Turkey: villagers burn tents in dispute over military police construction site ( morehere… not sure how much this is a state provocation of the PKK in an attempt to deflect from the class war and also how much this is independent of the PKK)
Interesting comment here about forming anti-fascist front and other stuff going on in Brazil:
Most genuine anti-capitalista organizations are not participating of this supposed anti-fascist front, basically, because the organizations which are now launching this ‘anti-facist’ scare talk have been the basis of the government against which the transport fare struggle has been undertaken, the Worker’s Party Government. These organizations include this MMM, Consulta Popular (student wing of the MST), UNE (The “Student’s Ministry”) and other alike organizations.
The groups in this list which are not basis of the government have bureaucratic practices which have undermined all previous transport fare strrugles in the other years. And now that this struggle has been victorious and the media is trying to take over the movement they want us to protect them against the furious crowd, which is not just fascist but also angry at the practices of cooptation of movements by these parties. This includes PSTU, PSOL, Intersindical.
These struggles have the very curious caracteristic of being undertaken against both major political parties in Brasil, PSDB (Social-Democrat Party of Brasil) and PT (Worker’s Party), both of which have been in power as President, Governor and Mayor in most cities with protests. And they have been victorious in practically ALL CITIES.
I have been participating in the struggle against transport fare increase in the last two months. We created a Front Against the Fare Increase, which included various student groups and teachers, and we established a method of struggle which was horizontal, equal participation equal acess to information, autonomous, self-financed and without the interference of external institutions, and “apartidaria”, that is to say, without a political party directing the movement but allowing individual participation of party militants. We undertook a struggle of over two months, massive calumny campaign by the media and very very violent repression, undertook many direct actions which included confronting the police and burning buses, and the legitimacy and participation in the movement was just increasing more and more.
After the victory against the fare increase and the possibility of a massive incorporation of poor worker’s from the poorer parts of the city in the struggle, here in Goiânia we faced a major change of behavior by all the media channels (TV, Radio, Newspaper) in which they started telling the populaceabout our next demo and saying how people should behave in our demonstration (“pacifically”), how they should dress (all white of peace), what they should demand (against corruption, for “education” (and not for a concrete gain in education), for “safety” among other things) and basically they have taken upon themselves the role of demonstration organizers. It is something that I never imagined would be possible. Of course, they managed to take over one of our latest demos and it was a mostly nationalist-conservative combo that took over. We have not yet recovered from this attack and are now building more momentum within the poorer parts of worker groups and the students which we actually have moments to discuss and build struggle together.
We are also struggling for the liberation of four political prisioners of the demos, which are being charged with “quadrilha formation”, basically, association to commit crimes, which is a serious felony. Basically, a demo, a collective action, is now considered association to commit crime if any serious act against order is committed and people get caught.
“While riot police battled a flurry of rocks and molotov cocktails, students seized an estimated 30 locations scheduled to be official voting sites for Sunday’s presidential primary vote.
The president, Sebastián Piñera, warned the students that squads of riot police were prepared for massive raids if the students refused to peacefully surrender the voting areas. “We are not going to let a minority, jumping over the law, pretend to usurp the 13 million Chilean citizens who have a democratic right to participate [in elections],” he said.
“They are not students, they are criminals and extremists,” the interior and security minister, Andrés Chadwick, said. “They have acted in a co-ordinated and planned way to provoke these acts of violence.”…Much of the energy comes from the ranks of public schoolchildren aged 14-17. Though not old enough to order a beer, they are connected by Facebook and able to marshal massive marches and flashmobs in the hundreds when a single friend is arrested and held by Carabineros de Chile, the national police force. Instead of football or skateboarding, teenagers often gather after school in public parks to draft declarations and manifestos.
In the hours before the national march, students attacked and briefly occupied the ministry of education.”
Brazil: clashes continue
On coming to power in 2002, Lula immediately aped the antics of his friend Tony [Blair] and within days proved to be more right wing than the previous Cardosa regime. It was cleverly executed. An Orwellian newspeak language was quickly deployed making everything appear the opposite of what it was. Thus 4 state banks and the Central Bank were privatised described in the media as moves towards “autonomy” from elected officials (obviously suggesting corrupt clientalism) playing on what’s become a favourite term culled from the grass roots. Political Correctness was brought on-line with Blacks and women in the cabinet, all so reminiscent of Blair’s Babes etc and just like in the UK strikes have been virtually abolished as Lula, even more than Blair, generously over-fills neoliberal financial goals. Truly both laboristas are, as Brazilians say, “Robin Hoods for the rich” though unlike Blair, Lula as the worker worm who turned (the other way) is able to deploy the popular sentimental touch crying ‘real tears’ faced with child poverty then abruptly follows with a major reduction in social spending and a massive transfer of wealth to the creditors.
And this, from the same text, illustrates how “socialist” populism can be used to stifle social critique and redirect it into forms of social control utterly complicit with the status quo:
The Participatory Budget has been active for a fair number of years administered by PT rank ‘n’ file members. Basically it’s a form of city government whereby activated neighbourhood blocks often from the ‘periphery’ or small peoples’ assemblies decide what should happen to a limited city budget whereby manipulations of all-powerful local officials and technicians are circumvented and financial decisions are no longer taken behind closed doors. The PB started off with a critique of voters as ‘mere spectators’ (Silvio) needing to transform themselves into protagonists of social change as “the world is experiencing a huge social collapse” (Silvio again). This much is true. A permanent, on-going activity rapidly developed and though initiated and sustained by grass roots PT militants it did finally mean that transparency about money matters was forced on the legislature. It also means that money from the federal state for public use no longer goes to rescuing banks and bankers as happens elsewhere in Brazil and city councillors have been forced to approve the spending decisions of the assemblies. Thus under their pressure the PB has been able to invert spending priorities in favour of the poorest neighbourhoods bringing about very basic improvements relating to extensive road maintenance, street lighting, bus routes, building sewers and municipal housing and as time has moved on, is now able to concern itself with health centres and schools. One can say this is all very pedestrian even though necessary with the PB having “a half-in, half-out relationship to the state” but how about all the real big, big, big things?
The problem is the PB in Porto Alegre is basically a local para-state and as such really nothing like some kind of insurgent assembly as it must more or less obey the paradigm set by the federal government though pushed beyond the limits of remit. Is it really that different to the time in the early 1980s when the Trotskyist Militant Tendency controlled Liverpool Council even though more obviously contemporary in methods and in turn didn’t Liverpool tend to somewhat ape Red Bologna in the Italy of the late 1970s? All that though belonged to the time of a loosening but still patrician Stalinism especially in Bologna. The Porto Alegre experiment however skirts the farther reaches of radical social democracy even suggesting its own future negation. In this city today hip rhetoric tends to outstrip the more mundane backdrop citing experiments like the Paris Commune or the Workers’ Soviets from 1917-21 in a way that even British Solidarity of forty years ago, the Solidarity of Chris Pallis’s The Bolsheviks and Workers Control would not have completely disagreed with, though doubtless would have been wary about all those still extant old power structures still functioning albeit feebly. In Porto Alegre today a relatively popular slogan proclaims: “All Power to the Participatory Budget” mimicking in tone that old more genuine chant: “All Power to the Workers Councils.”
