Friday, 24 February 2012

Bernadette: One women's journey from mass protest to hunger strikes to the peace process

The end of the 1960’s in northern Ireland were a unique time when, as elsewhere around the world, mass popular protest emerged onto the streets with ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The unique circumstances of northern Ireland and the particular form the state backlash took there resulted in a military conflict that lasted some 30 years and dominated politics on the entire island and to a much lesser extent in Britain.

Although tens if not hundreds of thousands of people made this history it can also be told as the history of some of the prominent individuals involved, including the Irish republican socialist activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.

TG4 broadcast the excellent documentary 'Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey', the start of February. The film tells some of the story of and captures the optimism and hope of the civil rights struggle in northern Ireland of the late 1960s. Remarkably from the interviews, filmed over the last 9 years, Bernadette herself still holds some of that spirit despite the grim reality of the years since, including the loyalist attempt to murder her during the Hunger Strikes when she was shot 8 times and her husband also badly injured.

I want to highlight those aspects at the start of the review because the one word you come across again and again in discussions of Bernadette is 'bitter.' It's probably a description she almost encourages; she certainly has a blunt way of expressing herself. For instance in relation to the Peace Process and the Stormont Assembly she says she can't imagine walking up the steps as too much blood was spilt getting there. But then she also is open to a new generation doing just that and indeed endorsed the People Before Profit candidates in the 2011 elections. The interviews bring across that there is a good deal more complexity to her opinions then can be captured in bitter sounding sound bites.

The documentary concentrates on the early years when as a 19 year old working class woman from a small rural town she became the most iconic figures of the radical wing of the civil rights movement. In the footage and images of her delivering speeches and smashing paving stones (to provide missiles for rioters whose aim was better than hers) her small stature means she often looks to be a schoolgirl who has perhaps wandered into the scene and somehow got on the megaphone. She was far from the only woman involved in the movement but in those shots she is often surrounded by burly serious looking men, a visual reminder of how remarkable it was in those times for a women to be accepted in what was a de facto position of leadership. She tells her own story as that of an ordinary person transformed by extraordinary circumstances, even suggesting, were it not that the movement started so close to where she lived, that she mightn't have been pulled into it in the first place.

Missing elements
One of the unexplored themes of the documentary is how come she was so prominent at the time the emerging movement was new and a break with past traditions, but faded into relative obscurity as the struggle was pushed back onto traditional terrain. Part of that story is clearly the switch from mass mobilization of the late 1960's to the 'Years of (military) Victory' of the 1970's when the unknown gunman became the new image of struggle. Perhaps was it not for the murderous assassination attempt on her and her husband during the Hunger Strikes she would have returned and stayed at the fore of the re-invigorated political movement that emerged from its defeat.

One of the shortcomings of the documentary is that it doesn't really address the feminist angle of the story to any great extent. There are interesting snippets, in particular where Bernadette is talking of her fund raising visits to the US and how "most of my good learning on feminism came from Black American women .. that was a privilege for me, not many people here had the opportunity to have that exposure". In general the American trip is under explored, the focus is on the (hilarious) denunciations of her by unionists as 'a Fidel Castro in a mini skirt', their attempt to appeal to anti-communist sentiments, but there would have been a fascinating story to be explored on the tensions and costs of her open identification with the Black Panthers, Young Lords and US left and union movements while there. It isn't mentioned but in 1971 she also refused to meet Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daly because of his brutal treatment of opponents of the Vietnam War.

This was something only possible in the early years of the struggle. Later on when released prisoners were sent on fund raising tours they were given instructions on who to be seen talking to and what subjects should not be broached. The republican movement at the time was attracting the support of Irish American police forces in some US cities so the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, [until recently] on death row for allegedly shooting a police man was a particular no go area.

