Empty the Cages: Former Political Prisoners Speak Out

empty-the-cages-flyer

https://www.facebook.com/events/754237618050159/

Join ABC and political prisoner support chapters across the continent in our annual panel discussion featuring former U.S. political prisoners:

Thursday October 13th
Doors open at 6:30pm
Speakers 7-9pm
Location: Whittier Community Center, 2900 Downing St.

Spanning generations of political struggle for liberation in the U.S., we are proud to help host this panel that will prove to be informative, inspirational and will help us build a stronger movement of support around resistance to repression by the State.

Speakers:
Sekou Kambui
Daniel McGowan
John Tucker
More TBA
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Sekou Kambui:
Sekou is a New Afrikan/Cherokee former political prisoner who survived 47 years of incarceration. Throughout the 1960’s, Sekou participated in the Civil Rights movement, organizing youth for participating in demonstrations and marches across Alabama, and providing security for meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Sekou became affiliated with the Black Panther Party in 1967 in Chicago and New York. While in Detroit, he became a member of the Republic of New Afrika, before returning to Birmingham. Back in Alabama, Sekou coordinated community organization activity with the Alabama Black Liberation Front, the Inmates for Action (IFA) Defense Committee and the Afro-American People’s Party in the mid 1970’s. Sekou was also a soldier in the Black Liberation Army (BLA) during these years before his capture.

In 1975, Sekou was falsely arrested and charged with the murder of two white men: a KKK official from Tuscaloosa and a multimillionaire oil man from Birmingham. There was absolutely no evidence against him, only coerced testimony from individuals who subsequently recanted their statements. The judge refused to allow the recanted statements to be stricken from Sekou’s record. He continued the fight throughout his time in Prison. On June 30th, 2014, Sekou was released on parole.
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Daniel McGowan:
Daniel is an environmental and social justice activist from New York City. He was charged in Federal court on counts of arson, property destruction and conspiracy, all relating to two actions in Oregon in 2001, claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). McGowan was facing a minimum of life in prison if convicted when he accepted a non-cooperation plea agreement. His arrest is part of what the US government dubbed Operation Backfire; a coordinated, multi-state sweep of over 15 activists by the federal government who have charged the individuals with practically every earth and animal liberation action in the Pacific Northwest left unsolved. Many have considered this round up indicative of the government’s ‘Green Scare’ focus which has activists being arrested and threatened with life in prison. Many of the charges, including Daniel’s, were for crimes whose statute of limitations were about to expire. Daniel was released from prison on December 11, 2012.
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John Tucker:
John was one of five antifascists arrested in May 2012, after an altercation between white supremacists and antifascists in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park that left ten injured fascists, three of which needed hospitalization. The case of the Tinley Park 5 received an overwhelming amount of public support. Despite the fact that the meeting was organized by violent white supremacist organizations including the National Socialist Movement, Council of Conservative Citizens, and Ku Klux Klan, the state showed their cozy relationship with white supremacy by refusing the accused antifascist activist bail or a plea deal comparable to any other criminal defendant in Cook County. In January 2013 the Tinley Park Five accepted a non-cooperating plea deal. John Tucker was released in February 2014. As of September 2014, all of the TP5 are released.
———-
Donations are encouraged, and will go towards the 6th Annual North American Anarchist Black Cross Conference.

If you can’t make it and would like to help cover travel costs for the panel and the conference, please donate here!
https://fundly.com/na-abc-conference?showsteps=1

We’ll see you there!

Against the Charges. Against the Cops. Against the Nazis: Update from the struggle in Olympia, WA

From IT’S GOING DOWN:

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Sunday, August 30th:

In anticipation of the coming week, the city is covered in anti-police graffiti and posters, most prevalent is the statement: No Cops, No Charges.

