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Resistance - Page 12


    Virunga Mountains

    People's Media:

    "Those in authority fear the mask for their power partly resides in identifying, stamping and cataloguing: in knowing who you are...our masks are not to conceal our identity but to reveal it...Today we shall give this resistance a face; for by putting on our masks we reveal our unity; and by raising our voices in the street together, we speak our anger at the facelessness of power..."

    The Zapatistas are not the first 'radicals' to mask up in black as historians will be quick to point out. The tradition of masking up for political struggle can be traced to Autonomists who operated in Europe over 20 years ago. The first so-called autonomists were those individuals involved in the Italian Autonomia movement that got its start during the Hot Autumn of 1969, a time of intense social unrest. Throughout the 1970s in Italy a widespread movement for total social change was initiated by autonomous groups of factory workers, women and students.

    Masking- up was brought back to international attention with the Zapatista uprising and with the participation Black Bloc anarchists in anti-globalisation protests. The Zapatistas have a strong support base within the anarchist community in general, many are attracted to the Zapatistas organising in non-hierachial ways, and the Zapatistas struggle for indigenous autonomy without seeking state power. The similarity of the Zapatista dress code and Black Bloc anarchists is of course obvious. Ski-masks, or any sort of black mask. Recently Black Bloc anarchists have emulated the charasmatic imagery and rhetoric of Zapatism. Some have even used this to help recruit a 'few good anarchists' for Black Bloc demonstrations.

    A black bloc is a collection of anarchists and anarchist affinity groups that get together for a particular protest action.The flavor of the black bloc changes from action to action, but the main goals are to provide solidarity in the face of a repressive police state and to convey an anarchist critique of whatever is being protested that day.There are many reasons for the masks, beyond the media attention black masks get. The main one is the recognition that the police videotape activists and keep files on them. Masks also promote anonymity and egalitarianism.

    They also protect the identities of those who want to engage in illegal acts and escape to fight another day!There have been critisim of Black Bloc protest because of perceived violence. But Black Bloc advocates have responded by saying "We contend that property destruction is not a violent activity unless it destroys lives or causes pain in the process. By this definition, private property--especially corporate private property--is itself infinitely more violent than any action taken against it."

    Black Bloc critics point to the seemingly randomness of Black Bloc targets, but if one looks closer, the targets global corporates like McDonalds or banks, in the case of Seattle, activists outlined why certain corporates were targeted for Black Bloc 'redesigning'.

    "No justice, no peace, fuck the police!"

    "America's infamous Black Bloc were once again out in force in the streets of the nation's capitol today, April 16.
    A posse of around two hundred masked-up teenage ninja revolutionaries marched on the IMF and World Bank at around 7am under a sea of black and red flags and a twenty foot banner declaring them the "Revolutionary Anti Capitalist Bloc." They then set about on a running, wall tagging, barricade building, cop baiting rampage. 'Fuck the Whorehouse' appeared on a Whitehouse outbuilding wall, The World Bank's door plaque now boasts a natty anarchy sign and a federal spook's motor lost a couple of windows."

    Black Bloc groups have been present in protests in Melbourne, Prague, Davos, Nice, London, Seattle, Washington and no doubt they will appear in uganda.

    Black bloc has no problem with civilian protesters and strongly maintains solidarity!!

    Free Uganda
  • Anarcho-Capitalism vs. Individualist Anarchism

    Virunga Mountains

    Daniel Burton, a.k.a. Melchizedek, Lord of the Brambles

    Anarcho-capitalism is a type of individualist anarchism, but most people who are Anarcho-capitalists don't identify primarily with individualist anarchism, and most people who explicitly identify themselves as individualist anarchists consider themselves class war anarchists, or anti-capitalists.  There are some inbetweens too...

    But the principal difference between anarcho-capitalism and individualist anarchism is that anarcho-capitalists typically come from a philosophical background that values capitalism primarily as a value in and of itself, while individualist anarchists have a more egalitarian view of individualism, with no such allegiance to capitalism, and much less faith that the free markets will serve the social good on its own without some kind of limitation or constraints.

    One of the key differences is that individualist anarchists have traditionally opposed the unlimited ownership of land, especially absentee ownership, for the purpose of passively collecting rent.  In the 19th Century, the main idea was some kind of squatter sovereignty, in which individuals only had a right to land while they were using it. Any unused land was free for someone else to claim.  That made a lot of sense in the frontier-type situation of 19th Century America.  Today, there is a lot more complex and innovative though to deal with space constraints and environmental issues.  People like Fred Foldvary have ideas on this like everybody paying a land rent, divided among the rest of the community, and people paying an extraction fee for the use of natural resources.