Likewise that she was unmarried when she gave birth to Róisín in 1971 was a very major statement for such a prominent women in what was still a deeply conservative country at that time, but the influence of the catholic church is only mentioned in passing. The most prominent hint of her views is actually given by unionist speakers trying to counter her North American tour by appealing to the religious conservatism of Irish American catholics. One refers to "her mocking comment on her own head of the church, the pope” and from the same counter tour Ian Paisley is shown quoting her saying “the one way you would unite catholic & protestants is by trying to get rid of both churches at once” and warning that this proves she is a Marxist. Presuming these quotes are accurate it would have been interesting to hear Bernadette outline her views on what remains one of the central political issues in Ireland.

These shortcomings can perhaps be excused because there was only so much time to tell the aspects of her story that were told but they perhaps also result in a leaning towards a traditional nationalist historical narrative that avoids some of the questions that suggest a more complex story.

Article continues on: http://www.wsm.ie/c/bernadette-devlin-review-notes-political-journey

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Call for Action to Challenge Rape Culture

Below is a press release as issued by local Women's activists in Derry following yet another rape which took place in the city centre. 

Women’s groups and citizens across the north west are called to gather this Saturday 25th February at 1pm in Derry’s Guildhall square in response to recent rape attacks on women in Derry.  

The protest this Saturday is being organised by co-operation between a diverse range of women’s groups and activists.  We are angered by the silence and scant regard given to this crime within our society and to the dangerous culture of making rape prevention the responsibility of women. Rape and sexual violence are a violation of fundamental human rights and need to be widely challenged as a social and political issue, not as mere incidents expected to be resolved by the police and the courts. Rape victims require very specific types of support at individual, community and societal level.  A culture which accepts and permits rape by making women’s safety their own responsibility is a culture which also needs to be directly challenged and unfortunately too much media coverage of recent attacks has had this tone. 

We need to challenge those elements of our society’s culture which have led to the acceptance that rape is something that ‘just happens’.  We urge the local media to help us keep this issue alive by discussing it properly and also to join us at 1pm on Saturday 25th February.

We believe we need to question why such attacks are taking place, and acknowledge that we only hear about a very small percentage of acts of sexual violence, including rape.  

Local papers carry on a near daily basis column inches informing readers of sexual and violent attacks against women, but they rarely deal with the large amount of prejudice, inequality, suffering, lack of facilities, and emotional scarring sustained by women who are victims of such attacks. 

We are uniting as women across the city and wider north west to openly challenge our own society on the issue of rape, and to highlight that rape is not just a woman’s issue.  Rape is used in conflicts as a weapon of war precisely because it effectively undermines whole cultures and societies – we must be prepared to challenge it within our own communities if we want to be a truly stable and nurturing society. 

Saturday’s action is part of a longer term grassroots conversation in the north west to challenge the existing culture around rape and to ensure that rape victims ultimately get the supports they need, when and where they need them.  

NOTES:
  • This initiative is supported by Women Activists for Social Justice, Youth Action, and a wide range of feminist activists from diverse political backgrounds.  We unite in our belief that these acts of aggression are a reflection of a society built overall upon a culture of sexism. Gender stereotypes in society pressure us to live according to social values based on power and submission. Men are encouraged to maintain an attitude of supremacy and control whereas women are taught to be helpful and compliant. Boys are still encouraged into careers and trades that are traditionally male like plumbing, engineering etc while girls are still encouraged into the ‘caring’ professions like nursing, social work etc or services like catering or hairdressing.
  • The advent of the internet and wide access to online pornography has led to the chronic pornification of society. This sees women's bodies being seen as commodities to be bought and sold and it is obvious how sexually objectified images of women are impacting upon sexist attitudes and justifications for sexual violence.  This also sees sexual expectations of women, and young women in particular, which are utterly divorced from the notion of the individual’s right to control of their own bodies.   Consumerist ads, video games, reality shows, etc, in which we are all absorbed daily frequently tolerate and accept as normal, sexual violence and women as sexual objects.
  • These stereotyped roles also reinforce and aggravate the already existent inequality between men and women in society, often leading to unequal relationships especially amongst young people.
  • We also believe that this misogynistic culture is reflected within the legal system. Rape within a relationship has only been declared a crime within the last three decades, up until then women in front of the courts were seen as a private property of a man and therefore sexual consensus was not needed. Nowadays, too many times the few women who find the strength to report and prosecute their attackers face further distress when a judge upholds arguments such as provocative clothing, background of previous relationships, and alcohol intake as determinant factors which led to the rape, a ‘she was looking for it’ sentence, blaming her for her becoming a victim and denying women a right to their own bodies. We need to address the issue of re-traumatisation of victims in relation to criminal justice processes.
  • We must break the silence. We must talk about sexual violence not only as women’s issue but as a malign social growth, which needs to be tackled at the roots - the same as sectarianism, racism, and homophobia, for they all are consequences of a society based on social injustice.
  Saturday 25th February 2012 @ 1pm, Guildhall Square, Derry

