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anarchist conference in warsaw

akai | 04.07.2003 13:00

The International Anarchist Conference for Eastern Europe took place in
Warsaw from June 27 - 30. The 4th International Anti-Border Camp is underway
in Krynki, Poland (on the border with Belarus).

Over 200 people came to the conference which was the first such large
conference held in Eastern Europe for a long time. There were a number of
workshops and many informal meetings, a few of which we will mention.
(I was not present at all events so others should write if they are so
inclined about other issues/ events.)

In the anarcha-feminist meeting, a lively discussion with people from
Russia, the US, Germany, Finland, Czech, Slovakia (and even someone from
Poland!) took place. The discussion wandered from theme to theme. No plans
or results came out of it, just a little more understanding of people's
point of view.

In the anarcho-syndicalist and worker's movement meeting, we found out about
a few different iniatives in Eastern Europe - for example we found that 4-5
anarchists have started a casual workers' union in Belarus.
There was a little talk about some local iniatives. People agreed to try to
spread information in a better way and to try to do more international
solidarity campaigns. It was mentioned that it is also important to send
comrades examples of faxes to send because it facilitates campaigns. It may
seem obvious but apparently many times calls for solidarity come without

In the general networking people, well, people presented themselves a bit -
but not very much. Rather smaller working groups were formed. For example,
Antti told about new cases of repression in Russia - hopefully he will write
a small summary himself.

There was also an interesting historical talk, not on 100 years of anarchism
in Poland, but only on the interwar years. (Actually very-well detailed -
probably not enough time to talk about so many years in that detail!)

A small discussion on migration and work also took place but as I did not
stay for its entirety, perhaps somebody else will summarize it.

Other workshops included on the grassroots movements in Russia, ecological
movements in Russia, free software and anti-sexism.

Apart from the discussions, there was time (but not nearly enough) to meet
people from many countries: there were people from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus,
Lithuania, Latvia, Canada, USA, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Czech
Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Great Britain
and maybe somewhere else - it was hard to keep track of everybody. There
were a couple of social events and cinema showings. There was also a
performance by a theater troop from Brest.

On the last day of the conference there was a demonstration to protest
against the oncoming visa regime for our eastern neighbour, but also against
border management; this was also connected to intellectual property and a
critique of corporate control as it started at the largest marketplace in
Europe where many people from around the globe sell things. (The market
place is the constant target of raids by border police and other controls
who not only harrass foreigners, but also constantly do anti-piracy controls
and bust people for illegal trading.) Banners and posters were hung around
the area and leaflets distributed. The protestors decided to show
disobedience to the police and march down the street of the main bridge and
main streets in Warsaw towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Unfortunately the police intervened and, mostly due to our own tactical
errors, 16 people, all foreigners were arrested. After 3 hours of detention
and 11 euro fine a piece for blocking traffic, all were released.

Due to the arrests, some lunch and workshop were cancelled and this,
combined with the fact that the anti-border organizers didn't approve of the
organization of an illegal action then lead certain anti-border activists to
start a disinformation campaign about the organizer of the anarchist
conference, with some ridiculous accusations of leading unsuspecting
foreigners into a massacre and failing to show up for cooking and cleaning
duty while the writer of this article was being held in custody. The
accusations snowballed to ridiculous proportions. Even a (not so serious we
are told) death threat has been issued. What is the worst crap about this
campaign is, besides the disinformation, that the 3 people involved pretend
to speak in the name of everybody else: in the name of the people arrested,
in the name of the starving conference participants, in the name of all of
Warsaw - even though we haven't heard the same complaints from other people,
for example the sacrificial foreigners. The biggest complaint now is the
assinine fighting which will no doubt just result in X's friends believing
X, Y's friend's believing Y, and just general bad vibes.

There are however quite good vibes at the anti-border camp in Krynki. There
are over 100 people there and more are expected on the weekend. Yesterday
was leafleting and "integration with the locals", although I didn't see that
much of it going on, more just people talking to each other - which is good
in and of itself. Actions are planned for the weekend.