Rise up for Rojava demo report

Members of Bristol Antifascists joined a 300 strong demonstration in London on 27th January as part of the international days of action under the banner of “Rise up for Rojava”. Despite the driving rain and bitter cold the demo was fired up, loud and defiant as it was led by Kurdish youth and women. Inspired by the bravery and determination of the Kurdish hunger strikers (one of whom was on day 82!) and the ongoing resistance to the Turkish state, ISIS and the forces of fascism and capitalism in Rojava, we added our voices to the worldwide solidarity with the Rojava revolution. We heard how the previous day hundreds of protesters entered a Turkish military base in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, setting fire to the facilities and vehicles and sacking the base after Turkish airstrikes killed civilians.

The demo started with a rally at the BBC, loudly and clearly condemning the corporation for it’s silence and complicity with the war on the Kurdish people. Shouts of “Wake up London, wake up UK!”, “Stop supporting terrorism, stop arming Turkey!” and “One solution, revolution!” amongst others went up all the way to Trafalgar Square, accompanied by Kurdish resistance music, speakers and plenty of flares. When the cops started massing numbers to snatch some Kurdish youth displaying their flags, word quickly went around to form a protective circle around them to prevent any arrests. The police thought better of it and backed down. Solidarity is our best defence and this was a very clear example of how we share the same enemies, from ISIS and genocidal states such as Turkey and the UK, to capitalism and it’s uniformed protectors. For international solidarity and antifascist resistance.

For more info and to get involved:
https://twitter.com/KurdishStudents
https://www.facebook.com/BristolKurdishSolidarity/

Here is the original callout for the international days of action. The call for action and solidarity still stands:

# RiseUp4Rojava – Call for global days of action on 27 and 28 January 2019

 

Solidarity with Russian antifascists

Members of Bristol antifascists joined a sizable solidarity demonstration in London last weekend to let antifascists in Russia know that they are not alone and not forgotten. Some 200 comrades met at the awesome Cable Street commemoration mural in East London where there were speeches about the severe repression and state brutality being endured by our comrades in Russia and the urgent need for international solidarity. Accompanied by a sound system blaring out motivational antifascist tunes and flares, the demo then went through residential and shopping areas distributing information, talking with local people about the situation and showing our solidarity. There were more speeches and a rally at Altab Ali park in Whitechapel. This park is named after a 25 year old Bangladeshi man murdered in a nearby street by racists in 1978. It was a fitting place to hold our rally, standing together in the face of an upsurge of fascist and racist demonstrations, violence and murders worldwide.

Russian anti-fascists and anarchists are being arrested, framed and tortured in a brutal wave of repression which has put eleven Russian anti-fascists behind bars, facing obviously fabricated charges which could see them jailed for five to twenty years each.

The repression began in autumn 2017 when six anti-fascists were arrested in Penza and had weapons and explosives planted on them. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) tortured the anti-fascists in the pre-trial detention facility by electrocuting them, beating them and hanging them upside down. While torturing them, security chiefs forced the activists to memorise the testimony the FSB wanted them to give: that they were part of a fictional terrorist group called ‘The Network’.

Two more anti-fascists were arrested in St. Petersburg at the end of January 2018 and were also beaten, electrocuted and forced to incriminate themselves by saying they were members of ‘The Network’. A third person was accused in St. Petersburg and two more from Penza have also been arrested for supposed involvement in this make-believe organisation. The FSB claims that the detainees planned to arrange explosions during the presidential elections and the World Cup to “further destabilise the political situation in the country”.

After knowledge of the fabricated court cases and horrific torture became widespread, solidarity actions started to take place, but this led to more repression. Some Russian activists who took part were detained, electrocuted and had criminal proceedings started against them – just for expressing solidarity.

This repression of anti-fascists comes at a time when the Russian state are working with gangs of far-right thugs to repress the whole of civil society. One poignant example of this happened ten years ago, two Russian anti-fascists, journalist Anastasia Baburova and lawyer Stanislav Markelov, were murdered by fascists in broad daylight on 19 January. Every year, Russian anarchists and anti-fascists gather to remember them.

More info about the situation here: https://rupression.com/en/

Hundreds turn out in solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

 

Show DFLA fascists the red card!

