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Social revolt in Iraq and Lebanon

Received from a contact (followed by links to various recent events in both countries)

SF note: There’s a tendency to minimise the problems and contradictions of these movements (eg patriotism and flag-waving; “citizenist” ideology in Lebanon which ignores class differences; etc.), which nevertheless doesn’t by any means  mean that they’re not significant and that they don’t have a welcome spontaneity and independence.

Demonstrators gather at a protest during a curfew, Baghdad,  October 3, 2019.

At the moment there are significant socio-economic protests in Iraq and Lebanon. From a social-revolutionary perspective, this is a major event in the Middle East. These protests are organized through social networks and are of a leaderless nature. Their participants have managed to overcome sectarian barriers: Sunnis and Shiites have joined the protests.

The movement covers mainly Shiite areas: Baghdad and the southern cities of Iraq. But Sunnis and some Kurds have also spoken of their desire to join. Youths have raised the slogan: “Shiites and Sunnis are brothers!”. The main reason for the protests is related to 40 percent youth unemployment. In addition, in Iraq, social services are poorly functioning, there are not enough doctors, there are failures in the supply of electricity. The main problem is drinking water. Last year, 100,000 residents of the southern city of Basra received infectious diseases due to the fact that they drank dirty water (the entire population of Basra is 2 million people). The protesters are demanding the provision of work, basic public services and they fight against all politicians.

Iraq is incredibly rich. Iraq is the fourth largest oil exporter in the world, exporting 4.5 million barrels per day. But at the same time, Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. A giant inefficient government sector of the economy and private foreign companies that control oil production are appropriating all profits.  Iraqis say: “Politicians get everything, people get nothing!”.

Previously, the government actively used the factor of sectarian division of the country, directing Shiites against Sunnis or Arabs against Kurds.  But currently, mainly Shiite parties are in power, while Shiites make up the majority of protesters. It is therefore difficult for the government to exploit sectarian division. In addition, the core of the protesters are young people (Iraqis aged 15 to 25 make up 8 million of Iraq’s 39 million inhabitants), and they are less dependent on sectarian religious leaders and politicians.

The movement is somewhat reminiscent of the Yellow Vests [SF note: can’t see it helps clarify anything to make this comment]. They attack government offices, shouting slogans against all parties. In the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, youths set fire to the headquarters of all political parties and then chanted : “Nasiriyah has become free of political parties!”

The Iraqi authorities and Pro-Iranian militias were able to weaken this movement by using teams of snipers and other assassins: 163 protesters were killed and 6,000 wounded. However, two days ago, a very similar movement broke out in Lebanon, covering not only Beirut but also the cities in the South.

Today [19th October] is the Shiite Holy day, Arbaeen, and 20 million [sic] pilgrims from Iraq, Lebanon, Iran are gathering in the city of Karbala in southern Iraq and the protesters want to use it.

Recent events

Iraq

21/10/19:

Troops on alert as protesters prepare for more demonstrations on 25th October

20/10/19:

US troops withdrawing from Syria are going to Iraq

SF note: there’s a certain irony amongst those denouncing the “genocide” of the Kurds in Syria (roughly 150 have been killed – certainly horrible but so far not at all genocidal, despite Trump saying the Turks needed to have a swath of Syria “cleaned out” after battling with Syrian Kurds there) whilst largely remaining silent about the 100+ people who have been  killed recently in the protests in Iraq. And now we see one of the reasons for this withdrawal – not just to give the green light to Turkey but to suppress the movement in Iraq.

6/10/19:

Iraq: clashes continue (videos and links)

5/10/19:

Iraq: death toll reaches 100 as clashes continue in Baghdad and southern part of countrythis says 8 soldiers amongst those killed

“On Saturday morning the curfew was lifted in Baghdad, where over a dozen demonstrators were killed, and 40 more were wounded. Focal point Tahrir Square remains closed to cars. A witness claimed that army units tried to stop police from firing on protesters, but the military eventually retreated. Masked gunmen attacked several media outlets, including the offices of NRT, Al-Arabiya, Al-Hadath, Fallouja TV, Al-Ghad Al-Araby, SkyNews Arabia, Al-Sharqiya and Dijlah TV.“…HQs of 6 political parties torched “The mainly young, male protesters have insisted their movement is not linked to any party or religious establishment and have scoffed at recent overtures by politicians. On Saturday, demonstrators in the southern city of Nasiriyah set fire to the headquarters of six different political parties. Thousands also descended on the governorate in the southern city of Diwaniyah” See also this chronology of events from November 2018 back to July 2018 . See also this “Iraq’s wobbly democracy relies on the support of the Shia majority. The protests, though, have erupted in Shia areas and attracted the support of mostly young Iraqis, many of whom are unemployed. They are fed up with the government’s perceived incompetence and corruption. Despite increased oil revenues and relative peace after years of civil war, jobs are scarce and services are poor…There have been big protests before. In 2016 thousands of Iraqis stormed the then-fortified Green Zone, the seat of government in Baghdad, and demanded political reforms. The current protests are more spread out. There have been rallies in provincial capitals across the south and smaller, more violent protests in the suburbs. They are too numerous for the security forces to control. In Baghdad young men have cut off the airport road and set fire to the offices of the ruling Shia parties. The Green Zone, which was opened to the public in June, has been resealed. The timing of the protests seems to have caught the government off-guard. Normally they take place in the summer, when water and electricity are scarce. But the rains this year have been good and electricity production is at a post-war high. The government’s coffers are fairly flush thanks to record oil production. Still, it has been unable to deal with high poverty rates, and with youth unemployment that stands around 25%. The anger intensified after the security forces beat up new graduates seeking public-sector jobs last month. Scenes of them destroying homes built without planning permission further inflamed public sentiment… Masked men have smashed the offices of anti-Iranian satellite-TV stations that aired protest footage. Hundreds of activists have been arrested. Others have been killed in their homes. The government is also in disarray. Mr Abdul-Mahdi has unveiled a raft of measures aimed at calming the protesters, such as land distributions and increased welfare payments. But the speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al-Halbousi, has broadcast his own list of measures, including financial support for over a million low-income families… protesters… have… ignored appeals for calm from the chief Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who also warned the government that it must heed the demands of the protesters or things will get worse. Iraq’s young democracy, no stranger to tumult, may be facing its most dangerous moment yet. ”