A real subversive assembly ushering in a new world (if indeed there is to be another such assembly or even new world which is now plainly doubtful as the times are so bad) must take on an ever-widening connotation heading towards some kind of totality where all major problems – and possible solutions – become practically indivisible. Porto Alegre’s PB quite quickly hits a ceiling after having dealt with immediate bread and butter issues. It cannot even intervene in the growing drug problem and related violence in poor areas, as this is not part of local authority remit but a federal issue etc. However – and this is a difference and something new – these PT ideologues foresee the end of radical social democratic limitations (its realisation if you like?) talking of a ‘rupture’ to come. As we know from our own European pasts these limits were breached in an often wild, unrepressed explosion, a convulsive rupture, if you like. Raul Pont, one of the instigators of PB, tries to explain something about this referring back to Rousseau’s utopia where a time and space is reached where there’s no delegation, no transfer of power and sovereignty is completely undivided. It may happen; this break; this rupture – call it what you will – and the PT reformers of the Participatory Budget may joyfully join in a much more authentic example of revolutionary becoming, but don’t hold your breath!
This latter abstract hope of social democracy’s rupture with the limitations objectively imposed by the commodity form has proved to be just talk, a “radical” carrot held up to convince the ideologists of the PB, and those deluded by them, of their good intentions .
Egypt: pro- and anti- government clashes in Alexandria……..and Cairo and Sharqiya…. and Dosouk…and Suez and Port Said…and Luxor ….mothers of those killed by state forces demonstrate outside President’s house…. US soldiers prepare to fly out to protect US rulers’ interests there
China: parents and pupils riot against invigilators –“We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat.”
In Rio “Protesters pulled down security cameras, smashed bus stops and torched cars. Every hoarding that advertised the Confederations Cup was destroyed….When a handful of people began tearing down posters for the Confederations Cup, the rest of the crowd sat down around them and shamed them with shouts of “No violence” and “No vandalism”
Dialectical delinquents note:
Nothing wrong with a bit of internationalist vandalism. There’s virtually nothing in the way this world is organised which is worth preserving in its present form. Smashing things up is a perfectly valid expression of anger against a world which reduces humans to things and elevates things to untouchable idols. The Situationists wrote, in their analysis of the uprising in Watts almost 40 years ago:
” once the vaunted abundance is taken at face value and directly seized, instead of being eternally pursued in the rat-race of alienated labor and increasing unmet social needs, real desires begin to be expressed in festive celebration, in playful self-assertion, in the potlatch of destruction. People who destroy commodities show their human superiority over commodities. They stop submitting to the arbitrary forms that distortedly reflect their real needs.”
We need more vandalism – and more coherent vandalism:
“The alienation of the proletarian consists in this: his work has substance but no freedom; his leisure has freedom but no substance. What he does of consequence is not his, and what he does that is his has no consequences; nothing is at stake in his play….It is this social schizophrenia, this desperately felt need to see their own action, to do something that is really theirs, which causes masses of people to take up crafts or vandalism; and still others to try and suppress the split by attacking the separation in a unified way, by taking up coherent vandalism: the craft of the negative.”
…..president claims to sympathise with social movement….whilst sending troops to 5 cities to quell riots…clashes continue in Fortaleza during match against Mexico…Pele says forget protests, enjoy the football
“While you watch TV, I change the world for you!”
Email (despite some crap – most notably – approval of the standing men protests which were also approved of by the deputy PM – it contains some interesting bits):
If I had to describe yesterday in a single word, I would choose
Five of the country’s unions called for a general strike, and organized
meeting points in every major city for demonstrating against the state.
Together, the unions represent approximately 900,000 people, and those of
us who have been fighting were looking forward to the additional people
power and the possibility that, with union organization, things might go
Instead, the city suddenly shut-down metro service at six central stops at
3:30, which left many people (including my colleagues) scrambling for
options to get home. Then, the unions gave a press conference at 5PM and
called off their march. There were clashes in other cities, but in
Istanbul, it seemed, most people just decided to go home.
Everyone had anticipated unprecedented violence. I biked home early (at
4PM), past a TOMA water cannon in ÅiÅli Merkez and a deployment of about
100 cops. Then, when I got to my street, I noticed that all along the
block were evenly placed spray bottles of antacid solution and large water
bottles, with the tops cut off so that demonstrators could drop gas
canisters into them. Both sides were taking steps to get ready, and a
street-level apartment across from my own boldly displayed a sign offering
support and assistance to protestors. “Shut up Tayyip,” it read.
Most of those protestors didn’t materialize. The deputy PM had suggested
the gendarme could be called out to support the police, and through the
evening, the nervous energy that had built up in the city was replaced
with a tense calm. By 7PM, union members were heading home, most
demonstrators were taking the night off, and the police position were
completely secure. I later read about short clashes in Osmanbey, and then
an hours-long fight in OkmeydanÄ±, not far from my house. Other than that,
the banging of pots was the most prevalent sign of resistance.
So I had thought.
I spent the evening in Taksim, which was crawling with police. I walked
past three TOMAs to get into the square, and arrived right around shift
change at roughly 8PM, as hundreds of police were getting onto city buses
and leaving. I sat with friends and watched as earth movers cleared rubble
and dirt, and men with power hoses tried to wash away the graffiti of the
revolution. Police lounged in lawn chairs on the stairs entering the park,
turning away curious eyes, and plain clothes cops sat smoking in the
square while a few foreign reporters hunted for quotes.
After spending the evening in the Taksim police state, I walked home along
Cumhuriyet Blvd., the same route along which I’ve been participating in
marches and clashes for the previous two weeks. It felt lonely. I passed
several police positions, with cops sleeping in buses or on cots or, in
some cases, on the ground. They live up to their slogan: Her Åey vatan
iÃ§in (“Everything for the homeland”). I was clearly dressed to
demonstrate, but other than a few looks, not a one of them said anything.
The return of the cops brought with it the return of criminal activity. As
I headed home, I passed eight tinerci, youth who sniff glue and are known
for their violent, erratic behavior. I saw one follow a pedestrian,
insistently hassling him for money while his four friends egged him on.
Another gave a half-hearted attempt from a dark stoop to hit me up for
loose change. Plain clothes policemen patrolled the street, their radios
protruding from back pockets.
All this, starting not more than 50 meters from where the police slept.
The message about what constitutes crime and who the state considers
dangerous could not be clearer. It was a demoralizing, frustrating, and
somewhat fearful walk home â the first time it has felt that way in over
Still, there were many small acts of dissent the supplied me with hope
when I booted up my computer. Around the time of my departure from Taksim,
a group of pacifist protestors had been gathering to stand, in silence,
facing the Turkish flag in the square. They just stood there, unmoving,
and by 2AM, there were images circulating of #duranadam in Ankara,
Eskisehir, and elsewhere. The police, so threatened by the silent,
standing people, took many of them into custody, only to release them
later after realizing how absurd that was.
BeÅiktaÅ’s youth brigade, ÃarÅÄ±, also issued a statement declaring that
they would no longer confront the police brutality with force. This
appears to have caused division within the group, but last night, in a
park in BeÅiktaÅ, conversations and lectures were held until the early
morning, discussing the possibilities for Turkey. They are making good on
their promise: Her yer Taksim, her yer direniÅ (“Everywhere is Taksim,
everywhere is resistance”).