 

On Sunday May 6th, members of our group joined with other AntiFascist Network groups to oppose the “Democratic Football Lad’s Alliance” in Whitehall, central London. If people had any doubts before about the true nature of this group, the picture is much clearer now. By providing a forum and a broad based coaliton for far right scum of every persuasion, they have nailed their colours to the mast and made their racist and fascist position extremely clear. They can’t hide behind their tired old appeals for “free speech” any more because we see right through them and recognise the same faces as we’ve been seeing on fascist demonstrations for years. Welcoming in far right, neo nazi organisers like Eddie Stampton, Luke Pippen, Martin Jackson and a whole host of other longstanding fascist shitheads makes a fascist organisation. None of this is really about “free speech” and these people certainly have no interest in free speech for anyone but themselves, as was evidenced in their mob attack on a couple of muslim journalists trying to cover the event and get some interviews. It has a lot more to do with building a combative and powerful far right street movement in this country. We’ve seen all this before with the rise of the EDL. Before that the same demands for free speech have been used by fascist groups throughout history, including the nazis in their rise to power. The politics, the methods and the rhetoric are more well rehearsed and a bit more slick this time, but essentially the same as the last round of fascist movement building.
We saw first hand what this looks like in reality on Sunday as the racists and fascists repeatedly attempted to attack the antiracist demonstration. Militant antifascists stood together with antiracists determined to defend the demonstration and repelled each and every attack. We will do the same next time and for however long it takes to force the DFLA off the streets just as we did with the EDL, through mass, community based, militant antifascism.
But it’s going to take all of us doing it together. We cannot allow the racists and fascists to gain confidence with successful big demonstrations. We need to take the threat of what the DFLA represents very seriously and we have to mobilise all our efforts together to see them off. They are uniting previously disparate far right groups and attracting nationalists and racists in their hundreds. The DFLA, if it’s not stopped, will enable and provoke more murderous attacks against muslims such as the Finsbury Park Mosque attack of June 2017. Remember Darren Osborne, the far right killer responsible, was inspired by Tommy Robinson, the de facto leader of the DFLA. There cannot be a clearer case of how far right figures, rhetoric and organisations lead to far right attacks and murders.
Antifascism is the responsibility of all of us. Now is the time to get involved. Join the AntiFascist Network. Destroy the DFLA and smash fascism!

Remembering means fighting

It’s hard to know how and where to start to give enough of a tribute to our fallen comrade, Anna. She was killed by the Turkish army and their ISIS allies. while fighting with the Kurdish Women’s Protection forces (YPJ) to defend Afrin. She was an absolutely incredible woman, a true friend to so many of us, a solid comrade and an inspiration to us all.
Anna wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone and one of her strengths was making sure everyone around her was okay and cared for. She was an antifascist, an anarchist, a feminist, a fighter and so much more. We met Anna in lots of different places, including Calais, supporting the migrant struggle on the border between France and the UK. We met her in the fields as a hunt saboteur, fighting alongside others to stop the brutal killing of wild animals. We met her at every eviction resistance in our city. We met her organising in the prison abolition struggle, fighting to free all prisoners. But our lives came together in the fight against fascism. Whether on the streets of Brighton, Dover or Bristol we all stood side by side with Anna to actively fight against the rise of the far right.
With her unbreakable commitment to the struggle for a better world she dedicated her life to groups fighting for revolutionary change. She lived in the thick of it all and as devastating as the news of her death is, it comes as no surprise for us that in the thick of it all is where she died.
We are very proud to have worked, organised and fought alongside such a powerful woman and we will carry on the fight that she lived and breathed. Her motivation to work tirelessly for total change, her passion for freedom, her determination to stand up for what is right, her courage to face death for her principles, hopes and dreams will strengthen our motivation to carry on the struggle.
We remember Anna and all those who have fought so hard and lost their lives making a stand for a better world. We will turn our grief and tears into action and it is in our demonstrations and actions that Anna will live on.
Remember Anna and carry on fighting!
Rest In Power, Anna!

