Refugee crisis. A dispatch from Deutschland.

On a recent trip to Hamburg in northern Germany REEL NEWS witnessed first hand the brilliant response from ordinary German people and activists to the unfolding European refugee crisis.

In the main rail station activists have set up a permanent reception area for refugees arriving by train. They are given food, tea and advice on how to claim asylum or travel onto further destinations if they wish. Meanwhile the city’s main conference centre is presently hosting 1,200 refugees with the adjoining exhibition space being used to sort tons and tons of clothes, tents and toys donated by local people and businesses.

It is a considerable task. At weekends a car or van arrives with donations every 30 seconds. Each day 6-700 volunteers come through the building to help process the numerous items. Sanitary packs are made up for women and children. Clothing and toys are safety checked then bagged up for either immediate distribution or to be sent elsewhere in Northern Germany. Such is the scale of generosity in this one city that they are now exporting aid to other areas.

As volunteers leave the building after their shifts, they stick their nametags to the corridor around the exit. In just a few days the area has become literally wallpapered with the names of those taking part in the relief effort. A visual testament to the scale of this one aid operation.

Meanwhile activists are also responding in solidarity with deteriorating situation for Kurdish people both in Turkey where a bombing campaign by the government has recently begun. Also in Europe, where small Kurdish communities are being threatened. By both repressive anti terror laws (the PKK is falsely branded a terror group), and also from local Turkish nationalists.

On Friday September 11th local antifascists staged an impressive show of force against in solidarity with both German Kurds, recently arrived Kurdish refugees and those fighting for autonomy. Particularly in the Rojava rejoin of Northern Syria where Kurdish forces are reclaiming territory taken by the murderous islamist ISIL group.

The protest marched through the city led by Kurdish groups and finished with speeches and music outside the local detention centre. Flares and fireworks were let off on the roof of an occupied social centre on the route of the march. Anti fascists are clearly making the link between the current situation in Turkey and the activities of far right Turkish nationalist groups like the Grey Wolves who had a protest planned for Hamburg the following Sunday.

Then on Saturday September 12th Hamburg became a police state as a modest 2,800 riot cops were drafted in from all over the country along with 10 water cannons and a helicopter. The reason? A threatened march by German neo Nazis. The police had argued that the march should be banned as they did not have the resources to control the backlash from local people. A feeble excuse, given the size of the police operation.

For those residents wishing to oppose the Nazis without actually having to look at them a non-confrontational protest was organised in a square addressed by the mayor and other politicians.

Meanwhile local antifascists, trade unions and leftist groups organised a march starting from the main station where Nazis defying the ban were expected to arrive. The police estimated the total attendance of both protests to be at over 20k.

As the march from the station began Antifa called their activists into the station as a train carrying a small group of boneheads was spotted arriving. Concerned that the Nazis trapped in the carriage might be overheating; the anti fascists took immediate steps to improve the ventilation of the carriage with those conveniently sized rocks that lie around railway lines in abundance. Riot cops were briefly prevented from getting to the platform in question as more anti fascists linked arms to obstruct their passage. The Nazis remained trapped on their train, any plans of marching in Hamburg destroyed by militant action.

Then around 45 minutes later a second group of fascists arrived. This time they managed to leave the station as the march had left. But within about 2 minutes they were running for their lives back inside as reports from spotters reached the demo.

Protected by a ring of many riot cops the Nazis (most of whom looked like a cross between hipsters & metal fans) started doing that usual thing that the far right specialise in. I.E. acting all tough and doing their utmost to provoke the increasing numbers of anti fascists, while enjoying the protection of the state. Before long, it was raining cobblestones on the police lines whom brought in water cannons for protection.

The fascist were then informed by their protectors that they would be searched ID’d and then removed from the city for their own protection. By now hundreds of Antifa and other activists were had them surrounded and more cops were brought in to keep them at bay.

Antifascists jeered at the Nazis as they were searched and corralled. Not exactly shining examples of Aryan perfection that they claim to be the ‘masterace’ whined that they were being victimised while dodging flying bottles and masonry. All in all it was a very bad day for National Socialism as those of them who accepted the ban on their event in Hamburg were also attacked and prevented from marching in Bremen.

