News from the Anarchist Federation

16th April ’12


For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across Europe have been
converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of
the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering took the form of
a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as
workshops and discussions.

On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of
the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow
by SO15 (counter-terrorist) police. During the detention, the anarchists
were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names,
addresses, email addresses, DNA and fingerprints taken. The detained
anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal –
waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a
thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and
passports and took information from phones and cameras.

During the detention, the police constantly accused the anarchists of lying
about involvement in criminal activity and alleged that they would be
conducting follow-up police action against one of the detained anarchists.
In addition to this, SO15 officers asked a number of inflammatory,
irrelevant and offensive questions, including ‘what would you do if someone
raped your mother?’ evidently in an attempt to cause emotional upset and
illicit angry or violent responses. One member (28) who did not want to be
named for fear of reprisals from the police, said “We were treated like
criminals. I told them I went to the congress as I am an amateur journalist
and I write articles about activism. They saw my note book, camera and
Dictaphone but they said I was lying. One officer said ‘You said you are an
anarchist, I’ve seen anarchists on the news, they are violent, throw
molotov cocktails and disrupt people’s lives not write articles'”.

The counter terrorist officers either didn’t know or chose to ignore that,
during the first day of the gathering, the International of Anarchist
Federations (Of which the UK Anarchist Federation is a member) had issued a
statement rejecting all terrorist tactics as a means of achieving an
anarchist society.

In contrast to the actions of the UK security forces, the local press and
residents in St.Imier reported very positively on the anarchist gathering.
With this incident, we are seeing a further slide towards political
policing and the criminalisation of political ideologies. The two detained
anarchists have not had any involvement in any illegal or violent activity,
or any activity that would concern the counter-terrorist police. As in the
past, when Metropolitan police called on people to give information about
local anarchists ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster
anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), anarchists suffered
harassment for their political viewpoint.

As class-struggle anarchists, we believe that the state does little except
serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary
people. This is seen clearly when people who hold views critical of the
state are treated as criminals and terrorists. We seek to create a
classless society, based on freedom, equality and co-operation. We believe
in the capacity of ordinary people to run society themselves, without the
interference of bosses or politicians. This incident was not in response to
any crime and constitutes repression and criminalisation of a political
ideology.

*Notes:*
*The St Imier Congress was a gathering of anarchists from all over the
world to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first international
anarchist gathering in the Swiss town of St Imier in 1872.

Advertisements