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Campaign to defend the “Autonomous Center” in Wuppertal, Germany

As reported earlier there is growing resistance against several construction projects in Wuppertal, Germany. One of these construction projects is at Gathe, on the corner of Markomannen street. One of the buildings which will have to be demolished for this project is the building where the autonomous center has been located for more than 14 years now. The autonomous center is a self-organised free space where many cultural and political events are organised by various groups. Below you will find a statement from people who are active in the autonomous center, which was published in German in an activist produced newspaper. 10.000 copies were spread for free in Wuppertal.

The autonomous center is a place where people can organise themselves (sometimes for a short period of time, sometimes over years) and work together on cultural, political, and other projects. Daily operations of the autonomous center – whether it be a concert, a demo, a blockade, etc.. – are decided by the participants. The center is a non-commercial space, that people can use without having to pay for it.

At mayday 2014, the campaign “AZ (Autonomous Center, editor) will stay at Gathe!” will start with an autonomous mayday demo. The way we understand it, an autonomous demo means that its self-organised and unauthorised by the state.

The autonomous center has existed for more than 20 years at Gathe in the northern part of Wuppertal’s Elberfeld district. This was made possible after a long fight in the eighties, partially with militant methods. Since 1990, it had been located a few hundred meters away from its current location at Gathe / Markomannen street 3, where the autonomous center has been since the year 2000. In the eighties, the center was also located in the northern part of the city center.

Now the autonomous center is in danger of being displaced from its current location at Gathe. The DITIB mosque wants to build an islamic center, which will be partly at the grounds where the autonomous center is located now. It would not be a problem to construct the new mosque next to the autonomous center. A decent noise insulation would be no problem, and both centers could exist as neighbours. The autonomous center would agree on this solution, although the tight relation between DITIB and the Turkish state has to be seen critically because of the upsetting policies of the Turkish state. Specifically, the struggles against the authoritarian prime-minister Erdogan, the un-recognized genocide of the Armenian people by the turkish state, and the way the turkish state deals with minorities like the Kurds and the Alevis. But we are aware of the fact that many of the people who visit the current DITIB mosque have nothing to do with the official policies of the Turkish state and we hope that their number will grow inside DITIB.

But it seems like its also important to the city council to displace the Autonomous center from its current location. They bring forward the argument that its essential to build on the corner (of the Markomannen street / Gathe, editor). It gives us the impression that the district, which is close to the city center, will be up-valued at the cost of the autonomous center!

City officials stated that the autonomous center might “only” have to move to another building, but its completely unclear in which building they mean. That’s because there is no other building in the nothern part of the city center available for the autonomous center to move to. Furthermore, the city did not make a concrete official offer or proposal.

A displacement of the autonomous center would have severe consequences. The autonomous center is the only space of this size and with facilities in which its possible to organise many different cultural and noncommercial events. There are regular punk concerts, performances by singer-songwriters, electro parties, Reggae and hiphop parties, and there are regular film and info events about various political and social issues. The “people’s kitchen” plays an important role, and is a place where people can eat vegan food every Wednesday. The people’s kitchen only asks a voluntarily donation. All these things are organised without bosses or state money. The center plays an important role in many struggles in Wuppertal and beyond. The autonomous center played a key role in the massive resistance against nazi demos in the city. Beyond that, groups from the autonomous center are fighting against the Nazis and their infrastructure in the city on a daily basis. Another issue that the autonomous center is involved in is the constant argument about the national-socialist crimes (in the 1930′s and 1940′s, editor). In the autonomous center, there are also groups fighting against austerity and who are active in other political struggles. The autonomous center also has a clear position against racism and police violence.

The campaign, “Autonomous center stays at Gathe” will start at May 1 at 18:00 (06:00pm) at Gathe / Höhe AZ in Wuppertal. Before that there will be a pre demo on April 30. This pre demo will be a nightdance demo and will start at 19:00 (07:00pm) at Deweert’scher Garten in Wuppertal.

The City belongs to us all!

Take the streets – Out to Autonomous May 1!

18:00 (06:00pm) Gathe / Höhe AZ, Wuppertal, Germany

Mobilisation clip for the autonomous mayday demo 2014 in Wuppertal, Germany:

The article is also published here

Briefings from Greece: 26/3 – 11/4

March 26

Athens: Riot police attacked the cleaners of the Ministry of economics who tried to enter the premises in an attempt to meet with minister Stournaras. The cleaners are on ongoing protests due to their suspension and dismissal as part of the government’s cuts. Four protesters were injured and taken to hospital.