 

Solidarity with Russian anarchists and antifascists

News just in – There is a solidarity infonight tomorrow, 18.03.18, at BASE (formerly Kebele):

https://www.facebook.com/events/170401267093170/

It is to raise awareness of the situation for Russian anarchists and antifascists facing severe state repression in Russia. There will also be a showing of the film “Sad But true, in the Memory of Ivan”. The infonight starts at 7pm, during the regular Sunday night cafe.

The situation:

During last months Russian secret services have arrested several operation anarchists and related issues:antifascists in Penza and Saint-Petersburg cities. They were accused with creation of “terrorist organization”. Arrested people were tortured with electric cables and shockers during many hours, brutally beaten without paying any care to make hard damage and visible traces of beating. Officers humiliated our arrested comrades. They tried to force them make evidences and accusations against themselves and against each other. These true Gestapo actions of Russian FSB secret service can call only vigorous protest from every honest person who can only learn the truth about the situation. At the same time with arrests in Saint-Petersburg raids and arrests by FSB against anarchists were made in Crimea.

The international solidarity action week of February 7-12 exposed wide reaction of the libertarian movement worldwide to these terrible repressions and made huge informational effect in Russia. But it appeared to be not enough to overcome the situation. Very soon the information was published that some of arrested anarchists were again tortured and intimidated. They were demanded by FSB officers to refuse to participate in campaign of resistance against tortures and repressions. More – after solidarity actions in Russia police launched repressions against its participants. Comrades were prosecuted in Moscow and Chelyabinsk cities. Anarchists in Chelyabinsk were tortured with electricity by police while accused with “hooliganism” (!)

It is necessary to continue and strengthen the campaign of solidarity to force Russian authorities to end tortures and political repressions.

The best day for new actions is March 18 – the day of presidential
elections in Russia. In this day ruling regime is the most vulnerable and the eyes of the world will be turned to the situation in our country.

We urgently and desperately call to all anarchist, leftist, antifascist and democratic groups and communities all over the world to organize actions of protest and resistance of any kind against tortures and repressions in Russia by the embassies, consulates and other official offices of Russian Federation in your countries.”

One may read in detail about it here:
https://avtonom.org/en/news/airsoft-penza-terrorism-case

AFN “Antifascist Resistance 2018” and Defend Afrin demo report back

Several Bristol antifascists attended the very well organised AFN conference on 10th March. The event brought together antifascist groups and individuals from around the country at the impressive and welcoming Kurdish community centre in Haringey. A lot of good links were made, not least with the Kurdish comrades, over the course of the day. There were a range of discussions and talks, from antifascist history to present day struggles and prisoner solidarity and prison abolition.
A last minute addition to the programme saw a well attended talk by some comrades from the US antifascist movement, who got a warm welcome. They talked about the tough terrain they face in the states since the inauguration of a white supremacist president and subsequent ongoing resistance in the face of escalating repression.
Elsewhere there were several welcoming and accessible self defence sessions throughout the day, with a good mix of people taking part and strengthening our ability to fight to win! The antifascist kid’s zone was the scene of much uproar and lots of fun times for antifascists big and small. The next generation showed great promise at antifascist skittles, stick the fist on Richard Spencer and flag burning for beginners, amongst other appropriate activites.
A big meeting on the subject of strengthening and sustaining our antifascist movement was packed out and there were loads of really useful thoughts and contributions shared. We talked about the problems we face and how to make links, grow and make sure we are as effective as possible as antifascists.
The last words, appropriately, went to the Kurdish comrades, as an activist from the Kurdish youth movement gave an excellent talk and answered questions about the Kurdish struggle and revolution as well as information about the Turkish attack on Afrin and the complicity of the UK in the atrocities being perpetrated. The comrade spoke so powerfully and made it absolutely clear that their struggle is ours, against capitalism, fascism and for all humanity.
So it was that when we heard that there was a Kurdish demo for solidarity with Afrin organised that evening, several of us went to stand with them.

Long live Afrin!