Wednesday, September 2nd:

At a 2pm press conference, Thurston County Prosecutor/Pig Fucker Jon Tunheim announces that the state will stand behind their little piglet Officer Ryan Donald, who in the early morning of May 21st shot two unarmed black men. The men, Andre and Bryson Chaplin allegedly tried to defend themselves with skateboards after fleeing from an attempted shoplifting. The pigs, their masters and their cheerleaders decry these young men as “criminal thugs” in a thinly veiled racism. To add insult to injury (multiple gunshot wounds to be specific) not only is the state NOT charging the cop, but prosecutors announced they in fact will be charging Andre and Bryson for assaulting the Officer. At the end of the news conference protesters chant “Fire Officer Donald!”

The reason for this outrageous yet predictable decision is clear to us. The state is more interested in protecting property than it is in our very lives and in the lives of black people in particular.

In this light, we believe it becomes easier to understand why a lone pig would have plenty of incentive to attempt to murder two young black men to protect a case of beer. That case of beer can be interpreted as a representation of the property relations upon which this entire society is built. The shooting is just an extension of the racist violence which is integral to its maintenance. And in the words of scumbag Tunheim, “A police officer really can not afford to lose that fight, to just put it bluntly.”

Whether these men are guilty or not is irrelevant to us because we don’t accept the law. The law upholds structural white supremacy and capitalist exploitation. Therefore the police, who are so willing to murder us in the interest of defending this social order and enforcing this law, must be fought. The racist system which values a case of beer more than two young lives needs to be destroyed, by any means necessary. Fuck the law.

Thursday, September 3rd:

Hundreds rally at a speak out to protest the state’s decision and demand justice for Andre and Bryson. During rush hour a small group barricades a main intersection with caution tape and chain link fencing, taken from a new condo development being built downtown. The group then marches chanting “Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Murder” and proceeds to block off another major intersection downtown for several hours while, nearby, black participants speak to the larger rally, sharing experiences of racism and police violence at the speak out.

Later in the evening, an old Ford truck recognized as a vehicle used by Neo-Nazis (often flying a Confederate flag), is sighted as it slowly and menacingly drives past a group of anti-racists gathering downtown. The group reacts quickly to the truck’s presence, and a rowdy, mostly masked group takes to the streets, pursuing the vehicle with pipes and bats in hand, chasing the truck off. As the group is pursuing the vehicle into the industrial areas near downtown, an OPD SUV speeds up to drive between the group and the fascists. The chant, “OPD, ON THE ATTACK, WHILE THE NAZIS HAVE THEIR BACK” cuts both ways, clearly. The group then continues marching through downtown Olympia, blocking traffic with debris, lighting off fireworks and tagging a cop car and the police station with “ACAB” (all cops are bastards) as well as writing “No Cops No Charges ACAB” on a statue in front of City Hall.

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It is believed that the Nazis identified in the Ford truck, later smash the windshield of a comrades car. Support funds are being gathered here.

Throughout the day, flyers are distributed promoting a Saturday march demanding “No charges against Andre and Bryson. No cops on our streets.”

Friday, September 4th:

Word circulates that Neo-Nazis are planning another rally in defense of the police the following evening. Either as a response to Saturday’s planned anti-police march or by coincidence, they proclaim their racist and paranoid intentions to “DEFEND THE NORTHWEST AGAINST THE LEFTIST SCUM AND THEIR JEWISH MANAGMENT”. Online they tellingly claim the states decision to not prosecute Donald as a “small victory” for white-supremacists. The call is posted on a fascist internet forum by known bonehead Jascha Manny. This is the same Nazi who led the rally on May 30th, when he and about ten of his racist friends were beaten down and chased out of town by a mob of armed anti-fascists.

This time Jascha promises he’s “EXPECTING A TURNOUT OF AT LEAST 100!!!” but after their prior humiliating defeat it is doubtful that anyone will heed the call. Still anti-fascists rally to once again defend Olympia from the threat of a Nazi convergence.

Saturday, September 5th:

By nightfall 50-60 anarchists and antifascists are assembled to drive the fascists out of our city once again. The group takes the street chanting “Nazis out of Oly/Fuck the police” and shoots off fire crackers. Rounds are made through downtown but if any Nazis showed up, they are careful to stay hidden. One man in a white truck tries to drive through the crowd and when asked if he likes the Nazis, responds “Yeah, I love Nazis!” and has his window broken.