Athens: Hadim Husein, father of Sehzad Luqman (the 27-year-old from Pakistan who was murdered in cold blood by two Golden Dawn supporters on 17/01/2013) is prosecuted for fraudulent procurement of false official certification. As members of KEERFA (Movement united against racism and fascism) state, this is a concerted attempt of the authorities to incriminate Luqman’s family and prevent them from continuing their presence in the country. It is reminded that the mother and father of Luqman have been staying in Greece since December 2013 to attend the trial of the two murderers, and participate in a number of antifascist and anti-racist demonstrations.

Athens: The four policemen who beat to death 24-year-old Nikos Sakellion in May 2008, were pronounced innocent after their second trial. Sakellion was arrested at Anaxagora street for no apparent reason by cops of the notorious police station Acropolis, and was handcuffed and beaten on the spot while the perpetrators claim that they had found him on the pavement unconscious after trying to swallow bags of heroin. However, no heroin bags were found inside the victim’s throat. The accused were acquitted with the excuse that they were young and inexperienced. This is one of the many recent cases of police impunity.

March 27

Greece: 42-year old prisoner Ilir Kareli from Albania was tortured for two and a half hours (by various means including electrocution) and beaten to death by prison guards, after he stabbed and killed one of the guards at Malandrino prison. Kareli had been imprisoned for several years mainly for theft, and had been denied the right to a leave permit to visit his sick mother. His murder marks a period of protests against the imminent plans of the government for the creation of high security prison cells (type c) where the rights and freedoms of prisoners will be extremely limited.

March 28

Athens: More than 160 migrant workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India remain unpaid for 4 to 8 months in one of the largest recycling units in Greece owned by Dimitris Lazopoulos. They are on an ongoing dispute with the management, asking for their remuneration and for better working conditions.

March 30

Thessaloniki: A successful intervention of the Network of Unemployed and Precarious Workers took place at the office of OASTH (Urban buses organisation of Thessaloniki), managing to have their fines canceled. The members of the network have decided to repeat the interventions every month and ultimately to demand for free transportations for the unemployed.

April 5

Patra: Police attacked an anarchist street party at 1.30am. The party had been called in response to an earlier police attack to a self-organised bar. A large police force was mobilised (around 25 bikes and 2 police squads) who attacked the party with chems and chased the people in the surrounding streets. The people responded with barricades and molotof bombs.

April 6

Athens: A demo of 900 people took place outside Korydallos prison in solidarity with inmates, political prisoners and against the type C cells (see March 27). The demo also passed outside the women’s prison and continued in the neighbourhoods of Korydallos.

Domokos: Another action against type C cells and in solidarity with political prisoners took place by 500 people who traveled by bus from Athens, Patra, Trikala, Karditsa, Volos, and Thessaloniki to Domokos prison. The demo was confronted with riot police who used tear gas to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the prison on foot. The bus from Thessaloniki was stopped by police on its way back after the demo and the passengers were told to go one by one into a police van for identification. After they refused to do so (knowing that fascists of Golden Dawn where inside the van in order to identify those who attacked their offices at Farsala the same day) the demonstrators were taken to the police station in Larissa where they were later released. One demonstrator was arrested for aiding to the assault against the Golden Dawn office at Farsala (although the bus never stopped at Farsala).

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April 9

Athens: Total conscientious objector D. Hatzivasiliadis was adducted by police for identification and later arrested as there is an arrest warrant against him. He will be put on trial by the Court Martial for refusing to serve the army, although he has already been tried in November 2013 and condemned to a redeemable sentence of 1 year in prison.

Athens: The job centre (ΟΑED) in Amerikis Square was attacked in early morning with gas canister bombs to protest against the ongoing pauperization of the unemployed, the scanty benefits and the co-operation of the job centre with employers which results in the exploitation of workers.

April 10

A car bomb exploded in central Athens, directly outside the Bank of Greece, at 5:55am. At 5.10am and 5.15am Zougla.gr (news website) and Efimerida ton Syntakton (left-wing newpaper) received anonymous calls that a car loaded with 75 kgs of explosives will blow up in 45 minutes. Police was notified and the area was cordoned off. This came just one day before the arrival of Angela Merkel in Athens. It is worth mentioning that in the same building, apart from the Bank of Greece there are the offices of the IMF and the Financial stability fund.

Athens: 11 migrants street vendors and 1 student were badly beaten and arrested by bike cops (DELTA) outside the gate of the Athens School of Economics (ASOE). The gate had been locked by police to prevent the migrants from finding refuge in the school and students from coming to the aid of the migrants. Police were kicking and beating the migrants dragging them from their hair. In the evening, a demo of 400-500 people took place to the police station in Kypseli where the arrested were held. This comes seven days after the last attack of police against migrants at the ASOE, where one migrant was arrested. There has been an ongoing series of attacks by police who aim at removing the street vendors from the yard of the university. The Assembly of migrants and students of ASOE have been resisting the attacks in practice and by issuing written announcements condemning the government’s migration policies.

