Political prisoner Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa has joined the ancestors

DABC Note: Rest In Power Mondo. We never forget.

From Examiner:

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Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa died on March 11, 2016 of respiratory failure at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Mondo was serving a life without parole sentence for the 1970 murder of an Omaha policeman, a crime Mondo vigorously denied all the way to his prison deathbed.

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Mondo was born in Omaha, Nebraska, as David Lewis Andrew Rice on May 21, 1947. Educated in parochial schools, Mondo was a young Catholic activist in high school, testifying to the Nebraska legislature about the pernacious influence of pornography on youth. Mondo was a member of several church youth groups and became active against housing and employment discrimination. Mondo led a pray-in at the Douglas County Courthouse to oppose discrimination.

A performance artist, Mondo became active in guitar masses at Holy Family Church and was quick to volunteer for community activities. Mondo began writing for “underground” newspapers and monitored complaints against Omaha police. Mondo’s work with welfare rights groups led to his employment at Greater Omaha Community Action as a neighborhood outreach worker.

As a young man, Mondo seemed to be everywhere, doing everything. Then racial riots in Omaha and the 1969 police shooting of fourteen year-old Vivian Strong sharpened Mondo’s focus and Mondo joined the Black Panther Party. Serving as an officer in the United Front Against Fascism and later the National Committee to Combat Fascism, Mondo attracted the unwanted attention of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover who ordered Mondo and his collegue Edward Poindexter removed from the streets.

The August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Patrolman Larry Minard, Sr. was the perfect opportunity for FBI agents working under directives of the infamous clandestine COINTELPRO counterintelligence operation. Mondo and Poindexter were blamed for directing fifteen year-old Duane Peak, the confessed bomber. The FBI Laboratory withheld a report on the identity of the anonymous 911 caller that lured Minard to his death. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, in a fierce rivalry with the FBI, processed the evidence and claimed Mondo had dynamite powder in his pants pocket. Unknown to jurors, who never heard the 911 recording, the ATF evidence had been tampered with after Mondo surrendered. An Omaha World-Herald photo of Mondo with his hands, which tested clean, jammed into his pockets at the time of his surrender proves the dynamite particles were added after Mondo was in custody.

Mondo and Poindexter were convicted after an unfair trial in 1971. Mondo appealed to federal court and U.S. District Judge Warran Urbom ruled Mondo’s rights had been violated and ordered a new trial or Mondo’s release. A three-judge federal appellate panel upheld the order for a new trial. However, the United States Supreme Court used Mondo’s case to restrict prisoner appeal rights and retroactively applied the restriction on Mondo. Justice William Brennan called the decision “profoundly disturbing.”

Mondo’s case returned the Nebraska Supreme Court which ruled Mondo ran out of time to appeal while he was in federal court. Mondo never received the new trial four federal judges had ordered. Mondo’s last appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court was denied without even a written decision.

Mondo was repeatedly recommended for parole back in the mid-1990’s but was denied eligibilty by the Pardon Board. A sticking point in Mondo’s efforts for freedom was his refusal to admit to any role in the Minard murder.

While in prison, Mondo gained the respect of inmates and guards alike. Mondo abandoned Christianity and became a Muslim. Finally, Mondo evolved to his own religious views best described as an agnostic pagan and adopted a vegetarian diet. Mondo painted and wrote poetry, essays and plays and while in prison wrote several books.

Mondo was a mentor to many prisoners over the years as he tried to move them from a life of crime to one of commitment to community. Mondo edited the Harambee Flame, a prison journal of his pan-African beliefs and philosophy.

“After several years in the penitentiary I decided it didn’t make any sense for me as an African to have a European name. I had to improvise,” explained Mondo. “My name basically means wild, natural man-child of the sun in four African languages.”

Wopshitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa and Ed Poindexter, now called the Omaha Two, have been in prison forty-five long years. Failed by the justice system, Mondo was not bitter. Mondo’s body was caged but his mind was free:

“Today, too many of our young people—in particular, males—are slaves to guns, slaves to violence, slaves to the idea that their African lives aren’t worth anything, slaves to the idea that their lives aren’t worth living. Today, we should be reflecting on what to do to counter the messages being delivered to our children and youth by school curricula, television, movies, video games, the music industry, and other institutions that are making slaves of our youth to violence, materialism, etc. Today, we should be reflecting on what to do to free ourselves from the invisible chains that bind our heads and spirit.”

Rest In Power Michael Marshall – The Latest Victim of Denver Police Violence

From Revolution News:

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The Denver Sheriff Department has murdered again. Michael Marshall passed away as a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies around 6:30pm on November 20, 2015, after over a week on life support.

What does a community do in the absence of official channels to seek justice? What does a community do in the face of killers who operate with impunity—backed by the State? Killers who, to add insult to injury, pass on the monetary and emotional costs of their brutality to the very city they brutalize.

This is the challenge facing some communities in Denver, and many communities across the United States. But it’s a challenge they’ve faced before.

In 2010, Denver sheriff deputies pummeled, tasered, and beat Marvin Booker to death in the Denver jail. Why? Booker was a 50-something, Black, slender, unhoused, and beloved street preacher, who dealt with mental health challenges, and he didn’t want to give up his shoes.

Marvin Booker wasn’t a threat. He wasn’t violent. And he didn’t need to be separated from his shoes, which were one of his only possessions.

But in the milieu of discipline and punishment, control of bodies, and the breaking of human spirits, Denver sheriff deputies used such force to separate Booker from his shoes that he subsequently died.

Nobody was reprimanded. Nobody was held to account. If you spend time in Denver’s jail today you may be held under guard by some of the same people who murdered Marvin Booker.

Ultimately, it was Denver taxpayers who forked over some recompense as they had to cover the $6 million payout made to Booker’s family.

So goes the cycle of brutality, impunity, and taxpayer burden. And now it begins anew, with a strikingly similar case of brutality to the one that stole Marvin Booker’s life. Michael Marshall, a 50-year-old, Black, unhoused, slender man, who also described himself as a street preacher and dealt with mental health challenges, lost his life at the hands of Denver sheriff deputies trying to restrain him.

Why they were trying to restrain him isn’t entirely clear, but reporting from the Colorado Independent indicates that video footage shows Marshall posed no physical threat to the officers who killed him.

After over a week on life support following his beating at the hands of three deputies, Marshall passed away.

His killers remain unidentified and will likely receive little more than a paid vacation as a result of their actions. But one thing is for sure—the community of Denver will respond.

Following Booker’s killing hundreds of Denverites took to the streets in multiple protests. Marshall’s killing will likely prompt a similar response.

Indeed, concerned citizens already rallied for a press conference and a chance to mourn with family outside the jail in which Marshall was killed.

My question: Isn’t an even stronger response warranted?

At what point does Denver rise up as we’ve seen Baltimore, Ferguson, and other cities in the face of routine police violence? And who will throw the first brick, stone, or Molotov cocktail?

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Because something needs to change.

And in spite of recommendations from independent parties, and a newly appointed sheriff, the jail’s use of force policy remains the same. And now it has again led to the killing of a harmless Black man.

Michael Marshall’s killing happens at the intersections of oppression: Racism, classism, and ableism. A paranoid schizophrenic who may or may not have been able to recognize commands coming from sheriff deputies or police officers, Marshall was held on a bond of only $100 for an alleged minor offense.

If our inJustice System wasn’t racist, classist, and ableist, Michael Marshall would’ve never found himself trapped within the cold concrete halls of the Denver jail where he would be murdered.

If our inJustice System wasn’t structured around the control of bodies, using violence to instill docility, and compelling people to follow rules structured to protect elite interests through arbitrary discipline, Michael Marshall would still be alive.

If our inJustice System truly presumed the innocence of those forced through it, nobody would sit in jail over a $100 bond, and Michael Marshall would still be alive.

If our inJustice System was designed for the people who are most-often forced through it, then it would offer them services to improve their situations, not Tasers and violence, and Michael Marshall would still be alive.

