact that I expressed publically. Now, almost 4 years later, I still do not recall the alleged situation.

Given that I publically made clear that I had no knowledge of this alleged event in 2009, the fact that I am being subpoenaed once again suggests that the FBI does not actually believe that I possess any information about the 2008 bombing, but rather that they are engaged in a ‘fishing expedition’ to gain information concerning my personal beliefs and political associations.

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Russia: Well-known Russian anti-fascist, Alexey Gaskarov, arrested

via Autonomous Action

On sunday, the 28th of April 2013, a well-known Russian anti-fascist, Alexey Gaskarov, was arrested in Moscow. He is a member of the Coordination Council of Russian opposition. The investigation committee of the Russian Federation has accused him of having pacticipated in riots and violence against representative of authorities on the 6th of May 2012, when OMON (Russian riot police) attacked a peaceful demonstration.

The 6th of May was one day prior to Putin’s inauguration, and a mass demonstration had been called by the opposition. The winter and spring of 2011-2012 saw the biggest wave of political demonstrations in Russia in almost 20 years, as tens of thousands of people went out on the streets to protest election fraud. The 6th of May was also the first time authorities moved to crush these protests. According to the opposition more than 600 people were arrested, and as of now 28 people have been charged, who have been remanded, been put under house arrest or have been forced to emigrate.

On that day, Alexey Gaskarov was beaten up by OMON with batons and boots. He filed a complaint against the officers who beat him up, but nobody was charged. Now, a year after, and just a few days before the anniversary of the 6th of May demonstration, as Alexey was about to be at the head of the column of the left-wing and anti-fascist bloc, he has had a set of absurd charges brought against him and has been arrested.

Alexey Gaskarov was born on the 18th of June 1985, and has been politically active since his school years.

Gaskarov gained fame in the summer and autumn of 2010, when during the protest campaign against the destruction of the Khimki forest, he was  arrested along with Maxim Solopov and was accused of orchestrating an attack by 300-400 young anti-fascists, who supported the environmental struggle, against the administration of the city of Khimki.  In autumn 2010, Alexey Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov were released from prison, thanks to a massive international campaign for the “Khimki Hostages”. In the summer of 2011, Gaskarov was cleared of all charges.

Since the beginning of the mass demonstrations against the falsification of the elections in Russia in December of 2011, Alexey Gaskarov has been an active participant. He was one of the speakers in the biggest of the demonstrations, on the 24th of December 2011 in Sakharov street in Moscow, and was in charge of the security for that meeting, who fought back against the Neo-Nazi provocations.

He is being held in the police jail of Petrovka 38, awaiting his appointment in court at 11am on the 29th of April 2013 at the Basmanniy courthouse in Moscow. Pending court decision, Gaskarov will be remanded or released.

Additional information:

United States: Daniel McGowan Taken Into Custody

Just when we thought it was over….

We have some bad news to report. This morning Daniel was taken into custody by federal marshals and is now at the federal detention center in Brooklyn getting processed.

We are still waiting to hear why this has occurred. Considering his exemplary behavior at the halfway house, approved weekend passes and the full-time job he started as soon as he was released back to the city this is all pretty insane. The Bureau of Prisons has proven to be cruel and vindictive time and time again.

Anyway, what YOU can do right now is write to Daniel and send your love! We don’t know how long he will be here, but there is a good chance it will be until his sentence officially ends on June 5.

Please write to:
P.O. BOX 329002

Thanks for your continued support! We will keep you updated as we learn more!

State Using ‘Secret Evidence’ To Try And Keep John Bowden Behind Bars

From Indymedia UK:

For the past 30 years John Bowden has been at the forefront of the British prison struggle, and is by far our most prolific prisoner writer. Time and again, John’s articles have shone a searchlight into the State’s murky dungeons, exposing brutality and repression, and challenging the very nature of prison. For many years now, John has been held in jail because of his political views and his willingness to challenge injustice. That has never been clearer than now, as the State attempts to use ‘secret evidence’ to keep him behind bars. Leeds ABC

It is relatively rare that prisoners, originally sentenced for non-political offences, become so politicised whilst in jail, that their release is opposed by the prison authorities for exactly that reason.