So it seems like the space for free expression that Liberated Taksim
provided, still exists, and new and interesting forms of resistance are
just being discovered. I’ve been asked where it is all heading and how I
think it will all end â to which I can say, “I don’t know”, and “I’m
confident it won’t”. The space created in Taksim after the brutality
against park protestors is now everywhere. The conversations are
everywhere, the sense that this is a process is everywhere, the mutual
respect for the differences among Anatolia’s residents is everywhere, and
the support for a multitude of forms of resistance is everywhere.
I believe that constitutes victory, because it isn’t like any of us
expected to take over the government. The point of past two weeks of
demonstrations was never to hit the street and fight the cops. Fighting
the police was necessary, but it was never the end that people were
seeking to achieve. The reduced violence yesterday, and the new forms of
resistance that sprang up nationwide, are clear evidence that this process
is ongoing. That should be reason enough for optimism.
I predict that the meme of resistance will remain: that ErdoÄan and the
AKP will not recover from being the butt of satire; that the sense of
community cultivated among Turkish citizens in the past two weeks will not
soon be forgotten; and that the comfort with confrontation will also take
a long time to dissipate. Those are all signs of a successful movement,
and this is really just the beginning.
Three weeks ago, no one in Turkey thought that this was possible:
Now, everyone knows it is.
Brazil: Rio – protesters attack legislative assembly….Sao Paulo: city hall attacked…..opera, banks, shops attacked (video)…..Porto Allegre: fares not only don’t rise but are reduced to 5 centavos less than current rate…”Some said they were inspired by protests in Istanbul – “Peace is over, Turkey is here!” was one chant on Thursday night”
Brasilia’s National Congress occupied
coconut shy cops
Turkey, email just after midnight, 17/6/13:
There is a lot to report, but frankly, this will already take too many
more words than I think even I would read. So, what I’ll try to do here is
truncate most of what I experienced in the past 28 hours, and grope slowly
to the point. The point is this (in case I forget):
Sometimes winning feels like losing.
To sum up: I left a party last night at 9:30PM after hearing reports that
Gezi Park had come under attack from the police at 9. It was a nice party
and I was sad to leave. I was also a lot more scared than I’ve been,
because the attack appeared to have been a surprise, and I didn’t really
know what I was in for. I took a taxi directly from the Cevahir Mall in
ÅiÅli Merkez, down Cumhuriyet Boulevard toward Taksim. On the way, we were
passed by an ambulance.
That didn’t help my spirits much.
Pitched battles with the police were ongoing in Harbiye and Osmanbey until
6AM, and focused in the area around the Osmanbey metro at the base of the
Ramada Hotel. There were other confrontations elsewhere, but I was not
otherwise engaged. Myself and friends participated near Osmanbey until
about 2AM, and then provided food, water, and shelter for those that kept
fighting. Three men even stayed with us that evening: a student from
Istanbul Technical University; a graduate of Bahcesehir University; and a
farmer from Eskisehir. They were all under 30. We slept for about four
hours before they went back out on the streets.
Fighting picked up again before I managed to head to my home (in Sisli),
at around 11:30AM. I spent the morning among demonstrators on back
streets. These demonstrations, last night and today, appeared to have
caught most people off guard. There were fewer people out with masks, and
fewer still with the antacid/water solution that is so helpful against its
affects. I happen to have a spray bottle of the stuff, which meant getting
shuffled around to groups at different barricades on various side streets,
to spray down folks’ eyes.
Some things I saw were pretty nuts, in hindsight. I ‘treated’ an old man
with antacid spray who was trying to reach Taksim, though he didn’t say
what for. He was probably in his 70s. I also sprayed down the eyes of two
children â one was about four and the other 13 or 14. They were with their
mother, trying to traverse home from breakfast. Everywhere, people were
banging pots and pans in support of us, and booing whenever the cops moved
through a street. Families threw food and water to protestors, and brought
cookies and treats to people building barricades. I had breakfast
alongside a gay couple, and later saw them chanting in a crowd on a side
street. So many of us â who were marginal, foreign, or ideologically
divided â are now on the same side.
I also threw my first gas canister. On Ergenekon Boulevard there is a
French-Catholic cemetery surrounded by a high wall â about 12 feet tall.
That wall was our left flank for most of the morning, so when a gas
canister landed at my feet, it was a really simple thing to just toss it
over the wall. I didn’t realize, initially, but the people manning that
barricade had made a game of tossing gas over that 12-foot wall, and they
were keeping score. The leading player had thrown five, and I robbed his
closest competition of the tying toss.
But I also put myself on the score board…
I think that’s 12 feet..?
Later, I sat alongside a protestor who was collecting the gas canisters to
show to doctors. He had a gas grenade (el bombasi), two types of gas
canisters, and a shell produced by NonLethal Technologies of Homer City,
PA. He thought he had four types of canister, so I took a canister and the
shell and explained how the two fit together and function. There was some
debate, and that’s when an old-timer behind me said: “Son, they go
together like your mother and your father did.”
That seemed to clarify the situation more effectively.
This is the shell casing, of which there aren’t many floating around,
because the police pick them up. A friend got one on Tuesday, and I have
to say that I’m a bit jealous.
Throughout all of this, there is a playful atmosphere punctuated by
swearing, sweating, and fleeing in terror. We heard stories of rubber
bullets and head wounds, and we were constantly hearing ambulance sirens.
But I also heard a story of one street in Cihangir, where a
bullhorn-wielding protestor made an offer to the police: “Put down your
arms and surrender, and we will not harm you”.
At the same time, things are quite serious in ways that make my gut
clench. The surprise attack on Gezi Park took everyone off guard. I
haven’t seen casualty lists, however, as I am writing there remains an
active webpage thrown together to publicize the names of children that
were separated from their parents
(https://divandakicocuklar.wordpress.com/) during the attack. It lists 12
children, a description of one who is yet unidentified, and also a
pregnant woman, who was separated from her husband during the attack. I’m
not sentimental, but that really hits me, and makes it easy to know whose
side I’m on. A group that maintained an unofficial AKP support website
thought so as well, and pulled the site, saying, “We want to support you,
but we can’t support gassing children.”
Like I said before before, I wanted to offer a summary to get to my point:
Sometimes winning feels like losing. The barricades are assembled from
construction yard materials, cobblestones, street lamps, and whatever else
is available. The cost in time, labor, and materials that it will take to
undo this resistance is going to be massive. Add to that the cost in
tourism dollars. This clever ad
was put together to help promote Turkish Airlines, and defines what I
expect is Turkey’s new image abroad. I have recommended recently that
tourists not change their plans, but I’m now officially reversing that
Unless you’re coming to demonstrate, take your tourist dollars elsewhere.
Barcelona is great.
Other costs: there is now a generation of Turkish kids who are unafraid of
the police and regard them as the enemy. There also is a strong spirit on
the street of the potential to change this country for the better, and
that the main obstacles to that are the current government, the political
structure of the country, and a culture of divisiveness along the lines of
now meaningless identities. I think I’ve mentioned all that before, so
let’s skip it.
The point… damn… still trying to get to the point. Sometimes, winning
feels like losing. We lost the park, and that made what has only been a
chant, up to this point, a truism: “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is
resistance.” Yesterday, Taksim had been Istanbul’s only flashpoint for the
past two weeks. Now, there are barricades on my street, in Nisantasi (a
posh neighborhood), and battles were waged on the Bosphorus Bridge and in
Kadikoy (on the Asian side). Everywhere is resistance. This wouldn’t have
happened without the assault on Gezi Park.