Here at REEL NEWS we are very far from naïve about the real reasons for the supposed generosity of Angela Merkal towards refugees. Not least the economic incentives for recruiting grateful workers from desperate situations. However a weekend in Hamburg has done much to boost our faith in the ability of ordinary people and activists to organise in solidarity with refugees and against the moronic racists who are trying to exploit this crisis for their own purposes. Nice one Hamburg!

 

 

 

 

A week of resistance to the Gaza massacre

National demonstration in London called over the bombing of Gaza by Israeli forces. The protest called by the Stop the War Coalition, The Palestinian Soldidarity Campaign, CND, War on Want, BMI, IFE and Friends of Al Aqsa marcheds from Downing street to t

Across the world anger is growing over the constant bombardment of the Gaza strip by the Israeli Defense Forces. The Palestinian death toll has now reached over 400 as the densely populated Hamas controlled area is pounded by shells, missiles and guided bombs. Meanwhile the Israeli death toll after over 1,000 launches of Hamas’ near useless rockets remains at two. One of those being and Israeli soldier killed by his own side which exposes the lie about how “careful” they are being to avoid the deaths of innocent people.

Another source of great anger has been the outrageously biased coverage by most of the mainstream media. Media outlets like the BBC and CCN to name just a few insist on describing these events as a ‘war’ or a ‘conflict’ giving the impression of two equal sides. Gaza has no air force, no air defense and very little capacity to strike Israel as the body counts shows all too well. On Wednesday July 15th protesters took their disgust at the nature of the coverage directly to the BBC in central London.

Despite it being Ramadam thousands of mainly Muslim demonstrators blocked the main road outside of the BBC for several hours. The event remained peaceful with just one minor scuffle when police over stepped the mark trying to prevent people from boarding a stranded bus. They backed off and the vehicle reversed out away from the crowd. Two Zionists also showed up and demonstrated their jaw dropping arrogance by trying to argue down and increasingly hostile crowd. Well done to the demonstrators for refusing to be provoked.

On Friday July 18th activists tried a more direct approach to getting the attention of the UK government by occupying the Cabinet Office in Whitehall with the demand that the UK and others stop supplying arms and money to a rogue state that flouts international law on a daily basis.

It is no secret that Israel would neither be financially nor militarily viable were it not being armed and funded by the west to the tune of several million dollars a day. It is clear that only thing that will make Israel behave itself is intervention from its foreign sponsors.  Not that activists have high expectations from a government that favors Israel at every level. The blatant hypocrisy of the UK government who are turning a blind eye towards British Jews who are fighting with the IDF while arresting British Muslims who take action against the Assad regime in Syria is a recent case in point.

Finally on Saturday July 19th London saw its biggest anti war protest for many year with tens of thousands of people marching from Whitehall to the Israeli embassy.

The organisers claimed that over 100,000 people were in attendance while the BBC and Daily Mail both claimed that around 15,000 had participated. Whatever the actual figure it was clear that yet again a mostly Muslim m0bilisation had brought central London to standstill in blistering heat. During a time of year when most were fasting from sunrise for Ramadam.

It is clear that with a useless neocon like Tony Blair as Middle East peace envoy (what a sick joke!)  and  no sign of Israel growing a conscience any time soon, that the slaughter will continue. So are the protests expected to increase in their size and anger.

Dublin   Gaza live blog   Glasgow

 

 

 

 

Victimised RMT rep found NOT guilty

Today victimised RMT rep Mark Harding was found not guilty of what was a serious (if absurd) charge under the Industrial Relations Act. He has endured 3 months of uncertainty not least because a guilty verdict could have resulted in 6 months jail and/or serious implications for his career.

The charge arose from the highly successful RMT/TSSA dispute of London Underground in February. Mark was accused of intimidation after verbally appealing to a scab not to cross his picket line at Hammersmith. He was arrested after a spurious complaint was made and then held for an astonishing 13 hours before being given bail conditions that effectively banned him from Trade Union activity. The RMTs legal team got the conditions overturned but the charges remained. Todays verdict was clearly a massive relief for all involved.

