UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
The UK has had its share of squatted political spaces over the decades but the last few years has seen something of a resurgence in activity, inspired by the strong social centres movement found in Spain and Italy etc. Social Centres have been springing up all over the country but their existence is often precarious, dependent either on maintaining rent or retaining a squatted property.
The average lifespan of a squat typically clocks in at around three months. However the rampART (www.rampart.co.nr) will be celebrating its first anniversary this weekend (21st May)
Established May 21st 2004, rampART took it's name from Rampart Street E1, home of the abandoned warehouse which was previously used as an Islamic girls school. For the last twelve months the derelict building has hosted over 100 cultural and political events - placing the rampART firmly and literally on the activist map of London (see ramPARTY details and lineup)
'Dear Deputy Prime Minister, The SPODDEN VALLEY was the birthplace of the asbestos industry. Many people have been poorly or DIED from asbestos. A Planning application has been made to put 600+ homes and a CHILDREN'S NURSERY there. Please could you "call-in" the Spodden Valley plans so that SAFE decisions can be made.' Laura Livsey, age 11
Rochdale. In Rochdale’s Spodden Valley a huge quantity of asbestos may lie buried on the land where the world’s largest asbestos factory once processed the killer fibres. There are no plans to clear up this hazard, but there is a lot of interest in digging up the site. Developers Countryside Properties want to build on it. However, their controversial planning application has been put on hold.
Concern has already been raised about the way large piles of crushed rubble are being disturbed by a JCB digger and driven through Rochdale in open wagons.
Campaigners are now asking that the plans be "called-in" to the ODPM. Meanwhile, in an apparent bid to sabotage the campaign to save Spodden Valley, Countryside Properties have bought up internet domain names that include combinations of the words “save” “spodden” and “valley”.
Reports and links: www.spodden-valley.co.uk | Councillors Vote Against Road Closure | Crushed Asbestos: Locals Pray for Rain | Criticisms Voiced in Parliament | How to make brass out of muck | Piles of crushed asbestos | “Fake” websites exposed | Prescott gets the message | Candlelit vigil
24-04-2005 23:00There will be a full three days of events around Mayday in Liverpool this year. Let's make it a bigg'un!
A delegation of 30 workers traveled some 1,200 kilometers to manifest their determination to defend the factory at all costs. Inside the courthouse a small delegation of workers presented a petition with thousands of signatures from all over the world in support of the workers of Zanon who have set an example that workers can produce and manage even better without a boss or owner.Read more...
After resisting three eviction attempts [video] [pics] the Collective have agreed to move on to pastures new on the condition that the building be returned to social use by the council. The Collective felt, along with local people, that the building should not be left empty again. Birmingham City Council has finally arranged for the RITE Project (which works with young people excluded from the education system) to use the building until 2006. The building is then due to be demolished, pending a public enquiry, as part of the controversial Bristol Road expansion. The Collective are keen to point out that the social use of the building would not be on the council agenda if they had not taken Direct Action, highlighting the misuse of public buildings by local authorities.
Meanwhile the fight in London to return St. George's Theatre in Tuffnel Park to community use contines [see Latest Updates].
See also Indymedia Free Spaces Section
At the end of Fashion Week in Milan, anti-precarity activists pulled off an ambitious spoof against the fashion industry and the mainstream media. The scene was set earlier in the week when protesters targeted the a cat walk show by Prada and issued a statement that there would be further protests and that the fashion show by the controversial japanese designer Serpica Naro. On Thursday another show was disrupted when eight women breached security and took over the cat walk and issued further statements over the microphone before being kicked out. Milans police contacted the press agent of Serpica Naro and warned them of the threats being made to disrupt her show which was schedualed to take place on saturday evening. The media ran a few stories and the agent for Serpica Naro was interviewed about the prospect of protests by anti-precarity activists.
Admission to all the dates are free and two short films made by activists will also be shown. They hope to raise awareness about the recent increase in state repression being suffered by Mexican activists. There will also be a benefit gig on feb 18th in London.
