EYFA Newsletter. On Activists Events and Reports from Skopje and Minsk

Students Occupy University Mac Feb 2015 by SJM (9)And here we go again. In this newsletter you will find a collection of exciting events taking place in 2015 and 2 short reports from our comrades in Macedonia and Belarus.

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1.- 2015 events calendar
1.1 Anarchist book fairs in Europe.
1.2 Antykongress. Katowice, Poland. April 20-22
1.3 Kaunas Karnival. Kaunas, Lithuania. May 1-4
1.4 Groenfront! action camp. Groningen, Netherlands. May 6-10
1.5 Buko. Münster, Germany. May 14-17
1.6 Anarchistische Pinksterlanddagen. Appelscha, Netherlands. May 26
1.7 Ciemmona 2015. Milan, Italy. May 28-31
1.8 “Emergência da Semente”. Pinhal Novo, Portugal. June 5-7
1.9 People Power Against Nuclear Power!. Pyhäjoki, Finland. June 8-21
1.10 Peace One Day Festival. Żurawlów, Poland. June 26-29
1.11 Tour Alternatiba. France. Throughout the summer
1.12 Ground Control Action Camp. Amsterdam, Netherlands. July 1-8
1.13 Veloruption Universelle. Brussels, Belgium. July 9-12
1.14 Queeristan. Amsterdam, Netherlands. July 9-12
1.15 Frackanpada 2015. Vitoria, Basque Country. July 13-19
1.16 Degrowth caravan. Montemor-o-Novo to Lisboa, Portugal. July 15-19
1.17 Cyclocamp 2015. La Zad, France. July 25-August 8
1.18 Lausitzcamp 2015. Lausitz, Germany. Around August 8
1.19 Klimacamp 2015. Rheinland, Germany. August 7-17
1.20 Degrowth in action summer school. Rheinland, Germany. August 9-14
1.21 Mass action of civil disobedience “Ende Gelände”. Rheinland, Germany. August 14-16
1.22 Earth First Gathering. Peak District, UK. August 19-24

2.- Students protests in Republic of Macedonia
3.- Repression and resistance in Minsk, Belarus


1.- 2015 events calendar

1.1 Anarchist bookfairs in Europe.

– International Alternative Bookfair. Gent, Belgium. April 18
– Mannheim, Germany. April 24-26
– Bristol, UK. April 25
– Balkan Anarchist Bookfair. Croatia. May. Exact location and date to be set soon.
– ARB bookfair. London, Uk. May 9
– Prague, Czech. May 9


1.2 Antykongress. Katowice, Poland. April 18-22

The European Economic Congress, “the largest business event in central Europe” will take place in Katowice in April 20-22. In response to this celebration of capitalism, activists call for the Antykongres. The Antykongres aims to show the other side of their economical dictatorship, organise the resistance and take action. It start with a demonstration on the 18th. The next days will be filled with lectures, workshops and other events, building towards a counter-ball on the 22nd.
https://antykongres.wordpress.com/ (in Polish)


1.3 Kaunas Karnival. Kaunas, Lithuania. May 1-4

The EastCentral European Squatters’ And Radicals’ Gathering is a not-quite-party-but-not-really-conference-either gathering. Squatters, political activists and all the other good radical people from Eastern Europe (and further) are invited to come to a four days street action, skill-sharing and network building event. The main aim of the gathering is to exchange knowledge between collectives from EastCentral Europe about radical actions, such as squatting and organizing movements and establish a basis for future cooperation.


1.4 Groenfront! action camp. Groningen, Netherlands. May 6-10

Pick up your tent from the storage, undust your sleepingmat and find back your sleepingback! GroenFront! organizes an actionweek, where you can enjoy a program offering pro-active workshops like
climbing, discussion themes about gas extraction in the Netherlands, eco-activism and the global struggle over a healthy earth, looking back on almost 20 years of GroenFront!, an expedition into the province Groningen and evenings filled with the smell of campfires and music.
https://www.groenfront.nl/ (in Dutch)


1.5 Buko 37. Münster, Germany. May 14-17

The BUKO congress (confederation of internationalism) is grassroots activists space for discussions and networking and open to everyone interested. This years focus lies on international solidarity/transnational solidarity. Future unwritten.


1.6 Anarchistische Pinksterlanddagen. Appelscha, Netherlands. May 26

The Pinksterlanddagen is a political festival in which a big part of the anarchist/activist movement of the Netherlands is represented. The PL also tries to reach out over the borders and to invite international guests. Topics that are often discussed are feminism, migration, labour struggle, anti militarism, environmental movement, animal rights and the history of anarchism. Beside the 30 workshops/lectures/discussions there’s a full time program for kids, book market, and cultural program (music, fire shows, movies, etc).