    I personally see problems with both ideas, and think the focus should be more on the kind of process and social institutions to achieve these goals than the final outcome or set of rights itself.  I would like to see land use decisions made more flexibly, in a way that responds to peoples' needs, by some sort of informal bargaining process between all the various parties, not by any set system of voting, but not by any set system of property ownership or individual use rights either, something like the kind of anarchistic communalism that social anarchists want more generally -- something like a bunch of sovereign monarchs negotiating for a peace treaty basically, more like this than a parliament or a bunch of property owners taking each other to court.

    Another difference, historically, has been attitudes towards intellectual property.  Many individualist anarchists have opposed anything like copyrights or patents, not only based on principles of freedom of speech, but also for economic reasons.  Like social anarchists, they see patents and copyrights as a limitation on the rights of the poor and working class to be self-sufficient and to build alternative economic systems, autonomous in and of themselves.  They see access to not only land, but also technology, as being crucial to these goals.  This is also crucial as an international issue.  Europe, it its development took technological ideas from many other parts of the World without compensation, and would not have been able to get to where it is today without doing so -- so why should we now demand that Third World countries live up to a standard that Europeans themselves never had to?

    Perhaps not a substantive difference in ultimate goals, but a difference in emphasis and strategies is individualist anarchists' view of the importance of ending the government money monopoly and regulations on banking.  In a world where nobody had to pay taxes in the government's currency and there was no legal tender, individualist anarchists think that those who are presently without significant financial resources could improve their lot by joining mutual banks and issuing private, alternative currencies.  They could thus gain a medium of exchange to do business with each other, without having to borrow from or pay interest to a passive class of wealthy individuals.  Some, like mutualist anarchists, see the possibility of the working class issuing currency backed by their homes, cars, etc., just as banks back their deposits by loans to homeowners, for cars, etc. now.  Others imagine currency backed by the power labor itself, by promises to work if it is redeemed, etc. In any case, all, including anarcho-capitalists see interest rates going down far lower and money becoming more readily available without a free market for currency.

    Anarcho-capitalists, however, do not typically place such high importance on alternative currencies or share individualist anarchists' concern for the good of the poor and working class, so in reality, this leads to a difference in present strategies.  Some anarcho-capitalists fight endlessly for tax cuts that would mostly benefit the rich without ever thinking of how alternative currencies could help the poor. Individualist anarchists, who consider themselves part of the left, would never seek such things first, when the poor are so much more in need of individual rights that could improve their lives.

    Some individualist anarchists would go even farther.  Benjamin Tucker, a 19th Century individualist anarchist, and perhaps the most famous individualist anarchist of all, at one point, thought that not only ownership of land, but also all rent, business profits, and interest were wrong, and their victims should never be compelled to pay any of these, unless it was their choosing.  He even thought that workers, renters, and lendees, who had once voluntarily agreed to respect these capitalist institutions, should later be able to go back and seek compensation for the wrongs done to them.

    Today, with more developed economic theory, this doesn't seem to make so much sense -- if you prohibit all rent, profit, and interest, what will most likely happen is nobody will rent, lend, or make capital investments, and the poor will simply not be able to obtain housing, money, or physical capital to work with...  But modern economic theory also postulates that capitalism doesn't always work perfectly on its own, and individualist anarchists who don't share a capitalist ideology, might use these ideas to try to formulate individualist responses to market failures.  For example, monopolies that engage in price gouging are not particularly nice.  We could have government protect us from this, but it is not likely to do a particularly good job, and the extra bureaucracy necessary to carry out this function can also be used to carry out functions of oppression.  So what is the individualist response?  Well, we could have individuals, and their chosen protection organizations, go to these monopolies and force them to recognize an individual right to buy products at a reasonable price...  And these would more than likely be less bureaucratic and more efficient than government regulation.  There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is competition in the market for enforcement.