3/10/19:

Iraq: death toll rises as state shuts down internet on 3rd day of protests More links and videos here

2/10/19:

Iraq: 10 dead, including 1 cop, as riots against corruption, lack of electricity, water & work spread to 8 different towns (videos and links)

“A curfew is in effect in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after a second day of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces. The restrictions will remain in place until further notice. Curfews had already been declared in three other cities as protests over lack of jobs, poor services and corruption escalated. The violence has left at least seven people dead and hundreds wounded. Social media platforms and internet access have been blocked in some areas. The nationwide protests, which appear to lack any organised leadership, are the largest since Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi took office a year ago.here. More here. Video here explaining situation.

1/10/19

Iraq, Baghdad: 1 killed in protests against corruption, lack of water, of electricity and of work (videos and links)

See also entries for 21/12/18, 15/12/18 & 14/12/18 here and Iraq 2018 

And also these texts on this site:

Kamikaze Kapitalism (2003) On the Iraq war 2003 and aspects of its real and false opposition

Kurdish Uprising On the Kurdish uprising following the 1991 Gulf war

gulf war 1991: the daily horror (1991)

*******

Lebanon

20/10/19:

Government reforms fail to dampen movement

“Euphoric crowds partied deep into the night Sunday, leaving political and sectarian paraphernalia at home to gather under the cedar-stamped national flag, dance to impromptu concerts and chant often hilarious anti-establishment slogans.They were back in front of the houses of government and on the main Martyrs’ Square on Monday to listen to Hariri’s announcement, which was broadcast on loudspeakers. The crowd erupted into shouts of “revolution, revolution” when Hariri finished his address. “We want the fall of the regime,” they went on. “This is all just smoke and mirrors… How do we know these reforms will be implemented?” asked Chantal, a 40-year-old who joined the protest with her little daughter and a Lebanese flag painted on her cheek…Hariri detailed some of the measures taken by his fractious cabinet, including a programme of privatisations, a decision to scrap new tax hikes and halving the generous salaries of ministers and lawmakers….Schools, banks, universities and many private businesses closed their doors Monday, both for security reasons and in an apparent bid to encourage people to join the demonstrations.”

Al Jazeera take on this

“There are a few key ways in which these latest protests differ from those in 2005 and 2015. As in 2015, but unlike in 2005, they are part of a genuine grassroots movement that has not been directed by any political party. They are cross-sectarian in a broader sense than those of 2015. They are taking place across Lebanon, rather than only in Beirut. And they are demanding the fall of the government from the outset, while criticising political leaders from every sect. Although the number of people on the streets was much higher in 2005, the current protests are much larger than those of 2015. They are also taking place in regions where such public action used to be considered impossible, particularly in southern Lebanon where people from the Shia community have been publicly denouncing traditional Shia leaders, including Nasrallah. The government’s response to the current protests has been its usual carrot-and-stick approach: walking back on proposals to increase taxes while cracking down on the protests through violence. Neither has deterred the protesters, who have vowed to stay on the streets until the government falls. For the first time, people are demanding accountability from the leaders of their own sects as well as from the government at large, and protesters in Sunni strongholds like Tripoli are expressing solidarity with protesters in Shia strongholds like Tyr. Civil society groups involved in the protests are also devising tactics to counter the violence and facilitate mobilisation (one group offered free scooter rides to protest sites) and creating a reform roadmap for the Lebanese state. For the first time, the protests are a condemnation of the political status quo that has, since even before Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, been largely recycling the same faces (or their relatives and descendants) in parliament, the cabinet and high-level positions in the civil service and military… The protests have only been taking place for a few days but the protesters already show a growing awareness not only of the governmental tactics typically used to try to diffuse popular movements but of their own needs as citizens, regardless of class or sect. This alone is a revolution in a country where the political system is, for the most part, a modern version of feudalism. “

 

19/10/19:

More mass demonstrations

“The people want the fall of power!”,  “Revolution! Revolution!” There were tens of thousands of Lebanese in the streets across the country Saturday, for a third day of mobilization against the political class accused of corruption, an unprecedented movement since a long time in Lebanon. Despite … heavy intervention by the police on  Friday night and dozens of arrests, the ranks of protesters have continued to grow, especially in… Beirut and Tripoli, the second largest city in the country. Saturday, during the day and even in the evening, unlike the two previous nights of clashes between rioters and police, the Lebanese were gathered in a good-natured atmosphere. Only a small clash between protesters in front of the mosque al-Amine was reported late evening…gatherings also took place in Akkar, where clashes with the security forces left three wounded, and in Zghorta in North Lebanon, Baalbeck in the Bekaa, Jal el-Dib in the Metn but also in Zouk in Kesrouan. Several roads were blocked by barricades of burning  tires and dumpsters erected by protesters . In the morning, the army reopened highways, while volunteers cleared the city center which yesterday had been turned  into a battlefield. Many shop fronts were destroyed, some were burned, dumpsters and burnt tires littered the ground….”They must leave, all of them” In front of the mosque al-Amine, young people were gathered during the day, they brandished a banner. “My message is our banner, they must leave, we want our children to have a future, we do not believe in their promises, we will stay until they leave,” says Roula…Some politicians were enormously insulted, and in the crudest terms, by the protesters. Essentially Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of the CPL, as well as Speaker of Parliament and Chief Amal, Nabih Berry. The wife of Berry was also the recipient of  unflattering slogans … Though Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, was also targeted, the slogans were not so  massively taken up