Steve Hedley RMT assistant General Secretary said outside the court: “This is an important victory not just for us but for all trade unionists. We believe that the ongoing threat of industrial action by our staff caused the state to bring this case. We have successfully defended our right to peacefully picket.”

Mark was vindicated but sadly so were the authorities. The magistrate went out of her way to exonerate the cops in what was an outrageous, vindictive and utterly blatant case of political policing.

Reel News regular North London night starts April 10

ReelNews April poster for web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve finally found a venue to host a regular film night in North London – and hopefully reclaim a bit of Stoke Newington from the horrendous gentrification that’s happened in Church Street over the past twenty years. Come and join us every second Thursday of the month for films, discussion, music and drinks – FREE!

THIS MONTH: 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, PLUS TEACHERS STRIKE

2014 sees the 75th anniversary of the end of the Spanish civil war, when a fragile democracy was allowed to be overturned by the combined forces of European Fascist regimes. Much has been written about the atoricities committed as General Franco took power, but very little about the social movements that rose up in the 60s and 70s that brought an end to the fascist state.

MASSACRE IN VITORIA (36:00)
Tonight, we’ll be showing a new Reel News film telling the story of one of the greatest rank and file movements ever seen – an all out indefinite strike in 1976 of factory workers in Vitoria in the Basque Country, which culminated in a general strike of the entire city. The Spanish state, petrified by what seemed to be a soviet developing, ordered the police to open fire on a peaceful strikers’ assembly, murdering 5 workers and wounding over 100.

No-one has ever been brought to justice for this atrocity, as with many other atrocities from the late Franco era and the period of transition to “democracy”. Watch the full incredible story and then join in the discussion on how we can mark the 75th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War by providing some international solidarity with the people of Vitoria’s struggle for justice.

PLUS: TEACHERS STRIKE (10:28)

As the campaign against Gove’s attempt to destroy education as we know it gets serious, we’ll be showing a video of the recent NUT strike and having a discussion with local teachers and parents about how to escalate the action and what form that should take.

Underground strike is solid as RMT & TSSA walk out over cuts.

The strike by RMT and TSSA station staff on London underground is looking solid as it goes into its second day. The only line working appears to be the Northern Line, which is running a very limited service relying on ASLEF drivers and members who are not part of the dispute.

Last night a strike rally was held outside Euston station just before the dispute began. RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley told the assembled crowd that Transport For London had refused to negotiate and made the strike inevitable. He also commented on the hypocrisy of the media who had hailed station staff as heroes when they had rescued people trapped in tunnels during the 7/7 bombings but were now saying they were surplus to requirements.

This morning commuters were walking across central London bridges in their droves to get to work. Many more were waiting for a very long time for overcrowded buses. There were also chaotic scenes at many major stations.

The mainstream media have steadfastly refused to report on the real issues surrounding the dispute. Instead papers like the Mail and Sun have run irrelevant and childish stories about the holiday and living arrangements of RMT leader Bob Crow. Also complaining about his “fat cat salary”. Rank hypocrisy coming from news outlets whose owners earn billions while avoiding their taxes.

The strike centres around a plan by London Mayor Boris Johnson to close London Underground ticket offices losing nearly 1,000 jobs. This is against his own election pledge when he stood for mayor. Many campaigners fear that this will make public transport less accessible to the elderly, disabled and also foreign visitors on whom the London economy is so reliant. This morning Boris evaded many of the key questions being put to him by the media at London Bridge station while talking up the idea of a fully automated underground system.

The strike is due to run until 9.30 pm on Thursday with more action planned for next week.

55,000 March for the NHS outside the Tory conference

The title of this year’s Tory conference is ‘For Hard Working People’ which seems like an attempt at irony coming from such avid fans of both tax evasion and inherited wealth. Meanwhile outside the Manchester GMEX Centre over 55,000 hard working people demonstrated their disgust at the privatisation of the NHS. The protest called by the TUC was most heavily supported by members of UNISON which was unsurprising given their status as the biggest union in NHS. There were also large turnouts from the PCS, UNITE and GMB.