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Hundreds attend Action on X meeting in Dublin to demand Abortion Legalisation in Ireland

A meeting calling for abortion legalisation in Ireland, at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin, was filled to capacity last night as hundreds crammed into the room. The meeting marked 20 years from the X-case and the failure of all the political parties in the years since to legislate for the limited abortion provision required by the X-case court judgement.  The clear message was that it was time for Action on X.

The first speaker, journalist Vincent Brown described the long fight for abortion rights in Ireland, from the so -called 'pro-life' referendum in 1983, to the X-case in 1992 and the referendums afterwards.
X was a 14 year old girl, who following rape, attempted to go to England with her parents for an abortion. The state put an injunction to prevent her traveling. This caused a huge outcry. Rolling and escalating protests resulted in a court judgement which allowed for abortion in Ireland where there is a threat to the life of the mother, including a threat of suicide. That judgement has never been enacted in law, leaving Irish women in a legal limbo.

The second speaker Dr Fiona De Londra, lecturer in UCD faculty of law outlined that the lack of present legalisation makes it difficult for doctors in Ireland to provide abortions which are, following the X-case judgement, a constitutional right. She explained that this constitutional right was upheld in two further referendums. She said it is absurd to expect women to go to court in order to access an abortion.
Then Mick Wallace, Independent TD for Wexford, said that abortion law was a human right. The European Court of Human Rights had ruled against the numerous governments who have failed to introduce legalization. He said that for too long we have exported the problem.

Forcing women to travel to England discriminates against those on low income and puts immigrants in a terrible situation. He said that he worked with an Albanian man whose partner became pregnant and was forced to travel to London for an abortion. She was then not able to return to Ireland.  Arguing that it was time for people to organize themselves and stop relying in governments he said that a vote once every five years isn't worth god damn to you when you replace one government with one that isn't much different from the last one.

Report continues on the Workers Solidarity Movemnets website: http://www.wsm.ie/c/hundreds-meeting-abortion-legalisation-ireland

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Become a WSM supporter

The work of the WSM is often limited by the resources available to us, both in terms of finance and labour.

And although our members bring a wide range of knowledge and experience into the organisation for collective discussion there are also wide areas where we have much less knowledge and experience than we would want. The solution to this would be to have more members, and we are always seeking to get new people to join.

But we recognize that the time & financial commitments of WSM membership are not for everyone. And that some people who broadly agree with a lot of our work have significant differences with us in particular areas that would stop them joining.

So we offer a Supporter Status for people who broadly like what we are doing but who for one reason or another can't commit to membership.