18/10/19:

Massive clashes  in Beirut (videos and links)

17/10/19:

Lebanon: clashes on anti-austerity demonstrations throughout country 

“Protesters in the capital blocked the road to the airport with burning tyres, prompting a heavy deployment by security forces. Near government headquarters in central Beirut, violent confrontations broke out between protesters and security forces as demonstrators tried to storm the building. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters, after the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said clashes wounded 40 of its members. Protesters also sparked a large blaze near the Mohammad al-Amin mosque in Downtown Beirut…Besides the capital Beirut, protests erupted in the southern city of Sidon, the northern city of Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley, before spreading to other areas..Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Choucair said that the government had reversed its decision to tax calls on messaging apps following the unrest.”

 

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

fare dodging was never like this! (18/10/19)

18/10/19:

Fare-dodging, 2019: Santiago

Chile, Santiago: State of emergency declared as youths riot in response to cops getting heavy over mass fare dodging against fare increases (and other reasons) 

“The latest protests follow grievances over the cost of living, specifically the costs of healthcare, education and public services. Unsatisfied by partial reforms following widespread education protests in 2011, the metro fare rise has proved the spark that has awoken Chile’s formidable student body…The entity that controls the Santiago Metro network has already confirmed that there will be no service over the weekend, and the Chilean student federation has called a nationwide strike for Monday.”

…More here “…as night fell, the Enel utility building and a branch of  Banco Chile, both in the city center, were set on fire. … no employees were injured…A nearby supermarket was also looted and several metro stations were attacked with Molotov cocktails…Before the metro stations were closed, calls to get on the trains without tickets had circulated, protesting against the increase in the price of metro tickets, from 800 to 830 pesos (about $ 2) during rush hour , after already a first increase of 20 pesos last January. “The entire network is closed due to riots and destruction that prevent the minimum security conditions for passengers and workers,” the metro manager said on Twitter, after attacks against almost all 164 stations where many gates and turnstiles were destroyed.  …The Santiago Metro, the largest (140 km) and most modern in South America, which carries about 3 million passengers per day, is expected to remain closed this weekend and could reopen gradually next week. Many Santiago residents have had to walk home, sometimes traveling long distances, resulting in scenes of chaos and despair.   In various parts of the city, protesters erected barricades and clashed with police, who used water cannons and tear gas, the most long-standing street battle scenes in the Chilean capital…President Sebastian Pinera called the protesters delinquents. “This desire to break everything is not a protest, it’s criminal,” he said in a radio interview.  Thursday, 133 people had been arrested for damage in the metro stations, where the damage amounted to 400 to 500 million pesos (about $ 925,000)”. More here“The campaign erupted when secondary school students began to jump barriers in groups following a fare rise on 6 October, which put Santiago’s metro among the most expensive in Latin America at 830 pesos ($1.17) during the rush hour. Bus prices also climbed as part of the changes…The demonstrations have spread across the city, leading to violent clashes between protesters and police, who have used teargas to disperse crowds on concourses and platforms. Protesters have vandalized barriers and electronic turnstiles, and pulled emergency brakes on trains, affecting the more than 2.5 million passengers who use the metro each day. Police have made dozens of arrests and two officers were reportedly injured.” …More here “The state of emergency will initially run for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly. Due to the emergency, the National Football Association has suspended matches this weekend. General Iturriaga said the military would patrol major trouble spots in the city of seven million but would not impose a curfew at present.”

Video here

View of Macul Metro station set on fire by protesters during a mass fare-dodging protest in Santiago, on October 19, 2019.  Santiago’s underground network is the longest and most modern in South America.

“evade and destroy” – the burnt-out electricity company building

19/10/19:

Chile: protests spread to Valparaíso (where curfew was also imposed), Coquimbo, Concepción and Temuc

“Fire, smoke and sirens. Santiago looks like a post-war city. … young people…protest against the political and entrepreneurial class of Chile, whom they hold responsible for the price increase and their miserable income. …Those who complain about social injustice make noises with pans, or hit the ground and lampposts with hammers and sticks on the ground. …Trade suffers a wave of looting. From food to large televisions, vandals destroy everything…”

Videos and links here

President reverses fare increase as unrest continues

 

For information on the class struggle in Chile under Allende, see this.

And on Pinochet’s coup of September 1973, see: “Strange Defeat”, written in October 1973

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Hong Kong state planning a massacre to be blamed on protesters?

On 14th October, cops claimed this:

“A homemade, remote-controlled bomb intended to “kill or to harm” riot control officers was detonated as they deployed against renewed violence in Hong Kong over the weekend, police said Monday, in a further escalation of destructive street battles gripping the business hub. The “loud thud” Sunday night close to riot officers who had been clearing away a protester-built road block was the first known use of an explosive device during protests that started in June over a contested extradition bill and have snowballed into an anti-government, anti-police and anti-China movement. “It exploded less than 2 meters) away from a police vehicle. We have reason to believe that the bomb was meant to target police officers,” Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung said at a news conference, speaking through a translator.”