Photos by Guy Smallman

 

 

Tower Hamlets remains EDL free but police arrest over 280 anti fascists

On Saturday Sept 7th the racist English Defence League (EDL) had promised to bring thousands of its intellectually challenged supporters to the multi-faith East London borough of Tower Hamlets. Their previous attempt to march past the East London Mosque in 2011 had ended in failure with the EDL being kept out of the area, harassed by anti fascists around Liverpool street and one of their coaches being trashed. This time they announced that they would rally in Altab Ali park, a community space named after a Bangladeshi textile worker whom was killed in a racist attack in 1978.

A broad range of organisations including East End United, London Anti Fascists and Unite Against fascism vowed to stop them entering Tower Hamlets supported by the TUC, RMT, CWU, UNITE and various other trade unions and faith groups. By 11am thousands of people were in the park while the EDL (who numbered between 5 & 700) gathered south of London bridge. The racist mobilisation was far smaller than the recent gathering of the EDL in Birmingham despite the murder of Lee Rigby in South East London and the date having no domestic football fixtures, which would have boosted the EDL’s hooligan contingent.

The previous attempt by EDL leaders to enter Tower Hamlets had ended in humiliation with their self-styled leader Tommy Robinson getting arrested while crying to the police after being smacked by an anti fascist. This time the EDL were prevented by the police from entering the borough after seeing the size of the opposition to their presence. Robinson (aka former BNP organiser Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) was arrested again, this time for breaching his bail conditions and incitement.

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A determined group of militant anti fascists attempt to confront the EDL as they crossed Tower bridge but were detained by a massive police operation. Meanwhile anti racist groups and local people left Altab Ali park and blocked the main route through Whitechapel to ensure the EDL’s non attendance. They then marched to East London Mosque after the EDL had been escorted back across the river in defeat. By this stage it was clear that anti fascists were outnumbering the EDL by at least 3-1.

Meanwhile the police detained everyone who had left the designated protest area in two ‘kettles’ for several hours. They then systematically arrested all the detainees and put them onto buses that had been clearly prepared for the occasion. They had employed similar tactics back in June when the UAF and South London Antifascists had ruined their plans to facilitate a march by the fascist BNP from parliament to Whitehall.

In the end over 280 antifascists were arrested. Most of them released after a few hours with bail conditions that prevent them from going near racist and fascist organisations.

More worryingly the police also arrested Legal Observers from Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG) treating them with the same measures as the demonstrators. In the past the police have not exactly be pleased to see the volunteers from LDMG but have allowed them to do their job and recognised their role as observers rather than participants.

The behaviour of the police towards the detained protestors and legal observers raises several questions about civil liberties. If no charges against the detained are pressed or they are found not guilty then legal action against the police is very likely. It is possible that the European Convention on Human Rights was violated in several areas including article 10 (freedom of expression) and article 11 (freedom of assembly). Meanwhile the confiscation (and no doubt copying) the legal observers notes is in contravention to article 6 (right to a fair trial).

The arrest of five clearly identifiable legal observers in the Mansell street kettle has resulted in an angry statement from LDMG with more expected to follow. Tony Martin one of the coordinators said “The arrest of five Legal Observers is outrageous. Although we have had individual Legal Observers arrested before, this is a very rare occurrence. What is different on this occasion is that the decision was taken at a very senior level of the Metropolitan Police.

Photos by Guy Smallman

 

Solidarity with Russian LGBT

On Saturday over 1,000 people from the LGBT community and beyond protested in Whitehall against new anti gay laws in Russia being brought in by the government of Vladimir Putin. Many are calling for a boycott of the winter Olympics as such discrimination falls foul of the Olympic Charter. Recent attacks on gay teens in Russia have caused international disgust and condemnation. The London protest was one of many around the world.

Photos by Guy Smallman

Blacklisting 2013 – The Workers Strike Back

Huge strides for the campaign against the illegal blacklistng of trade unionists over the past 18 months; the sparks victory in the BESNA dispute, the Scottish affairs select committee report, the high court conspiracy trial coming up against Sir Robert McAlpine, numerous tribunals and actions in the European court of human rights, and now UNITE and GMB putting serous resources into the campaign.Now everything is centring on the Crossrail project, where 17 of the 38 known blacklisters are operating. Join the campaign and get blacklisted trade unionists back where they belong – on sites organising.

Blacklisting4 web