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Open Letter from ‘Wretched of the Earth’ bloc, London, December 2015…

'Wretched of the Earth' bloc at Global Climate March London.

‘Wretched of the Earth’ bloc at Peoples March for Climate Justice and Jobs, November 29, 2015. London, UK.

The Wretched of the Earth are a collective of over a dozen grassroots Indigenous, black and brown organizations representing diaspora from the Global South. Over the past few months, we have fought tooth and nail to lead last weekend’s London climate march alongside Indigenous delegates from frontline communities on their way to the Paris climate summit. We know that our presence was only allowed so the NGOs could comfortably check the ‘diversity’ tick-box. While we knew it would not be an easy space to be in, the violence and hostility we faced on Sunday was worse than we expected.

As Wretched of The Earth speakers fired up the 50,000-strong crowd with a message of decolonization, delivered from a crane above them – another hard-fought-for concession – the march organizers carefully plotted for their animal props to move ahead of us via a side channel. With minutes to go, the mainstream banner suddenly appeared in front of us for the press photos. We stormed forward and unravelled our own banner, only to realize it was a stand-off. They wouldn’t begin the march unless we put our message behind theirs; theft of narrative – in some cases literally, as banners were physically pulled from people’s hands. From that point until the end it was a violent tussle to lead the march.

NGOs summoned the police on our black and brown bodies. Re-read that last sentence. Suggesting that our symbolic coffins – calling out BP and BHP Billington for the blood on their hands – were health and safety hazards, they attempted to remove them. Our placards placing British Imperialism in the framework of Climate Injustice were radioed in to be taken down, as they ‘didn’t fit the message of the day’. They tried to recapture the front of the march by stopping it in the middle of central London and moving their banner back. They then slowed down the rest of the marchers that followed us, effectively separating us off. But we stood our ground, together. We write our own rules.

The NGO narrative appealed to the perpetrators again, asking them to ‘do something’. Their narrative read ‘We do this #ForTheLoveOf Skiing’. Our narrative is one which has a context wide enough to contain the solidarity needed for systemic change. It is one which doesn’t compartmentalize the struggle into climate, racism, migration. It acknowledges that to be truly insurrectional, one must be intersectional.

We held placards and gave speeches that explained clearly that another war in Syria is a war on Mother Earth. That war and corporate climate genocidal mega-development is the main driver behind forced displacement and the migrant ‘crisis’. That the white-hetero-patriarchal-imperial ideology which premises this continued climate colonialism is that which perpetuates racist and patriarchal policing, prisons and austerity in the Global North.

Many of the major NGOs and March organizers went on a self-congratulatory tirade, talking about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’, conveniently forgetting that – whether on the march or in the lead up – it was Avaaz, Greenpeace and cohorts who created obstacles for our communities to lead. Something needs to be made clear: the global climate movement starts at the frontlines of corporate colonialism, in Indigenous territories, where black and brown communities fight back against European-sanctioned climate genocide. And that’s why our placards read ‘We die first, We fight first, We march first’.

‘People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.’ The revolutionary Assata Shakur said it.

We ourselves in the Wretched of the Earth bloc have had to decolonize our minds in order to recognize the shackles on our bodies, in order to recognize the insidious and acute nature of our oppressor. We therefore have a duty to up the ante where the stagnant water of colonialism has trapped the fight for justice from flowing toward freedom. The Climate Movement needed the medicine, and we have the remedy.

‘The white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro, but pretend that they are smiling’. Malcolm X said it. Colonized peoples rising up recognize a forked tongue by necessity. We see the liberal foxes prowling between the ranks of the NGOs, dangling carrots before the people, knowing that the millions in their coffers are not for systemic change, but for their liberal methods of teasing people toward an empty empathy. The behavior of the NGOs – Avaaz at their head – on Sunday showed why climate campaigners need a decolonization treatment.

Now more than ever, we know that not only do we have to fight against climate change and the capitalist-colonialist system which it hails from, we also have to fight against the UK’s whitewashed colonialist climate movement which perpetuates the oppression, erasure and brutality we face daily.

