IFA-IAF Congress St Imier : Minutes in English August 9-11, 2012


Pdf text

Thursday August 9th

Opening of the Congress

The Secretariat opened the Congress and welcomed all delegates. In addition, they presented a report on their work while they have been the Secretariat.

Application to Affiliate to IFA

The Slovenian Federation presented their application to join IFA and was accepted.

Presentations from invited delegates
GLAD (Madrid), Federación Anarquista (México), CNT (Espagne), Revista audio-visual Synapsis (Chili), Bibliothèque Terra livre (Brazil), Grupo de Estudios Gomez Rojas (Chile), El libertario (Venezuela), Taller libertario Alfredo Lopez (Cuba), WSA (United States), Taller anarquista (Uruguay), ABC (Biélorussia), Anarchist Front (Macedonia), Vrije Bond (Holland), ASI-AIT (Serbia), secretariat de l'AIT-IWA, MASA (Croatia)

1. FLA
Statement : The discussion about the FLA agreed that the groups outside the FLA house will form the group that is affiliated to the IFA. The Secretariat will communicate this decision. All addresses from the group inside will be erased from the internal e-mail list.

2. Belarusian Federation and Solidarity with prisoners
As a federation there has been little activity for 7 years. People who were involved left and they disappeared as a federation effectively. They had in any case to be based on networks for security reasons, e.g. it is illegal to belong to a non-state registered organization and can result in a 3-year prison sentence. So officially they had no members. There was a growth in anarchism in 2009 but it didn't reinvigorate them. Serious repression started in 2010 and this dominated their work as networks. So they met before Congress and concluded that they do not have the infrastructure to sustain a federation. They can hardly travel and are detained and strip-searched at the border because anarchists are black-listed. Their international activity allows the state to brand them extremists. In 2010 almost all were detained at some point and they worry that there are cops among them. So they have effectively split into affinity groups. But the international and it's contacts is vital to them and can even put a little pressure on the state. . So pressure can be put on them. They will have a period of internal review to establish what they want to do as a federation and they will send IFA a report for each CRIFA on what is happening (even though nothing may have changed).

In terms of what we can do, the state isolated in Europe and even the bank accounts of some leading politicians are frozen. The 6 people (5 anarchists and one other) can benefit from publicity, whether it is publicity, exhibitions, embassy, courts, concerts, companies. They want to do solidarity with other political prisoners because this will help all parties, so they suggest as a slogan "Release imprisoned anarchists and all political prisoners in Belarus". There was a previous call for solidarity action that was not successful, but another was. They need money for lawyers and to buy food for the comrades inside.

A significant day for action could be the 23rd September. It is the national election and it is possible that there could be an amnesty for some prisoners so that the state can look good internationally before this. On the day before an election no campaigning I allowed and this 'silent day' could be a focus. It was proposed most importantly that the federations find out which day the Bielorussians in their country will go to vote at their embassy. Maybe Friday 21st Sept or Sat 22nd if not Sunday 23rd itself.

***

Statement : Call for solidarity with imprisoned comrades from Belarus
It has been a long time since the last call for solidarity with the Belarusian anarchists appeared. Today we have to admit that the new wave of solidarity is needed urgently to help them out from the prison. That's why we call you to participate in days of action in solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners on 22nd-23rd of September (parliament election day is 23rd).

The activists Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Artsiom Prakapenka, Pavel Syramolatau, Aliaksandr Frantskievich, Jauhen Vas'kovich that were detained in autumn 2010 and winter 2011 and then sentenced to 3 to 8 years of prison in May 2011 for a series of attacks on state and capital symbols are finishing their second year in jail. During this time their comrades and relatives did their best to help them feel comfortable in custody and set them free. In October 2011 they were acknowledged political prisoners by right-watch organizations. This fact gave them bigger chances to be freed as soon as possible, because at the moment the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, faces pressure from the European Union with the demands to set free all the political prisoners and decriminalize them. From August 2011 he has already pardoned more than 30 of them, but none of our comrades was granted freedom. Lukashenko said publicly, that he will pardon only those, who will write the petition for pardon, thus admitting their guilt and asking him personally for mercy. All the rest will remain in prison, he stated. In fact all imprisoned anarchists were many times asked if they want to sign such petition. Five of them refused to do it. Artsiom Prakapenka signed it under pressure but he is still in prison. Now there are 15 political prisoners left in Belarus, among them are 5 our comrades and 1 more, imprisoned for the action of solidarity with them. All the prisoners are experiencing different kinds of pressure from the administration of the prisons they are held in*, because Lukashenko wants to be a winner in this situation and make it as if it is not the EU that forces him to set free the political prisoners in fear of more political and economic sanctions, but as if it is his good will to pardon them, again only if they ask for it. We strongly oppose the fact that our comrades are now traded for benefits form the EU and condemn the pressure that they experience*.

We call everybody to protest against these tortures and demand the immediate liberation of the political prisoners of Belarus, including anarchists.

We welcome solidarity actions of ANY kind starting from now on to accumulate amount of it on days of solidarity, we also ask you to make solidarity actions at least once a month if you find it possible even after the days of solidarity. We need constant pressure on the regime and the EU politicians in this situation.
Let it be a non-stopping roll of action all over the world, until our comrades are free !

* The cases of pressure on the prisoners include : transfers to another penal institutions, deprivation of food supply from the outside, deprivation and cuts on the dates with relatives, deprivation of phone calls, delays and gaps in letters' supply, placing to the solitary cell, transfers to a penal facility with special regime, etc.