In the case of life sentence prisoners who have served the “tariff” part of their sentence (or the length of time the judiciary stipulates they should remain in jail), the legal criteria determining their release, or not, are clear and straightforward: Has the prisoner served a sufficient period of time to satisfy the interests of punishment and retribution? Does the prisoner remain a risk to the community? Can the prisoner be safely and effectively supervised in the community post-release?

Of course the prison authorities would never openly admit that apart from the above criteria, there is another “risk factor” that would prevent a life sentence prisoner’s release: Their identification with a progressive or radical political cause. Opposing a life sentence prisoner’s release, purely on the basis of their having exposed and organised against human rights abuse in the prison system, would of course make a complete mockery of the claim that, apart from its punishment function, prison also exists as a place of reform and rehabilitation, a place where supposedly brutal and anti-social criminals are made better people by a system administered by humane and just-minded individuals. The entire legitimacy of the prison system is based on the premise that, essentially it exists to protect the public from individuals who represent a threat , so denying that some life sentence prisoners are kept locked-up solely because they embrace an ideology that actually believes in a society and world free from violence, exploitation, and inequality, is imperative if the myths and fallacy used to justify the existence of prisons is to remain intact.

The prison system actually employs a whole legion of compliant ‘Criminal Justice’ system “professionals”, like social workers, probation officers, and psychologists to provide, if necessary, the politically neutral lexicon of “risk-factors” and “Personality Disorder” to legitimize the continued imprisonment of life sentence prisoners, who in reality are viewed as politically motivated and likely to become politically involved on the outside if released. The narrative of my own life and experience from brutalised and violent young criminal to politically conscious prisoner activist, and how the prison system continues to respond to that, is illustrative of how that system actually considers politicised life sentence prisoners far, far more worthy of continued detention than those who might genuinely pose a risk to the community.

In 1982, I was sentenced, alongside two other men, to life in prison for the killing of a fourth man during a drunken party on a South London council estate. At the time, I was 25 years old, and a state-raised product of the care and “youth justice” system. The prison system that I entered in the early 1980’s was a barbaric and de-humanising place, where in terms of the treatment of prisoners, the rule of law stopped dead at the prison gate. My almost immediate response to prison repression was one of total defiance and resistance, that was met with physical and psychological brutality in the form of regular beatings, (in 1991 a civil court in Birmingham found that prison guards in the notorious Winson Green jail had subjected me to a sustained and gratuitous beating-up within minutes of my arrival at the jail), and many years held in almost clinical solitary confinement. Far from breaking my defiance, such inhuman treatment only deepened my determination to fight the system, and to use the only method truly effective in that regard – solidarity with other prisoners. As the years passed, I began to politically contextualise the struggle I was involved in against the prison system, and understand it as a part of a much wider struggle that transcended prison walls and essentially characterised all societies and places where the powerful brutalised and de-humanised the powerless.

The length of time that my original trial judge recommended I should remain in jail has now long passed, and yet I remain in a maximum security prison, and what can best be described as a campaign by the prison system to keep me here intensifies with the approach of my second parole hearing in over 30 years.
It is essentially my contact with prisoner support groups on the outside, or “subversive” and even “terrorist” groups, as the prison authorities have defined and described them, that is now claimed in some prison system reports, as the main “Risk-Factor” preventing my release. Of course , if necessary, for the purpose of officially legitimising my continued imprisonment, for the convenience of the Parole Board, the usual array of morally compromised and corrupt social workers and prison-hired psychologists will attest to the fact that my enduring “anti-authoritarianism” is just a symptom of my psychopathy and continuing risk to the public. But if there are any doubts that I remain in prison, first and foremost, because of my efforts to expose the prison system for what it truly is, then a document sent to the Parole Board by the Scottish Prison Service on the 2nd December last year, lays them firmly to rest.