A man on a motorcycle with a confederate flag is stopped as people try to remove the flag from the bike. He pulls out a baton and a fight ensues. At the end of the scuffle the flag is burned in the street and the man is taken away in an ambulance. If the June 17th mass-shooting in Charleston, SC didn’t make it clear once and for all, the confederate flag is a symbol of hate and should not be tolerated. Although white entitlement may not want to give up this emblem of “The good ol’ days” (which most associate with the pain of segregation, slavery and white terrorism), anyone who flies the confederate flag should expect to be confronted as a racist. This particular “rebel” learns this the hard way. Two American flags hanging from light posts are also taken down and destroyed.

As some suspected, the fascists don’t show for their promised rematch. Their call to arms ended with a desperate attempt to guilt other white supremacists in the region to show. It whimpered “Because if you’re not there this time, you might as well hang up your boots now…” Well, time to hang up those boots. Your hateful ideology has no place on these streets.

As the night progresses it seems that the lines between the anti-fascist rally and the scheduled anti-police march are blurry if they exist at all. One seems to meld into the other. Perhaps it is common knowledge among participants that white supremacy must be fought on all fronts. The group is heard chanting “Cops and Klan/Hand in hand” and “We want revenge” before attacking City Hall and the Police Station with bats, rocks and paint bombs, leaving its plate-glass windows splattered with red paint and spider-webbed with broken glass.

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The police use pepper spray and shoot pepper balls in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The march stays together for another few blocks, where people disperse safely. No arrests are made.

Olympia Police later report on social media “We try to stay pretty positive with our Instagram posts however we wanted to share with you what OPD is dealing with regarding the protests. Last night approximately 50 protesters marched the streets of downtown Olympia masked up and dressed in all black carrying weapons ranging from baseball bats to sticks to socks with rocks in them… At one point the protesters turned towards a patrol vehicle that was blocking traffic and started swinging bats while approaching it. Later, we received word that the protesters assaulted a man on a motorcycle and was (sic) beating him with a bat. While we responded to the victim the protesters continued on to City Hall and proceeded to use their weapons to break multiple windows and vandalize the building and patrol vehicles.”

Sunday, September 6th:

A hundred people march through Olympia in what is called a “March for Mothers” to show solidarity with the many families that have suffered at the hands of police violence and racism. They leave flowers behind the caution tape outside of the recently trashed city hall and place a sign reading “Justice must be served” in front of the boarded up entrance.

Tuesday, September 8th:

15-20 people occupy Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim’s office, disrupting the mornings proceedings of business as usual. Protesters tape signs up in the office declaring “Black lives matter” and “Drop the charges” and chant “Justice for Andre and Bryson”. The office employees and police are hands off in handling the disruption, perhaps in recognition of the volatility surrounding its recent decision and in an effort to avoiding escalation.

Conclusion:

There has been a powerful community reaction to this shooting and a broad diversity of tactics in how we have responded together. We see all of these gestures of support and solidarity as valuable in the fight against systemic racism and brutality. We seek to foster the mutual respect and collaboration necessary to become a real threat to those in power. We embrace all those who are active in this movement, not to advance their careers, and not to power monger for political legitimacy and control, but to do whatever is necessary to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

A flyer distributed this week titled “Freedom Everywhere! Police Nowhere!” articulates our feelings well when it says “It must be made politically impossible for the city to prosecute Andre and Bryson.” This is a goal we can only achieve together. It continues “Our rage and rebellion is our weapon against this hellworld. Fuck the police, here and everywhere. The city council will never make this a safe place for any of us to live. There is no safety in a world with police.

As the state continues to prove it was never there for us, we seek to recover ways of supporting each other. The economy continues to keep us chained to varying levels of misery. The city does nothing to protect any of us from white supremacists, and in fact often hires them to its police force. Events of the last few months in Olympia have shown us that we can care for one another better than the state ever could. Who has supported the Chaplin family? Who ran Nazi bigots out of town? Who continues to keep our spirits up while every day new names of those killed by cops cross our Facebook and Twitter feeds? No candidate or institution will ever provide for us what we provide for each other.”