Was this a bomb planted by the state or was it made by protesters ?

Who knows ? It’s certainly possible that the state is preparing the ground for a bigger bomb which would maybe seem to target cops but in fact kills loads of other people, or some variant on this – eg one that does kill loads of cops, with all its obvious consequences and probably some not-so-obvious ones. It could also have been a bomb made by a protester with no sense of strategy. Who knows ? But speculation is potentially also preparation for such a possible event…

I’ve written far too often before on this possibility.But it should be repeated.

On 11th September, Beijing claimed that there are those in Hong Kong who are planning a 9/11-type terror. Should such an explosion eventually happen, or conveniently be prevented by Hong Kong’s finest in the nick of time, the state will undoubtedly dismiss those who cry “conspiracy!” on the basis of the traditional dismissal of all those who talk of conspiracy (one of the problems with conspiracy theorists is that they reduce all the contradictions of this society to “conspiracy”, and cry wolf so often that, even when the accusation is accurate, nobody believes them). Moreover, the state will probably issue, under false names, loads of conspiracy theories about it that are easily refutable in order to bury the more credible ones under a welter of bulshit. On  20th July HK cops discovered the largest ever cache of high-powered explosives uncovered in the city and then carried out a controlled explosion (see this) . “Police uncovered 2 kilograms of high explosives, 10 petrol bombs, corrosive liquids, weapons and metal poles at the property.The preparation of TATP can easily result in accidental detonation if mistakes are made. Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah, of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, said the man arrested was wearing a shirt with the logo of the banned pro-independence group Hong Kong National Front. Rallies are taking place across Hong Kong on Saturday and Sunday, with both pro-government and anti-extradition bill marches scheduled. Li said police were still investigating a possible motive and intended uses for the explosives. He did not say if extra police would be arranged for protests this weekend as a result of the raid.”

On Thursday, the 18th of July, this report was published: “Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs are working on an urgent strategy to solve the city’s political chaos and have ruled out the use of military force…They will soon present top leaders in Beijing with both an immediate plan to handle the mass protests and a longer-term strategy that could result in China overhauling its management of the former British colony…The Chinese officials also see Hong Kong’s police force as key to maintaining stability…Mainland officials want to avoid bloodshed and ensure the financial hub remains largely stable…. China’s approach will be to “lure the snake from its hole,” according to one adviser cited by the SCMP, taking a defensive position until the opposition reveals its strategy.”

Are all these things mere coincidence?

The report above says “A powerful high explosive, TATP was used in the November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the 2017 May Manchester bombing and a failed bomb attempt by an Islamist extremist at the Gare Centrale in Brussels in 2017.”  Is this part of China’s “urgent plan”? Is this a way of luring “the snake from its hole”?

In December 1969, after a massive social movement threatened to turn into an Italian equivalent of France’s May ’68,  fascists in collaboration with a section of the state, planted a bomb in a bank in Milan that killed 17 people; the state blamed it on anarchists.

The Falklands war of 1982, when Thatcher deliberately allowed Argentina to invade so as to manipulate “public opinion” to ensure her re-election, was a direct result of the 1981 riots in the UK, and was designed to ensure her re-election after a massive slump in the polls.

“Terrorism” or war are always methods for the state to distract & divert from (and divide) proletarian subversion.

Undoubtedly I  might be crying wolf yet again, but amongst other ideas to de-rail the movement, these are genuine possiblities.

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Hong Kong cop violence – made in the UK

Hong Kong cop violence – made in the UK

Very interesting report, which I’ve just received from a friend. But ignore the stupid recommendations at the end, which don’t make sense given the  obvious involvement of the UK in helping Hong Kong’s cops which part of  the rest of the article focuses on.  The article shows not only how the UK cops directly help the HK filth in their tactics against HK protesters, but also how the experience of HK cops in 1967 helped cops at Orgreave against the miners in 1984 and elsewhere in the UK.  This was published on July 18th 2019. The following are some extracts:

“The HKPF [Hong Kong Police Force] stopped recruiting from foreign services in 1994, but older British officers left over from the handover continue to dominate its senior staff. At the center of the heavily criticized police response to the recent protests are three senior British police officers: chief superintendent Rupert Dover, senior superintendent David Jordan, and superintendent Justin Shave. June 12 saw HKPF officers use rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, and pepper spray on peaceful protesters and riot police beating unarmed demonstrators senseless, on the orders of Dover and others, and in the most infamous incident of all, Shave ordered a tear gas round to be fired at an unarmed approaching legislator…

In 1981, shortly after Margaret Thatcher’s government took office, an unlikely meeting took place …Police in the United Kingdom, widely criticized for their handling of the race [sic] riots that same year, had requested help from Roy Henry, the then-police commissioner of Hong Kong, who ordered one of his most senior officers, Director of Operations Richard Quine, to the U.K. to tell them all he knew.

Some 14 years earlier, the HKPF had brutally suppressed the worst violence in the city’s history, as pro-communist rioters launched indiscriminate bomb attacks against civilians. The British police were eager to hear exactly how it had been done—and to reproduce the same tactics against demonstrators in the U.K.

In 1967, with the Cultural Revolution in China reaching its crescendo, communists inspired by the activities of the Red Guards in the mainland waged a protracted insurgency in Hong Kong against the colonial government. More than 200 people were killed, including a radio journalist burnt alive by communist attackers—with some rioters beaten to death by police. Hong Kong’s status as a colony was exploited by the HKPF as a potential testing ground for new strategies that would be deemed too extreme for use in Britain.