More importantly, however, is the culture of fear that the demonstrators
now control people with power. For instance, we aren’t afraid of force,
the extremity of political power, and that reduces the value of power
overall for those who wield it. I have a specific reason for asserting
that: A good friend spent Friday as a translator for the Korean company
planning the Ä°stanbul-Gyeongju World Culture Expo, 2013. She translated
during meetings with city officials who had signed off on the Gezi Park
development project, and they complained of being mired in recent legal
cases. They were candid, off the record, and they were scared shitless.
In one instance, the municipal representative on the History and Culture
Board explained that he could not sign off on the Korean company’s plans
to build temporary structures for the expo. This project has been approved
from the PM down to the municipal level, and is awaiting only the
signature of the board. It entails building seven semi-permanent
structures between Harbiye and Eminonu, that were to begin construction
later this month.
The board’s municipal representative was very clear about his position,
saying, “You are threatening me with the names of these politicians and
your assertions about the work you have done over the past year. I don’t
care what support this project has in Ankara, I will resign before
approving it. Meydana bak!”.
“Look at the square”; meaning, look at everything that has happened
because of the government’s approach to the Gezi Park project; look at the
way people have risen up; look at what they are demanding; look at the
ramifications those demands have for the way we do business; and most
importantly, look, really look, and then you can see what they will do if
you push this project through without them.
Sometimes , especially after this weekend, where we have lost the park and
our movement is exhausted and we’re fighting on every street of central
Istanbul â sometimes, it’s easy to feel like we’re losing. I think that’s
an important part of actually winning. The city’s officials fear us.
Erdogan’s speech today was shrill and absurd â because he fears us. Now,
we’re hearing reports that AKP thugs are moving through parts of the city
to fight demonstrators, and the police are letting that happen â because
they fear us. To suggest, now, that this is a country that has been
anything but ruled by authoritarian means is demonstrably false. We pushed
them to the point of openly demonstrating their contempt for democracy and
for other people, all over a small park that most of us never walked
through because it was too damn sketchy at night.
Still, because of it, everything from this point forward will be harder
for them, and even if it doesn’t feel like it on a day-to-day basis for
us, that is winning.
Also, a shout out to my botanist friends: The trees in Gezi Park are not
Sycamores, as has been frequently reported, but Oriental Planes
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platanus_orientalis). Apparently, that’s an
easy mistake to make, if you aren’t a botanist…
Turkey: another email from Istanbul, giving the atmosphere of the park and square on Tuesday –
The legacy of the Taksim Square massacre in 1977 is one that Turks hold
close to their hearts. Then, the defiance was different. There was a
pro-secular and pro-capitalist government [is there any other kind? – dialectical delinquents note] in power, the state was controlled by the military, and a vast apparatus of extra-state actors did the dirty work of keeping Turks under the state’s thumb.
On May 1, 1977, state agents fired live rounds from rooftops surrounding
Taksim Square, into the crowd of 500,000 demonstrators. Only four people
were killed by bullets, but a total between 34 and 42 people died. The
Wikipedia article on the massacre is a well-distilled account of the
story, and explains that, “Most casualties were caused by the panic that
this intervention created.”
The police performance during the day, was followed Tuesday night with an
unprecedentedly dangerous attack on the park, in which the crowd and fear
was the biggest threat. Before it happened though, I had had enough time
to get myself into trouble.
My friends and I entered the park at about 7:15PM and negotiated the
crowd, estimated at 30,000. It felt something akin to an overcrowded
outdoor concert venue. We ran into other friends, shook hands, kissed
cheeks, and kept moving. I wanted to get a look at the square, which the
police had retaken that morning, and the fire near the southwest corner of
the park that was still spewing a column of smoke into the air. I also
wanted to get out of the crowd.
The venue of these protests couldn’t be more hazardous. About a mile’s
worth of tunnel has been dug beneath Taksim, at a depth of about 30 feet,
but it isn’t all covered. An area just off the square remains exposed,
with a sheer drop from the street level into what is, essentially, a pit
of broken concrete. To the north of this pit, Gezi Park sits on something
of a plateau, rising 15 feet above the level of the square. Between these
depths, is the construction-site-cum-playground that has hosted the
demonstrations. I have a wild imagination, so I can conceive of a more
dangerous venue for political action, but Taksim and Gezi make that
unnecessary – just the geography of this protest is dangerous enough as it
is, and we were adding 30,000 people to the equation.
And the police were soon to be adding tear gas.
Before things kicked off, we made it to an edge of the park that offered
the desired view of the square and the fire. I looked down from the
plateau and people were passing buckets of dirt to throw onto an engine
fire in a large, earth-moving machine. I noticed that a firehose had been
slung over the wall we were standing atop, and was snagged in a coil of
razor wire. So, carefully as I could, myself and another demonstrator
began lifting the hose from the wire and throwing it down to the members
of AKUT – Turkey’s volunteer rescue service – who were trying their hand
at proper firefighting. Turns out, the hose wasn’t even hooked up to a
So it goes.
The razor wire was probably left behind from before the square had become
a construction site. Istanbul is treacherous in this way, with seemingly
random and innocuous locations fenced off for, presumably, some purpose
other than becoming a hazard to pedestrians. So yeah, here I am at this
point, thinking about how dangerous the site, the fire, and the razor wire
all are, while throwing this heavy fucking firehose to a volunteer 15 feet
below me, when I got my hand tangled up in the wire.
It frustrated me then, and does now, that I was so surprised when I cut my
hand. There’s an obvious life lesson here I should have learned a long
time ago – like not eating steaming pizza because it’s steaming and
clearly too hot to put in my mouth, and I’m definitely going to blister my
taste buds if I do [learned at 26].
The lesson is, don’t play near razor wire. Just. Don’t. Now you know, and
knowing is half the battle, I guess.
Still, I was also very, very grateful for my first camping trip with my
dad, which happened (I think) in second grade. Then, I slashed a deep gash
in my hand with my shiny new pocket knife, cried and bled, and learned how
to deal with the sight of my own blood. I’ve bled a bunch since then, and
cried a lot, but I don’t remember ever panicking.
Standing on the wall as my hand gushed far more blood than this
quarter-inch long cut merited, I managed to avoid panicking and doing
something stupid, like falling off the wall, or getting further entangled
in the razor wire. I raised my hand above my shoulder, applied pressure to
the wound, and asked another demonstrator for directions to the medical
Hands can bleed a lot when cut, and when you are something of a bloody
mess, other people tend to panic on your behalf, which can make them
somewhat unhelpful. This propensity to panic is what, I think,
distinguishes civilian demonstrators from soldiers or police. None of us
are trained for this. We’re all just improvising, doing everything with a
base level of fear that is already not far from shrill panic. People tried
to rush us in several directions, as we walked through the crowd with my
bloody hand, and I found myself working hard to keep my handlers calm. It
was good to have a friend there, because that seemed to mitigate some
people’s impulse to shout for a doctor – I had someone to help, that
seemed to say to them. So after the initial shock of seeing bleeding me
wore off, we managed to get proper directions. A professional male nurse
introduced himself kindly, and sent us on the right way. That also seemed
to calm down the crowd.
The forward medical station in Gezi Park is one of two on the site. It’s
surrounded by a makeshift barrier and is really just a series of
high-ceiling tents with chairs and carpets, and a table for supplies. A
young male medic took a look at my hand, and was about to clean it when
the first gas canister landed immediately to our left and exploded. I had
been there for all of 15 seconds.
Turkish speakers will appreciate that the first words out of his mouth
were: Amani koyacağim, orospu cocuklarini sikeceğim [dialectical delinquentsnote: rather archaicly coy of the writer, who I do not know, to not translate this, but google translates it as “Amani will put their children’m going to fuck a bitch”, so that cleqars that up.] Those aren’t kind words, and he passed me to an assistant as he picked up the gas canister to dispose of it. He made that small space feel incredibly safe, if only for a few seconds.
The assistant managed to get my hand wrapped in a mitten of gauze and
helped me with my gas mask. It was becoming clear that this wasn’t a lone,
rogue gas canister, but the start of a police offensive. They gassed
everything along the front side of the park, and people understandably
panicked. The medical stations fence was overrun and people fell over one
another to retreat from the front of the park. I saw one woman fall into
the supply table, and another two trip over her. Sound grenades exploded
with more frequency, and people who were simply walking away lost their
nerve and sprinted into trees, ran over other protestors, or just
collapsed. A young woman ran up to our tent and then just fainted. I just
sat down on the carpet in the tent, tried to fan her sweating face, and
waited – I was equipped for the gas, and so mostly afraid of the crowd. I
used an antacid-water solution to spray the woman’s swelling eyes, and the
assistant sent a few more folks my way for this treatment, as I still held
my mitten above my shoulder.
Mind you, from my arrival at the medical station to my departure, no more
than five minutes could have passed. In the space of that time, the
peaceful demonstrators had become a terrified and panicking crush of
people. I thought about Taksim in 1977, and I thought about the pit by the
square, and I thought there were probably a lot of people dying.
Thankfully, that didn’t end up being the case but that five-minutes, I
later learned, resulted in some 30 serious injuries, seven of which were
critical head traumas.
I’m not sure if this video is from that moment, exactly, but this is what
it looked like from the medical tent:
When I got the chance, I wandered away from the tent and headed toward the
Divan Hotel at the back of the park, where a more permanent medical center
had been set up over a week ago. People made paths for stretchers, and
medical staff with bull horns would turn on the siren and lead medics
through the space created in the retreating crowd. We were moving slowly,
but the gas dissipated toward the back of the park and the urgency to run
with it. A young woman grabbed my arm and led me to the hotel, where two
nurses cleaned and properly bandaged my hand. One of them was in her 50s,
and she asked me to share the story of what was happening here to
Americans. She had a grim sense of humor, and spoke of Tayyip Erdogan in
terms fascinatingly vulgar. She advised a stitch for my hand, but just
one, and then said that I actually might not need to bother. So, I didn’t.
All that blood, and it only really required a band aid. So much for war
There were pitched battles with the police until about midnight. I wasn’t
involved in any of them. Another friend and I went spelunking beneath
Taksim, to see about joining the fight on the other side of the square,
traversing the tunnels to get under the police position. We really only
managed to draw the cops into firing a few gas rounds at us as we exited
the tunnel on the opposite side. My friend was ill-equipped, and collapsed
as he choked on gas, so we made our way to the bar of a friend, joined by
six other retreating demonstrators. At that point, it was 10:30PM… I’d
spent most of the evening underground, and it was clear that we were not
going to be able to take back the square.
We all had a few beers as we hid out, panicking when cops shot gas down
our street, and sipping Guiness under our masks when the gas came in under
the door. Bourgeois revolutionaries, the lot of us.
I got home about 2AM, just as the rain started. It poured most of
Wednesday and things in the park were quiet, so I slept. Last night, a
piano recital was held on the square. Today, who knows what will happen?
But I don’t want to miss another free concert, that’s for sure.
Chile: students clash with cops again (see 28/5/13)
USA, San Francisco: 7 arrested in pro-Gezi land occupation (more detailed information here)
Policemen take position behind barricades to protect themselves against stone pelting in Hyderabad
Pakistan, Karachi: rioters and cops confront each other, block main road, over rumours of death of girl “Rockets, grenades and heavy machine guns are being used against our men, women and children without any discrimination and that is what we are protesting against,” claimed Hussain Katchi, a member of the community.
Greece: token 24-hour strike against govt closure of Biggish Brother TV and radio station in order to replace it with an even Bigger Brother, whilst professional wordsmiths go on indefinite strike…will it go beyond this?
Pakistan: riots in Faisalabad over power outages, electricity office attacked, 3 cops seriously injured after cops attack women & kids, shops looted, roads blocked; also significant protests in Peshawar and Karachi (more here and here)
policemen walking across a petrol station gutted in a violent protest related to power issues
Turkey: video of cops targeting wheelchair user…Turkish stock market down 19.7% since May 22nd…riots could be used as an excuse for the failure to achieve global economic “recovery”….but all is well as there’ll probably be a boom in the Turkish anti-riot weapons market
Extracts from 2 emails from Istanbul, the first from 10/6/13:
Female friends have even observed that this week is the safest
they have felt walking in the Beyoglu area – harassment is simply not
tolerated in Free Taxim….
Within the square, banners fly from every political party (except the AKP
and the nationalist MHP) and marginalized group. Fans from the major
football clubs – Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray – sing cheers together
and have even created a flag with all of their logos upon it. A month ago,
they were fighting each other at matches and regarded as thugs. Now, they
are the vanguard of the resistance and they are working together.
They call themselves “Istanbul United”….
The language of the mundane has also taken on a revolutionary frame of
reference. In a conversation Wednesday, a friend explained his absence
from Gezi Park the previous night, with references to the state of his
apartment. Six evenings of demonstrating each night after work had left
his kitchen with “barricades” of unwashed dishes, he said….
You can tell this is a middle-class uprising [dia]lectical-delinquents note: specifically, in Gezi Park], because most of the
demonstrators are mid-20s to early 40s professionals. There are a lot of
lawyers and finance-sector employees, and the crowds at the park swell in
the evenings, as people filter in following the work day. The expense on
equipment is also indicative of the wealth of the protestors.
A surgical mask costs TL5, and goggles TL10. My mouth/nose ventilator was
only TL25, but it took a beating on Monday evening, so on Thursday I
purchased an upgrade. A full-face gas mask set me back TL300,
approximately what I would spend on several nights out for dinner and
drinks. These are an increasingly common sight, and the ones who wear them
often carry them in plain sight. Here’s a great graphic of the evolution
of a protestor that made the rounds last week.
This – in the center of one of the biggest cities in the world – is the
new normal, and it appears set to remain so….
2nd email, the new normal slightly altered:
Tue, 11 Jun 2013 18:10
I’ll try to keep this brief (heh), because this morning an untypically
well-publicized conflict erupted in Taksim Square. Over the course of the
day it has become pretty clear that it was a police-initiated interpretive
As one friend put it, “With a police force like this, we don’t need a
state theatre or opera house”.
At about 7AM, a few water cannons and about 100 police moved in and
cleared the square of anyone who happened to be about. They claimed that
they wanted to remove banners and this was communicated to demonstrators,
who grudgingly allowed them into the square – not the park, but the area
surrounding the Ataturk statue.
Then, around 8AM, one group of “demonstrators” began antagonizing the
police, and the police used gas to disburse them. Most other demonstrators
fled into Gezi Park while Turkish media broadcast the clashes – the first
time they have done so during this conflict. Once the square was cleared,
the police battled with the remaining “violent demonstrators” for about an
hour. This group used molotov cocktails and a water cannon was even set on
The Turks I know are crying foul, saying that this was all staged theater.
There are pictures emerging that show the molotov-armed demonstrators were
wearing radios and police vests. An image has also circulated on Twitter
showing a test of a TOMA riot vehicle’s fire repellant system, which coats
the entire tank in the sort of milky liquid like that which comes out of
certain kinds of fire extinguishers. It seems there is a growing body of
evidence indicating that the most violent of the protestors were actually
police in plain clothes, and that the entire event was staged for the
It seems a lot of international journalists took the bait as well.
Protestors reported from the park, throughout the day, that plain clothes
police would move among them and throw molotov cocktails, giving the
police the opportunity to respond with plastic bullets and gas. In this
way, they are trying to clear the park.
Meanwhile, some 70+ lawyers who engaged in a sit-in at the Istanbul Court
House were arrested. They were arrested by police who covered their badge
numbers and taped over identifying markers on their helmets.
Back on the square, a photo was taken of a Kemalist, a Kurd and a
nationalist, fighting together. It’s the intro to a bad joke, and a clear
sign that the Turkish Nationalist Party’s supporters are now defying their
official party ban against demonstrating. I tend to think nationalists are
assholes, but a week ago I also thought that about Fenerbahce football
fans. Now, I’m kinda glad to know they are with us… at least they’re our
I am about to leave the office, in one of the finance centers called
Gayretepe, about five miles from Taksim. On a cigarette break I was handed
an invitation to demonstrate in Gezi Park at 7PM this evening.
I think that’s an invitation I’ll accept. I’ll have to walk there, though,
because the metro doesn’t appear to be running, and from the 11th-floor
window of the office I can see that something in Taksim is on fire…
UK, Norfolk: cricket club improved by mindful vandals – probably mindful of the fact that there must be something wrong considering that the person who said “Cricket civilizes people and creates good gentlemen… I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen.”was the great civiliser, Robert Mugabe. Cricket – baseball on an overdose of valium.
Australia: Melbourne taxi drivers once again block feeder roads to airport (some interesting comments from earlier protests here)
Turkey: multilingual radio link … and another constantly updated blog in English(these are useful for information; their politics don’t strive to grasp the complexities of what’s happening)…Wall Street Journal survey here
Demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks in a damaged public transport bus near Gezi Park
Turkey – unless something otherwise not very well known happens or is analysed, I’ll refrain from continuing the information here in English as there are plenty of other sites that provide such information.
Someone I spoke to today said that the increasing closure of bars was due to Islamicisation through taxation, that they’ve increased vastly the taxes for serving alcohol, which many bars can’t afford. And that this has meant that more and more people go to the park to drink and socialise, particularly at night because street life there – due to the heat – takes place after dark, and that this could have been one of the reasons for the popular support for those opposing the destruction of the park. A detail I know, but these things can play a part.
Another person I spoke to (a Leninist without a party, who’d been imprisoned in Turkey some time ago, when a young adolescent) said that he thought that, although the eruption of confrontations was “spontaneous”, ie not initiated by any particular group or section of society, could in future be used/manipulated by the military for their own agenda. Apparently there are generals in jail (I hadn’t known this) and there’s a great deal of hostility towards the increasing islamicisation within the army, and he suggested there might be some resentment/hostility from the military towards being drawn into the war in Syria. Certainly there have been demonstrations against the war, particularly by people close to the border where deaths have occurred due to Turkey’s recent involvement in the war, but opposition from within the army…?
“Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is now risking Turkey’s economic miracle by his imperious reaction to the protests in dozens of cities that have roiled Turkey and are entering their fifth day. Two are dead and hundreds injured. The Turkish stock market, which had been up 300% since 2009, has taken a hit. The country’s $29 billion a year tourism industry is also imperiled (Erdogan should ask his friend, Egypt’s President Muhammad Morsi, what social turmoil does to tourism). One of Erdogan’s boasts is that he has attracted billions in foreign investment, and in 2012 foreign direct investment was on the order of $16 billion (Turkey is ranked 13th in the world as a desirable place to put in such money). But he’ll find that investors are skittish about urban street battles….”
Ironic that, whilst most of the social movements developing in the world have been against increasing austerity, the biggest explosion so far has been in a country where things are a lot less austere (in the normal sense of the word) than they were 10 years ago.
There are still some who adopt a crude marxism that believes that the externally imposed authority of intensified economic misery in itself will determine the development of an “inevitable” revolution – a dogmatic over-simplification which the current movement in Turkey has given the lie to. It’s a projection of their own desire to be an external authority, of how much these determinists believe in their own indispensability – that people cannotchoose to make a revolution without the external authority of their group’s interpretation of some “inevitability”, their learnt-by-rote possession of a 19th century “truth”, well-criticised in earlier, less severely restricted epochs. It is one thing to want to influence social movements and oneself as part of them. It is quite another to play the role of invariably – ahistorically – correct theoretician of such movements, bringing “consciousness” fromoutside and on high, a role that, if it has any influence at all, can only function as a brake on any genuine struggle to make sense of struggles so as to help make them go further. Such a spirit doesn’t come from the conservative security of previously developed “theory”, but from a constant attempt to understand what is new and fresh as well as what is applicable from the past.
“…In truth, these protests weren’t about the park or even about the shopping malls. They were about a people exhausted by Istanbul’s uncontrolled growth; by its relentless traffic; by the incessant noise (especially that of construction); by massive immigration from the countryside; by predatory construction companies—widely and for good reason believed to be in bed with the government—which have, over the past decade, destroyed a great deal of the city’s loveliness and cultural heritage. But most of all, they are about a nation’s fury with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism, symbolized by Istanbul’s omnipresent police, the phalanxes of so-called Robocops. They are so notoriously trigger-happy that journalists on Twitter post a daily tear-gas report…Anxiety is growing as well, not only about press censorship, but also about the prosecution of those who insult government officials or “Islamic values” on social media. There is outrage about the bombing in Reyhanlı that left 52 Turks dead and which appears to have been attributable to a series of inexcusable police and intelligence blunders (but no one knows, and no one believes what the press writes); there is fear of war with Syria; there is concern about strange reports that al-Nusra, a Syrian militant group affiliated with al-Qaida, has been cooking up Sarin gas in Adana, five miles east of the United States’ Incirlik Air Base; and there is deep skepticism about Erdoğan’s plans for grandiose construction projects—such as a third airport, a second Bosphorus canal, and a gigantesque mega-mosqueintended to exceed in size every mosque left behind by his Ottoman predecessors. The thing will dominate Istanbul’s already-martyred skyline, and replace yet another pleasant and leafy park.