You can send financial support to Andre and Bryson here.

Fuck the Police forever.

-Some Olympia anarchists

HPG: 43 soldiers and 6 police killed in actions by guerrillas (Kurdistan, Turkey)

From 325:

Guerrillas affiliated to HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) continue their actions in response to the ongoing attacks and operations by Turkish military forces.

Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 5:00 PM
BEHDINAN – ANF

Guerrillas affiliated to HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) continue their actions in response to the ongoing attacks and operations by Turkish military forces.

HPG Press Office reported that a total of 43 soldiers and 6 police were killed in actions by guerrillas.

According to the statement, guerrillas hold the road between Hakkari’s Yüksekova district and Geliyê Doskî area and the one between Mergê Zerê- Şıtaza and Oremar guard post since August 10.

Turkish army airdropped soldiers in Çelareşkê area at 10:00 on September 2 and started an operation in the area.

Responding to the military activity of Turkish troops, guerrillas hit from five sides the soldiers that attempted to enter Geliyê Doskî from Çelareşkê in three groups.

The action by guerrillas killed 10 soldiers in the first group, 5 in the second group and three in the third group.

Guerrillas hindered the Turkish troops that attempted to enter the area to remove the casualties after the action. While clashes in the area continued till 19:00 in the evening, Turkish army shelled Geliyê Doski area from guard posts in surrounding areas.

One soldier was killed in an assassination action conducted by guerrillas against soldiers at Şemzinan Brigade at 16:00 on September 1st.

On September 2, Turkish troops from Garê and Şemzinan Brigade guard posts launched an operation in Katûna, Helena and Garê triangle area in Hakkari’s Şemzinan (Şemdinli) district, the control of which had been taken by guerrillas on August 28.

Guerrillas hit the Cobra type helicopters that flew over the area at 07:00, and forced them to retreat.

A group of soldiers participating in the operation entered the area of guerrillas, upon which a short-lasting clash erupted.

Simultaneously with the operation, Turkish forces shelled the Helena-Katûna-Garê triangle, as well as Hill Geniş and Hill Konserve, in response to which guerrillas hit the Gare guard post. The Turkish operation in the area continues.

Guerrillas sabotaged and destroyed the Qaportê bridge between Yüksekova – Şemzinan districts of Hakkari at 00:00 on September 3rd.

In another action targeting hills held by Oremar guard post, guerrillas damaged one tank and one emplacement at 14:50 on August 2nd.

BASE STATION DESTROYED

Guerrillas destroyed a base station in Albayrak village in Van’s Başkale district at 21:00 on September 2nd.

One soldier was killed in an assassination action conducted by guerrillas against Kısımlı guard post in Başkale at 05:45 on September 2nd. One other soldier was killed as guerrillas also hit the soldiers that came to the scene in the wake of the action.

Guerrillas hit a military armored vehicle in Miks (Bahçesaray) district of Van on September 1st. The vehicle retreated from the area following a short-lasting clash.

A vehicle carrying supplies to Bêgendê guard post in Siirt’s Kurtalan district was burnt down at 13:30 on September 2nd.

19 SOLDIERS KILLED IN BESTA

A guerrilla unit was ambushed by Turkish soldiers in Çiyayê Fıllah area of Besta region on September 1st, upon which a clash erupted, lasting till 19:00 in the evening.

Intervening the scene with Cobra type helicopters at 16:00, Turkish troops at Gundıkê Mellê and Çelê Nımêja guard posts in Şırnak bombarded the area with howitzers and mortars. 15 soldiers were verified killed as guerrillas responded to the attacks. Details of the clashes will be announced later.

Martyr Kamuran team conducted an action against the soldiers guarding the security hill of Şırnak Brigade at 10:35 on September 2nd. Four soldiers were killed in the action which was carried out in memory of the four guerrillas fallen in Besta.