The march organizers, ITV, BBC, all of the echo chambers of the status quo will have you think we weren’t even there. Yet ’Still fighting Co2onialism’, was the banner leading the Britain’s biggest climate march, because we can no longer afford to place the onus on people recycling and expect the polluters to lead us to liberty. Neither the government nor the NGO liberal line will lead us to justice. This is a war of narratives, and ours is decolonial.

This article was amended on December 3, 2015 to better reflect the role of different NGOs in these events.

 

 

This statement from the Ukrainian Autonomous Workers Union was posted on Avtonomia February 19th, 2014, just 3 days before Yanukovich stepped down. Whether Yanukovich or the Opposition prevailed, they predicted that there will be nothing good for the workers in either of the two directions.

Ukraine Maidan - Autonomous Workers Union

 ”We cannot call the proletariat to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the Opposition and its interests. “

 

Statement about the situation in Ukraine from AWU (Autonomous Workers Union).

Civil war began in Ukraine yesterday. A less than peaceful demonstration clashed with state defense forces and divisions formed by the adherents of the current government near the Vekhovna Rada (Parliament). On February 18, police, together with the paramilitaries, arranged a bloodbath in the governmental quarters during which numerous demonstrators were killed. Butchers from the special divisions finished off arrestees. Deputies of the ruling Party of Regions and their bourgeois lackeys from the “Communist” Party of Ukraine fled from the Parliament through an underground tunnel. The vote for constitutional amendments, intended to limit presidential power, did not take place after all. After their defeat in the governmental quarters, demonstrators retreated to the Maidan. At 6 P.M., the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Internal Security Bureau (SBU) declared an ultimatum to the protesters, demanding their dispersal. At 8:00 P.M., special police forces and paramilitaries, equipped with water cannons and armored vehicles, began their raid on the barricades. Police, the special divisions of SBU, as well as pro-governmental troopers made use of their firearms. However, the protesters managed to burn down one of the armored police vehicles, and it turned out that governmental forces were not the only ones in possession of guns. According to the data released by the police (on February, 19, 4 p.m.), 24 people were killed: 14 protesters and 10 policemen. Thirty-one policemen received gunshot wounds. Even if their estimate of losses on the side of the police is accurate, the number of victims among the protesters was definitely diminished. Maidan’s medics cite at least 30 killed.

One gets an impression that President Yanukovich was certain that by morning the resistance would be crushed, and so arranged for the Opposition leaders to meet with him at 11 A.M. on February, 19. As the negotiations did not take place, we can conclude that the government’s plan had failed. During the unsuccessful operation to clear off the Maidan, the citizens of several western regions occupied administrative buildings and chased away the police. At the moment the police, as an institution, do not exist in L’viv. According to the SBU, protesters have captured 1500 firearms. In less than 24 hours, the central government lost control over a section of the country. Right now, the only solution may be the stepping down of the President, however, that would mean that he, his family, and their multiple acolytes and dependents, which form a rather large group in the ruling government, would lose their source of profit. It is likely that they will not accept this.

In the event of Yanukovich’s victory, he will become a ruler for life, and the rest will be doomed to a life in which they face poverty, corruption, and the abolition of their rights and freedoms. Rebellious regions are now experiencing massive restorations of “the constitutional order.” It is not improbable that the suppression of such “terroristic groups” in Galicia will have the character of ethnic cleansing. Mad Orthodox radicals from the Party of Regions have, for a long time, seen the conservative Greco-Catholics as the aids of “Eurosodom.” Such an “antiterrorist” operation would be carried out with the assistance of the army, as the Minister of Defense, Lebedev, has already announced.

Today, Ukraine experiences a tragedy, but the real horror will start when the government breaks down the opposition and “stabilizes” the situation. Signs of the preparation of a mass-cleansing operation became noticeable as far back as early February, when criminal cases were opened against the Maidan self-defense divisions as illegal military formations. According to Article 260 of the Criminal Codex, members of such divisions may face imprisonment for 2 to 15 years. This means that the government was planning to put more than 10 thousand citizens behind bars. In the regions, as well as in the capital, special “death divisions” are acting as a supplement to the usual police forces. For example, responsibility for burning alive a Maidan activist from Zaporozhye was claimed by such a “death division,” calling itself “Sebastopol Ghosts.” They announced that they are ready to subject Maidan participants in the East to similar treatment.