1.7 Ciemmona 2015. Milan, Italy. May 28-31

Ciemmona is The Critical Mass of the Critical Masses and takes place once a year: Critical Mass was born in San Francisco in 1992 on the cry of its cyclists “We are traffic!” and to this day the appointment recurs every month (or week like in Milan) in hundreds of cities of the planet, claiming the right to live and move in a people-oriented environment, against the dominance of motor vehicles. Critical Mass is a direct action of joyful and subversive repossession of the urban space, which makes real and immediate its sharing within all cyclists: you just need a bike!


1.8 “Emergência da Semente”. Pinhal Novo, Portugal. June 5-7

This “active” camp aims to enable people interested on food and seeds sovereignty to debate, take initiative and share good practices and actions to defend the solidarity agriculture, the agro-ecology and the free access to the common natural resources.


1.9 People Power Against Nuclear Power!. Pyhäjoki, Finland. June 8-21

Energy company Fennovoima, initially founded by E.ON, will start construction of a new nuclear power plant this summer in Pyhäjoki, northwest Finland. Finnish energy policy is still stuck in the centralised energy production. Nuclear power is promoted as a climate solution hiding the fact that it is an enemy of the more sustainable and equal forms of decentralised renewables. For us, a struggle against one irresponsible project is part of the global struggle for conditions of life itself. People Power against Nuclear Power- antinuclear action camp will provide a ground for much needed resistance. Its not too late yet!


1.10 Peace One Day Festival. Żurawlów, Poland. June 26-29

Starting in summer 2013 “Occupy Chevron” protesters occupied the field near Żurawlów for 400 days where Chevron Corporation planned to drill an exploratory well for shale gas. This festival celebrates the victory of the protesters over the multinational and its Fracking plans.


1.11 Tour Alternatiba. France. Throughout the summer

This tour will cover more than 5000 km over the summer with bicycles and tandems, to mobilise dozens of thousands of people for the “true alternatives” to climate change on the perspective of the COP21.


1.12 Ground Control Action Camp. Amsterdam, Netherlands. July 1-8

Be ready in the beginning of July for an agriculture and climate action camp near Amsterdam! The second edition of the Climate Games will be happening on July 4th in the same area, with the aim of playing around some of the major polluters in Amsterdam’s port. An action camp is a great place to learn about new topics, campaign strategies and forms of actions. As a participant in an action camp, you also get to make friends with a bunch of nice people. Above all, this first week of July will be the time to prepare and carry out an action.


1.13 Veloruption Universelle. Brussels, Belgium. July 9-12

The vélorution is more than just a parade celebrating bicycles, it’s a weekend of festivities, uniting members of the alternative bicycle community from all around Europe. The vélorution is THE annual meeting of bicycle revolutionaries from both sides of the Rhine, from across the channel, from all over the world in fact… from the entire universe (lets be modest).


1.14 Queeristan. Amsterdam, Netherlands. July 9-12

We share our struggles, let’s share our stories
This is a call out to all rebels, activists, gender outlaws, intellectual strippers,butch butterflies, femme bears and sex nerds, who want to share their story! We are all queers (in the broad sense of the word) with very different backgrounds, each of us experiencing ways of oppression differently, for example: homophobia, ableism, racism, sexism, classism or transphobia, to name a few. Queeristan is an autonomous DIY and DIT (do it together) festival crafted each year by volunteers. Queeristan aims at fighting racism, segregation and homonormativity. What unites queers with other marginalized communities is that we all struggle with the compulsory laws and values imposed on us.


1.15 Frackanpada 2015. Vitoria, Basque Country. July 13-19

The Frackanpada is an international protest camp against fracking that will take place this summer in Euskal Herria (Basque Country). The Frackanpada is called by the movement against fracking in Euskal Herria (Fracking Ez) and works with the support of a commited team of people based in different European countries. With this camp we aime to to bring together the people currently fighting and those interested to join the struggle against fracking in different places, to share experiences and exchange practices, to be a meeting place between struggles against fracking and those other related to the defense of the land and others such as against austerity and for a just and sustainable society. Besides the frackanpada wants to put in practice other ways of organising and looking at things, in other words, to relate to each other like equals, taking care of ourselves, each other and the environment. The camp will be a place to meet, to learn and to enjoy, but also a place where to propose actions to expose the problem of fracking, showing to the drillers that it wont be easy if the come to destroy our common goods.


1.16 Degrowth caravan. Montemor-o-Novo to Lisboa, Portugal. July 15-19

Degrowth goes on tour on its own rhythm. 5 days to enjoy the trip between Montemor-o-Novo and Lisbon, walking in the company of donkeys, biking, travelling by train and boat, passing through villages and small towns, until arriving to the final destination, where a final event, consisting of a Mesa Posta (shared meal in public space) with speeches about degrowth approaches and concerts are taking place. This tour happens right after the Degrowth Course which will occur in Montemor-o-Novo between July 8 and 12, and the caravan is to celebrate the end of the first cycle of GROWL courses that have been happening between February 2014 and July 2015 throughout Europe.