Guerrillas destroyed a base station in Şevasor village of Şırnak’s Silopi district at 22:00 on September 1st.

One soldier was killed in an assassination action conducted by guerrillas against Korxê guard post in Amed’s Lice district at 12:00 on September 2nd. Guerrillas also hit a container and tower in the post, but the casualties couldn’t be verified.

Turkish army airdropped soldiers onto Hill Zerga in Karas-Lice-Hani triangle area in Amed from 07:00 to 08:30 on September 2nd.

Guerrillas destroyed a base station in Yayla area in Bingöl’s Genç district at 21:30 on August 30.

ACTION IN MEMORY OF MARTYR DERSİM

Guerrillas conducted another action against Kanakder guard post in Bitlis in memory of Martry Dersim at 10:00 on September 2nd. Two soldiers were killed and one other was wounded in the action in which the entrance gate of the post was also hit.

Cobra type helicopters intensely shelled the scene at noon, while Sikorsky helicopters removed the casualties from the area.

SIX POLICE KILLED IN ELAZIĞ

As part of the ongoing actions in Martyr Rojhat Batman Initiative, Martyr Destan and Martyr Fırat Revenge teams conducted an action against police station in Kovancılar area of Elazığ at 20:15 on September 2nd. Six police were killed and many others were wounded as guerrillas hit the police group outside the station and the sentry boxes with rockets. The action was conducted in memory of Martyr Fırat, Martyr Destan, Martyr Cihand and Martyr Ekin Van.

On August 27, a team affiliated to HPG forces killed İsmet Tatar and his son who played a role in the murder of four guerrillas and many patriotic civilians in Şırnak’s Silopi district.

Building autonomy in Turkey and Kurdistan: an interview with Revolutionary Anarchist Action

From Corporate Watch:

dafIn May this year, Corporate Watch researchers travelled to Turkey and Kurdistan to investigate the companies supplying military equipment to the Turkish police and army. We talked to a range of groups from a variety of different movements and campaigns

Below is the transcript of our interview with three members of the anarchist group Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul during May 2015. DAF are involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’ attack on Kobane, and have taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate abuse. They are attempting to establish alternatives to the current system through self-organisation, mutual aid and co-operatives.

The interview was carried out in the run-up to the Turkish elections, and touches on the election campaign by the HDP, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party. Soon after the interview took place, the HDP passed the threshold of 10% of the total vote needed to enter the Turkish parliament.

The DAF members – who all preferred to remain anonymous – began the interview by talking about the history of anarchism in the region:

DAF: We want to underline the relationship between the freedom struggle at the end of Ottoman times and the freedom struggles of Kurdistan.

In Ottoman times anarchists organised workers’ struggle in the main cities: Saloniki, Izmir, Istanbul and Cairo. For example [the Italian anarchist, Errico] Malatesta was involved in organizing industrial workers in Cairo. The freedom struggles of Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece had connections with anarchist groups. Alexander Atabekian, an important person in the Armenian freedom struggle, was an anarchist, translating leaflets into Armenian and distributing them. He was a friend of [the Russian anarchist, Peter] Kropotkin and distributed Kropotkin’s anarchist leaflets.

We are talking about this as we want to underline the importance of freedom struggles and to compare this to the importance of support for the Kurdish struggle.

Corporate Watch: What happened to anarchists after the Ottoman period?

DAF: Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 19th century, Sultan Abdul Hamid II repressed the actions of anarchists in Turkey. He knew what anarchists were and took a special interest in them. He killed or deported anarchists and set up a special intelligence agency for this purpose.

Anarchists responded by carrying out attacks on the Yildiz Sarayi palace and with explosions at the Ottoman bank in Saloniki.

The government of the Ottoman Empire didn’t end at the Turkish republic. The fez has gone since but the system is still the same.

At the beginning of the [Kemalist] Turkish state [in 1923] many anarchists and other radicals were forced to emigrate or were killed. The CHP, Mustafa Kemal’s party, didn’t allow any opposition and there were massacres of Kurds.

