The terror-listing of the PKK by Western states criminalizes ordinary Kurds. However, its hypocrisy also created a conscious, mobilized, activist community.
Last year, when Western mainstream media was confused about “PKK terrorists” fighting “Islamic State group terrorists,” this evoked a tired smile in the faces of ordinary Kurds who, aside from oppression at home, are stigmatized and criminalized throughout Europe.
Terror designations often demonize one side of a conflict, while immunizing the other. This especially applies to the Turkey-PKK conflict, with the second largest NATO-army on one side, and an armed national liberation movement on the other. But in this case, a terrorist designation also criminalizes an entire community of ordinary people, denying them fundamental rights.
The on and off listings of groups and states, such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, according to the day’s political situation, are examples of how blacklistings are political, not moral, regardless of their pretensions. In reality, listings strengthen state-sponsored violence by reinforcing the state’s monopoly on the use of force, ignoring the legitimacy of resistance and making no moral distinction between groups like ISIS and movements reacting to injustice.
As a result of the legal battle waged against the workers of the occupied self-managed VIOME factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, the state-appointed trustee is now organising a series of auctions with the aim of liquidating the plot of land on which the VIOME factory is located. A possible sale of the land would create the legal ground for evicting the workers from the factory. Although the workers and the solidarity assembly are decided to stand their ground and defend the factory in all eventualities, the auction process represents a threat and it requires mobilisation in order to be prevented. A first step is to block, through direct action, the first such auction that is programmed for November 26th. This is why we reach out to you, to ask for help and mobilisation to put pressure on the government to satisfy the long-standing demands of the VIOME workers for legalisation of their activity, by expropriating the factory and granting it to the VIOME workers’ cooperative, which will operate it in a horizontal and self-managed way, as it has been doing for 3 years now.
We appeal for an international week of solidarity, from November 17 to 24. Facebook.
We urge you to sign the below resolution by returning your details (name, collective, place) to firstname.lastname@example.org, or even better, hand it in to the nearest Greek embassy or consulate demanding that it is transferred to the Greek Ministry of Labour. We welcome any international acts of solidarity, especially ones that involve non-violent direct action towards Greek embassies worldwide.
We urge you to organise screenings of the below 30-minute documentary by D.Azzellini and O.Ressler, detailing the struggle of VIOME through interviews and participation in its assemblies (English subtitles included). Write to us if you want a good quality copy. You can send us announcements of your events, and/or photos to be uploaded to VIOME´s website, to email@example.com, thank you for your support,
The Assembly of Solidarity to the Struggle of VIOME for Self-management.
After being abandoned by the employers, the Factory of VIOME has been operating for nearly 3 years under workers’ control, through self-management by the workers’ assembly. Today, it constitutes an internationally emblematic struggle, which demonstrates that the real response to the crisis that leaves millions in poverty and unemployment is workers’ emancipation and a productive reconstruction based on society´s initiative and creativity.
The workers of VIOME, through the production of natural cleaning products in the premises of the occupied Factory, have proposed a new mode of production that responds to the needs of society, against exploitative labour relations and the drive for endless accumulation of capital.
Unfortunately, despite the promises of a series of governments to legitimise this important example of workers’ self-management, the workers of VIOME are now facing legal procedures that could lead to the liquidation of the factory premises and could threaten the continuation of the factory’s production.
We, the undersigned collectives and individuals, support the struggle of the workers of VIOME for employment, dignity and freedom against the judicial system that blindly serves the interests of the powerful.
We stand by their side in their decision to defend their productive endeavour by any means possible.
We warn the Greek authorities and the powerful business interests that oppose the VIOME struggle that an attack on VIOME is an attack on us all.
We demand that the Greek government stops the auction of the VIOME premises and that it offers a definitive solution by expropriating the land and granting it to the workers, on the condition that the factory keep operating under workers’ control and horizontal decision making.
We state clearly that we will not allow anyone to grab the factory from its legitimate owners, that is, the workers and the wider community. We will support this struggle in every step along the way.
The workers of VIOME will prevail, since they fight for the just cause of dignity and self-determination!