April 11:

Athens: Approximately 10 hooded, black-clad persons expropriated food and other goods from a supermarket in Vironas, and then left the stuff outside the local job centre (ΟΑΕD). This was an action of solidarity and resistance against the hiking food prices and the exploitation of the workers by the bosses.

Greece: Breaking the protest-ban

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Crowds defied the police ban of gatherings in Athens city centre yesterday in view of Eurogroup meeting and took to the streets, participating in the planned demonstrations against the austerity policies implemented by the government and the troika.

Tension prevailed when a block of protesters, mainly members of the left-wing ANTARSYA, attempted to break the police cordon in Kolokotronis Square. Chemicals and stun grenades were used by police in order to disperse them. Nonetheless, some protesters received brutal attacks (as shown in the video below). In total, four people have been arrested and are expected to face criminal prosecution.

In addition, more attacks against civilians took place (as the next video confirms) by units of the motorcycle police force (Dias) as they crossed over the sidewalks.

Despite reactions and condemnations, for a second consecutive day Greek police ordered more curfews and prohibitions on marches and concentrations in central Athens due to the meetings of finance ministers of the European Union at Zappeion Megaron. The ban held from 6:00AM until 15:00PM.

Spain: journalists attacked by the police during large demonstration

Thousands took to the streets last Sunday in Madrid as part of a nationwide “March of Dignity”, protesting against austerity policies imposed by the increasingly authoritarian right-wing government. As stated in their manifesto of the protesters, their basic demands also include decent working conditions, housing and social rights. The organizers claimed that over a million responded to the calls, whilst many speak of «the largest demonstration in the history of the Spanish Republic.»

The protesters called the conservative government of Spain not to repay the debt and instead to fight unemployment, which at the moment stands at 26%. Additionally, speakers addressed not only economic issues, but also abortions and patriarchy.

At the end of the protests, clashes between demonstrators and police squads took place, according to the Spanish media. The authorities confirmed 24 arrests. In the videos below, we see seven journalists being assaulted, beaten and injured by riot police forces for trying to cover a violent arrest.

Briefings from Greece: 5/3 – 22/3

5 March

Holargos, Athens: Hundreds of people prevented the auction of the house of an unemployed woman due to debts to Piraeus Bank. The gathering was called by the Citizens’ Committee of Holargos “Resistance and Solidarity”, and many collectivities responded such as the Coordination of Collectivities of Attica, the Initiative Αuctions-Stop, Solidarity for All, assemblies from various neighbourhoods of Athens and other citizens. (Source)

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8 March

Athens:

– A motorcycle demo of solidarity to the redundant employees of courier company ACS of Alimos & Glifada took place, called by the social centre Ypostego

– A demo took place to defend a migrant worker who was beaten by his boss at cafe Scherzo in Marousi, Athens. He was working for about five months for up to 12 hours a day, 30 days a month, for 10 Eur a day. When he asked to be paid his wages, the worker was beaten by the boss and was hospitalised for 3 days. (Source)

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Ioannina: An anti-militarist demo took place in solidarity with total conscientious objector Μihalis Tolis. On March 14 M.T. was sentenced by the Court Martial of Athens to 8 moths in prison with 1 year suspension. Military service is obligatory for men in Greece and an alternative social service is rarely available. An increasing number of objectors have been declaring their refusal for any kind of service in the past years, and many resort to immigration as a means for avoiding conscription. (Source)

9 March

Crete: 3000 converged at the port of Suda, Crete to protest against the plans for the disposal of the chems used in Syria, in the Mediterranean sea. A bicycle demo took place and inflatable boats carried black flags.

11 Μarch

Athens: A gathering and demonstration took place in Exarheia, Athens for Berking Elvan, the 14-year-old boy who died in Istanbul after being 269 days in a comma when he was hit by a tear gas canister during a demo. (Source)

 

17 March

Athens: A demonstration – intervention took place by groups of anarchists at 3 shops of the chain bakery stores «Τo Horiatiko» and “Attikoi Fournoi” in Omonia, Evangelismos and Monastiraki, whose owners are involved in money laundering, human trafficking and prostitution. The protesters threw stink bombs in the stores, and distributed flyers to inform passers-by. (Source)

18 March

Lesvos: The bodies of seven Syrian migrants have been recovered near Lesvos and eight were rescued, in a new drowning tragedy less than 2 months after the last drowning at Farmakonisi. (Source)

22 March

Ioannina: A demo took place on occasion of the first year of squat Sahini 3. Flyers were distributed and later an intervention took place at the cafe Bruno against the dismissal of a worker because he was merely asking for his wages. According to information the redundancy was revoked after the intervention.