It’s long past time for this to change. What will we do to make sure that happens?

Another world is possible, but it will only come if we fight for it. So, Denver, rise up. Fight for Marvin. Fight for Michael. Fight for all those who came before them, in the hope that fewer will come after.

Denver DA Releases Video of Paul Castaway’s Murder

From Denver Autonomous Action:

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The video of Paul Castaway’s legally sanctioned murder has been released, here  (Warning Graphic) by the Denver DA, along with a statement.  Paul Castaway is a Lakota man who was killed in cold blood by the Denver Police. He was killed while holding a knife to his own neck, his last words were, “Whats wrong with you guys?”

Given Mitch Morrisey’s long standing track record of not doing shit, no one was surprised by the latest decision to not prosecute Michael Traudt for the murder of Paul Castaway.  Admissions like, (he)“started to move the knife from his throat towards me, and he didn’t stick it out, but he brought it down” make it obvious that Paul Castaway should not have been killed.

If anything is clear about the statement that the Denver DA has released, it’s how little DPD values the lives of the people they are sworn to protect.  Instead of someone equipped to deal with such a complex situation they sent in a murderous cop, one who goes by the instagram alias of Gungslinger.

The people of Denver are sick of these racist, fascist violent cops brutalizing and killing us, and we are just as sick of bootlicking city officials like Morrissey who actively cover for and enable this violent behavior by law enforcement.

Rest in Power Paul Castaway, taken too soon.

Political Prisoners, Jaan Laaman and Alvaro Luna Hernandez on the life and death of Hugo ” Yogi Bear” Pinell

From Sacramento Prisoner Support:

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http://thejerichomovement.com/blog/death-and-life-hugo-pinell

Death and Life of Hugo Pinell

August 20, 2015
It was with true sadness that, on August 13th, I received the news that legendary California prison activist Hugo Pinell, was killed in a California prison. This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice and let me share a few thoughts about the life and death of this extraordinary man.

I never personally knew Hugo Pinell. The simple reason for that is because Hugo Pinell was locked up in California state prisons for 50 years! That is insane. It is hard to wrap you mind around the reality of someone being held captive for 50 years. Even more insane, for most of those years he was held in isolation-segregation cells.

Hugo was just released from segregation and it is being reported that he was killed by two white prisoners. There was a serious uprising or riot that also took place at this time.

Hugo Pinell spent decades teaching, advocating and struggling for Human Rights, justice and dignity for prisoners. He taught and fought for racial and revolutionary unity among all prisoners. Locked up in 1965, like many other prisoners at that time, Hugo became politicized inside the California prison system. In addition to exploring his Nicaraguan heritage, Hugo was influenced by activists like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, as well as his comrades inside, including George Jackson. His leadership in combating the racism and brutality of prison officials made him a prime target for retribution and Hugo soon found himself in the notorious San Quentin Adjustment Center.

While in San Quentin, Hugo and five other politically conscious prisoners were charged with participating in the August 21, 1971 rebellion, which resulted in the assassination of George Jackson by prison guards on that day. Hugo Pinell, Willie Tate, Johnny Spain, David Johnson, Fleeta Drumgo and Luis Talamantez became known as the San Quentin Six. They had a very public 16 month trial. The San Quentin Six became a global symbol of unyielding resistance against the prison system and its violent, racist design. Hugo spent decades in segregation, but continued to work for racial unity and human rights for prisoners.

Personally, I am of course upset that a brother like Hugo was killed, by what I have to assume were some reactionary fascist minded prisoners. But truly what I mainly feel is sadness, profound sadness at this news.

Hugo Pinell is gone. His bid, his sentence is now ended. After 50 years of captivity, that is not a bad thing. Even as an elderly person, in his 70’s, Hugo Pinell died in the struggle. The hands that struck him down, it is reported, were prisoners, but the actual force that killed him was the capitalist police state prison system that holds 2.2 million men, women and children in captivity.

Hugo Pinell, we will remember you brother and your strong life long example of resistance. We will continue this resistance and this struggle for Freedom.