From 1923 to 1980 there was not a big anarchist movement in Turkey due to the popularity of the socialist movements and the repression of the state.

The wave of revolutions from the 1960s to the ’80s affected these lands too. These were the active years of the social movements. During this period, there were revolutionary anti-imperialist movements caused by the Vietnam war, youth organizations, occupations of universities and increasing struggle of workers. These movements were Marxist-Leninist or Maoist, there were no anarchist movements.

In 1970 there was a long workers’ struggle. Millions of workers walked over a hundred kilometres from Kocaeli to Istanbul. Factories were closed and all the workers were on the streets.

CW: Was there any awareness of anarchism in Turkey at all at this time?

DAF: During these years many books were translated into Turkish from European radicalism but only five books about anarchism were translated, three of which were talking about anarchism in order to criticize it.

But in Ottoman times there had been many articles on anarchism in the newspapers. For example, one of the three editors of the İştirak newspaper was an anarchist. The paper published [Russian anarchist, Mikhail] Bakunin’s essays as well as articles on anarcho-syndicalism.

The first anarchist magazine was published in 1989. After this many magazines were published focusing on anarchism from different perspectives; for example, post structuralism, ecology, etc.

The common theme was that they were written for a small intellectual audience. The language of these magazines was too far away from the people. Most of those involved were connected with the universities or academia. Or they were ex-socialists affected by the fall of the Soviet Union, which was a big disappointment for many socialists. That’s why they began to call themselves anarchists, but we don’t think that this is a good way to approach anarchism, as a critique of socialism.

Between 2000 to 2005 people came together to talk about anarchism in Istanbul and began to ask: “how can we fight?”. At this time we guess that there were 50-100 anarchists living in Turkey and outside.

CW: Can you explain how DAF organises now?

DAF: Now we get 500 anarchists turning up for Mayday in Istanbul. We are in touch with anarchists in Antalya, Eskişehir, Amed, Ankara and İzmir. Meydan [DAF’s newspaper] goes to between 15 and 20 cities. We have a newspaper bureau in Amed, distributing newspapers all over Kurdistan. Until now, it is in Turkish but maybe one day, if we can afford it, we will publish it in Kurdish. We send Meydan to prisons too. We have a comrade in İzmir in prison and we send copies to over 15 prisoners.

A few months ago there was a ban on radical publications in prisons. We participated in demos outside prisons and we managed to make pressure about this and now newspapers are allowed to go into prisons again.

The main issue for DAF is to organise anarchism within society. We try to socialize anarchism with struggle on the streets. This is what we give importance to. For nearly nine years we have been doing this.

On an ideological level we have a holistic perspective. We don’t have a hierarchical perspective on struggles. We think workers’ struggle is important but not more important than the Kurdish struggle or women’s struggles or ecological struggles.

Capitalism tries to divide these struggles. If the enemy is attacking us in a holistic way we have to approach it in a holistic way.

Anarchy has a bad meaning for most people in society. It has a link with terrorism and bombs. We want to legitimize anarchism by linking it to making arguments for struggles against companies and for ecology. Sometimes we try to focus on the links between the state, companies and ecological damages, like the thing that Corporate Watch does.

We like to present anarchy as an organised struggle. We have shown people on the streets the organised approach to anarchism.

From 1989 to 2000 anarchism was about image. About wearing black, piercings and Mohicans. This is what people saw. After 2000, people started to see anarchists who were part of women’s struggles and workers’ struggles.

We are not taking anarchism from Europe as an imitation. Other anarchists have approached anarchism as an imitation of US or European anarchism or as an underground culture. If we want to make anarchist a social movement, it must change.

DAF’s collectives are Anarchist Youth, Anarchist Women, 26A cafe, Patika ecological collective and high school anarchist action (LAF). These self-organisations work together but have their own decision-making processes.

Anarchist Youth makes connections between young workers and university students and their struggles. Anarchist Women focuses on patriarchy and violence to women. For example, a woman was murdered by a man and set on fire last February. On 25 November there were big protests against violence against women.