1.17 Cyclocamp 2015. La Zad, France. July 25-August 8

A transnational self-organised DIT gathering of autonomous bike workshops, bike enthusiasts & activists, bike collectives and communities. Workshops on bike repair and building cargo-bike, blender-bike, films & talks, critical mass, games & surprises, cooking & camping.


1.18 Lausitzcamp 2015. Lausitz, Germany. Around August 8

The 5th Climate Camp in the Lausitz, a lignite mining area in Estern Germany, will take place this year in August! The Camp will be leaner and more action-oriented than its predecessor camps in the Lausitz. It will culminate in an action day on Saturday 08 August 2015. This action day will be framed together with the Tour de Natur and, potentially, other environmental groups. As in every year, participants in the preparatory process are cordially invited!


1.19 Klimacamp 2015. Rheinland, Germany. August 7-17

All of Rhineland Coalfield is under RWE’s control. To exploit coal, the corporation destroys forests, villages, aquifers and agricultural land. All of Rhineland Coalfield?!
Yes or no…. That’s at stake right now. The Rhineland Climate Camp will be as manifold as this resistance. We get together to exchange our skills and knowledge, to build up alternative structures and networks, and to plan different actions against the lignite mining complex. Together we bring back life to a region on the brink of destruction. If you look for the place where you can tackle the root of global climate change: it is here!


1.20 Degrowth in action summer school. Rheinland, Germany. August 9-14

The summer school “Degrowth in action: Climate Justice“ is a follow-up project of the 4th International Degrowth Conference last autumn, where around 3000 people came together to discuss alternatives for an ecological and equitable society. The summer school picks up the momentum of this conference and takes it to the heart of a political conflict: the Climate Action Camp, situated on the brink of the Rhineland Coalfield, the biggest source of CO₂ in Europe.


1.21 Mass action of civil disobedience “Ende Gelände”. Rheinland, Germany. August 14-16

In 2015, the 21st COP (UN-Climate Summit) will take place in Paris. We expect the results to be pathetic. And while global CO2 emissions from more and more coal-fired power plants are rising dramatically, we take climate justice into our own hands. It is high time to be serious about phasing out coal!
In a big colourful action of civil disobedience we will obstruct the exploitation of lignite (soft coal) with many hundred people. Thus we will resist one of the crucial root causes of climate change. We will use a variety of actions forms about which we will communicate in an open and reliable way. Let’s make the Rhineland the focal point of a strong and powerful anti-coal-movement!


1.22 Earth First Gathering. Peak District, UK. August 19-24

The EF! Summer Gathering is a chance for people and groups from across the country and beyond to get together to network, share practical skills, ideas and inspiration to help our actions and campaigns be as strategic and effective as possible. This is an annual gathering for grassroots ecological direct action, this year focusing on welcoming people from impacted communities. Five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more


2.- Students protests in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

During the winter months in Republic of Macedonia there have been several social protests including 3 student demonstrations, of which the biggest gathered 10 000 people on the streets of Skopje!


Some time in October last year the dictatorial government, without consulting anyone proposed amendments of the higher education law introducing additional state exams for all students in the 2nd and 4th year of studies, claiming that this reform is to fight corruption and to raise the quality of education. Students revolted against this forming a Student plenum (first such plenum since separation of Yugoslavia). They claimed that this ‘reform’ will not raise the quality but put additional burden on the students and further degrade education, and that there is a need for a completely new law in which creation both students and professors must be involved. The government ignored the protests. Pro-government media in an attempt to discourage the students, tried their usual tactics of pointing fingers at some protesters accusing them of being involved with the opposition party and manipulating the students etc., but students didn’t buy that and stood together. Some time later, a newly craeted Professors Plenum showed its support to the students.

After the 3 protests, seeing no positive reaction from the government, the students decided to occupy some of the faculties and declare Autonomous Zones. First one was the Philosophy/Economics/Law complex. After some time, the Technological faculty was occupied as well, following another occupation in the Technical faculty in Bitola. Amazingly there was rarely anyone who didn’t support these occupations. A lot of people were donating food, blankets, everything that the students needed to sustain the occupations. In Bitola, in an attempt to break the resistance the university management decided to cut off heating and on some occasions electricity to the building, but student resistance prevailed. Sadly, as far as I know none of the professors in Bitola joined the students, but on the other hand, to everyone’s surprise the High school teachers formed a plenum and supported the students! They even joined the occupation for some days! In some other faculties and cities, some students decided only to boycott the classes.