….The recent announcement that a new bridge over the Bosphorus was to be named after Sultan Selim the Grim, slayer of the Alevis—a substantial and beleaguered Turkish religious minority—didn’t help matters. Nor did it soothe fears when a minor AKP official from the sticks wrote on Twitter that “My blood boils when spineless psychopaths pretending to be atheists swear at my religion. These people, who have been raped, should be annihilated.” Two weeks ago in Ankara, a disembodied voice on the subway, having apparently espied them by means of a security camera, denounced a couple for kissing. The voice demanded that they “act in accordance with moral rules.” In return, incensed Ankara lovers staged kissing protests: as the couples shyly smooched outside the subway station, a group of young men confronted them, chanting “Allahu Akbar!”…
…the Robocops once again used pepper spray and water cannon against the protesters. A photographer captured them spraying tear gas directly into the face of a vulnerable, middle-aged woman in a pretty red dress. The photo went viral and enraged the public: she was clearly no hooligan. As one conservative journalist noted, she looked “decent.”…...The three largest Turkish football teams, usually mortal rivals (in some cases literally), announced that they would unite to join the protests. … I have never seen such a spontaneous outpouring of public rage—coupled, of course, with the hysterical joy of the mob. But others have seen it here before. In the 1980s, the great travel writer Jan Morris described Istanbul thus:
The leftists think of themselves as progressives, modernists, but they are really honoring a tradition even older than Islam: for long before the caliphate was invented, the city crowd was a force in Byzantium. In those days the rival factions of the Blues and the Greens, originally supporters of the competing charioteers in the Hippodrome, were infinitely more riotous than any soccer crowd today, and the great circuits of the racetrack, around whose purlieus the backpack nomads now drink their mint tea . . . was the supreme arena of anarchy, the place where the frustration of the people found its ferocious release in bloodshed and insurrection . . .
…the Robocops are exhausted—photos are circulating of them falling asleep on the street—and if there is one thing a prime minister best known for “taming the military” can’t do, it is to call in the army to settle things down.”
“Hundreds of police intervened after around 4,000 striking staff at Nike’s factory in the Cambodian capital clashed with colleagues, who continued working. This comes after the factory’s management refused to raise monthly salaries by US$12.
Police said that at least 11 officers and eight workers were injured during the brawl in Phnom Penh. The strikers also say seven people were arrested.
The employees at the Sabrina factory are pressing for a wage increase, following the death of 1,000 people in a collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh this April.
According to witnesses, the striking workers, who were armed with sticks and rocks, smashed windows before being confronted by the members of the opposing labor union, who didn’t support the action.
A contingent of about 1,000 police and soldiers, with batons and shields, was required to separate the clashing sides and disperse the strikers.
“We had to break them up in order to protect the whole factory from destruction,” Kheng Tito, national military police spokesman, told Reuters.”
(interesting video here: riot shields – instructions for use)
Clashes with riot police between Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul late Saturday
Jordan, Amman: clashes with cops (not at all clear what this is about…)
Ethiopîa: beginnings of new political movement (not supporting this as such, but often political movements under very repressive regimes can also catalyse more genuinely independent opposition,which in this case remains to be seen)
“Some actual background to the prisoner riot at Springhill over the weekend. For those who have been following prisoner news, you will know that this riot is not the first angry mobilisation by prisoners fed up with the conditions inside.
The changes to the rules around prisoner’s property have caused no end of
nightmarish situations for inmates especially lifers who have lost all
contact with the outside world. The new rules reduce a prisoner’s property
to a change of clothes and whatever they have in their cells.
Those who do not have a place to send their stuff have the other option of
having their property destroyed. It is not until they push through the
ombudsman that the prison allows a few to have their property stored at the
Salvation Army storage.
Add to that and the smoking issue, some prisons are looking at taking away
prisoners TVs and supplying a TV that can be rented from the prison. From my
recollection of when this was to happen, that would be taking place right
One other concern is the rumour circulating, that prison workers wages are
about to be cut from around about 40 cents an hour to basically nothing.
Whether there is any factual basis to this or not I am again not sure, but
it certainly was a strong rumour in circulation when I was in Springhill.
Then there are the long lockup hours due mainly to short staffing, cuts in
screw numbers probably to compete with the new private prisons, to make
these state prisons appear to be as competitive.
But by far the biggest cause of stress in Springhill is the 2 inmates per
cell policy, in cells designed for only one prisoner, with a small air
intake window and a toilet per cell. That is the main source of most of the
violence I saw there, two prisoners in each others faces, up to 21 hours a
day in the worst wings.” – from here
Turkey: the struggle spreads – “amateur video footage showed Turkish military personnel refusing to help the riot police, as well as handing out gas masks to demonstrators. There were also reports that some of the police had switched sides and joined the protests.”
Zambia: workers sit-in against non-payment of wages (see also entry for 27/5/13)
About the Swedish riots: there’s a rather standardly defensive and apologetic, but informed, recuperative lefty take on the Swedish riots from Megafonen here (a group supported by the anarcho-liberals of libcom bog). They seem to be lefty social workers caught in the middle between the state and the rioters, hoping to damp down the fires and offer themselves as people who could help the police: “When we arrived to the square we asked the police if they needed help. But then we were met with batons, dogs, jeers and so on. We had to wait a few hours until we got a call where they asked us to come and help…Megafonen does not start fires. We believe that these are not the right method for long-term change, etc.” Clearly these people are very afraid of ruins, and are so meek they’re only going to inherit the earth under which they are buried. The bourgeoisie is already blasting and ruining its own world before it leaves the stage of history. But these people merely carry a reformed old world in the ruins of their hearts….People complain about attacks on firefighters, but what’s their reaction when the firefighters become firestarters?
Some mainstream liberal reasons for the rioting here:
“Unemployment: The rate for those born in Sweden stands at 5.7 per cent, but for immigrants who come from outside the European Union, it’s 16.5 per cent. That’s not exactly hitting the Spanish heights of 27.2 per cent, but still represents a wide gap. Youth unemployment is especially high in immigrant neighbourhoods like the ones where the riots have taken place. One recent government study showed that up to a third of young people aged 16 to 29 in some of the most deprived areas of Sweden’s big cities neither study nor have a job. Income gap: Though absolute poverty remains uncommon, the gap between rich and poor in Sweden is growing faster than in any other major nation, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Geographical separation: Anger also comes from being told you don’t belong. Sweden is still generous to its immigrants. But, as with Paris and its banlieues, Stockholm has pushed its immigrants out to its ugliest suburbs. To get to the city, where the money is, you have to take a bus, then a train. Even if Sweden didn’t mean to isolate its immigrants in hideous towers, their location still sends a signal: You can live here, but you don’t get to belong. Grim public housing: Many of the riots have occurred in cramped neighbourhoods with tall, run-down housing blocks, part of Sweden’s “million homes” project in the 1960s and 1970s. Long since abandoned by almost all of their original inhabitants, they are often the only source of housing for migrants and asylum-seekers from war-torn nations.”