This is Jaan Laaman.” 10372-016 USP Tucson, AZ 85734

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REVOLUTIONARY EULOGY by TEXAS CHICANO

POW, POLITICAL PRISONER ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ

For COMRADE BROTHER HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL

 

POWER TO THE PEOPLE! POWER TO OUR FALLEN COMRADE BROTHER HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL! We were saddened with the news that Yogi had been murdered last Wednesday, August 12, during an alleged “prison riot” at a Sacramento maximum security prison, after Yogi’s recent release from decades in solitary confinement in the California prison system. Our prison movement, as well as our outside social movement grieves at the loss of one of its most respected and beloved foot soldiers, within the belly of this fascist beast, in our mutual struggles against the common enemy of the human species — the systems of colonialism, neo-colonialism, capitalism, imperialism and fascism. Although I never personally met Comrade Yogi, through his letters, writings, and actual deeds, as one of the SAN QUENTIN-SIX and close confidant of Comrade GEORGE JACKSON, also murdered by the State of California on AUGUST 21, 1971, during the takeover and “liberation” of the Adjustment Center’s control unit in San Quentin prison. I met Yogi in revolutionary spirit as we were then, and are now, continuing to build our national prison movement to educate, re-educate, the entire prisoner class that we are all victims of social injustice, of the racist, criminal injustice system, and to expose the true nature of prisons under capitalism.

Commitment to our human transformation through social awareness in struggle for the defense of our human dignity and our human rights, to build the unity of prisoners across all racial lines, as advocates for national and international revolution, will bring down against us the entire totalitarian power and brutalities of the fascist capitalist state, from prison guard beatings, to horrible food, parole denial, denial of adequate medical attention, false prison disciplinary and criminal charges, to retaliation for exercise of rights, to decades in isolation in solitary confinement’s torture supermax control unit prisons, to being set-up by prison guards for murder either by prison pigs themselves, and/or allowing other racist, violent criminal elements from within to commit these heinous criminal acts, so the prison system can then attempt  to wash its bloody hands of its murderous deeds. The fact that hours after Comrade Yogi’s death, California prison guards and other racist, reactionary elements got  on  “social media”  to rejoice  at the murder of Yogi, vicious nature of the  State and its  stoogies.

These cowardly vipers, rats and snakes came all out of their viper holes to rejoice at the murder of Yogi, showing how these racist, reactionary, fascist and vicious forces, inside and outside of prison walls, recognized Comrade Yogi as a living, historical SYMBOL OF RESISTANCE, and a “threat” to this same capitalist system that breeds crime, poverty, racism, class and racial divisions, mass incarceration of the poor especially people of color who are disproportionately represented in this “NEW JIM CROW SYSTEM,” borrowing Michelle Alexander’s phrase from her book, a genocidal, murderous, plantation slavery system under capitalism, sanctioned by the 13th Amendment, U.S. Constitution, that must be abolished. YOGI was a “threat” to this criminal system, for he feared not to stand up and fight against the fascist state despite  these  brutal  conditions, as being “BURIED ALIVE,” YOGI’s common expression in his many letters to others. His political revolutionary transformation and development, from a misguided, confused youth who was sent to prison at his early age, to his status as a “giant” of our prison movement, under the tutor of COMRADE GEORGE JACKSON, and the BLACK PANTHER PARTY, demonstrating a lifetime commitment to our resistance struggles, no matter the odds behind these racist, brutal, fascist walls in this steel –enclosed concrete tombs and concentration camps for the poor.