The document, an “intelligence report” compiled by the Security Department at Shotts Prison in Lanarkshire, was comprised of two parts, one that I was allowed to read, and another part described as “Non-Disclosure”, which means secret information that I would not be allowed access to. It is rare for “Non-Disclosure” intelligence reports to be submitted to the Parole Board, and it represents a total negation of any pretence of open and natural justice, very much like the secrecy employed to imprison “terrorist suspects” without legal due process. Obliged as it is to officially inform prisoners if “Non-Disclosure” evidence is to be used against them at parole hearings, I received a letter from an “Intelligence Manager” at Shotts Prison in late December of last year, informing me that a portion of “intelligence” on me was so detrimental to “public interest” if it was revealed that it had to be kept secret. I was, however, informed that the “intelligence” related to articles written by me that were critical of the prison system and then placed on political websites. One seriously wonders how the posting of articles and information on the internet that expose abuses of power by the prison system, would so endanger “public interest”, unless of course we replace “public interest” with the more precise “state interest”. The purpose behind the use of “Non-Disclosure” evidence in my case is obvious – To convey to the Parole Board the clear message that my current “risk” is not so much about a danger to the public, but much more about my willingness to publicly expose the brutal nature of the prison system, with the assistance of “subversive groups” on the outside. The part of the “Intelligence Report” that I was allowed full access to confirms this.

Virtually every single one of the “entries” in the part of the report I was allowed access to focuses on what it describes as my “internet activity” and links to “subversive groups” on the outside:

“Bowden continues to leak information through a social networking site.”

“Website features articles relating to Bowden asking people to protest and fight for freedom.”

“Bowden continues to be involved in internet activity and there are plans to have a day of action in support of Bowden.”

“Intelligence provides that Bowden sends correspondence out of prison that is then posted on the internet.”

There is also a reference to what was described as my attempt to set up a debating society in the prison’s Education Department to “platform his current political views, which are focused on poverty.”

This is the evidence that the prison system claims justifies my continued detention after more than three decades in prison. Not a single entry in the “intelligence report” suggests I pose a genuine risk to the community or am likely to re-offend in a criminal way, and yet the Parole Board, a wholly white middle-class body, will inevitably rubber-stamp my continued imprisonment in compliance with the prison system’s wishes.

The two men who were originally imprisoned with me in 1982 were released almost twenty years ago, and I, as a direct result of my struggle to empower and organise prisoners in defence of their basic human rights, remain buried in a maximum security jail, probably until I die.

I will of course continue to write and distribute articles exposing and criticising the brutality of prison as a weapon of social control and ruling class violence, and also highlighting my own victimisation as a consequence of that.

John Bowden

You can download John Bowden’s pamphlet ‘Tear Down The Walls!’ free of charge from the Leeds ABC website at: http://leedsabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Tear-Down-The-Walls-2010.pdf

Also check out a pamphlet recently produced by our comrades at Bristol ABC to which John contributed: http://leedsabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/cscs-torture-units-in-the-uk-screen31.pdf

You can read a recent interview with John here – http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/11/503068.html

Other articles by John can be read on the Leeds ABC website (www.leedsabc.org), as well on the websites of our sister ABC groups in Bristol ( https://bristolabc.wordpress.com), Brighton (www.brightonabc.org.uk), and London (https://network23.org/london/abc).

Please send letters/cards of support to John at:
John Bowden, 6729,
HMP Shotts,
Cantrell Road,
ML7 4LE.

You can also send e-mails to John (or any other prisoner) via: http://www.emailaprisoner.com

A guide on writing to prisoners can be found here: http://leedsabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/writing-to-prisoners-2012.pdf

Leeds ABC have printed 4000 ‘Free John Bowden stickers’ – see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/10/500839.html

Show your support for John by wearing a ‘Free John Bowden’ T-shirt – see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/10/501867.html


Interview With Militant Prisoner John Bowden

Interview With Militant Prisoner John Bowden by From Here On In

John Bowden was arrested for murder in 1980 and sentenced to life imprisonment. After twelve years of institutionalised brutality and repression, he managed to escape in 1992 and was on the run from the police for a year and a half. He was recaptured in 1994 and has since been moved from prison to prison for constantly speaking out and acting against the prison industrial complex.

FHOI – It would seem a bit false to start an interview without knowing anything more about you than the brief introduction offers. Tell you a bit about your life and how you feel that may have affected who and where you are now.

JB – The circumstances and history of my life before prison are familiar to many long-term prisoners; a materially very poor childhood, often accentuated by racism, and an inclination to rebel and challenge rules. Then the long trek through brutal institutions; children’s ‘homes’, secure-units, youth custody institutions, and finally maximum-security prisons. Most “violent offenders” are created and manufactured within youth custody institutions, where violence is used to maintain control and discipline, and used as an expression of power. Young offenders learn quickly that an ability and willingness to use violence determines one’s place in the institutional pecking order, an order sanctified by those in charge. Before my politicisation in jail, and discovery of solidarity as a true weapon of authentic empowerment, I was a classic example of a violent state-raised offender, a creation of the system.