And here’s the film:
VIOME is a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners at the peak of the Greek crisis, in 2011. Subsequently it was occupied by its workers, and has been producing natural detergents under workers’ control since 2013. Despite being an emblematic and inspiring struggle, today VIOME is under imminent threat of eviction. Find out how you can get involved and be part of the struggle at viome.org
This is the third in a series of short documentaries on the self-managed factories of Europe made by militant film-makers Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler. Find the other two here:
Occupy, Resist, Produce – RiMaflow
Occupy, Resist, Produce – Officine Zero
You are free to organise screenings in your town and use this film for any non-commercial purpose.
The closing video clip is “At utopia’s fiesta” by Greek militant hip-hop collective Social Waste. It was filmed at the factory of VIOME. See the full version here:
When Bridgwater Royal Mail victimised a disabled worker, his colleagues walked out; no ballots, no bureaucracy, just solidarity. Andrew Mootoo, is deaf and suffers from severe MS, and management have come up with a stream of ridiculous excuses for keeping him off work for 18 months against his will. He might get stuck in the bog, they said, and anyway they’ve commandeered his rest room for disciplinaries. When Andrew passed a fitness for work test, they changed the test, and used a faulty chair.
80 posties went on strike the day after the government’s anti-union bill received its second reading, showing their plans to chain the working class will come to nought so long as we stick together. The management have backed down and assured the workers that they will sit down with Mootoo and reach a resolution. Watch this space to make sure they do!
CWU rep Dave Chapple said it was remarkable that 98% of staff had walked out (without legal protection) in solidarity with someone they haven’t seen for 18 months, and that he has received over 200 emails of support from fellow trade unionists and disabled people. Royal Mail are now threatening to discipline him for breaking their rules – good luck with that.
So if the bosses are taking the piss, just get together and walk the fuck out – you don’t need a vote if you have consensus. Together we win!
Wessex Solidarity wholeheartedly supports Bridgwater Wildcat Postal Strike in aid of worker sacked for his disability. Reinstate Andrew Mootoo immediately!
80 Royal Mail postmen and women at Bridgwater Delivery Office in Somerset defied the Tory anti-union laws today when they walked out without a ballot to protest at Royal Mail’s refusal to reinstate Andrew Mootoo, a postman who suffers from MS/Multiple Sclerosis. Andrew has been waiting so long for Royal Mail to support his return to work that his pay has been stopped and he has to rely on benefits.
Dave Chapple, CWU Rep, said:
“Most decent employers would do their best to try and get a disabled worker like Andrew Mootoo off benefits and back to work on a properly adjusted duty. Instead, for 18 months, since MS was diagnosed, Royal Mail, nationally and locally, have tried every dirty trick in their book to get Andrew the sack and reduce him to a lifetime of benefits dependency. 18 months ago they tried to sack him. We stopped that by proving they would have acted illegally. Then Royal Mail tested Andrew back at work: when he passed this with flying colours, they invented a new test, which they ensured he would fail, for example, by deliberately using a faulty chair! The last straw is Royal Mail saying that Andrew has no rest room for his meal break, because it is in continuous use by managers for disciplinary purposes; and that his MS means he will get stuck in the toilet. What offensive rubbish from the country’s second largest employer! Justice for MS sufferers at work! Justice for Andrew Mootoo!”
Andrew, who is of Indo-Mauritian parents and who is also profoundly deaf, lives a full life: he drives a car, shops, goes to sport matches, goes shopping, walks down busy high streets, goes to the gym once a week, all without falling over, getting stuck in a toilet or endangering anyone else. All Andrew’ s friends at Bridgwater Delivery Office want, is for Royal Mail to sit down and give him a chance to come off the dole and work for his living, as he wants to do. The work is there. The CWU have even accepted that Andrew could return on a monitored trial basis. Every reasonable compromise CWU offer to Royal Mail has been spurned: every patient CWU plea to Royal Mail to give Andrew a chance has been ignored. 80 Bridgwater trades unionists are right now, a day after the Tory Anti-Union Bill passed the House of Commons, breaking these vicious laws to fight for workplace justice for a severely disabled and much respected colleague. They, and Andrew, deserve your support.
Please contact Dave Chapple, CWU Rep, on 077007 869 144, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 18th November 1949, 21 striking miners and a bystander were shot dead at a British government-owned coal mine at Enugu, Nigeria; 51 were injured.