These state-actor criminals, and other accomplices in crime, that murdered Comrade Yogi are fools for they didn’t kill him, for Yogi lives on in our hearts, for they will never, ever, be able to kill our revolutionary ideas, and our aspirations to free ourselves, and the rest of humanity, from these chains of bondage and slavery that is this WAGE-THEFT socioeconomic system under bourgeoisie capitalism, a paradise for the rich, and a living hell for the poor, the workers who must sell their labor power to the slave-masters who not only trample on our social and humanity dignity, but are the same capitalist barbarians who are destroying the environment, our ecological systems, wildlife, and MOTHER EARTH for private, corporate profit. ANOTHER FOOT SOLDIER HAS ALREADY STEPPED UP TO FILL THE VOID LEFT BY THE TRAGIC LOSS OF OUR COMRADE BROTHER HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL. I AM HONORED TO BE FEATURED IN THE MOST RECENT POW, POLITICAL PRISONER POSTER PUT OUT BY THE JERICHO MOVEMENT, NEXT TO COMRADE YOGI.

TO ALL PROGRESSIVE, SOCIAL REVOLUTIONARY FORCES IN THE UNITED STATES AND INTERNATIONALLY, I SAY TO YOU, DO NOT ALLOW THIS LOSS, LIFE, TO GO IN VAIN, WE MUST RE-DOUBLE OUR EFFORTS AT MASS MOBILIZATION, OF THE OPPRESSED, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE PRISON WALLS, AND WORK DILIGENTLY TO INFUSE OUR MOVEMENTS WITH REVOLUTIONARY ENERGY AND DETERMINISM, TO HOLD EACH OTHER BY OUR HANDS, AND OUR HEARTS, AND LINK ALL OF OUR INTER-COMMUNAL STRUGGLES IN OUR OPPRESSED BARRIOS, FAVELAS, GHETTOS, COMMUNITIES, IN PRISONS, IN OUR UNIVERSITIES, AND AROUND THE WORLD, FOR OUR STRUGGLE IS YOUR STRUGGLE.

LET US NOT FORGET THAT THE VICIOUS, CRIMINAL, FASCIST MURDER OF COMRADE YOGI IS THE SAME CAPITALIST PRISON DESIGN OF FASCIST, RACIST VIOLENCE AGAINST THE POOR, AS SOCIAL CONTROL MECHANISMS TO ELIMINATE OUR FOOT SOLDIERS AND TO DESTROY OUR “PRISON MOVEMENT” AND SUPPRESS OUR SOCIAL JUSTICE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS, IN THE BELLY OF THE NERVE CENTER OF FASCIST IMPERIALISM. WE ARE THE REVOLUTIONARY VANGUARD AND WE MUST ACT LIKE ONE.

THIS BLACK AUGUST, WE SALUTE AND HONOR AND MEMORIALIZE ALL OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS, WHO PAID THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE WITH THEIR BLOOD, , LIKE MALCOLM X, JONATHAN, GEORGE JACKSON, THE ATTICA BROTHERS, RUBEN SALAZAR, DIAZ, WARD, HUEY NEWTON, MARILYN BUCK, SACCO AND VENZETTI, HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL, AND MANY, MANY MORE SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE. WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU! SEIZE THE TIME! DEATH OF U.S. FASCISM! ABOLISH ALL PRISONS! BUILD THE UNITED FRONT AGAINST FASCISM! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL, PRESENTE!!!

 

– By, ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ, #255735,

CHICANO POW, POLITICAL PRISONER

IN MEMORY OF GEORGE JACKSON, ALL BLACK AUGUST MARTYRS

AUGUST 21, 19

http://www.freealvaro.net/

Alvaro Luna Hernandez
#255735, James V Allred Unit
2101 FM 369 North
Iowa Park TX 76367

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

Attack against Turkish general consulate in Zurich (Switzerland)

From 325:

In the night of the 25.8. to the 26.8.2015, we attacked a car on the terrain of the Turkish general consulate at the Weinbergstrasse 65 in Zurich with an explosive device after the Turkish state launched a massive attack against progressive forces in the region with cover from the USA, NATO and the Barzani clan in Iraq in the past weeks. We are in solidarity with the struggle for a free Rojava and the struggle of the revolutionary movement in Turkey!

