FRFI Round-up / FRFI 220 April/May 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011

Free Palestine! Imperialist hands off the Middle East and North Africa!

As imperialist bombs rain down on Libya with British support, FRFI supporters all over the country joined protests to call for internationalist solidarity and opposition to imperialist intervention.

On 22 February FRFI supporters joined protests in Glasgow’s George Square, distributing placards of Che Guevara like those held by demonstrators in Yemen – ‘leader of the revolution of the poor’. On 26 February FRFI led a militant contingent on a march through Glasgow in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings. On 5 March FRFI supporters from Glasgow and Dundee attended a protest called by the newly-formed Scottish Committee to Support the Arab Revolution in Edinburgh.

In February and March, Newcastle comrades joined demonstrations in solidarity with the uprisings in Egypt and Bahrain and in support of self-determination for the people of Libya. On 8 March, FRFI held a joint meeting with students from Bahrain on the history of British involvement in Bahrain and what we can do in Britain in solidarity. FRFI activists also took part in a Stop The War Coalition demonstration on 21 March opposing air strikes on Libya.

Through our involvement in Palestine Action Group in Newcastle, FRFI activists have continued to oppose British support for Israel. Palestine Action Group has been exploring the role of imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa through monthly film showings which have included Three uncles ride to Gaza and John Pilger’s The war you don’t see.

Regular pickets of Marks & Spencer in solidarity with Palestine have continued in London, Glasgow and Newcastle.

Fight racism, fight the cuts!

FRFI supporters have been involved in the resistance at Homerton hospital in Hackney in London, where midwifery services have been cut and entire language services, such as Kurdish, will be closed – in a borough with a sizeable Kurdish and Turkish community. FRFI has also been involved in the COLACOR organisation of Latin Americans against cuts.

Funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is also being savagely cut. The majority of people on low wages will have to pay towards lessons which they cannot afford. Asylum seekers will be some of the hardest hit: they will have to pay at least 50% of the cost. The fight to defend ESOL must be seen as part of the wider struggle against the cuts. A campaign has been set up by Tyneside Community Action against Racism (TCAR) and ESOL staff and students at Newcastle College. There was a march through Newcastle on 24 March.

The racist assault by the government is paralleled by a rise in racism on the streets. On 19 March TCAR’s ‘Speak Out against Racism’ at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle was attacked by the racist English Defence League (EDL). Activists were harassed for over two hours. Members of FRFI, TCAR, the Anti-Cuts Network and the Socialist Party supported each other in mutual defence against the attacks. Despite having stalls nearby, neither the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) nor Coalition of Resistance came to stand in solidarity, although they knew what was happening. We condemn this lack of solidarity: activists must stand together. Through their actions, the EDL demonstrate that not only are they boot boys for British imperialism but they are now also cheerleading the government’s attacks on the working class and attempting to drive activists off the streets. Measures are being taken to respond more effectively to future EDL mobilisations. Contact us at frfinorth This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07858 346 276 to get involved.

On 20 February FRFI London showed In prison my whole life, a film about Mumia Abu Jamal, political prisoner on death row in a US gaol. FRFI also attended screenings of In the Land of the Free, a film about the Angola 3, political prisoners in the US, addressed by Robert King, the only one to have been released.

Stop political policing!

FRFI supporters in Glasgow have continued to organise through the Glasgow Defence Campaign in defence of the right to protest and in opposition to political policing. In March, a significant victory was won as the court case against an FRFI supporter for selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Govanhill in August collapsed. A complaint is now being pursued against Strathclyde police. Trials are still pending against FRFI supporters arrested on anti-cuts protests on 9 December and 29 January. On Friday 18 March, supporters of the Glasgow Defence Campaign protested outside the court as an FRFI supporter appeared in connection with his arrest on student protests on 9 December. However this was once again postponed because the prosecution failed to disclose vital CCTV evidence.

Political policing in Dundee has also been stepped up. On 16 February uniformed police officers came to a public meeting on the Egyptian uprising; FRFI and SWP supporters joined forces to demand their removal. In the week beginning 14 March, anti-cuts activists from Dundee Defend Services, including an FRFI supporter, received home visits from police detectives, seeking (unsuccessfully) information on proposed protests and political organisations.

The HSBC 3 Defence Campaign has been launched to oppose the charges against three activists arrested for demonstrating alongside hundreds of others on anti-cuts protests in Newcastle on 18 December 2010. The campaign has organised demonstrations outside every bail and court hearing and has received widespread support. In March investigative journalist and film-maker John Pilger sent the campaign the following message of support:

‘The arrests of Patrick, Mark and Toby starkly represent the most disturbing trend in Britain – the rise of an openly political police. This has happened in the past of course – such as the Miners’ Strike in the 1980s – but what’s different now is the impunity given to the police on a wide range of critical issues by politicians, and a bi-party acceptance of their political role. At worst, the police can kill with impunity, it seems, and increasingly they arrest and prosecute arbitrarily those whose dissent marks the line between democracy and a state of fear and compliance. All power to the complete exoneration of the HSBC 3.’

Viva socialist Cuba! Rock around the Blockade

On 11 February RATB London raised hundreds of pounds for Rock around the Blockade’s 2012 brigade to Cuba with a party at El Commandante pub in Holloway. Rebel Music’s regular DJs kept the party lively and we held our ‘Rebels’ Raffle’. Make sure you join us at the next one on 2 April (see Events).

On 27 February, the anniversary of the Caracazo uprising in Venezuela in 1989, RATB Manchester screened Listen to Venezuela, which shows the progress made by the Bolivarian Revolution. Afterwards there was a discussion session with the two film makers, Dee O’Neill and Mike Wayne.

RATB has continued with monthly film showings in London and Newcastle. Salud! and With our memory on the future were shown in London and John Pilger’s War on democracy and Hasta siempre? by Rice & Peas in Newcastle.