More on this article: Become a WSM supporter

Six Campaigners convicted as community members block Shell's haulage in Mayo

In Belmullet district court on Monday 20th February, 6 campaigners were
convicted of a total of 13 charges between them with fines totaling 3,035
euros. While this went on, local residents blocked Shell's haulage route
between Bellanaboy refinery and the compound in Glengad.
Monday was the beginning of a week-long special sitting for anyone arrested in the last year for protesting against Shell's Corrib Gas project. Yesterday 6 out of 19 people's cases were heard, and all 6 were convicted of every charge they faced. A bench warrent was issued for one person who was unable to attend court. So 12 people are left to be heard, some of them with 4 or 5 cases each.

Around 1pm a group of local residents decided to block the haulage route to Glengad, and were thrown off the road by Gardaí. The usual camera person Terence Conway was up in court in Belmullet, so the Gardaí took advantage of the lack of cameras and were fairly rough with people. One woman was thrown into a ditch, and another had her breast pinched by a garda.

The last special sitting dealing with campaigners against Corrib resulted in 24 of 27 people being acquitted. So far this week, the Judge has not accepted any of the defense arguments.

At one stage when one defendant questioned the level of force that had been used on the protesters, Superintendent Patrick Diskin responded that "Public order situations are never pretty. pushing and shoving sometimes has to happen to ensure people don't get hurt."

Gardaí refused to arrest local people on the roads on Monday, instead using brute force. Yet they are happy to criminalise outside supporters in their effort to further isolate the community of Erris.

Stay tuned this week on shelltosea.com and twitter to find out what happens with the rest of the cases.
Related Link: http://shelltosea.com

Monday, 20 February 2012

Tesco's secret workfare

Furious shoppers are threatening to boycott Tesco after their use of forced labour schemes came to light yesterday.

An advert on the Jobcentre Plus website is calling for night-shift workers who will be expected to work for just Jobseekers Allowance (paid by the Government, not Tesco, at a rate of £53.45 per week for under 25s) plus expenses. The position is advertised as permanent.

Tesco have claimed the role is not permanent and that this was a mistake which they have asked the DWP to remove from their website. So far it is still there.

Tesco, who seem unnerved about the extent of their involvement with forced labour being revealed to customers, have today gone on the offensive. Tesco claim that over 300 people have been given permanent positions with the firm since they began using free workers and that they are ‘giving young people valuable experience of the workplace‘. That Tesco are attempting to claim this is some kind of charitable gesture just shows that they think their customers are fucking stupid.

This is the company that rips off suppliers, workers and customers alike. The company whose aggressive expansion policy has ripped the heart out of communities resulting in over 450 local campaigns against them according to Tescopoly. Tesco ensure any local resistance to their presence is bulldozed away, sometimes literally, as in the destruction of popular local beauty spot Titnore Woods.

So let’s not pretend Tesco are in the midst of some grand humanitarian crusade. Tesco don’t do ethics, they do profit. Should that change their shareholders might well have something to say about it.

If Tesco had 300 positions available for young people then why didn’t they recruit through the usual channels, without forcing them to work for free first. And despite the firms promise of a ‘guaranteed interview’ (big fucking deal), Tesco have forcibly recruited 1,400 people onto workfare since they started using the scheme. So barely 1 in five of them was finally offered a no doubt minimum wage job at the end of it. Are these the only young people Tesco have recruited in that time? Perhaps they’d like to tell us.

Previous workfare schemes have failed because providers have been unable to find enough placements for claimants bullied onto them by the DWP. This has led to thousands of young people being forced to sit around for 30 hours in the office’s of poverty pimps like A4e, or face losing all benefits. With Tesco finally getting involved (along with other major employers including McDonalds and ASDA), it is possible that economy of scale may have finally resulted in corporate sharks working out how to make a profit from it.
That Tesco (and ASDA) are forcing workers to work nights, for which they would usually pay their paid employers a premium, shows that what counts here is the bottom line. There’s money to be made from these workfare schemes. Of course that means they will take on less paid staff than they would have done, and as an added bonus it can be used to put pressure on wages and conditions for all staff.