The scholar Lawrence Ho details the police measures as encompassing the “liberal use of force and lethal weapons [and] widespread assault and imprisonment of demonstrators,” coupled with the imposition of oppressive legislation and curfews. Revolutionary new policing techniques widely used across the world today, including “kettling” and the first-ever use of tear gas and short shields by newly instituted riot squads, were first tested in the summer of 1967 by the HKPF…

Quine’s recommendations to British police included instituting dedicated units of officers—“riot suppression units,” each with a particular responsibility to fulfill, such as arresting demonstrators (“snatch squads”), firing tear gas, or crowd intimidation. To this end, Quine proposed initiating a program of 10-week crash courses for officers in techniques including kettling, the use of tear gas, and crowd control, with an eye to rapidly improving the British police’s ability to respond to civil unrest.

The training came too late for the race [sic] riots—but the techniques were on full display in British police violence against miners during the 1984-1985 strike, most infamously in the Battle of Orgreave. These techniques were eventually codified amid total secrecy in a file titled the “Public Order Manual of Tactical Options and Related Matters,” an infamous document that only became public in the aftermath of Orgreave.

The events at Orgreave have been described by the historian Tristram Hunt as “[a]lmost medieval in its choreography, it was at various stages a siege, a battle, a chase, a rout and, finally, a brutal example of legalised state violence.” A total of 4,000 police officers—including hundreds mounted on horseback, hastily ordered in by the police commander at Orgreave, Anthony Clement—charged repeatedly at 10,000 striking miners. Mounted police were immediately followed in by the assembled riot suppression units, which had been modeled on the HKPF’s organization in the intermediary three years since Quine’s counsel.

The police response at Orgreave ran largely on HKPF hardware. A former assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, John Alderson, later stated that the policing strategies used at Orgreave were “a carbon copy of the Hong Kong riot squad.” Meanwhile, allegations continue to swirl to this day about police engineering the entire confrontation to damage and discredit the miners….

The most notorious incident of the events on June 12 was the firing of a tear gas cylinder at Democratic Party legislator Wu Chi-wai, who was peaceably approaching a police unit following brutal scenes of that same unit of officers beating unarmed demonstrators.

A white police officer, initially believed to be Dover but subsequently identified as Shave, could be seen directing a subordinate to fire a tear gas cylinder directly at Wu, who was totally unarmed and clearly identified himself as a sitting legislator. Later footage subsequently revealed that Dover was also embedded in the unit.

Elsewhere, rubber bullets and long-range pepper spray were used on both demonstrators and journalists, resulting in 79 injuries, while in total the HKPF fired more than 150 tear gas canisters over the course of a single day. Tactics first developed during the 1967 riots were again on full display, most notably in the repeated deployment of dedicated riot squads equipped with short shields and batons.”

See also this – British cops help Hong Kong cops, which links to  a mainstream video shown on 7th September which talks of British cops helping HK cops, and provides a transcript of the relevant section of the report.

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Extinction Rebellion (October 2019)

12/10/19:

Protests throughout world, though totally lacking in any perspective other than trying to influence the destroyers of the planet not to destroy it  The “Midas Touch” which capitalism has long seen as something positive, in its over 3000-year-old myth was considered as a warning to those who would turn everything into gold, as the king even turned food into inedible gold and eventually turned his son into gold, finally dying of starvation. This is  something that capital is increasingly realising for an increasing majority of people – it’s in the nature of political economy, the power to transform everything into a commodity (already 22,000 kids worldwide die each day because of malnutrition and easily curable diseases, because of  their need for money which they don’t have). Without a vision of destroying commodified social relations, of destroying the need for money through the expropriation of the expropriators, extermination rebellion will break on the rocks of its contradictions. See  below.

3/10/19:

UK, London: Extinction Rebellion  try to cover Treasury with fake blood but bloody themselves (video)

Better targeted spraypaint: graffiti  on cinema mid- 1970s

Re. Extinction Rebellion, see this (from 15/4/19) interesting initiative – an alternative to Extinction Rebellion’s jail-fodder actions Our main route consisted of visiting and blockading various locations with functional significance for capital and resource transactions in London – the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and the Metal Exchange. Along the tour we also stopped off at other points of interest – banks, courts, the church of Scientology – either chosen by particular comrades in the moment, or by the police who, due to not having any idea of our plans, kept running to protect buildings we hadn’t previously considered trying to get into. The flyer they produced for their march-cum-blockade, however, is a typical lowest common denominator of correct line anti-capitalism, coming from the eclectic  mix of its members,  which doesn’t even begin to try to confront the contradictions of ecological ideologies and movements – perhaps for fear of being unpopular. More about them here. Meawhile, this shows clearly the capitalist nature of the leadership of Extinction Rebellion.  And this shows how their phoney legal advisers are a danger to anybody getting arrested on their arrest-fodder demos. And this is a good critique of the Green New Deal. See also “Extinction Rebellion: Not the Struggle we Need”.

