G20: Call out for solidarity and support for Australian anarchists

Date:

In a time of International repression against activists all over the globe, we are calling out for letters of support and solidarity for anarchists arrested and facing severe repression after the G20 economic forum protests of November 2006 in Melbourne, Australia.
from g20 solidarity, 17 December 2007:

In a time of International repression against activists all over the globe, we are calling out for letters of support and solidarity for anarchists arrested and facing severe repression after the G20 economic forum protests of November 2006 in Melbourne, Australia.

On the weekend of November 18 and 19, 2006, the G-20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. The G20 meeting happens annually and is attended by finance ministers from 20 nations, including the USA, the European Union and China amongst others.

The G20 of 2006 was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, former World Bank leader and well known mastermind of the 'War on Terror', and the Energy and Minerals Business Council (comprised of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and other powerful mining and oil companies) which lobbied G20 delegates over a business lunch.

It was a meeting of neo-liberals pushing its economic/societal philosophy on the rest of the world, enriching its member nations at the expense of the rest of the world, and effecting global politics for the benefit of powerful corporations. Unsurprisingly, anarchists and anti-capitalists set out to disrupt the smooth-running of this meeting.

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Prior to the anti-G20 protests, the following call out was sent out to form an 'Arterial Bloc':

"This is what we want: lives worth living, lives of dignity and autonomy and we want to work together against capitalism and the state to achieve this. And we want to do it now. The only power we have is each other, and this is more than enough. To this end we want to work together in a bloc. To come together and form an active, living community of struggle based on autonomy, solidarity and democracy. We want a community that confronts and overcomes all forms of social oppression. We want to develop collective power and collective communication. Not to follow, not to lead, but to work out how we can organise ourselves.

This is what we want: To confront the G20 more directly as it meets - maybe taking our protest right to their meeting; or maybe confronting capital another way. We want our disobedience and our creation of other ways of living to be effective as we can make it. We know that capitalism will deploy numerous forms of repression and discipline to contain us, and we have no wish to be, or see others, beaten and imprisoned. We have no time for violent macho fantasy or delusions about Ghandi. Our bodies, our lives, our desires are too precious to fuck with. We want to be smart, joyful and defiant, not martyrs.

We believe that an effective bloc is made up of many people who have many different skills and capacities. Sometimes the most crucial skills (such as the ability to care) can get forgotten when the focus is on more "exciting" things. But we all have something to offer, and we are equals. None of us are heroes; together we can help each other to be brave, happy and rebellious."

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A counter summit was held the week before at a recently squatted social centre 'A Space Outside', in which activists met for workshops and discussion on many different topics as well as to plan for the coming anti-capitalist protests and 'Arterial Bloc' logistics. Within the two days prior to the G20 protests, both the 'A Space Outside' squat and another squatted Anarchist social centre 'The Wake' were evicted by a special G20 police task force 'Salver', and footage taken by the police was later used to arrest activists involved in the protests.

Despite this setback, on the Friday, small autonomous groups of activists invaded several offices around Melbourne, including those of arms companies, energy corporations and army recruiting centres. All branches of the ANZ bank in the Melbourne CBD were closed due to attacks by protesters against the ANZ investment in military industries.

The main anti-globalisation protest was organised by a coalition planning a 'carnival against capitalism' and also other reformist 'Make Poverty History' concerts were held. While the carnival protest was just warming up, the 'Arterial Bloc' of anarchists in white chemical suits and masks broke through security barriors and destoyed road-blocks. In confrontations with both plain uniform and riot police, the bloc collected industrial bins and dumpsters and used tram tracks to slide them against barricades and into police.

Various projectiles were thrown resulting in minor injuries to the police, the most serious being a broken wrist. The bloc moved around the streets in an attempt to gain entrance to the blocked off hotel, at one stage a police arrestation truck was attacked, being pelted with bottles and having its windows completely smashed. By 15:00 that day the city centre had gone into lock down.

Later that night, clashes occurred outside the parliament building between police and protesters who were having a festive celebration around a car 'dragon' in which some activists were locked-on to. The police were especially vicious and protesters were beaten, including one who had his arm broken.

The following morning a small group of anti-g20 protesters were brutally attacked outside the Melbourne Museum, where delegates were meeting, hospitalising one woman.