The miners were fighting for back-pay owed to them for a period of casualisation known as ‘rostering’, later declared illegal, and had been sacked following a work to rule. They occupied the mine to prevent a repeat of the lock-out they had suffered during the 1945 general strike. Because Enugu was home to the Zikist independence movement, which included Marxists and other radicals; police were sent to remove the mine’s explosives, accompanied by Hausa troops drafted in from the North of the country; whose language and even their uniforms were unfamiliar to the Igbo miners.
Local Igbo constables fraternised with the workers, they were sure the government would pay them what they were due; in return the miners assured them they did not want to fight. They would not obstruct the police from removing the explosives, but refused to help because it wasn’t their job. They had strict work demarcation imposed by the British, these were hewers and tubmen: “This job is for timbermen, some special labourers, he should call them.”
Nigerian Coal had been of strategic importance during the war, and continued to be vital in the re-building of infrastructure by the post-war Labour government, who sought to maximise output in the Sterling zone to pay off its debt to the U.S. Many of the men had served in the British armed forces, veterans of guerrilla warfare in Southeast Asia. In 1943 with inflation raging they had been called on to make up the shortfall in the British coalfields caused by the war. They were acutely aware they had saved Britain’s arse and been led to believe their sacrifices would create a better world, whilst their bosses were planning for a future that didn’t exist.
They used their regular income to develop their communities, establishing the self-help mechanisms once familiar to mining villages in Britain, which were the inspiration for the welfare state, with free hospitals and relief funds for injured workers and their dependants. The Enugu Colliers supported maternity clinics, road building and clean water supplies. Rejecting the British government’s mass literacy programme, designed to prepare their children for a life of menial labour, they created permanent, stone-built primary and secondary schools. These commitments were undermined by the economic uncertainty of rostering.
The aspirations of these workers collided with Labour’s reconstructive ambitions and its cold war paranoia, plus the racism of the colonial management, desperate to maintain their privileges. As they had done at home Labour wanted to integrate trade unions into the state, using them to contain and defuse class struggle. The Colonial Office recruited hundreds of T.U.C. bureaucrats and despatched them around the empire to institute modern industrial relations practices. In this they were thwarted by the colonial officials, who considered African workers unworthy of political representation. The Igbo themselves had no use for the concept, their culture of open assemblies and mass meetings lent itself to Syndicalism; judging union leaders simply on their ability to execute the will of the workforce. Their Zikist General Secretary, Okwudili (Isaiah) Ojiyi, used his detailed knowledge of colonial labour law and thorough understanding of its political context to run rings around the bosses. Because striking was illegal he imported the Durham miners’ ‘ca canny’ go-slow tactic, translated to ‘welu nwayo’ in Igbo and spent many days in the mines teaching it.
A T.U.C. advisor named Curry tried to insert a layer of bureaucracy between Ojiyi and the rank and file by splitting the union into five occupational branches, in violation of Igbo organisational principles. They therefore interpreted this as the creation of five autonomous unions, rendering the negotiating structure redundant. The hewers began a wildcat go-slow, were sacked and occupied the mine, followed by the tubmen.
The violence was initiated by a British policeman called Captain F.S. Phillip; terrified of Africans and fearful of communist subversion, he spoke neither Igbo nor Hausa. The miners had tied strips of red cloth to their helmets and clothing to show their solidarity; to Phillip these were paramilitary insignia. As was their custom, facing the mass of armed troops they began to dance and chant to keep up their spirits. Philip panicked and shot dead a young hewer named Sunday Anyasado who had recently married and moved to the area. He then killed a machine man, Livinus Okechukwuma. Hearing the noise, tubman Okafor Ageni ventured out of the mine asking “Anything wrong?” and was killed on the spot. The firing continued for several minutes, some miners were shot in the back. Dead and wounded alike were left where they lay; blacksmith Emmanuel Okafor told Philip: “I surrender, take me to hospital”. Philip answered: “I don’t care” and walked away.
Those eighty-seven rounds sounded the doom of the British Empire; Labour’s strategies of using intermediaries to buffer class anger, and separating industrial disputes from their political context had blown up in its face. The ethnic, regional and even class divisions in Nigerian society were temporarily set aside, replaced by a collective momentum to do away with British rule.
“The radicals and the moderates, the revolutionaries and the stooges, the bourgeoisie and the workers, sank their differences, remembered the word Nigeria and rose in revolt against evil and inhumanity.”