Organised within two hours of hearing about the advance of Turkish forces on the centre of Afrin, this demonstration was an absolute inspiration for antifascists everywhere! At 7pm there was a group of around 20 or so but within half an hour that number was nearer 200. It was clear that lots of the predominantly Kurdish demonstrators had friends and family back home facing the genocidal Turkish army and trying to survive the bullets and bombs. There was a real feeling of urgency and anger and the slogans, initiated by the Kurdish women, were shouted loud and clear by everyone. At a signal, everyone was in the street with YPG and YPJ flags flying alongside pictures of the victims of the bombing, the devastated lives and the destruction being wrought by the murderous Turkish state in Afrin. Traffic and business as usual was heavily disrupted and hundreds of passers by learned about the atrocities of the murderous Turkish state, fully supported by the UK government, arms companies and the silence of the BBC.
Police attempts to “facilitate” (read neutralise) and then physically attack and stop the demo came to nothing as people were having none of it and their strength and determination pushed the police back. Many onlookers did the right thing and joined the demonstration, swelling number significantly and adding their voices. After nearly three hours of marching and staging sit ins at strategic positions (to maximise impact and visibility) such as Trafalgar square, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, the demo went to have a few words at the BBC, shaming them loudly for their unacceptable silence and complicity with the genocide.
As the demo dispersed animated discussions and preparations were already underway for next day’s demonstration. These people will not give up and neither should we. We need to recognise we share the same struggle and stand, march and take action together.
We said our goodbyes and left feeling very inspired and motivated by such solid organisation, determination and people so committed and clearly living by their principles. If it wasn’t clear already, let’s make it clear now – we could learn a lot from the Kurdish movement and the revolution they are fighting so hard for!

“We will fight, we will win, Viva, viva Afrin!”

Free speech? Ha!

Against ‘free speech’ absolutism.

Since protesting Jacob Ress Mogg’s publicity event at UWE in February, we’ve been contacted by everyone from the student community to the Jeremy Vine show, asking us to explain ourselves.

The most common allegation which we have been asked to defend ourselves against is the accusation that we don’t support the right to Free Speech. This isn’t true- we do support the right to free speech as well as the right to a free life for all people. But we do not believe that fascist’s right to free speech should be valued more highly than the rights of fascists’ victims to live free from harm. We’ve outlined our arguments against free speech absolutism below.

1) ‘Free speech’ doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Speech has consequences. When hate speech is permitted then marginalised groups get attacked as a result. When Tommy Robinson speaks, for example, the Darren Osbournes of the world all prick up their ears.

When Jacob Rees Mogg is given a microphone at UWE then the bigots and homophobes in the audience are legitimised and embolded. Militant antifascism isn’t concerned with free speech so much as with self-defence, and the defence of marginalised communities from the real, physical threat of fascism. And if you can’t see the threats of violence implicit in fascist and right-wing rhetoric, it’s probably because you’re not the one being targetted.

2) Fascists don’t believe in free speech either. They don’t hold marches and rallies because they want to contribute to the broad spectrum of views, they do it because they want to recruit, show their strength, and build their power. Fascists on the rise are dangerous to everyone.

This is true of the parliamentary Right as well as the far Right on the streets; Jacob Rees Mogg doesn’t do speaking tours of universities because he cares about students, he does it because he wants people to vote for him. We’ve read our history, and we all know what happens when fascists are allowed to take power. Again, this is about self defence.

3) Governments use violence all the time to keep power and defend their interests. If ordinary people can’t use violence to defend themselves then there’s no opposition.

4) Politics is a struggle, not a debate. Anyone who believes that words and ideas hold the key to political victory has fundamentally misunderstood how power works.

5) Free speech absolutists assume a level playing field for ideas which simply does not exist. The parliamentary Right have armies of press, journalists, publishers and media to help spread their message. All we have to get our voice heard is our ability to disrupt and shout.

6) Free speech absolutism has consistently enabled fascism’s ascendancy throughout history. Even in Nazi Germany, bourgeoise academics were content to watch Hitler’s rise to power without any opposition more stringent than clever words . We’re not going to sit back and watch this time.

7) True free speech can’t exist in a society which isn’t free. The state isn’t some neutral arbiter of free speech; it has it’s own agenda. It’s not enough to sit back and hope that the police will protect us from street fascism and our democratic processes will save us from the fascists in power. They won’t. True democracy means freedom to act, not just to speak, and especially the freedom to defend ourselves on our own terms.