FHOI – Tell us about the routine of prison life. When do you wake-up, eat, exercise and sleep, and how does this affect the mentality and morale of yourself and your fellow prisoners?

JB – The daily routine of prison life is structured and designed to crush the human spirit and engender total and absolute obedience. Long-term prisoners, especially, experience what feels like an eternity of timeless, soul-destroying, rigidly-structured monotony, where one physically ages in a total vacuum of psychological stimulation and emotional experience, apart from anger, despair, and complete disempowerment. It is a man-made hell, and intrinsically designed to break and destroy any spirit of resistance. Personally, my strategy for psychological survival is to recognise and interact with the official regime here as little as possible; although confined physically within the prison, I create my own personal daily routine and a small piece of my own space. I don’t work in the jail workshops on principle, so my average day is usually spent working-out in the gym and reading and studying in my cell. Although in jail, my mind is free and unrestrained, and ultimately that’s where the final struggle takes place – a struggle to maintain the freedom and integrity of one’s mind.

FHOI – What are the current conditions of your imprisonment and the legal context surrounding your case? For instance, are you due a parole hearing in the near future, and if so, is anybody trying to prevent that?

JB – My current situation is one of impasse with the system. Last year the Parole Board reviewed my case and decided that I represented minimal risk to the community and should be transferred to an open prison in preparation for release. The prison system refused to comply with the Board’s request, and basically said that unless the Board ordered my release, the prison authorities would decide if and when I would be transferred to an open jail, and at the moment there was no intention to allow me out of maximum security conditions because of my “anti-authoritarian” attitude and refusal to comply with whatever prison management dictated. The Parole Board’s position is that I must be in an open jail before they consider my release, and so it’s a vicious circle situation, with both sides, the prison system and the Parole Board, almost colluding to prevent my release. At some point, I will probably have to see a Judicial Review and take the case to the courts, and possibly even the European Court of Human Rights. In fact, I’m now being held under a form of preventative detention, which under European human rights law is illegal.

FHOI – Have you ever worked within the prisons you’ve been incarcerated in? If not, what are your reasons for refusal, but if yes, what have been your experiences of prison labour?

JB – I have very little experience of prison labour and on principle have often refused to co-operate with it on the grounds that it amounts to forced slave labour, which under European and UN law is of course totally illegal. I have, however, often organised mass work-strikes in jail, (in Perth jail in 1994 we virtually closed the jail down for four days). So there is real potential to use the prison labour issue as an instrument for creating and mobilising real and effective solidarity in jail.

FHOI – What is your opinion on immediate issues such as a minimum wage for prisoners, or whether prisoners should get the vote? How do you see these struggles (whether they exist in action or not) within the context of the struggle against the prison system, state, and capital as a whole?

JB – I think we need to be very careful about supporting palliative reforms, like voting rights for prisoners and the minimum wage, because there’s a danger of legitimizing prison as an institution. That is the danger of the whole prison reform enterprise, that it seeks to reform an institution and system that is intrinsically irreformable, and instead should be completely abolished. We also need to ask ourselves which reforms of the prison system undermine and weaken it, and which ultimately legitimize and consolidate it. Tactically, I’m certainly not opposed to liberal reforms of the prison system, but only as a means to weakening and subverting it, and definitely NOT as an attempt at making prisons “better” and more respectable places. What has our so-called “liberal democracy” fundamentally achieved for the poor and powerless in our society? And will allowing prisoners access to that sham REALLY improve their conditions and make jails less oppressive and inhumane? I think not.

FHOI – A lot has been written from radical perspectives on how society on the outside more and more resembles the prison. What is your personal or shared experience (with other prisoners) of this depiction?