A large military police operation took place on the morning of February 16 to evict the land occupation of Sonho Real(Real Dream) in the city of Goiânia, Brazil. Two people got killed, over 800 people got arrested and several people are wounded, five of which severely. Among the arrested there are two Indymedia volunteers, one from Goiânia and one from Indymedia New York.
This morning (15th February) the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg declared that the notorious and long running McLibel case was in breach of the right to a fair trial and right to freedom of expression. The McLibel 2 (Helen Steel & Dave Morris) had launched legal proceedings against the UK government arguing that the marathon 'McLibel trial' which lasted 313 days - the longest trial of any kind in English legal history - and UK libel laws, breached the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6 (right to a fair trial) and Article 10 (right to freedom of expression).
Press Release | Nottingham cellebrations | Campaign's website
During the World Social Forum 2005 the 5th Intercontinental Youth Camp (IYC will take place in Parque Harmonia, Porto Alegre. Situated in at the heart of the WSF landscape, the camp will map the alternatives throughout the camp focusing on self-management, horizontality, diversity and creative resistance, experimenting and proposing alternatives that oppose capitalist and neoliberal hegemony. The Youth Camp opens its doors on the 24th January to around 25,000 people from around the world. One challenge of IYC 2005 is to enable the building of new networks of different struggles seeking articulation from local to global levels with the capacity to influence the consequences and causes of global political spheres and Also it will be crucial to collect information on all the different practices experimented in the camp for exchange on an international level and to spread the ideas.
Intergalactic Caracol The Caracol is a Youth Camp initiative, from 26th-31st january, that aims to bring together struggles that radicalise the resistance to capitalism and reclaim the world social forum, but also to think beyond the WSF facilitating groups with similar or different projects to find their overlaps and ways of cooperating.
Mosaic of Books The Mosaic of Books - World Social Library campaign has already gathered almost 4,000 titiles since Porto Alegre 2001. From mometum gathered from the World Social Forums since they include titles in literature, education, philosophy and a library of alternatives for the construction of another world. All participants coming to the World Social Forum are encouraged to contribute a book to this expanding mosaic.
Global Scanning Day As part of the youth camp and mosaic of books, the 30th January sees a day of Global Scanning to propagate the ideas of sharing free knowledge and horizontal distribution methods. Everyone is encouraged to scan periodicals, books, poems, pictures and stories of resistance. Report in Spanish and English coming soon.
Indymedia cinema and the RampART Creative Centre have been hosting a week long festival of documentary films from India. From Monday 10th to Saturday 16th January, each day focused on a particular social or political issue. This festival brings to London’s East End some documentaries that are rarely seen, inside or outside India, with the intention of creating spaces for debate. Some disturbing, some impassioned, others humorous, all inspiring and controversial, these films provide a glimpse into some of the most difficult challenges facing Indian society.
During film festivals in India attempts have been made to censor films covering these events. Now the same is happening in London. Last week, the ramparts social centre started to receive threatening emails, and anonymous comments posted on the ramparts web pages  from people trying to force the venue to cancel the film festival. They claim that the films present Hinduism in a bad light and that the organisers have an anti-Hindu agenda. The threats began after an email posted on nationalist Hindu mailing list alerted members of right wing Hindu groups such as the BJP and the VHP (both part of the Sangh Parivar, the family of Hindu fundamentalist organizations spawned and led by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh). However, of course, the organizers refused to bow to the threats and the festival went on as other venues came forward to offer alternative places to show the film should disruption take place. In the end, there was no disruption, and attendance was very good. 
At the end of last year activists from UK Indymedia spent a month in Mexico. A country where the gap between rich and poor is higher than ever and extreme poverty is evident everywhere. However in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas we encountered some truly inspiring tales of indigenous resistance.
In Oaxaca CIPO-RFM are organising direct action against the polititions and institutions that oppress them. They organise through democratic assemblies and maintain a CIPO PROTEST CAMP which has been attacked by the authorities. The state repression against them has recently increased though they remain defiant and should hopefully be speaking at UK events this February.