The occupation started in mid February. Every day an alternative program was announced in each autonomous zone, with numerous public discussions, lectures, debates on various topics, film screenings, theater and music shows and so on. Many people sent messages of support, activists, artists both from the local and abroad. Some bands came to play at the autonomous zones (Dubioza Kolektiv, Bernays Propaganda etc.). Also some students from Serbia and Bulgaria came to visit.

There have been attempts for negotiations with the minister of education. On each of them government tried to find ways to convince the students to stop the occupation promising them things like postponing the reform, “we’ll think about it”, “don’t worry, exams will be easy” etc. but no compromise was made. Students made no step back and finally yesterday on their last meeting government stepped down and agreed on making a new law that will include students and professors in the process and that a final draft will be presented for public debate. The plenum proclaimed victory and ended the *boycott* of classes, but said that the autonomous zones will stay. They are aware that this is not the end, that there are many more battles ahead.

After this nothing will be as it was. A new hope was born in the hearts of the people that there is a way out of the abyss this country is falling into. There is another way. This is a success story that will not fade away for generations to come. For the first time something like this has happened in Macedonia, first time a large scale student occupation, first time such high solidarity, first time total success against the government with no compromise.

Here are a few links if you want to read more (all are accurate):
https://www.studentskiplenum.org (Student plenum official blog, mk only)
https://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/macedonia-students-liberate-central-university-complex (en, about start of the occupation)
https://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/rock-bands-support-macedonian-student-occupation (en, mid-way through)
https://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/macedonia-caves-in-to-students-on-education-law (en, general overview, newest, don’t mind the “student plenum representative” – it’s journalist error, should say “delegate” instead)
https://www.media.ba/bs/mediametar/studentska-i-medijska-blokada-u-makedoniji (bhs, pretty detailed)

3.- Repressions and resistance in Minsk, Belarus

The forth presidential term of Alexander Lukashenko will expire in 2015. In 21 years Lukashenko has managed to suppress almost all social struggles in the country, kill several political opponents in the 90s, and eradicate nearly all of the official opposition. Lukashenko didn’t allow Belarusian society to transcend the limits of Soviet mentality. Any complaint or criticism of the government are met with repression from the police or the KGB. Any attempts of organizing face with prosecution and hysteria from the state. The policy of the government can be described simply as follows: “Everything that cannot be controlled must be destroyed”. At this moment Belarusian state is slowly but steadily getting to the extermination of any dissent or independent thinking.

On January 10, in the club “Pirates” there was a concert of several punk bands. Approximately during the middle of the set of the first band, the club was surrounded by police cars and “branded” vans of Riot police without numbers. Riot police in masks broke into the building. They put everyone face to the walls with hands behind the head. This was followed by ID check and control of personal belongings. The whole procedure took around one hour and a half with constant video recording from police. They searched for the owners of the distro material (political books, musical CDs and Vinyls). Police made a list of all the participants and filmed them. After that all the people listed at the concert started receiving visits from the police who brought official notices demanding people to stop their “extremist” activity.

3 people were detained for selling items at the distro table. On January 12 in Minsk a court ruled on the cases. All the three people were charged with minor hooliganism, two of them were additionally charged with distribution of extremist materials. The Hearing started with Judge forbidding friends and comrades to enter the court room. However several people managed to go through and observe the process. All the detainees were accused of swearing at the moment of riot police entrance to the club. They all accepted the charges. One of them got around 100 euro fine, the other two were sentenced to 10 days in prison. One of the detainees reported that he was beaten up in police station.

With the elections planned for November this year the pressure on social movements is increasing. Authorities are afraid of the Ukrainian scenario occurring in Belarus and do everything to fight “extremists”: all the people who are calling for the change of the current regime.

On January 16 three simultaneous actions were organised by autonomous groups in Minsk in solidarity with the three arrested at New Year Punk Party: one at the Court where their comrades had been tried, one at the Prison where they had been kept and one at the Police station which had been in charge of the raid. The response of the government was new arrests and repressions. Four people were arrested and sentenced to 15 days in prison for disobeying police orders. One person was captured by the police at the prison gates, when people came to meet their comrades, who were supposed to be released that day. All these people face or will face problems at work, some of them had to change their workplace because of the previous arrests.

“I am an extremist, my conscience is clean”

Five actions in a row were organised on January 29 under the motto “You got the wrong people”. According to the activists, by these action they wanted to show that the 4 arrested people are not the ones who had organised the actions on January 16. The police and the judicial system don’t aim at detecting or preventing crimes, the strive to suppress any demonstration of nonconformity.

On the 9th of February the prisoners solidarity collective ABC Belarus launched a call out for actions against the dictatorship and in solidarity with those who suffer repression. In response, dozens of activists from different corners of the world went to the streets and showed their solidarity.

Overview of the solidarity actions:

Here you can find an interview by a belorussian activist given to A-radio Berlin in January: