Saturday, 27 February 2010
They're going to have to put the fire out first, and until they manage to get some big hoses to the scene (which might require the participation of the fire department, which might not want to participate), this is our block. Maybe the police even retreat a couple times under particularly heavy volleys of rocks and bottles, the crowd surges and cheers, meanwhile the more experienced rioters stay busy gathering wheelbarrows full of more things to throw at the cops, knowing they'll be back soon. My neighbour says it's because I'm an Aries, but whatever it is, if I find myself in the midst of such a situation, the memories are all fond ones of the rush and the togetherness of the moment. It's a warm, fuzzy feeling, really.
However, most people in most of the countries with which I'm fairly familiar – the US, Canada, England, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Japan – don't feel that way. For most people I meet riots are scary things and they don't care or notice much whether it was a chain store's windows smashed or a local one, whether only SUV's were torched or hybrids, too, whether any passersby got hurt in the process or not. The major news outlets don't pay much attention to what the underlying reasons for the rioting is – just enough about the situation for people to associate the riot with the cause and the cause with scary people who aren't like them.
I've been home in Portland over the past couple weeks, not in Vancouver for the Olympics and the
accompanying protests that tend to materialize when a gigantic corporate event and the international media covering it rolls into (and over) the town. By European standards the event the media was focusing on sounds like it was a pathetic little riot, a few smashed windows and overturned newspaper boxes, but it managed to attract the lion's share of Canadian and even international media coverage, as usual– it's sensational, but more than that it serves the purposes of corporate media outlets who, for political reasons, want to make most protesters look bad and don't want people going out to rock the boat in the first place.
By my informal count traveling around, I'd say that most people in many countries are afraid to go to protests, even if their sympathies are with those protesting. They're afraid of what they've heard in the media about how things get out of control. They'd rather avoid lines of police in riot gear, and they feel unsafe at the thought that what they believed was going to be a nonviolent event might suddenly get scary when a small group of people decide to start throwing rocks through store windows.
Some of the rock-throwing anarchists (as opposed to the far more numerous non-rock-throwing variety of anarchists) will now ask, who cares? Who cares if lots of people are afraid to come to protests because of us. They're “liberals” anyway (anyone who doesn't support your right to riot is a liberal, in case you didn't know).
But here's the thing: we need a mass movement, and contrary to what certain popular primitivist authors like to say, a few thousand dedicated people are not going to accomplish much of anything, let alone revolutionary change, without the support of a mass movement. That is, whatever tactics you're using to organize resistance groups of any kind, the tactics need to be ones that don't completely alienate the general public (very much including the “liberals”). And the general public tends to be freaked out by groups of people committing acts of violence (or forms of property destruction that seem violent to them). In recent decades lots of people in lots of places have embraced all kinds of militant and often effective tactics – strikes, bus boycotts, sit-ins, building take-overs, nonviolent civil disobedience of all kinds. Those of any political persuasion who would say that tactics like these are universally ineffective are simply ignorant.
Equally, there have been some pretty darn effective movements that have employed violence around the world over the past few decades and centuries, and you'd have to be an extremely ideological pacifist not to recognize that. But these movements that have employed violent means have used a lot more than rocks. It takes a pretty desperate situation (say, Cuba in 1959) for movements like that to garner popular support, and there's not a serious guerrilla movement anywhere that wouldn't admit that the fish need the sea in which to swim, or they quickly die.
In the context of most modern, relatively well-off countries, it seems quite evident that rioting – even if it's not much of a riot – only impedes anyone's efforts at building a movement. It is, in fact, a much-used strategy of the police, as we've seen time and time again certainly throughout North America, Europe and elsewhere. I have no doubt that the first rock thrown is thrown by an undercover cop at least half the time in most situations. I also have no doubt that most of the young people participating in Black Bloc and advocating for “diversity of tactics” (translation: “don't tell me not to throw rocks, you oppressive, ageist liberal carnivore!”) are well-meaning people doing a lot of good work in their communities when they're not throwing rocks through windows. But whether or not they want to believe it, when they start throwing rocks during a march they are doing exactly the same work as the police provocateurs – I mean literally, not figuratively.
Black Bloc: doesn't this make you wonder about what the fuck you're doing?
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Goodooga, northwest NSW, 24 February 10 – Aboriginal people will be called from all over Australia to protest in the Northern Territory against any movement of nuclear waste across their traditional lands, an Aboriginal activist says.
Michael Anderson, chairman of an Aboriginal Summit Task Force recently elected in Canberra (pictured at right), says in a media release: “Nothing will move down the former American Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton railway line from Darwin to Alice Springs.”
Mr. Anderson was responding on behalf of a majority of traditional land owners to an announcement by Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, that the Federal Government will pursue the first Australian radioactive waste repository at Muckaty Station, about 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.
Mr. Anderson condemned the Bureau of Northern Land Council for “ignoring the majority of the traditional land owners who do not want their country, Muckaty Station, used for nuclear waste dumping”.
He said the general Australian public fails to understand how much influence the federal government has over organisations such as the Northern Land Council, whose CEO is appointed by government.
“Aboriginal people are under siege from the tyranny of a Labor government who have no consideration whatsoever for our rights,” Mr. Anderson charges.
“What we have here is a repeat of the Ranger uranium mine agreement fiasco. The arrangements that are being made are illegal and the government and the Northern Land Council know full well that the traditional owners have little to no chance of fighting against this dictatorship.
“But don’t underestimate our resolve as a resistance group. It is time the Australian government woke up and understands that they are pushing us into a corner and we will come out fighting with all that we have.
“Our communications thus far with the traditional owners suggest that a fight is looming, and maybe then the Australian public will get the picture.”
Mr Anderson, the last survivor of the four Black Power activists who set up the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra in 1972, says he is pleased that the unions are offering support.
“The New Way Summit Task Force has been asked for their support to bring this matter to the attention of the public. The Task Force puts the Australian government on notice that like Noonkanber in Western Australia in 1979, we will call upon Aboriginal people to come from every part of this country and protest any movement of nuclear waste across our people’s traditional lands.”
“If the Europeans, Americans and China along with the rest of the world want to use nuclear power, then dump your rubbish on your own soil. You take it from us against our will and you now want to return it against our wishes.”
Muckaty Station is the country of the mother of Barbara Shaw (pictured left), Alice Springs camps activist and a member of the Summit Task Force. Ms Shaw commented on uranium mining in the Northern Territory at the Canberra summit from 30 January to 1 February.
She said only some people agreed to the dump “because they saw the dollar sign”. Although Elders had long warned that the radiation is dangerous, a lot more awareness needed to be created in the area. Listen to the extract at http://www.4shared. com/file/ 228500371/ e1144837/ Barbara_Shaw_ MINING.html.
The Taskforce can be contacted through Michael Anderson at 02 68296355 landline, 04272 92 492 mobile, 02 68296375 fax, ngurampaa@bigpond. com.au
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Mr Anderson’s release in full:
As Chairman of the recently elected Aboriginal Summit Task Force, I condemn the Bureau of Northern Land Council for ignoring the majority of the traditional land owners who do not want their country, Muckaty Station, used for nuclear waste dumping.
What the general Australian public fails to understand is how much influence the Federal Government has over organizations such as the Northern Land Council. In the first instance the CEO of the Northern Land Council is a Government-appointe d person as per the Federal Northern Territory Land Rights Act. This does not fare very well for its perceived independence. Aboriginal people are under siege from the tyranny of a Labor Government who have no consideration whatsoever for our rights.
What we have here is a repeat of the Ranger uranium mine agreement fiasco. The arrangements that are being made are illegal and the Government and the Northern Land Council know full well that the traditional owners have little to no chance of fighting against this dictatorship. But don’t underestimate our resolve as a resistance group.
The public must now realize what this Labor Government are doing to Aboriginal people, blackmailing them to sign over their lands for infra-structure development and housing, but the real issues are now coming to a head and this is just one example of what is coming.
We do have rights and freedoms and it is time the Australian Government woke up and understands that they are pushing us into a corner and we will come out fighting with all that we have.
It is pleasing to see that the unions are offering support and our communications thus far with the traditional owners suggest that a fight is looming and maybe then the Australian public will get the picture.
The New Way Summit Task Force has been asked for their support to bring this matter to the attention of the public. The task force puts the Australian Government on notice that like Noonkanber in Western Australia in 1979, we will call upon Aboriginal people to come from every part of this country and protest any movement of nuclear waste across our people’s traditional lands. Nothing will move down the former American Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton railway line from Darwin to Alice Springs.
“If the Europeans, Americans and China along with the rest of the world want to use nuclear power, then dump your rubbish on your own soil. You take it from us against our will and you now want to return it against our wishes. No, the energy-hungry consumers need to look to a better way of doing business, and in this case bury your own nuclear waste in your own back yards; if you believe what you are told by your leaders that it is safe then you have no fears.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
PEACE AND JUSTICE STATEMENT
4 February 2010
Take Action: Oppose to the attempts to criminalise International Solidarity
Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC) is deeply concerned about the recent questioning and interrogations of activists in Australia that for years have been working in solidarity with Colombia.
On 3 February 2010, a member of our organisation Mr. Alejandro Rodriguez was interviewed by the Australian Federal Police in an attempt to obtain information on individuals, the Agricultural Workers Union of Colombia (FENSUAGRO) and about the activities of our organisation.
Peace and Justice for Colombia is a solidarity organisation that promotes the respect of human rights of all Colombians and in doing so, we have been denouncing the violations of labour and human rights in that country under the regimen of Alvaro Uribe.
It is very shameful that Australian Federal Police is aiding Uribe’s regime that has been engaged in the systematic persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, labour leaders and the opposition. Still worse, there is evidence that Uribe’s regime has been involved in drug trade and paramilitarism.
Peace and Justice for Colombia believes that the actions of the AFP in this particular matter, violates the rights of Mr Rodriguez who for years have been involved in solidarity work with Colombia and with Latin America, but also the AFP action supports the Uribe regime’s campaign against international solidarity expressed by Australian trade unionists, individuals and political organizations.
PJFC requests that you and your organisation write to the Australian authorities to
- Protest for the AFP cooperation with the Uribe administration
- Condemn any attempts of Uribe to criminalise international solidarity with Colombia.
- Demand that the Australian Government suspends its involvement with the Uribe regime until such time human and trade union rights are protected in Colombia.
Post or fax your messages and letters to:
Hon Brendan O’Connor MP
Minister for Home Affairs
PO Box 6022
Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6277 7290 or
Fax: (02) 6273 7098
Tony Negus APM
Commissioner of the AFP
PO Box 401
Canberra City ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6223 3000
Copy your letters to:
Peace & Justice for Colombia,
Yours in solidarity,
Peace & Justice for Colombia, PJFC-Australia
For the respect of Labour and Human Rights!