The most cynical predictions about Workfare, that it will lead to higher unemployment and lower wages, appear to be coming true. Forcing young people to work nights is particularly vile, especially as the health risks to night time workers is now well documented. It also reveals that this scheme has nothing to do with helping young people find work, leaving them little time for job hunting if they are knackered from doing a night shift.

The weasel words from Tesco’s marketing department will do little to dampen the outrage. Already on their facebook page they can’t delete comments fast enough from furious customers whilst on Twitter the #boycotttesco and #tescogate hashtags are taking off. Tesco customer services can be contacted (for free) on: 0800 505 555.

Sainsbury’s, Waterstones and allegedly Superdrug have all announced they will no longer be taking part in workfare.

With the 3rd of March called as a National Day of Action Against Workfare then this abandonment of the government’s flagship scheme is sure to spread. If workfare is now profitable then direct action, boycotts, pickets and demonstrations outside stores will at the very least help to make it less profitable.

It’s a sad and crazy world when Tesco can claim they are helping young people by forcing them to stack shelves all night for no pay. With the recent announcement that boss of workfare provider A4e paid herself £9 million of tax payer’s money last year, supermarkets getting night shift workers for free at the tax payer’s expense and even charities clamouring to pick up lucrative ‘Work Programme’ contracts it seems that the benefits system is indeed a gravy train. Unless of course you happen to be a benefit claimant.

From http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/tescos-secret-workfare-slaves/

Khader Adnan: “His life is in our hands”, Noam Chomsky

Speaking today to Gaza TV News, Professor Noam Chomsky issued the following statement on the plight of Khader Adnan, and Israel’s policy of “Administrative Detention”.

Israel’s policies of administrative detention have been an international scandal for decades.  The crime is dramatized, tragically, by the hunger strike of Khader Adnan, now chained to his hospital bed and facing death because, in his words, “my dignity is more precious than food.” His life is in our hands, and there is no time to lose.

Noam Chomsky on Gaza TV News

Derry Solidarity with Khader Adnan

Anarchists in Derry attended last weeks solidarity protests in the city centre in support of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan.  The event was organised by the Derry to Gaza group.

The 33-year-old Palestinian baker, husband, and father has refused food since December 18, a day after he was arrested in a nighttime raid on his family home by Israeli forces in the West Bank.  Today he in on hunger strike 64 days with out any hope insight.

Activists in Derry again today staged a solidarity picket and will again gather at the Guildhall Square on Wednesday afternoon at 1pm in solidarity with Khader Adnan.

Please spread the word and attend.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Buncrana Public Meeting: WE CAN'T PAY! WE WON'T PAY!

This is just a reminder that on Monday evening, Monday 20th February, there will be a 'WE CAN'T PAY! WE WON'T PAY!' public meeting in Buncrana. 


There will be a number of speakers with the main one being Thomas Pringle.  The meeting will kick off at 8.30pm at The Plaza, on Main Street, Buncrana and all are welcome to attend.


See you there!

Fight the Septic Tank, Water & Household Taxes!

Mumia calls on you to ‘Occupy 4 Prisoners’ Mon, Feb. 20

On Monday, Feb. 20, over a dozen rallies and demonstrations will be held throughout the U.S. for a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners,” including in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Fresno, Austin, Columbus, Denver, Durham, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and New York – even the smaller towns of Eureka and Indio, Calif. Family and community members of prisoners, former prisoners and people directly affected by the prison industrial complex will speak out against the destructive impacts of imprisonment by sharing their own experiences and reading statements from their loved ones inside prison.

More on this at:  http://sfbayview.com/2012/mumia-calls-on-you-to-occupy-4-prisoners-monday-feb-20/

A community stands against punishment attacks in Derry

Several hundred people from both sides of the community gathered today despite arctic conditions outside Annie’s Bar, in Derry’s Waterside.  They came together united in their outrage at last weeks brutal murder of local man Andrew Allen.