Should also be pointed out that claiming some historical lineage with the Suffragettes’ apparent non-violence is a lie. The Suffragettes were often  “violent ” in society’s terms (ie against things; from the point of view of capital people are mere profane commodities, whilst  property is sacred), and took some very daring initiatives against mainstream culture: “What’s largely forgotten is the excellent violence of the women against private property and against aspects of culture and religion in this movement: Mary Richardson herself was imprisoned in October 1913 for burning down an unoccupied house, and was, with another woman, the first woman forcibly fed under the Cat and Mouse Act against hunger strikers. In 1914, in the seven months before the outbreak of a very convenient war: 3 Scottish castles were destroyed by fire on a single night; the Carnegie Library in Birmingham was burnt; Romney’s “Master Thornhill” in the Birmingham Art Gallery was slashed by Bertha Ryland, daughter of an early suffragist; Carlyle’s portrait of Millais in the National Gallery and a number of other pictures were attacked, a Bartolozzi drawing in the Doré Gallery completely ruined; many large empty houses in all parts of the country were set on fire, including Redlynch House, where the damage was estimated at £40,000 – no precise calculations here – but certainly well over a million quid in today’s money, possibly over £3m. Railway stations, piers, sports pavilions, haystacks were set on fire. A bomb exploded in Westminster Abbey and in St George’s church where a famous stained-glass window was damaged. There were two explosions in St.John’s, Westminster and one in St Martin in the Fields, and one in Spurgeon’s Tabernacle. The ancient Breadsall Church and the ancient Wargrave Church were destroyed. As far as we know, nobody was hurt in these explosions and arson attacks. The Albert Hall organ was flooded, causing £2000 worth of damage….” (here).

suffragette burning of northfield

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

On fires and firebombs – Hong Kong, 7/10/19

On fires and firebombs “Hong Kong fire officials have voiced concern about online instructions for petrol bombs that suggest using a self-igniting material that would make the explosives even more dangerous and unpredictable.”

The fact that such an apparently ‘neutral’ source of information as the fire brigade could warn of potentially frightening consequences of firebombs got me thinking that instead of an obvious terrorist attack (like the fascists’ Piazza Fontana bombing following the Italian autumn movement of 1969 – see also this), the state might try to arrange a fire that kills loads of people. They did this in Athens in May 2010, when young nihilist anarchists firebombed a bank. It was a strike day, and the young guys thought the bank was empty (the doors were locked). In fact, the management had locked employees in – and 3 were killed. There was no fire exit, no sprinklers or fire extinguishing apparatus in the bank (see this and the following posts for details…eventually 3 bank officials were found guilty, though the head of the bank – Andreas Vgenopoulos – the main person responsible – got off scott-free, surprise surprise). I’ve cried wolf so many times over the possibility of a state (or maybe triad) strategy like the Piazza Fontana bombing in ’69, maybe nobody will believe me, but it seems like a real possibility but maybe taking another form like a fire.

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Hong Kong – the kindness of strangers – 7/10/19

7/10/19:

Report on the spread of solidarity and the kindness of strangers Report about October 1st on how whole neighbourhood helped protesters escape cops and teargas, inviting them into their flats, providing reconnaissance information about cop movements etc. “So even those not protesting on the streets are protesting, all contributing to the resistance in their own way. The majority of the city is united against the regime. The story of Wan Chai is not new to me: I’ve experienced the kindness and aid of strangers many times in recent weeks. Just days before, I’d been going toward Causeway Bay together with about 2,000 protesters, again retreating from the police. We heard there were a lot of riot police in Causeway Bay and so decided to head southward, but every street we came to, we saw police at the end of it. Eventually, we had no choice but to go into Happy Valley, a prosperous neighbourhood that has seen little of the protests. It was terra incognita for most of us. Once there, we felt safer, but we knew it was just a matter of time before the police would try to flush us out, and we didn’t know where to go. Security guards emerged from middle-class high-rises and offered directions. A taxi driver had seen us and alerted his colleagues. Before long, dozens of taxis started to arrive. Private drivers pulled up, rolled down their windows, and announced their destination. Protesters hopped in. Within about a half hour, of those 2,000 protesters, no one but myself and a few others remained on the street. Among protesters, a guardian rule is you never leave anyone behind. I play the role of the one who remains until last to make sure everyone gets out. I changed out of my outfit and headed back to cross police lines. Along the way, knowing residents who witnessed and helped the evacuation gave me knowing smiles and thumbs up. “Stay safe, stay safe,” they said….This kind of resistance – it’s a feeling within us. Hong Kong people are famously phlegmatic, unexpressive. We don’t talk much or effuse. But these days, we recognise something in each other, a common purpose, a common identity. This is the sort of unity that can’t be crushed by force. In fact, police attacks fortify it, drawing us closer together. I’m often asked how this will all end. My true feeling is, it doesn’t matter, because the little secret that everyone knows and no one is saying (and perhaps many aren’t even admitting to ourselves) is, we’ve already won. The immediate and original concrete objective, the withdrawal of the extradition bill, has been achieved. We’ve won the battle for hearts and minds. But beyond that, we’ve achieved something much more profound than that: confidence in ourselves as a people and trust in one another for what is sure to be a long, hard struggle ahead.”

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Ecuador – October 2019

Proletarians show Lenin what is to be done:

A police vehicle burns during a protest against Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s austerity measures in Quito, October 7, 2019

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14/10/19:

President forced to retreat “Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, has struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package and end nearly two weeks of protests that have paralysed the economy and left seven dead. Under the agreement, Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades. “Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilisation will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.” The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s unsustainable budget deficits and public debt. In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break. Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.”

One has to be very naive to think that any deal that will have to have the eventual aproval of the IMF if the country is going to receive its strings-attached money will be anything other than a sell-out. Of course, the IMF may refuse to give them money – and where will that end? Or maybe it’s just a bluff on the part of the government so as  to disband the movement and give them time to work out a better strategy (attacking the whole of the dispossessed almost  all at once was not an intelligent strategy on the part of the state). An interesting potential consequence of this apparently total victory will be how this may very well encourage the poor in other Latin American countries.