After a long period of a strategy of tension and the massacre in Suruc on July 20th (where more than 30 comrades from different political tendencies died and dozens were injured), the Turkish state has launched an open attack against the progressive movement. On the one hand, this represents continuity in the collaboration of the AKP with the “Islamic State” and in the struggle of the AKP against progressive forces. Since the city of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border was massively attacked by the “IS” in the fall of last year and the military contention around Kobane and the liberation of the city became international focal points for the revolutionary process, it has been shown time and time again how the Turkish state aids the gangs of “IS” while those fighting with the YPG/J are hindered. This was shown exemplary in the treatment of the wounded from Syria. While those supporting “IS” could be transported to Turkey withouth hindrance and didn’t have much to fear, fighters of the YPG/J had to be smuggled across the border and had to fear being arrested while in the hospital bed. Recently, six YPG/J fighters were even extradited to the Al-Nusra-Front by Turkey! Other examples are the refusal of a humanitarian corridor to Kobane for medicine or food, the documented shipments of weapons by the Turkish secret service MIT to the “IS” or the obvious acceptance of recruitment centres of the “IS” in Turkey. In this sense, the attack in Suruc on July 20th (while Kobane was attacked in parallel with car bombs) which was only possible with the support of the MIT and other security institutions of the Turkish state in this city was only the consistent continuation of AKP-politics against the movement.

On the other hand, this attack was of course also an escalation, a qualitative change in the attack against the revolutionary movement in the region. It wasn’t the first attack by “IS” against progressive forces in Turkey within the context of a strategy of tension (for example the bombs against events of the legal HDP or the sneaky attack against Kobane on June 25th from Turkish soil), but in it’s quality and goals targeting the solidarity explicitly, this attack was different to previous ones. This is also shown in the subsequent actions of the AKP government after this attack. The massacre of Suruc was the kick-off to a broad attack of the Turkish state against all revolutionary forces (prior to this attack, the state attacked the movement via “IS”, now it attacks openly).

This broad attack is presumably driven by (at least) two motivations. On the one hand, Erdogans speculates that in a climate of war and fear the AKP will gain the votes necessary to introduce a presidential system of their liking. On the other hand, it is certainly also the case that a chance was seen to try to halt the revolutionary process in the region. Beside the geo-strategisch importance of the region as it is, where it is in the interest of imperialist forces to have forces in power that favor them (like the Barzani clan in northern Iraq), the struggle for Kobane and then Rojava has reached a political dimension which must be a pain for those in power. Because the struggle there shows that a perspective is possible which stands outside of capitalist or imperial logic. It is important to not neglect this dimension when trying to evaluate the current situation.

In this sense, it is only consistent when the USA and the NATO approves of the airstrikes by Turkey against Qandil or the attacks by the police and military against cities and neighborhoods with a strong presence of revolutionary forces. Not only because they were allowed the use of the airfield Incirlik in Turkey, but also because it would fit their agenda if Rojava were governed by forces like the Barzani clan, who have proven in their history to be loyal to imperialist forces.

Despite or maybe even because of the growing complexity of the conflict in the region, the fundamentals shall not be forgotten. The movement in Rojava is an emancipatory moment with an incredible power, it is not the time to stand aside but to support this path in solidarity. The same is valid for the revolutionary forces in Turkey whose strengthening has been helped by the experiences in the struggle around Gezi-Park and now by the inspiration from Rojava. Confronted with the attacks against them by the Turkish state which also consist of executing militants, we must of course support them.

International solidarity is practical and not dependent on seasonal fluctuation but driven by the necessity of actions because of political reference points and principals. We don’t stand here today and there tomorrow, but at the side of the revolutionary forces fighting for a society with socialist elements. There exist different forms of international solidarity, one was the support of the defense of Kobane through massive pressure from the streets of Europe, others are the support of the military struggle (as in the context of the International Freedom Brigade) or in the reconstruction of the destroyed cities (as was the campaign targeted on July 20th in Suruc, carried by the federation of socialist youth groups and bringing together different forces). Finally it can be a contribution to push forward the revolutionary process here and connect it to the revolutionary process there to advance together.

Solidarity and power to all fighters for a free Rojava!
Solidarity and power to all fighting for a revolutionary perspective!

For a revolutionary perspective