During the weekend a small number of people were arrested, all of which were later released. One young tourist, mistakenly identified as a G20 protester, was bailed into a van by un-uniformed police, interrogated, assaulted and abused, before later being released from custody.

The state's police chief declared she never wanted another such economic forum held in Melbourne again.

Of course, it wasn't until after this that the real repression started against activists. Commercial media fabricated lies about the actions of protesters, claiming that the 'arterial bloc' was a contingent of black bloc anarchists from Europe who traveled the world in search of anti-capitalist summits to start trouble.

The protesters were called violent thugs, and tabloid newspapers filled up their pages with photographs of rioter's faces with a phone number to call if you knew someone to dob into the police. Included in the newspapers were stories of injured police and their families, how the poor police were in plain uniform and not riot gear, and were just doing their job when they were attacked.

A special police task force 'Salver' (the meaning of which is quite ironic...) was set up to arrest those involved in the protest, and with their own footage, and that which they forced people to give them, they made a list of 28 'persons of interest' whose photographs were published in a mainstream newspaper, despite this breaking numerous codes of conduct.

Unfortunately the general public dobbed in the majority of these 'persons of interest' to the police, and a number gave themselves in under the pressure on themselves and their communities. The remaining few mostly went into hiding and have disappeared from the activist scene, as with many arterial bloc members who were lucky enough to escape being a 'person of interest'.

In march this year, a special anti-terrorism unit performed dawn raids on houses throughout Sydney, arresting activists as they slept in their beds. On top of all this, as to be expected, there has been a major backlash from leftist 'non violent' groups, mainly from privileged white backgrounds, publicly speaking out against the 'violent protesters' and how they ruined the 'peaceful demonstration'. One major socialist figure threatened to inform the police of arterial bloc members he knew personally. It doesn't need to be said, of course, that the same people were supporting the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, in their uprising the week before. (far, far away...)

Over 40 people have been arrested for their involvement in the protests, with charges of riot & affray, assault of a police officer, property damage, and theft. Those arrested have their lives effectively run by the state, with most having to report into a police station every 2 weeks and not being able to travel outside of their state.

Task force 'Salver' publicly announced that it would end in May 2007, and it was initially thought that the tough measures of repression were being used to keep anarchists away from the APEC summit in Sydney in June 2007, where George W Bush was attending and the city turned into a veritable police state. However, since then the arrests have continued. Exactly one year after the G20, one New Zealand anarchist was arrested at Sydney airport while transferring to a flight to Spain. Another Brisbane man was arrested just last week.

The court cases are being dragged out for as long as possible, with the arrestees in a constant state of surveillance, anxiety and uncertainty.

As for the anarchist scene in Melbourne and around Australia, there has been a drastic drop in any dissent against the government. The scene is full of paranoia, fear, and even regret.

The police, government and media joined forces in this repression against dissent to silence voices of opposition against capitalism and the status quo, and to frighten activists into never contemplating attacking its power ever again. And it has succeeded.

With the recent sentencing of Genoa G8 activists in Italy to 110 years of prison collectively, the article 129a in Germany used to repress organised dissent and label activists as terrorists, the recent 'anti-terror' raids against Maori, environmentalist and anarchist activists in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and many, many other examples of repression happening currently all around the world, this is a call out for letters and emails of solidarity and support for anarchists of Australia who have been arrested for opposing the exploitation of people of third world countries, the destruction of our natural world and the status quo which keeps powerful corporations and CEOs rich while keeping the rest of us poor.

In a country as isolated as Australia, and without any real history of resistance, it is important for people to know that this is not an isolated case of repression. That these tactics of silencing dissent are occurring the world over, and have been used for centuries against anarchists everywhere. That the actions of the 'arterial bloc' are not those of 'violent thugs' but rather valid forms of protest that are used commonly around the world...

If you have a spare 5 minutes, please take the time to write a small email or letter to the arrestees awaiting trail to show your solidarity and support in our global struggle against capitalism to: afterg20@gmail.com

Or post a general solidarity message on Sydney Indymedia: http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/ (melbourne indymedia fell apart after post g20 backlash...)

Love and International Solidarity!

For more information, see:

http://afterg20.org/index.htm
http://arushandapush.blogsome.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_G20_summit

See also:
A first communiqué from two uncitizens of Arterial Bloc
Another Reflections on the Arterial Bloc at the Counter-G20 Convergence in Melbourne Australia
Support for G20 arrestees

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