LAF criticises education and schooling in itself and tries to socialize this way of thinking in high schools. LAF also looks at ecological and feminist issues, including when young women are murdered by their husbands.

PATIKA ecological collective protests against hydro electric dams in the Black Sea region or Hasankey [where the Ilisu dam is being built]. Sometimes there is fighting to prevent these plants from being built.

26A Café is a self organization focusing on anti-capitalist economy. Cafes were opened in 2009 in Taksim and 2011 in Kadıköy [both in Istanbul]. The cafes are run by volunteers. They are aimed at creating an economic model in the place where oppressed people are living. It’s important to show people concrete examples of an anarchist economy, without bosses or capitalist aims. We talk to people about why we don’t sell the big capitalist brands like Coca Cola. Of course the products we sell have a relation to capitalism but things like Coke are symbols of capitalism. We want to progress away from not-consuming and move towards alternative economies and ways of producing.

Another self organisation, PAY-DA – ‘Sharing and solidarity’ – has a building in Kadıköy, which is used for meetings and producing the Meydan newspaper. PAY-DA gives meals to people three times a day. It’s open to anarchists and comrades. The aim of PAY-DA is to become a cooperative, open to everybody. We try to create a bond which also involves the producers in the villages. We aim to have links with these producers and show them another economic model. We try to evolve these economic relations away from money relations. The producers are suffering from the capitalist economy. We are in the first steps of this cooperative and we are looking for producers to work with.

All of these projects are related to DAF’s ideology. This model has a connection with Malatesta’s binary model of organization.

These are anarchist organizations but sometimes people who aren’t anarchists join these struggles because they know ecological or women’s struggles, and then at the end they will learn about anarchism. It’s an evolving process.

As DAF we are trying to organise our lives. This is the only way that we can touch the people who are oppressed by capitalism.

There is also the Conscientious Objectors’ Association, which is organised with other groups, not just anarchists. Our involvement in this has a relation with our perspective on Kurdistan. We organize anti-militarist action in Turkey outside of military bases on 15 May, conscientious objector’s day. In Turkey the military is related to state culture. If you don’t do your military duty, you won’t find a job and it’s difficult to find someone to marry because they ask if you’ve been to the army. If you have been to the army, you’re a ‘man’. People see the state as the ‘Fatherland’. On your CV they ask whether you did military service. ‘Every Turk is born a soldier’ is a popular slogan in Turkey.

CW: Is Kemalism [the ideology associated with Mustafa Kemal] as strong a force as it used to be?

DAF: Kemalism is still a force in schools but the AKP has changed this somewhat. The AKP has a new approach to nationalism focused on the Ottoman Empire. It emphasises Turkey’s ‘Ottoman roots’. But Erdoğan still says that we are ‘one nation, one state, one flag and one religion.’. There is still talk about Mustafa Kemal but not as much as before. Now you cannot criticize Erdoğan or Atatürk [the name used for Kemal by Turkish nationalists]. It’s the law not to criticize Atatürk and the unwritten rule not to criticize Erdoğan. The media follows these rules.

CW: Can you talk about your perspective on the Kurdish freedom struggle?

Kurdish freedom struggles didn’t start with Rojava. Kurdish people have had struggles for hundreds of years against the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish state.

Since the start of DAF we have seen Kurdistan as important for propaganda and education.

Our perspective relates to people’s freedom struggles. The idea that people can create federations without nations, states and empires. The Turkish state says the issue is a Kurdish problem, but for us it is not a Kurdish problem, it’s an issue of Turkish policies of assimilation. It’s obvious that since the first years of the Turkish republic the assimilation of Kurdish people has not stopped. We can see this from the last Roboski massacre [of 34 Kurdish cross-border traders by Turkish F16s on 28 December 2011] by the state during the ‘peace process’. We can see this in the denial of Kurdish identity or the repeated massacres. Making people assimilate to be a Turk and making the propaganda of nationalism.

The AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] say they have opened Kurdish TV channels, allowed Kurdish language and that we are all brothers and sisters, but on the other hand we had the Roboski massacre which occurred during their government. In 2006 there was government pressure on Erdoğan at a high level. Erdoğan said that women and children would be punished who go against Turkish policies. Over 30 children were murdered by police and army.

The words change but the political agenda continues, just under a new government. We do not call ourselves Turkish. We come from many ethnic origins and Kurdish is one of them. Our involvement in conscientious objection is part of this perspective. We want to talk to people to prevent people from going to the army to kill their brothers and sisters.

After the 2000s there has been an ideological change in the Kurdish freedom struggle. The Kurdish organizations no longer call themselves Marxist-Leninist and Öcalan has written a lot about democratic confederalism. This is important, but our relation to Kurdish people is on the streets.

CW: Can you talk about DAF’s work in solidarity with people in Rojava?

In July 2012 at the start of the Rojava revolution, people began saying that it was a stateless movement. We have been in solidarity from the first day of the revolution. Three cantons have declared their revolution in a stateless way. We try to observe and get more information. This is not an anarchist revolution but it is a social revolution declared by the people themselves.

Rojava is a third front for Syria against Assad, ISIS and other Islamic groups. But these are not the only groups that the revolution is faced with. The Turkish republic is giving support for ISIS from its borders. The national intelligence agency of the Turkish republic appears to be giving weapons to ISIS and other Islamic groups. Kurdish people declared the revolution under these circumstances.

After the ISIS attack on Kobane began [in 2014] we went to Suruç. We waited at the border as Turkish forces were attacking people crossing. When people wanted to cross the border to or from Kobane they were shot. We stayed there to provide protection.

In October, people gathered near Suruç, and broke through the border. Turkish tanks shot gas over the border at them.

From 6 to 8 October there were Kobane solidarity demonstrations across Turkey. Kader Ortakya, a Turkish socialist supporter of Kobane, was shot dead trying to cross the border.

We helped people. Some people crossed the border from Kobane and had no shelter. We prepared tents, food and clothes for them. Sometimes soldiers came to the villages with tear gas and water cannons and we had to move. Some people came through the border searching for their families and we helped them. Other people came, wanting to cross the border and fight and we helped them. We wore clothing that said we were from DAF on it.

The YPG and YPJ [‘People’s Protection Units’ of Rojava, the YPJ is a women’s militia] pushed ISIS back day by day. Mıştenur hill was very important for Kobane. After the hill was taken by the YPG and YPJ some people wanted to return to Kobane. When they went back their houses had been destroyed by ISIS. Some houses were mined and some people have been killed by the mines. The mines need to be cleared, but by who and how? People need new houses and help. We have had conferences and talked about how to help Kobane. There was a conference two weeks ago in Amed.

CW: What is your position on the elections?

DAF: We do not believe in parliamentary democracy. We believe in direct democracy. We do not support the HDP in the election, but we have links in solidarity with them on the streets.

Emma Goldman said that if elections changed anything they would be illegal. There are good people in the HDP who say good things, but we think that the government can’t be good because the election system isn’t equal.

In Rojava they do not call it an anarchist revolution, but theres no government, no state and no hierarchy, so we believe in it and have solidarity with it.

Can you tell us about the bombing in Suruç [we asked this final question by email weeks after the original interview

Over 30 young people who wanted to take part in reconstruction of Kobane were killed by an ISIS attack. This attack was clearly organised by the Turkish State. They did not even do anything to stop it although they got the information of the attack one month before. Moreover, after the explosion the Turkish State has attacked Rojava and made operations against political organisations in Turkey. Now there are many operations and political pressures on anarchists and socialists and Kurdish organisations. They are using the explosion as a reason to make this political repression on both the domestic and international levels.

We have lost our 33 comrades, friends who struggled for the Rojava Revolution against the state’s repression, denial and politics of massacre. There are people who are killed by state, ISIS and other powers. But our resistance won’t stop, our struggle will continue, as always in history.

Title picture taken from the Crimethinc website