The assassination of Basil al-Araj is a tremendous loss to a huge number of people. Reflecting on what he went through, I am filled with enormous admiration, pride and rage.
By Scott Campbell
Shortly after arriving in Palestine in 2012, a comrade invited me to a demonstration in front of al-Muqata’a in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank. It was a significant symbolic event, being the first protest against the PA directly in front of its headquarters with about 100 people holding signs on the sidewalk condemning PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to hold negotiations with Israel. Nothing much happened, but that nothing much clearly irritated the PA.
Following the protest, several people met at a nearby café. That was the first time I met Basil al-Araj. Similarly, nothing much happened, but the more time I spent in Palestine, the more and more frequently I found myself in Basil’s company. He spoke passable English, and aside from translations by others, that was how we communicated given that I embarrassingly managed to live there for more than a year and not learn Arabic.
This is a special IGDCAST with Sofi, an anarchist compañera from Mexico City who is deeply involved in a variety of solidarity and organizing efforts with anarchist prisoners in Mexico. The audio interview is in Spanish, while below is an English transcription, along with two song MP3s you can download separately. If you want to see more in depth reporting on what is happening in Mexico, be sure to support our Mexico trip fundraiser.
We start off this episode with a recorded greeting from the Cimarrón Collective in North Prison in Mexico City. Then Sofi discusses the persecution and repression facing the anarchist movement in Mexico City as well as a review of the situation of four anarchist prisoners currently being held by the Mexican state. We look at the corruption, exploitation and neglect that occurs in Mexican prisons and what compañeros on the inside are doing to fight back. In particular, there is a focus on the Cimarrón Collective, a formation started by anarchist prisoner Fernando Bárcenas that has autonomously reclaimed space inside the North Prison and self-manages a variety of initiatives. For listeners, perhaps the most intriguing one will be their punk band, Commando Cimarrón. A couple of their songs are included in the podcast.
Members of Chanti Ollin are calling for those who stand in solidarity across the globe to deliver the below statement to the nearest Mexican Embassy.
Chanti Ollin, a well-known okupa and autonomous cultural center in the gentrified financial district of Mexico City, was violently evicted on November 22nd, 2016. 800 riot police, 2 helicopters, and an armored car executed the operation, illegally breaking into the building and detaining 26 individuals without so much as a judicial order. This eviction takes place against the backdrop of Mexico City’s new constitution, which seeks to privatize land and resources, increase the surplus value that governments extract from property, and suppress any political or cultural activity that disrupts this profit-making program.
This week, members of Chanti Ollin are calling for those who stand in solidarity across the globe to deliver the following statement to the nearest Mexican Embassy, either in person or by e-mail. Find your embassy’s e-mail address here.
Fed up with heightened violence, Mexican women joined in the mobilization against feminicide convoked from Argentina after the violent rape and murder of young Lucía Perez.
It’s getting more dangerous all the time to be a woman (or girl) in Mexico, where seven sisters, friends, comrades, mothers or daughters are killed every single day with impunity — and with a level of hatred and scorn once unthinkable. Living breathing people, now tortured to death, become a cast of characters in a macabre spectacle: There’s the girl that’s dismembered, another beaten bloody, another impaled, another stuffed into a suitcase, yet another drowned in a sewer. Virtually all have been raped. This is the face of feminicide.
Fed up with this alarming situation, women in Mexico City and the states of Guerrero, Guadalajara, Michoacán and Oaxaca, joined in the global mobilization against feminicide convoked from Argentina after the vicious rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez, last October 8. The young girl was drugged and attacked by at least three men —Juan Pablo Offidani, Matías Farías and Alejandro Alberto Masiel— who left a pile of used condoms before raping her anally with a pole. According to the district attorney who investigated this crime, “extreme pain caused her death through stimulation of the vagal nerve,” prompting a heart attack.
A rally and march around the Santiaguito prison in Almoloya de Juarez closed out a series of Activities for the Freedom of the Defenders of the Water and Life of San Pedro Tlanixco.
“¿Quién dice que todo está perdido? (Who says all is lost?)” sang the Taller del Sur at the cultural festival held last September 25 as part of the Activities for the Freedom of the Defenders of the Water and Life of San Pedro Tlanixco.
And five days later, as the round of activities closed with a rally and march around Santiaguito prison at Almoloya de Juárez, the answer was clear. Nobody. In spite of the vicious repression brought down on this Nahua town by the State of Mexico’s (in)justice system, there’s no end to the struggle to free the eight guardians of the territory of San Pedro Tlanixco. On the contrary, as of 2014, the movement is rebuilding and getting stronger.
During a press conference on September 28, anarchist prisoners announced the beginning of an indefinite hunger strike. They are compañeros Fernando Bárcenas and Abraham Cortés, prisoners in North Prison, Luis Fernando Sotelo, prisoner in South Prison in Mexico City, and Miguel Peralta, prisoner in Cuicatlán Prison in Oaxaca. The strike is in rejection of the 33 year and five month sentence given to Luis Fernando Sotelo, to mark three years since the arrest of compañero Abraham Cortés on October 2, 2013, and in solidarity with the prison strike underway in the United States against the exploitation of prisoners’ labor and in support of the revolts against the killings of African-Americans by police in the U.S.
The three compas in Mexico City have gone on hunger strike, while Miguel will go on fasts.
October 15 support the 80,000 farmworkers in San Quintín with the message that the boycott of Driscoll’s Berries continues until there is a union contract.
Rally and Protest at Driscoll’s Berry Store and Distribution Center
Saturday, October 15 at 1pm
1750 San Juan Road, Aromas, CA
On October 15 there is a call for an International Day of Action to support the 80,000 farmworkers and their families in San Quintín Valley, Mexico with the message that the boycott of Driscoll’s Berries continues full force until there is a union contract.
Currently, farmworkers toil 12 to 15 hours a day in the fields for as little as $6/day. Many are not provided social security, health insurance or any type of job security. For more information on the working conditions in San Quintín and the farmworkers struggle, see The San Quintín Rebellion.