March 4th Bristol action report

On Saturday 4th March we saw another fantastic example of grass roots community anti fascism when the Hitler loving Pie and Mash squad and various assorted racists and fascists from around the UK as well the South West Imbeciles descended on Bristol to “pay tribute” to local scumbag and football hooligan Kevin “Bunny” Crehan who died in prison in late 2016.

We’re no fans of the prison system but we were well aware of the fascist agenda behind the demonstration outside Bristol Crown Court and had no intention of letting a bunch of sieg heilers mobilize unopposed.

We felt that the fascists represented a threat to our Muslim communities in particular and the situation called for a strong Anti-fascist presence in the city. We met up with comrades and other groups such as the IWW as well good people who wanted to take a stand. Our call out had created a positive response and pretty soon we had mobilized well over a hundred people.

From an early stage in the day we noticed a heavy police presence, not unsurprising but we always find it hard to understand why the state is so determined to protect the rights of Neo Nazis and allow them to demonstrate and spread their poison when their only agenda is hate, division and violence.

We set off as a large group into the centre of Bristol to confront the Nazis and shut down their demonstration. As soon as we were close to Small Street and the crown court, we encountered a wall of cops as well as horses. Despite the police protecting the fascists as usual we made our voices heard and were pleased to see members of the public taking an interest in what was happening.

One entrance to the courts may have been locked down but we were pretty sure we could find a way around the cops and their horses. A large group of us headed round to the rear entrance of Small street letting Bristol know what we were here to oppose, and were quickly joined by the rest of our group.

The police had blocked off the second entrance to the street, but undeterred we headed to march down the main road to Small street moving quickly to try and stay one step ahead of the cops!

The resilience and determination of everyone involved on the day was second to none, from the anti fascist crews present to the general public it was inspiring to see no one prepared to give up at any point.

This really became apparent when we were again confronted by the police who became increasingly aggressive and mob handed in their approach attacking us with CS gas and using unnecessary amounts of force! Some of us even saw batons being drawn by cops on horses…

Determined not to be pushed back, we tried to force our way through the police lines towards the fascists demo and resisted the attempts by the cops to break our line with their riot foot soldiers. We’d overheard one cop say that he didn’t like protecting the Nazis. If that’s the case then maybe he should change his job and stop working for a system that does!

We finally decided to head back to the other side of the street and found ourselves for the first time getting close as we could to the fash. A riot van still blocked the entrance and we caught sight of the Nazis for the first time enjoying the protection of the police flying their flags and spouting their poison. It was frustrating for all of us but we were still determined not to give up.

At one point we had a brief verbal exchange with some of the fash, masked up and over confident and issuing threats from behind police lines. This isn’t something that’s new to us and it was clear the death of local wrongun ‘Bunny’ Crehan was just an excuse to spread their hate.

After their main demo had finished they decided to skulk off under protection of the cops. By this point the general public who weren’t with us had learnt of who they were and were just as angry as ourselves that Nazis had mobilized in our city.

We heard they were being escorted over a bridge near the city centre towards the train station (we’d learnt that groups from outside Bristol had headed down for the day) and decided to try and ‘head them off at the pass’

The cops by this point had decided to start deploying dogs as well as everything else they had thrown at us over the course of the day. From the looks on the handlers faces it was clear to us they were enjoying every minute of their brutality in defence of the far right! Some of us were attacked and bitten but despite the assault we still wouldn’t give up!

Things began to wind down after the Nazis headed off followed by a stream of abuse from the general public and were unsurprisingly quiet… when we regrouped after the events of the day it was refreshing to see that Bristol appeared to be fash free, proof that that only time fascists mobilize is when the state offers them their full protection.

From our point of view we wanted to shut down the demonstration all together.The concept of no platform is not to stamp on freedom of speech as some believe. It’s about not letting fascists organise and spread their message.

It’s really about making it clear that hate and intolerance and dangerous ideologies have no place in our society. It’s about community resistance to the far right and all they stand for. History has shown us what happens when we do nothing.

After the events of that weekend we feel there is a stronger than ever case for militant anti-fascism and now more than ever we need to keep up the fight. We’d like to thank everyone who joined us. You did us all proud. Bristol as always is Anti Fascist.