The rally itself was organised by Andrew’s friends and neighbours from the ‘Top of the Hill’ area, independently from all the political parties.  Their message was a clear and dignified one, a call to the paramilitaries who carried out last weeks murder to immediately desist from carrying further acts of violence: NOT IN OUR NAME!

As news broke of yet another punishment attack there was a palpable sense of anger in the Derry air which this time claimed the life of a young man who had earlier been systematically ‘exiled’ by the group ‘Republican Action Against Drugs’ or RAAD.

Several years ago a similar solidarity rally took place in Derry city centre at the height to the ‘legal highs’ controversy.  That solidarity protest followed the brutal shooting of a 52 year old shop owner shot several times as the same so-called ‘protectors of the community’ issued warnings to shops in the city not to stock the ‘legal highs’.

Andrew Allen was a 24 year-old father of two who was brutally murdered as masked gunmen fired shots through a window of the house he was living in with his girlfriend Arlene in the outskirts of Buncrana, County Donegal.

Eight months previously Andrew’s mother was notified by the PSNI in Derry that a death threat had been made against her son by an unknown group.  Andrew did what many other young people had done over the last number of years following similar death threats, he fled the city.

In the weeks that followed several attempts were made by his family to communicate with the group involved, who informed the family a fortnight later that the death threat had finally been lifted.

There was no party political involvement at today’s rally; local elected representatives seeking their own political mileage from such acts, although many of the great and the good attended for the usual photo opportunity.

Anarchists in Derry also participated as well as many other non-aligned activists to show our solidarity with the Allen family and with the community who quite rightly decided to make a unified stand against such acts of violence, exiles and murders by all armed groups. For ourselves as anarchists we condemn without reservation the cruel murder of Allen and stand by working class communities against all forms of exiles, 'punishment' beatings and shootings of anyone accused of 'anti-social behaviour' or drug dealing carried out by either republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

As each week passes the numbers increase steadily of many more young people who continue to be targeted by various paramilitary groups. Some are subjected to beatings while others are like Andrew Allen had been, forced into exile from their families and loved ones.

At today’s rally Andrew’s sister-in-law Leona, on behalf of the family said she did not want "any other mother or father to have to experience this heartache".

"We would like to stress for these people who are hiding behind masks and guns to stop destroying our families, to leave our children alone and to stop these murders," she said. "We want these death threats to stop. We want these death threats lifted."

Throughout the decades armed groups carried out countless beatings and killings in the name of their respective communities and they still haven’t brought an ended the drugs trade or to any other forms of anti-working class community behaviour.

Such actions are nothing more than a crude attempt by these groups to maintain control over what they view as 'their communities'.  For anarchists it is our belief that this is nothing short of authoritarian thuggery. We believe that a stronger, more militant and confident working class will be able to, and must, take on responsibility for tackling the scourge of drugs and anti-social crime on its own communities as part of a wider independent movement.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Housing Executive workers win payment after lunchtime protest

Housing Executive workers held a successful lunchtime protest yesterday outside their offices in Adelaide street in Belfast city centre to demand their bosses keep to their commitment that a £250 payment be given to low-paid workers who earn less than £21,000 per year. 
 
The pledge was made in 2010 by the Con Dem Chancellor George Osborne but until yesterdays protest organised by NIPSA and NIHE workers, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson refused to give approval for this small payment to the workers even though it has already been paid out in the Civil Service and approval given by the Department to pay it out in the Education sector.

Over hundred workers and supporters attended the protest including representatives from all the main unions and the Independent Workers Union highlighting once again that solidarity and direct action gets the goods.

 Workers Solidarity Movement

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2012

This years Dublin anarchist bookfair will take place on Saturday May 26th in Liberty Hall, Dublin. Anyone wishing to take part in this years event from the North West please drop us a line as plans are already underway for more debate and discussion. 