In the event of the Opposition’s victory life would be far from perfect as well. Although fascists form the minority of the protesters, they are quite active and are not the sharpest tools in the shed. A few days of truce in mid-February lead to conflicts between the rightist groups, resulting in several pointless and violent confrontations, as well as attacks on ideological ‘heretics.’ Besides the fascists, old and experienced Oppositionists will also attempt to seize power. Many of them already have some experience with working in government and they are no strangers to corruption, favoritism, and the use of budget funds for personal purposes.

The “concessions” that the Opposition is demanding in Parliament right now are pitiful. Even the Constitution of 2004, that they are trying to restore, gives too much power to the President (control over the riot police and special forces is one example), and the proportional electoral system, with closed listings, hands parliament over to the control of a group of dictator-like leaders, who can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Together with the President they will rule without obstructions.

Their second demand – the appointment of a Cabinet of Ministers composed of Opposition leaders – is altogether shameful. Are people risking their health, freedom, and life for the sake of someone becoming a prime-minister, and someone-else getting an opportunity to control the flow of corrupt-money? This is the logical outcome of preferring pathos-ridden conversations on “the nation,” and focusing on vertical structures tied to the same hated politicians, instead of developing ground-up organizations around financial and material interests. This is the main lesson that Maidan is yet to learn.
However, we will be able to apply this lesson in practice only if the current government loses the battle.

The Opposition inside and outside of the Parliament is broken into multiple hostile and competing factions. If it wins, the ensuing regime will be unstable and lacking in coherency. It will be as bourgeois and repressive as was the Party of Regions before their first show of force against the protesters in November.

The guilt for the spilled blood is partially on the EU which gladly receives money from the corrupt scumbags in Ukraine, Russia, and several African countries, while diligently neglecting to check the source of such “investments.” It is only after seeing the dead bodies of the victims of such “investors,” that it gets so very sentimental and full of humanitarian pathos.

This is not our war, but the victory of the government will mean the defeat of the workers. The victory of the Opposition also does not promise anything good. We cannot call the proletariat to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the Opposition and its interests. We think that the extent of participation in this conflict is a matter of personal choice. However, we encourage all to avoid being drafted to serve in the internal military forces controlled by Yanukovich, and to sabotage by all means available the actions of the government.

No gods, no masters, no nations, no borders!

Kiev organization AWU (Autonomous Workers Union).

Labor News From Huriyet Daily News…
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/five-turkish-trade-unions-begin-nationwide-demonstrations-with-one-day-strike.aspx?pageID=238&nID=48920&NewsCatID=347

Turkish Unions Strike After Raid June 17, 2013

Five trade unions have launched a nationwide demonstration campaign following the harsh police intervention in Taksim the night of June 15. AA photo

Five trade unions are set to begin today a nationwide demonstration campaign and one-day strike following the harsh police intervention in Taksim the night of June 15, daily Hürriyet has reported.

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (D?SK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and the Turkish Dentists Union (TDHB) have called on workers to take to the streets in a joint decision.

“The ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] government has launched an offensive against the nation, who refuse to give up their rights and freedoms by staging an insistent resistance,” the group said in a statement.

The members of the unions will stop working on June 17 except for emergency cases and will march to their cities’ centers.

The group has also asked for tolerance because of the disruption and also demanded the support of the people in the squares for a more “egalitarian, free and democratic Turkey.”

The members of the five syndicates that will begin demonstrations as of today could reach “hundreds of thousands,” according to a KESK official.

“We will take the streets using our power of production,” said the general secretary of D?SK, Kani  Beko.

“KESK members will go to their workplaces tomorrow, they will read a statement, and they will take to the streets,” KESK General Secretary ?smail Hakk? Tombul said.

June/16/2013

Far Rockaway, New York : Hurricane Sandy Relief, Distribution Center. photo: Occupy617 CC BY 2.0
Far Rockaway, New York : Hurricane Sandy Relief, Distribution Center. photo: Occupy617 CC BY 2.0

About a week before Hurricane Sandy hit The Yes Men launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 for a movie about themselves. Intertwined between the frantic tweets of the Sandy’s devastation, The Yes Men were tweeting for more movie money. Then all went silent… for many it was several weeks without electricity, hot water, communication devices, many without homes and loved ones.