Guinea: riots as barricades block major highways (the pretext for this is the slowness of the transition from military to parliamentary rule and the suspicion of planned vote-rigging, but this seems to be going beyond the constraints of the official “opposition”)
Sweden, Stockholm: riots spread to 6 different areas (interesting comment here)…more here…. rioters critique the art of an artless life, compulsory miseducation and the cops that protect this crap…more here
Bangladesh: tear gas, rubber bullets, etc used against angry workers blocking roads (interesting article here)
This New York Times article linked to above is complete and utter lies. In fact, the strike was voted for in the local general assemblies of teachers by 22,000 out of 30,000 – a massive participation wholly unpredicted by the teachers union. The union had wanted to make a spectacle of militancy in calling for the strike in defiance of the state’s use of emergency law and its threat of imprisoning or sacking strikers (something the law can apply as a way of dealing with disasters, which could hardly be said to relate to not carrying out the national secondary school exams). These local assemblies voted for representatives to carry out the strike, which they did so, but there was a second decision that had to be voted for which was on how to make preparations for the strike. The representatives had not been delegated for this question, because the unions in Tuesday’s local assemblies had deliberately avoided making any formal decision over it (though there’d been several informal discussions over it). At national level the strike got the necessary two-thirds majority, but the vote on how to prepare for it had 68,8% (not 80% as previously posted) voting neither for nor against, whilst the rest voted for. But the union constitution required two-thirds of those present to vote for, hence, through this manipulation the strike was called off. It would have been a quite popular strike – primary school teachers had considered joining the strikers and others had expressed their wish to show support and solidarity, but the unions deliberately manipulated it so that no strike could be launched. No surprise there – and this, in differing forms, is happening all over the world (eg. the recent bus strike in Ireland, the South African platinum miners strike). The trouble is – how and why do people who want to go on the offensive accept being demoralised by predictable union manipulations. The habit of passivity and of not finding ways of organising outside the unions, coupled with the threats of the sack if they do, has to be broken somehow – it’s one of the most central problems the working proletariat faces….
There’s a better article than the New York Times bullshit here: “The government’s action against the teachers provoked determined resistance. Local teachers associations voted to defy the orders and strike, with civil mobilization order papers burned en-masse. A demonstration of several thousand in Athens saw teachers dress in army fatigues to signify a return to conditions associated with the 1967-1974 military junta. Publicly, the posture of OLME’s leaders was to seek the assistance of the main union federations for a strike. But this was political theatre on OLME’s part, which never intended for the strike to go ahead. Its president, Nikos Papachristos, a supporter of the ruling New Democracy party, had already declared that if civil mobilisations were imposed, which he knew would happen, “we will return to schools with our heads held high.”
Fire from a Molotov cocktail burns in front of riot police as they make their way towards protesters
16/5/13:Bolivia: miners explode dynamite on 11th day of protests for higher pensions (morehere)(short video here)
(and from La Prensa: “yesterday’s protest subsided after several hours of marches in downtown La Paz and clashes with the police for the control of two routes to El Alto. Protesters erected barricades and burned tires between La Paz and El Alto, but were evicted by riot cops”)
La Paz yesterday
France, Paris: football fans show their appreciation of police (bourgeois restaurants and shops in Champs Elysee get their windows smashed)
“The political upheaval which has been unending in the last sixty years in France has led it to seriously consider the influence which Paris has had on her destiny. It would seem she is no longer inclined to bow before the ambition courts and the small army of rioters which have centered their propaganda on the capital so as to better exploit for themselves the moral and legitimate influence it bears on the rest of the country. The government’s most important goal is always to remain in control of the capital. If politics did not oblige it to act in such a way honor and humanity would nevertheless compel it to act according to this imperious law. To abandon the great city to the horrible tyranny of the riot would be a crime. So one must be capable of using any means which art and prevention may suggest in order to remain master of Paris.” – General Bugeaud, 1849 – published for the first time in 1997, when the French ruling class hoped that Paris had now definitively expelled its proletarian critics to outside its peripherique (the circular motorway that keeps most proletarians outside Paris itself)…but even today, they remain occasionally a little fearful of their pretty city being upset – so they’re now stopping trains from the estates going to the artistically preventitive Beaubourg, where the young poor have often gone to sell drugs…
Palestine, Hebron: cops shot at after killing woman (see below – 8/5/13)
Nigeria, Ado-Ekiti: youths protest cop murder of student; commercial and official “social” activities, and all schools, paralysed for 8 hours; highway blocked, confrontations with cops (more here)…elsewhere: parliament’s workers block parliament
India: villagers continue struggle against nuclear power – “”We can’t give up our struggle against the nuclear power plant. We have not staged our protest for the last 630 days expecting courts or governments to support us,” rued P Sundari, an Idinthakarai resident. “The court has not answered a single question of our people on nuclear liability or the mandatory safety drill supposed to be conducted for the people living near the plant. For us the court and the government are one and the same who are determined to promote nuclear energy for economic growth. We believe that the nuclear energy will wipe us out and our livelihood and in fact we are fighting for all the people in the state.”.
France, Avignon: following the 4-day discussion, demonstration and occupation of a field designated for destruction in order to create a 4-lane motorway (the LEO – Liaison Est-Ouest), the occupants decided to “occupy a hectare of land that we call the FLEO – Fabulous Laboratory-Experimentation and Occupation. This site is intended as a home/zone for new occupants and a creative space for our utopias. A yurt-dormitory, a greenhouse and a chicken shack are already installed. A second yurt, a community kitchen, cabins and bathrooms are under construction….Meanwhile the Leopart House that wants to be a basis for organizing the fight will host a dormitory, a kitchen and a bathroom, a meeting-cum- concert / projection / information hall… It will be inaugurated on May 25th. Finally,the GanGGRaine, a squatted house since February, has a collective. Other places are potentially squattable, other houses are in the process of being expropriated.… Saturday, May 11 will be the first General Assembly of the movement Leopart. This meeting will be open to everyone who wishes to get involved in the movement. It will be followed by a day of collective construction on Sunday, May 12th…We call on individuals who recognize themselves in the fight against unnecessary projects and their world to join us to build, to live and extend this occupation.”
South Africa: interesting report on intensifying strikes (“The perception among workers that wildcat strikes are an effective and legitimate means of seeking wage concessions will increase their prevalence and intensity” says bourgeois risk analyst fromMaplecroft)
Australia: cabbies block Melbourne airport again (Re. this, the following bit of information: “Contract drivers (you are required to hold an ABN) [Australian Business Number] for taxis receive 50% of the tariff and are generally provided with a fuel card. Limo drivers get 50% of the job and keep any tips. The hours are long (10 hours would be regarded as a short day). Most drivers are either students (majority international) or are aspiring owner-drivers. Not a few are family-network type of operations – two brothers splitting day/night is not unusual. On top of the cost of a vehicle you need to purchase a licence if you want to be an owner-driver. In Victoria its currently about $320,000 for a taxi plate and $65,000 for a limo plate. Unfortunately, the entire industry is riven with ethnic rivalries and religious prejudices. I would say that roughly a third of taxi drivers are Indian, another third from around the Eastern Mediterranean and the rest you can take your pick. Limo drivers would be ‘whiter’ on average.” (from here) (see also entry for 2/5/13 below)
UK: Government predict summer riots, preparing with water cannon (it should be said that often when the state predicts this or that possibility of a winter or summer of discontent it’s usually to defuse such a possibility in advance; it’s a way of putting all their social controllers on red alert, to gen up on how they should respond, both practically and ideologically, if things have a chance of getting out of hand)
Guinea: riots against electoral manipulation, 3 killed (normally wouldn’t post up this kind of thing, which seems to be dominated by electoral/political illusions, but it might have something independent about it, though I admit I don’t know at all)