    There are some other things I would like to see recognized, like the need not just to allow use of natural resource in a more equitable way, but the need also to preserve them, especially things that are not so much commodities like intact ecosystems.  There is a kind of market failure at work here too.  You could on the one hand, say that if people want ecosystems preserved, they should pay for them.  The problem is that this creates a moral hazard, rent seeking behavior, basically, a perverse incentive for people who would not normally have any interest in destroying the environment for their own purposes to threaten to do so just so they can collect some money to preserve it.  You could assign the rights just the opposite way, and say everyone owns the environment, so you have to get permission from everyone before destroying anything. This would cause instead another kind of market failure, a hold-out problem.  Anyone who wanted to make some kind of development with an environmental impact would start trying to pay off people to do so.  The problem is some people would start pretending to be far more interested in the preservation of even minor, inconsequential environmental assets than they really were, just to get paid off, and the fewer people who were left, the more they would demand.  The end result would be that you could never do anything because you couldn't pay everyone off.

    The best kind of solution to this problem is something in between, where you can do some things that destroy the environment without anybody's permission, but you still have to pay people in the community (or even world at large) to compensate for the damage -- and they have to accept some set price without being able to stop you and hold out for more.

    The best way to do this, I think, is not through some moral abstraction that says we all should respect this set of rights, and insist on that amount of payment, but a dynamic process of negotiation like I described earlier.  Each individual who wants to live in a world whose ecosystems are preserved should negotiate would each individual who wants to do something withecological impact.  Their respective strengths of conviction will form the balance that sets exactly what the price is, or in some cases, whether any price is enough.  The fallback if negotiations fail will be direct action -- either the developer goes ahead and starts building, using force to defend this right if necessary, or the environmentalists undertake activity to stop him, using force if necessary.  The incentive to stop negotiations from breaking down, and this happening, is that such conflicts are messy, and often mutually destructive and costly to both parties.  Once people learn this, they should solve their disputes peacefully most of the time.

    To work effectively, the environmentalists would probably have to group together into organizations that represent the interests of their members, but since this is an individualist solution I'm talking about, you can imagine that each individual would have the choice to join or not join many different organizations, and different environmental organizations that worked in parallel to enforce the individual rights to protect the ecosystem would compete with each other.  Imagine a world where Earth First!, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness society sit down at a bargaining table with a developer and 20 smaller environmental organizations, some representing coalition of yet smaller organizations, represent the interests of their members, and negotiate a resolution where the developer either agrees to pay everyone off to compensate for the environmental destruction, or leaves and abandons the projects, because he can't afford the price.  Now that definitely isn't capitalism -- but it is individualist.

    You can imagine that in an individualist anarchy, individual rights might supersede property rights in all sorts of other ways, without economic resources having to be collectivized -- and some of these like squatter's rights are definitively individual rights.  There is a lot of innovation possible in thinking up various different ways of dealing with things, various different balances in a scheme of individual rights between property rights, equality, and environmentalism.  Not a lot has been said about this is in recent years; a lot more needs to be said.

    Free Uganda
  • Inside the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia "People´s Army"

    Virunga Mountains

    People's Media:

    The purpose of this supplement is to make available to the national and international community the necessary information about the Colombian reality in general and in particular the reality of the FARC-EP Fuerzes Armadas Revolutionarias de Colombia

    It is true that the FARC-EP are not specifically a signatory of all international human rights; however, this supplement demonstrates that the FARC-EP's rules are adjusted to it, as we are a revolutionary movement that has humanitarianism as one of its logical pillars.


    1. The present Protocol, which develops and completes article 3, common to the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949, without modifying its current conditions of application, will be applied to all armed conflicts that are not covered by article 1 of the Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of the 12th of August 1949, which concerns the protection of the victims of international armed conflicts (Protocol 1) which develop in the territory of a high contractual party between its armed forces and dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups which under a responsible command, exert control over a part of that territory such that allows them to carry out sustained and concentrated military operations therefore apply the present Protocol.

    2. The present Protocol shall not be applied in situations of internal tensions or disturbances. Such as mutinies, sporadic and isolated acts of violence and other acts that are not armed conflicts.

    The FARC-EP developed their war of resistance in an uninterrupted manner since 27 May 1964, when 48 patriots 46 men and 2 women took up arms in the municipality of Marquetalia (Tolima) against the aggression of the establishment, which the different governments have continued. The FARC-EP are now exercising the people's legitimate right of rebellion and self-determination. They struggle for the construction of a new Colombia, without exploited or exploiters, in peace, with dignity and sovereignty and for the fundamental rights of the majority of Colombians.

    Historically, the FARC-EP have been the people's army and have consolidated as a military-political organization, which is made up of sixty fronts that are present on all over the entire national territory. It also has urban structures in the cities, which are organized into seven blocks of fronts.