***
Solidarity call out for anarchists in Peru.
IFA expresses its solidarity with the social movement in Peru that opposes that opposes the mining projects and especially the CONGA project. Little by little, the government is wasting the natural resources of the country for the profit of the multinational companies. By selling its land, Peru not only deprives its people of the benefits of mining operations but also permanently destroys the eco-systems and the local economy by polluting water and soil, ruining the agricultural base of those regions.
In Cajamarca, the struggle to guarantee the access to water and the right of the people to make use of the land they live in is a legitimate one.
The IFA is also horrified by the repression which has already left five dead in Cajamarca during the State of Emergency. Demonstrations have been brutally put down and there have been several disappearances. Furthermore, IFA offers all of its support to the comrades of the USL who are engaged in the struggle and the activities of their organisation, and who are suffering from police pressure and harassment. In the press they are treated as terrorists.

IFA will do anything possible to create practical solidarity with its Peruvian comrades.

CONGA no va !
Viva los que luchan !

3. Workshop on violence and non-violence
The workshop agreed that we should re-analyse the document that was presented at Cararra and to present it to the next CRIFA. The document will be sent to the federations to discuss and to put forward ideas to up-date at the next CRIFA.

Statement :
Capitalist globalization creates many distortions between and inside countries. The people and the workers fight back in different ways, sometimes new. Whether in uprisings or situations of insurrection, direct confrontation now has a relatively smaller part. Nevertheless, there is a risk of vanguardist and brigadist tendancies who will lead us into a spiral of violence and counter-violence who would go in the opposite direction to social emancipation and would only act to play along with both the established political power and of those who pretend to overcome it. The IFA meeting of St-Imier denounces this risk and calls all social forces to be inventive with their self-organisational capacity to resist and build the alternative.

4. Workshop on Anti-Militarism
The Italians proposed a statement about internal and external war and this was discussed. There is a shift into war being made in the guise of 'peace keeping' and acting in the interests of capital and so in the same time keeping order within the armed state against a proclaimed enemy of the state. They keep world order but preach internal order against enemies within the state. Thus proclaimed enemies are mostly immigrants and precarious people. They are robbed of an existence by the same state and capital.

Statement :
Nowadays the army operates with the same functions of social control as the police and the police are becoming more and more similar to the army. In this situation, cities become the battleground: tanks tear down walls in order to frighten people. Drones are everywhere.
Social disruption and economic crisis mean that repressive laws are not 'matters of emergency' anymore but have become 'normality'.

The opportunities for political and social opposition have been badly hit. The right to strike is being eroded, freedom of speech has been limited and repressive laws are being used again.

All this makes the police and government stronger. Immigration laws are the new racial laws. Social inequality is established by law. Without real equality and freedom, rights are only empty principles. The fact that inequality has been established by law is the signal of changes in social conflicts- war between poor people rather than class war.
The symbolic and real significance of these events are enormous. Government action is focused on fighting immigration but also targets formal rights (speech, press, association). This happens in our cities. Normal social behaviour such as drinking a beer or talking loudly in the streets is considered a crime. Many armed men are in the streets to enforce these prohibitions.

Most people now think it is 'normal' to have the army in the streets. A society in war establishes curfews, restricts formal freedom, and portrays those who fight against this onslaught as traitors.
Repression, meanwhile, finds wide-spread consent. For years, the media have induced fear and insecurity, both amplified by the economic crisis and the increasing precariousness of working conditions. Newspapers and television have built up the image of countries under attack by criminality and immigrants, depicted as common outlaws, hiding real life problems.

Internal and external war are two sides of the same coin. It's a war, or more accurately, battlegrounds, known as 'peace-keeping' or 'humanitarian' war. The keeping of social peace is the extension of capitalism's commercial activities. In the streets of the city and the working class suburbs, the police and army experiment new methods of repression on us. Repression is the other side of the coin to neo-liberal globalisation. Government dynamics force national states to use force to deal with social problems.

Immigration from south to north opened a new battleground that changes the world situation, affecting class war and calling human rights into question. Using the pretext of workers' immigration, governments have sharply attacked the rights of native workers that were obtained only after years of hard struggle.

European governments also use women's rights as a pretext to highlight the 'clash of civilisations' between 'democracy' and Islamic fundamentalism. Journalists choose which 'honour killing' they put on the front page, forgetting that everyday many native women are killed by their native lover. On the other side, there is a lack of protection for victims of violence. Walls and chains that bind immigrants begin to bind each one of us.
What can we do to block or at least put some obstacles in the way of this militaristic system? We know it is long and hard work. We have different tools at our disposable. None of these can guarantee success, but together they can be put together to fight the system.

Economic struggle, moving to a general strike (fighting militarism on a different level than the military one.
Boycott and sabotage, where it is possible, of armies, factories and all that is linked to them Anti-militarist propaganda: Wider links between militarism and the cuts in public services- cuts to education and health care but increasing military expenditure. Also make the link between militarisation and ecological destruction.

***

END OF CONGRESS :
Thanks to FA for organising and for translations. WSA send thanks for us inviting him. We consider it a positive thing. Esp. thanks to FAIb for being the outgoing secretariat and for continuing another session until CRIFA. The three members of the secretariat give a detailed thanks to everyone esp. for the organising by the FA. Congress ends happily with revolutionary singing.