– Nduka Eze
We are indebted to Dr Carolyn Brown, for information and sources. Mal C x
Syndicalist Workers’ Federation: How Labour Governed 1945-51
OWEI LAKEMFA: “One hundred years of trade unionism in Nigeria”
The link is to the first of five parts, dealing with the background to the 1945 General Strike, for the next part you have to click ‘previous article’ on the web page, and so on.
Bristol Radical History Group: Hidden histories of the British state revealed 2013
Carolyn Brown Phd: ‘We Were All Slaves: African Miners, Culture, and Resistance at the Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria.’ Heinemann / James Currey.
‘Africa and World War II’ edited by Carolyn Brown, Judith Byfield, Tim Parsons, Ahmad Sikainga Cambridge University Press.
‘POWER AND NATIONALISM IN MODERN AFRICA: Essays in Honor of Don Ohadike.’ Edited by Toyin Falola and Salah M. Hassan, Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2008.
Frederick Cooper: ‘Decolonization and African Society: the labour question in French and British Africa.’ (Cambridge 1996)
David Smock: Conflict and Control in an African Trade Union: A Study of the Nigerian Coal Miners’ Union.’ Stanford U: Hoover Institute Press, 1969
Agwu Akpala: ‘Background to the Enugu Colliery Shooting Incident in 1949’ – Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 3,2 (1965) 335-64
Paul Kelemen: ‘Planning for Africa: The British Labour Party’s Colonial Development Policy, 1920-1964’, Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol 7, No. 1 (January 2007), pp. 76-98.
Jack Woodis: ‘The Mask is Off! An Examination of the Activities of Trade Union Advisers in the British Colonies.’ London: Thames Publications, 1954
Dear Riseup Users,
Hello to you, and you, and you! This is our yearly user fundraising drive where we hope you will donate to Riseup and keep us going for our sixteenth year of existence. It has been a wild year of leaks around government and corporate spying, and while we finally don’t have to have boring conversations with everyone to prove why we exist, we are also serving a huge number of new users who became fed up with corporate services. Add to that the costs of doing some major security upgrades to our system, and, well, we really need money.
First though, here’s how we see our work at Riseup: there are many beautiful and important projects in this long march toward freedom and justice, and we are one tiny but important piece that provides the right for people and organizations to whisper. Not everyone needs privacy all the time, but organizing against dictators, running direct action campaigns against corporations, and journalistic autonomy are just a few places where privacy is essential. This, as we know, is hugely under attack. The way Riseup fights this is by providing good security embedded in our services all the time, so that when you do need privacy you don’t have to change your modes of communication (though you may want to use other security measures too, like GPG).
The Riseup collective loves building alternative tech infrastructures that at its roots are smart about surveillance and security. We love providing help services to troubleshoot any problems or questions you have. We love spending our Saturdays tinkering and upgrading at the hot and buzzing room where are servers live, and then going home smelling like heavy metals. As an act of mutual aid, we don’t charge for our services, even though they cost a lot in time and money. Therefore, we depend on those of you who can to donate money. Time and time again, you all have been amazingly generous in supporting us. This year we need $75,000 USD to cover our server and labor costs.
So, hello to you, yes you, with the big heart and dreams! Any donation is wonderful, but may we suggest a **recurring monthly contribution of $5-25 USD or a one-time donation of $15-$100?** That would be huge.
When you give to Riseup, know that you are also supporting a large portion of our users who rely on our services and are not in a position to give us money. Lots of folks live in the Global South, ie countries financially plundered by imperialism and neoliberalism, and we’d rather they donate to more local tech collectives. Likewise, lots of people deal with the ravages of poverty. We aren’t expecting or asking any of you to donate. But for everyone else who can throw a little mutual aid our way, your money not only supports our work, but the huge base of activists we support.
And, last, please know that we don’t ask for donations lightly. For anyone with money to give, there are so many places for it to go. If you can give to us, know that every dollar goes to collective members and/or our bills. We’ll be bugging you with some more emails over the next month, not because this is our idea of fun, but we really want to keep being part of the vital global struggles that you all are part of, too.
The Riseup Birds
There are many ways to give us money! Bitcoins! Gold dubloons! Or, you know, Paypal or wire transfers.