Derry Anarchists are planning on creating our first Anarchist Bookfair in Spring of 2013, if you're interested in assisting please email: derryanarchists@gmail.com

Derry Solidarity with Leonard Peltier

February 4th has been named as International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier.
Here in Derry Native American activist Jean Ann Day will be the guest speaker at a solidarity event which will be held in the Gweedore Bar on Thursday 9th February.

Leonard Peltier is a Native American serving his thirty-sixth year in prison. The events that led to arrest and the falsification of evidence used to convict him have long been highlighted by award-winning films like Michael Apted’s ‘Incident at Oglala and best-selling books such as Peter Matthiessen’s ‘In the Spirit of Crazy Horse’.
Leonard was wrongfully accused in 1975 in connection with the fatal shooting of two FBI agents. Government documents show that without any evidence at all the FBI decided from the beginning of its investigation to ‘’lock Peltier into the case’. U.S. prosecutors knowingly presented false statements to a Canadian court to extradite Leonard to the U.S. 
The statements were signed by a woman who was forced by FBI agents to say she was an eyewitness. The government has long since admitted that the woman was not present during the shootings.
Meanwhile, in a separate trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Leonard’s co-defendants were acquitted by reason of self defense. Had Leonard been tried with his co-defendants he also would have been acquitted. Unhappy with the outcome of the Cedar Rapids trial, prosecutors set the stage for Leonard’s conviction. His trial was moved to an area known for its anti-Indian sentiment—Fargo, North Dakota. The trial judge had a reputation for ruling against Indians, and a juror is known to have made racist comments during Leonard’s trial. FBI documents prove that the U.S. government went so far as to manufacture the so-called murder weapon, the most critical evidence in the prosecution’s case. A ballistics test proved, however, that the gun and shell casings entered into evidence didn’t match. The FBI hid this fact from the jury.
Leonard was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. According to court records, the United States Attorney who prosecuted the case has twice admitted that no one even knows who fired the fatal shots.
Leonard Peltier is sixty-seven years old and in poor health. An accomplished author and artist, he is renowned for his humanitarian achievements. In 2009, Leonard was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the sixth consecutive year.
Although the courts have acknowledged evidence of government misconduct - including forcing witnesses to lie and hiding ballistics evidence reflecting his innocence - Leonard has been denied a new trial on a legal technicality. 
Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, fifty-five members of Congress and others - including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Leonard’s appeals - have all called for his immediate release.The Courts may not be able to act but Barack Obama, as President, can.Please join with us to free an innocent man. On February 4, 2012, tell Obama to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Leonard is an example of how a person can be imprisoned but not broken. His struggle is compared to Nelson Mandela’s and his message is also one of hope. His prison writings are full of love and belief that his people are stronger than the miserable conditions they experience on the reservation or the poverty many of them find in cities.
Despite his ailing health and diminishing eyesight, Leonard is still an inspirational leader to Native Americans generally and his own Lakota people particularly.
February 4th was the Worldwide Day of Solidarity for Leonard Peltier. Please link your name to others calling for an immediate pardon for Leonard so he can live out his days peacefully with his people.

Derry's Solidarity evening with Leonard Peltier will take place in Gweedore Bar, Waterloo Street, Derry at 9pm.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Car hijackings in Belfast- A tale of two cities

Since the new year Belfast has been in the midst of a violent spree of car hijackings across the city mainly targeting vulnerable women. Behind the media spotlight and PSNI spin machine is a deeper context, one where where theose if power are quite contented to confine and manage crime in working class areas as long as it stays there.


It is as if Belfast is the midst of ‘moral panic’ with the local establishment promising to hunt down the perpetrators. Yet, even the dogs the streets know that this same gang, the 'Divis Hoods Liberation Army' from West Belfast, and their activities have been ignored for years and some might even argue on are the payroll of the PSNI informers racket.

There was little mention of course that West Belfast consistently has some of the highest levels of unemployment, social and economic deprivation in the UK which our local green and orange tories are merely perpetrating and contributing to through the slashing of services and job cuts. Not suprising as that reality on the ground does not fit in well with the new shiny image of Northern Ireland being polished up in time for the opening of the new Titanic centre. 

The truth is that the car hijackings are under they media frenzy because they have moved beyond the confines of West Belfast and into the city centre and are now targeting more ’wealthier’ areas. This highlights the contempt to which the political class and the police have towards the rest of us in this city. Two weeks ago we also witnessed the police attempting to smash their way into a peaceful occupation of the former Bank of Ireland building with a helicopter monitoring above. That the same day there was another attempted car hijacking less than a mile away which didn't receive anything like the same resources, confirming the view that the main priority of any police force is as the guardians of wealth and class privilege.

The recent response to the car hijackings can be summarised as the product of a corrupt political process which rewards greed and competing sectarian interests while the rest of us  are held to ransom by gangsters in power and outside.

Feminist Activists Take Part in Bloody Sunday Solidarity

Leaflet distributed at the march by social justice activists and feminists.

 Today we march in solidarity with all the Bloody Sunday family members and those who are organising the March for Justice.

We also march in solidarity with the mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina who since 1976 are campaigning to hold to account those responsible for the disappearance of their sons and daughters during military repression in the country; with the women in the Middle East and beyond who, through non-violent protests, resist the imperialist aggression which is tearing apart their families and communities and ignores their sovereignty as a people; with the indigenous women who fight displacement and land deprivation against a capitalist corporation economy, and who argue the limitations of international law;with all those women worldwide who employ civil disobedience as a legitimate weapon to challenge the structures of power that violates their and their fellow citizens human rights, knowing that reprisals will be hardest on them just because they are female, and more likely to suffer social marginalisation and sexual violence; with all those incarcerated for their beliefs, noncompliance and nonconformity.


Today we march in solidarity because their struggle is our struggle.

Campaigning for justice is not an isolated issue or individual protest around the world, it is an attempt to overthrow the tyranny of power and to call for a world in which truth, justice, human dignity and political freedom are celebrated, a world in which women, the oppressed, the dispossessed and the indigenous people are all free individuals within a collective of equals.

The issues which brought civil rights protesters out on the streets of Derry in 1972 continue to be issues for a new generation. Throughout its forty years, the march has raised a voice nationally and internationally for a better world. We hear that voice. Listen to the cry!

Report from 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday March - An Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere

A few thousand people took part in the 40th anniversary Bloody Sunday march demanding real truth and justice after the publishing of the Saville report this year which confirmed that the massacre was ’unjustifiable and unjustified.’ 

 This years march clearly divided the families and relatives of the Bloody Sunday Trust with the majority deciding to end the march with some pressure being concerted by Sinn Fein. Despite attempts by the political class to co-opt and de-radicalise the march and brush it under the carpet as part of the new shiny image of Northern Ireland there was a better than expected turnout, the Irish Times estimated 3,000 took part. Derry anarchists and the WSM were present along with a host of political and social organisations including the Independent Workers Union.

 The march ended with the traditional rally at Free Derry Corner without any politicians speaking instead relatives of the victims spoke. The speakers referred to the fact that the Saville enquiry only confirmed what they already knew - which was that their family members were innocent and they questioned the lack of prosecutions which is allowing those who gave the orders on the day to get away with murder. 

The continuing unjust selective internment of Martin Corey, Marian Price and the ongoing degradation of republican prisoners at Maghaberry was also highlighted, along with the systematic lack of social housing, unemployment and cuts to services which our local politicians are trying to sweep under the carpet.

The rally organisers pledged that the march will continue providing a focal point for those who suffer injustice and oppression anywhere. For anarchists, we can expect little justice from the state and capital which is the greatest practitioner of state terrorism and violence. Its needs to be destroyed root and branch with a new society that  benefits all. 

Sean Matthews & Sean Dubh
Workers Solidarity Movement