In neighbouring Chiapas we visited the Zapatista Caracol of Oventic. Here we interviewed the Zapatistas about their present situation. It is now exactly 11 years since the 1994 uprising, we were shown some of their more impressive achievements including the health service and education systems that they have installed for local people. They are presently appealing for international assistance for the Oventic.
NB Most links are to IMC photo essay posts.
Kelly, one of two activists who visited Sheffield in April to talk about Palestine and show a film, has now been imprisoned in Israel for filming.
Internationals from the International Solidarity Movement and the International Women’s Peace Service today joined with Israeli peace activists to support the village of Bil’in in their second day of resistance to the construction of the Apartheid Wall. Approximately 150 men, women, and children from Bil’in walked onto their confiscated land and halted surveying work.
Full feature on arrested filmmaker Kelly Minio-Paluello on Cambridge IMC
10-12-2004 00:00A group of London and Brighton based activists are in Egypt for the convoy to the Rafah organised by the Egyptian Popular Committee for solidarity with the Palestinian Uprising. Over the next few weeks expect a number of reports on the sights and sounds that we come across. In this one, we visit destitute workers with asbestosis occupying their former employers factory in the City of "The Tenth of Ramadan", about an hour out of cairo.
Ten people were arrested in Manchester city centre at the weekly picket outside Marks and Spencers'. On the 27th November police informed protesters that the picket would be illegal under the Public Order Act anywhere other than the Peace Gardens.
Defying the order, picketers began a moving protest outside the shop and were arrested alongside others who had ceased to actively protest, but were known to be 'part of the group'. Police have imposed bail conditions on some of those arrested on Saturday, although none of them have been charged with any offence.
The Bhopal Disaster of 1984 killed thousands of people in the Indian city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. It was caused by the accidental release of forty tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) from a Union Carbide pesticide plant located in the heart of the city. This event remains the worst industrial disaster in history with significant injuries to at least 50,000 people.
The MIC leak began shortly after midnight on December 3, 1984. The vapors killed more than 2,000 people outright and injured anywhere from 150,000 to 600,000 others, some 6,000 of whom would later die from their injuries.
To commemorate the lives lost in the disaster Sheffield Indymedia has arranged for a screening of the film Bhopal Express to be shown at 6:30pm Sunday 5th December at The Showroom Cinema in Sheffield with all proceeds from the film to be donated to the Bhopal Medical Appeal.
Indymedia India has a number of articles about the disaster: Fast for clean up of Bhopal Factory Site | Cloud over Bhopal | Students at 60 Colleges on Five Continents Demand Justice
Since the latest round of attacks on Fallujah by "coalition" forces started in earnest two weeks ago, and amid fears of a massive civilian death toll in the Iraqui city, London has seen a series of protests, actions and blockades in the Whitehall and Westminster area.
These started on Sunday 31st October with road blocks and the scaling of the gates to Downing Street, as well as the Foreign Office being splatterd with blood red paint [pics]. On Sunday 7th, there was a protest at Parliament Square, followed by campaigners laying flowers at the Cenotaph, before locking on and blocking Whitehall [see reports and pics 1, 2, 3, 4]. The next evening, on Monday the 8th, demonstrators meet up for non-violen direct action against the attack. They started by blocking the road at the top of Whitehall, followed by a loud protest in Leicester Square where the Queen was attending a cinema premiere. The action ended with a blockade in Picadilly Circus [Report]. On Wednesday the 10th demonstrators blocked Piccadilly Circus [Report and Pics]. And on Friday the 12th a rally for peace and protest against the attack on Fallujah took place in Brixton.
For more information on protests around the UK see: Indymedia-UK full feature
Photos from Fallujah | Interview with a Fallujah refugee
News from Iraq: Al-Muajaha | Electronic Iraq | Iraqi blog | Juan Cole blog | Empire Notes blog | also see Jo Wilding and her blog.
UK Protest + Iraq Info Upcoming London Events | Voices in the Wilderness | Stop the War Coalition | Justice Not Vengeance | Iraq Occupation Focus | Jubilee Iraq.