Interesting and informative interview  with participant in the uprising (interview given on 10th October)

13/10/19:

Army called as curfew is announced

As protests continue, we see contrary positions from the leaders of the indigenous groups, mainly coming from the confused and contradictory positions of Lenin Moreno

” The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador explained that at the moment there were no talks between the protesters and the government… Indigenous activists in Ecuador will continue protests across the country despite accepting President Lenin Moreno’s offer to hold dialogue, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador said…”We will hold contact in order to try to ensure the abolition of Decree 883 [on cancelling subsidies on fuel prices] but we will continue protests across the country demanding the government ensure adequate guarantees,” the statement said. The confederation explained that at the moment there were no talks between the protesters and the government. “There cannot be any real dialogue until security guarantees are provided for indigenous activists across the entire country’s territory,” the statement said. On Friday, President Moreno invited protest leaders to hold a direct dialogue in order to stop violence and stabilize domestic political situation. The confederation’s first reaction was to reject talks until the government dropped plans to cancel subsidies, but on Saturday the activists said they were in favor of dialogue. The first round of talks between Ecuador’s government and the indigenous activists is due to be held the capital of Quito at 3 pm. local time on Sunday, the South American country’s UN mission wrote on Twitter. ..Ecuador’s authorities said on Wednesday that over 400 people, including 86 police officers, sought medical assistance. The press service of the human rights ombudsperson said that five people died in clashes between protesters and the police. On Saturday, Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda said Ecuador’s leadership had agreed to meet the protesters’ demands and scrutinize the decree on cancelling subsidies on fuel. Later Moreno made a decision to introduce curfew in Quito and its outskirts.”

12/10/19:

Indigenous leaders reverse decision from previous day to not talk with Lenin Moreno   “An indigenous group in Ecuador that has led protests for more than a week against a law that ended fuel subsidies said on Saturday it has accepted direct talks with President Lenin Moreno, the first sign of a possible breakthrough in the dispute. The highland capital of Quito was rocked by a 10th day of clashes over Moreno’s austerity plan, with the office of Ecuador’s comptroller set on fire and access roads to Quito’s airport blocked. TV channel Teleamazonas showed images of its own offices in flames and said its employees were unharmed…Conaie, an umbrella organization for indigenous people in Ecuador, made the announcement about the talks with Moreno. Ecuador’s ombudsman Freddy Carrion, who has been monitoring the conflict and encouraging dialogue, said Conaie’s leaders were unaware that Moreno planned to announce a curfew and said it could jeopardize talks. “This measure looks like a desperate attempt by the government that will only worsen the violence,” said Carrion. He recommended Moreno suspend the subsidy cut immediately…Earlier on Saturday, one of Conaie’s leaders told TV channel Ecuavisa that conditions for the talks included them being in public and having them broadcast. “We’re not going to talk behind closed doors. It has to be with the Ecuadorean people,” Leonidas Iza said in broadcast comments. “There has to be large screens so every tiny input from our members can be heard.”

On 11th October they’d said “The dialogue that he’s seeking lacks credibility” (statement by  indigenous umbrella group CONAIE) , adding that it would negotiate with the government only when a decree to remove fuel subsidies had been “repealed.” What’s happened to change that basic principle? “Suspending” the subsidy cut should be treated with the same scepticism that with which the movement in Hong Kong treated Lam when  she  “suspended” the extradition law. Nobody believed her, and she had to withdraw it totally at the beginning of September, by which time  it was too little too late.

National Auditor’s office torched

11/10/19:

Indigenous group rejects pseudo-dialogue with President Lenin Moreno as clashes continue (video)lots of videos and links here More here The protests first erupted last week when truck drivers took to the streets, but indigenous protesters have since taken the lead, with villagers from the highlands walking and hitching rides to reach Quito.Representatives of Amazonian tribes, many carrying spears, streamed into the city late Thursday and early Friday, adding opposition to oil drilling to a growing list of complaints about Moreno’s government.While most roads in Quito outside of the center remained clear, dozens of taxis formed a caravan that wound through the city to express solidarity with protesters, honking and displaying anti-Moreno signs.”

10/10/19:

Cops captured by movement The demonstrators detained at least eight uniformed police officers who they forced on stage before a crowd. The stance of the indigenous movement has hardened even more after clashes on Wednesday night left more casualties. Indigenous leaders here said there will be no negotiation with the government, and some are calling for Ecuadorian President Moreno to step down…Foreign Minister José Valencia said it will not negotiate under the threat of violence and vandalism. “This is an extremely critical situation which is not a decision of the indigenous leaders,” Valencia said.” (cops were later released, deprived of their bullet-proof vests & boots)5 protesters, including an indigenous leader, killed

 

9/10/19:

Ecuador: 1st day of possibly indefinite general strikewhilst some indigenous leaders (certainly not all of them) condemn “vandalism and looting”clashes in Guayaquil, where government has moved to …More here Videos and other links hereForce Majeure (unforeseeable circumstances preventing fulfillment of  contract.) declared on all oil operations – pipelines shut down

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Quito, 9/10/19 (above & below)
Firing home-made mortar from an improvised rocket-launcher
Protesters commandeer army vehicle, Quito

8/10/19:

Ecuador, Quito: anti-austerity riots etc. force Lenin Moreno’s government to relocate outside of the capital after state ends fuel subsidies, sacks some public sector workers, threatens privatisations “Images from Quito showed protesters hurling petrol bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalising public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night… The president faces a stiff challenge from indigenous groups and others who blocked some roads for a fifth day from Monday morning with stones, tyres and branches. Indigenous-led protests brought down three presidents in the years before Correa’s rule. Rioters in Quito forced their way into the comptroller general’s office and vandalised the assembly building on Monday. It followed days of violence in which protesters burned military vehicles, destroyed dozens of rose farms, a dairy and an oil production facility. The outnumbered security forces have been unable to prevent much of the destruction… prices rose overnight by about a quarter for petrol and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Lorry and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralysed trunks roads across the country. ” More here “The South American country of 17 million people appeared to be at a dangerous impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy. Violence has persisted since last week, when President Lenín Moreno’s decision to end subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices. Protesters seized some oil installations and the state oil company, Petroecuador, warned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day, or nearly one-third of total production, if insecurity continues. The government declared an overnight curfew around key state installations and government buildings as well as vital infrastructure such as airports and oil refineries. Earlier Tuesday, protesters broke through police barriers and some entered the empty congress building in Quito. Police fired tear gas and forced them to retreat. Indigenous protesters occupied two water treatment plants in the city of Ambato, south of the capital, raising concern about supply to residents, according to municipal authorities. On Monday night, hundreds of people rampaged through the Duran area near the port city of Guayaquil, looting pharmacies, electronic appliance stores and other buildings. In another part of Ecuador, police abandoned an armored vehicle to protesters who set it on fire. In multiple areas, rioters smashed car windows, broke into shops and confronted security forces...”…and here (videos and links).

Indigenous anti-government protesters arrive by foot in Quito, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019

7/10/19:

Ecuador: movement grows and strengthens (videos and links)

5/10/19:

Ecuador: blockades and clashes throughout country following massive rise in fuel prices (videos and links in Spanish) – some show soldiers “arrested” by part of the indigenous population.

3/10/19:

Ecuador: state of emergency declared as riots develop alongside transport strike following massive increase in fuel prices (videos and links)

Interesting resumé of events

This implicitly shows how those who follow and trust in leaders allow them to recuperate and disarm movements and even participate in capitalist austerity measures:

“Indigenous leaders agreed to be part of a commission that would come up with a new decree mandating budget cuts in other areas to fulfill IMF obligations imposing austerity measures. On Monday morning, the government lifted the state of emergency and the curfew in Quito. In an act of final solidarity and street organization, Indigenous people, along with volunteers and police officers, worked to clean streets and remove roadblocks. Moreno officially revoked the decree later that day. While many celebrated the Moreno decision as a people’s victory against the IMF, mainstream media and even some progressive outlets outside the country falsely reported that the Ecuadorian government had done away with all austerity measures, with some going as far as saying the deal with the IMF had been dropped altogether. However, most of the austerity measures in the new economic package, such as reducing vacation time for public sector from 30 days to 15 days, and reducing salaries and labor protections for public and private employees, remain untouched. The executive now must send those IMF-suggested reforms to the National Assembly for approval. Some also remain on edge recalling that the government had previously said a second economic package would be introduced after the first one was approved. Some would even argue that the scrapping of the decree was not a real win as the government has made it clear that a new presidential decree concerning the subsidies would have to be agreed on as part of the newly created national commission.”

 


SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

British cops help Hong Kong cops

This video from 7/9/19 shows how the cops in Hong Kong are using British commanders to organise more or less ‘softly softly’ riot control against protesters. “We’re outside the Mong Kok police station…an officer was aiming a long rifle loaded with rubber bullets directly at protesters…No rubber bullets or teargas cannisters were fired, certainly not at our location…It was a far more organised, far better co-ordinated operation by the riot police. They flooded out from the Mong Kok police station here into the streets and very aggressively went after the protesters charging at them in large goups dispersing those protesters without apparently having to resort to the kind of force we’ve seen before – the 100s of teargas cannisters, the 100s of rounds of rubber bullets that have been fired in the past and I think what is very interesting is …that  there were British commanders involved tonight. Very clearly we heard them, we saw them speaking with British accents. It appears to me that they have been brought in to better organise the Hong Kong riot police – to bring their experience of riot control in UK cities…to the Hong Kong police to help them out. Now a source told one of our team from the UK consulate that they deny any new addition of police officers here but I’m not sure that that is true and it might well depend on what the definition of ‘new’ is”.

What’s more, those calling on Britain to rein in China haven’t heard about a delegation from Hong Kong being invited in August by the British government to attend a flagship arms fair in London despite a promise made by the former foreign secretary in June to halt exports of teargas to there. “Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said: “The Hong Kong police are using UK-made arms against campaigners right now. It is a disgrace that they have been invited to buy even more.”

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

Bangladesh garment workers clash with cops

15/9/19:

Bangladesh, Narayanganj: garment workers clash with cops in road blockades against unpaid wages and illegal sackings  Ready-made garment (RMG) workers blocked multiple roads in Dhaka’s Mirpur area as well as the Narayanganj city yesterday, demanding payment of arrears and reopening of their factories…Workers of Zaara Jeans and Knitwear Limited blocked the road since the morning, demanding the payment of their arrears…After hours of demonstration, the protesters left the streets around 3:15pm after receiving assurance that their demands would be met…In Narayanganj, at least 25 people, including police personnel, were injured when a clash broke out between police and RMG workers. The clash broke out around 10 in the morning yesterday, on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway in Kanchpur area. Workers of Sinha-Opex Garments factory started protesting on the highway to press home their demands for payment of overdue wages, stopping illegal sacking of workers, and realizing other benefits. The clash erupted when law enforcement personnel tried to disperse the protesters from the highway. Police fired more than 50 tear gas shells and a few rounds of rubber bullets at the protesters at the time. The protesters, meanwhile,said police charged baton on them without any reason and fired tear gas shells at them, injuring at least 20 workers.” Video here

SamFanto was born, and then he lived a bit but never enough.

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