The Yes Men Kickstarter Page The Yes Men Are Revolting

Fast forward to just about a few weeks before Christmas, a group of community workers at La Union (Sunset Park) and OWS Making Worlds started a Indiegogo for Sandy relief for immigrants who were not covered by city relief fund. When you considering that the local immigrants where some of the first to come in and begin the work of cleaning up, without insurance without anything but the will to help, you would think they’d be able to raise some money, right?

But with only 14 days left, the immigrants fund put together by La Union from Sunset Park has been lingering just under $500 bucks. Meanwhile, as of November 30th, The Yes Men surpassed their goal and collected $146,006 for their film, amazingly so as this was during the many Sandy fundraisers. So how is this possible? What are the social and economic mechanisms behind these two campaigns that keep them miles apart?

I’m just reminded of something that someone tweeted during OccupySandy that asked, why are some of our community and social workers some of the most without? In this case, we might want to look at generosity in a different way, that is to see it as a measure of how much a person gives in relation to how much they take.

In any case, congratulations to the American heroes.

Sandy relief for Immigrants

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1194236337/the-yes-men-are-revolting

http://www.indiegogo.com/sandyforimmigrants

 

(A communique from Year0.org with a list of ATU picket locations in each of the boroughs.)

Strike Lessons
January 17, 2013

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 called for a strike to begin Wednesday January 16th at 6am. The strike includes almost 9,000 yellow school bus drivers and matrons, and will affect upwards of 150,000 students who regularly use the buses to get to school.

The strike hinges on the Employee Protection Provision, where any new contract for bus routes must guarantee continued job security for its experienced, skilled workforce. The EPP was one of the victories of ATU’s last strike, lasting over three months in 1979.

During the 1979 strike, special needs children were picked up by Correction Officers in buses meant for inmate transportation to Rikers Island. How quickly our city schools and prisons become interchangeable. This time around, instead of New York’s Boldest behind the wheels, the Department of Education is planning to provide students with MetroCards, and to reimburse cab fare and mileage. Though perhaps the Boldest are just too busy now, as the 2013 population of Rikers is 14,000, making it the world’s largest penal colony, more than double its 1979 numbers of around 6,000.

Much of the debate around the strike has been around the education and safety of the students. But what better education for our city’s children than a strike—a group of workers, adults, parents, standing up for themselves, challenging repressive authority, confronting the government and the logic of capital, acting now for the future.
Continue reading…

[Communique from the Committee of Public Safety]

Management of Consolidated Edison demonstrated complete contempt for its workforce, locking out 8,500 members of the Utility Workers Union of America the morning of Sunday July 1st. The lockout continues, now 6 days later. Managers have opted to do the work themselves, in a full take-over of the utility, already resulting in a number of injuries of scabs on the job.

In a dispute over wages, pensions, health insurance, and other benefits, Local 1-2 of the UWUA refused to extend its contract past the June 30th deadline. One of the conditions for the extension was that there would be no strike, something threatened earlier in the negotiations, and authorized within the union.

Continue reading…

Pay Your Interns - Happy Hour June 28thOccupy Wall Street’s  Arts & Labor  subgroup on intern rights is hosting a happy hour event for interns, this Thursday June 28, 6-8pm… More info on their announcement, and you can find more info on how they are pushing back on the free labor that capitalism enjoys:

Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Double Down Saloon
14 Avenue A, at Houston
NYC [Google Map]

FACEBOOK INVITE: http://tiny.cc/happyinterns

Current, former, and future interns and sympathizers – JOIN US FOR A DRINK!
$2 beers? 2-for-1 well drinks? Yes please!

On Thursday, June 28, 6-8PM we will meet at Double Down Saloon (14 Avenue A, at Houston) to chat about unpaid internships over appropriately affordable drinks.

Come swap stories about past and present internships, learn about intern rights in the workplace, and what we can each do to make the internship a better (and legal) experience in the long run.

Drop by if any of the following applies to you: Are you an intern now? Were you ever an intern? Do you work with interns? Would you like to learn more about the rights of interns? Do you want to meet people who have come together to learn about legal internships? …in other words, you’re all invited!

We’ll see you there! (Look for us in the back patio, weather permitting)

Related Websites:
Intern Labor Rights
OWS Arts & Labor