JB – Prison has always existed as a microcosm of the wider society, and also as a concentrated laboratory of repression and social control. In so many ways, the society beyond jail is little more than an open prison, where people’s lives are controlled and regulated by an omnipresent state. The unfortunate difference is of course that the majority of people on the outside in the wider society are unaware of their captivity, and so are mostly compliant with it, whilst in here we KNOW we exist under the iron heel of the state, and even the most co-operative prisoner harbours a hatred of it. The state generally is becoming more oppressive and intrusive, more all-controlling, as the economic fabric of our capitalist, class-divided society disintegrates, and rich and poor become even more polarised and antagonistic. And whilst we in prison are daily confronted with even more repressive regimes, so the poor in the wider society will also experience greater repression. Ultimately, it’s one struggle and one fight against a common state enemy, inside and outside prison.

FHOI – You have written a great deal on the purpose and development of the prison industry whilst inside. Why do you do this, and how do you imagine the information continues after leaving your hands?

JB – I have written much about the development of the prison industry because I think it’s important to highlight the way prisons are being used increasingly as a source of profit and cheap enslaved labour. I hope that the information and perspective that I communicate is used to raise awareness and inform a debate and struggle.

FHOI – Finally, what has been the most inspiring or heart-warming moment of your time behind bars?My life in prison has mostly been hard and difficult, and a real struggle against overwhelming adversity. But there have been moments of victory and inspiration, when my faith in the strength and beauty of the human spirit has been deeply confirmed.

JB – I still vividly remember my first participation in an organized protest at Wormwood Scrubs prison way back in about 1981, and how it changed me deeply as a person. The guards in the jail had been routinely brutalising prisoners, and had created a regime based on absolute fear, even terror. A few days before the protest I was involved in a peaceful protest by prisoners in one wing of the jail, which had been crushed with savage violence and brutality, and its “ringleaders” beaten and batoned all the way to he punishment unit. An atmosphere of fear subsequently prevailed in the jail and the guards swaggered around with an almost omnipotent arrogance and confidence. When a prisoner on the exercise yard one day suggested we should stage a sit-down protest, in solidarity with the prisoners whose recent protest had been so inhumanely crushed, I recall how a shiver of fear and apprehension ran through everyone on the yard. To protest in such a place was to invite terrible retribution, and yet all of us silently nodded and agreed to refuse to obey the order to leave the yard on the completion of the one hour exercise period. Initially, the guards grinned and smirked when we remained on the yard and refused to return to our cells, and then their mood and demeanour grew serious and more hostile as time passed. There were about 200 of us on the yard that day, men who usually associated only with their own groups or gangs, men from a diversity of ethnic backgrounds, men who imbued with prison culture, usually treated each other with suspicion, hostility, or indifference. On this day however, on that drab prison exercise yard, with fear and anticipation in the air, a unity developed that was unbreakable and absolute. We all recognised a common purpose and humanity, and we all knew that together we were strong and would prevail, whatever brutality was inflicted on us. The guards also saw and recognised our collective defiance, and fear replaced their arrogance. For the first time in my life, a life largely spent in brutal state institutions, I felt incredibly strong and empowered, and began to understand the dynamics of true struggle and solidarity, and it changed me irrevocably. Despite countless struggles and protests in jail since, the feelings of that day remain very precious and memorable.

Recent articles about John’s situation here:  http://leedsabc.org/john-bowden-time-to-get-him-out/ and  http://leedsabc.org/the-unlawful-detention-of-john-bowden/

You can download John Bowden’s pamphlet ‘Tear Down The Walls!’ free of charge from the Leeds ABC website at:  http://leedsabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Tear-Down-The-Walls-2010.pdf

Also check out a pamphlet recently produced by Bristol ABC to which John contributed:  http://leedsabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/cscs-torture-units-in-the-uk-screen31.pdf

Other articles by John can be read on the Leeds ABC website (www.leedsabc.org ), as well on the websites of our sister ABC groups in Bristol (  https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/ ), Brighton (www.brightonabc.org.uk ), and London (  https://network23.org/london/abc ).

Please send letters/cards of support to John at:
John Bowden, 6729, HMP Shotts, Cantrell Road, Shotts, Scotland, ML7 4LE.
You can also send e-mails to John (or any other prisoner) via:  http://www.emailaprisoner.com

A guide on writing to prisoners can be found here:  http://leedsabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/writing-to-prisoners-2012.pdf

Leeds ABC have printed 2000 ‘Free John Bowden stickers’ – see  http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/10/500839.html

They also have ‘Free John Bowden T-shirts available. See  http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/10/501867.html.