    All the activity of the FARC-EP is regulated by:
    a) The Statute
    b) The regulations of the disciplinary regime
    c) The internal rules of command

    · The Statute formulates the ideological foundations of the FARC-EP; it defines its organic structure, the regime of command, the obligations and rights of the combatants and the basic principles of the revolutionary organization.

    · The Regulations of the Disciplinary Regime deals with essential matters of military order.

    · The Internal Rules of Command deals with the usual daily practices of the different units of the FARC-EP.

    · The Eighth National Guerrilla Conference of the FARC-EP, held in April 1993, introduced and updated the provisions of the Statute, Regulations and Rules. These will apply until a new Conference is undertaken.

    · The National Guerrilla Conference is the highest level of authority in the FARC-EP, Therefore it defines the politics of the organization.

    · The Statutes define the organic and hierarchical structure of the FARC-EP. As an example we quote parts of article 3 of chapter II and chapter III.

    Chapter II

    Article 3: The structure of the FARC-EP corresponds to the following order:
    a) Squad: the basic unit consisting of 12 combatants.
    b) Guerilla: consists of two squads.
    c) Compañía (Company): consists of two guerrillas.
    d) Column: consists of two or more companies.
    e) Front: consists of more than one column.
    f) The Central High Command (Estado Mayor Central) designates the highest command of each front.
    g) Block of Fronts: consists of five or more fronts. It co-ordinates and unifies the activity of the fronts in a specific zone of the country.
    h) The Central High Command or its secretariat designates the High Command of each Block. They co-ordinate the areas of the respective blocks.
    i) The Central High Command (Estado Mayor Central) is the superior organism of direction and command of the FARC-EP. Its agreements, orders and decisions rule over the entire movements and all its members.


    Article 4. The hierarchical structure of the FARC-EP, is as follows:

    a) Squad deputy
    b) Commander (12h)
    c) Guerrilla Deputy
    d) Commander of the Guerilla
    e) Company Deputy
    f) Company Commander
    g) Column Deputy
    h) Column Commander
    i) Front Deputy
    j) Front Commander
    k) Block Deputy
    l) Block Commander
    m) Central High Command Deputy
    n) Commander in Chief of the Central High Command

    The following are collegiate organisms of direction and command:
    The Central High Command, the High Commands of Blocks and Fronts and the Commanders of Columns, Guerrilla and Squads.

    The organisms of direction previously mentioned are ruled by the principle of collective order.

    Article 5

    For each responsibility in the command the correspondent badge is created and controlled by the Mayor Central Command.

    The prerequisites to be a commander according to article 6 of the Statute are the following:

    g) To possess revolutionary courage and high moral values and to be endowed with exemplary honesty.
    h) To respect the interests of the civilian population, to behave correctly with them and to earn their trust.

    The National Command of the FARC-EP, elected in the National Guerrilla Conference, is the Central High Command, of which the National Secretariat is part. This is composed of seven members; among them, its maximum authority and Commander in Chief Manuel Marulanda Velez. The other six members are the Commanders Raúl Reyes, Alfonso Cano, Timoleón Jimenez, Iván Marquez, Jorge Briseño and Efraín Guzmán.

    For a better understanding of the ranks in the FARC-EP, we reproduce below a table that compares the ranks in the FARC-EP with those of traditional armies.


    Sub official
    Candidate for Commander
    Corporal second class
    Squad Deputy
    Corporal first class
    Squad Commander
    Sargent second class
    Guerilla Deputy
    Sargent first class
    Guerilla Commander
    Sargent Major
    Company Deputy
    Sub lieutenant
    Company Commander
    Column Deputy
    Column Commander
    Front Deputy
    Lieutenant Colonel
    Front Commander
    Block Deputy
    Brigadier General
    Block Commander
    General Major
    Central High Commander Deputy
    Three star General
    Commander of the Central High Command
    Commander in Chief of the Central High Command

    The Belligerent Character of the FARC-EP

    In addition to the previous elements, there is an explicit and de facto recognition of the belligerent character of the FARC-EP; as there have been conversations and meetings since the 1980s and accords have been signed. Furthermore at the international level there are political and diplomatic relations with different governments with different political parties, international governmental organisms, non-governmental agencies and prominent individuals. In the history of the FARC-EP there have been different encounters and meetings in an attempt to find a political solution to the conflict that the Colombian people suffers. Amongst these we highlight the following:

    1984- The signing of the accords for a cease-fire, truce and peace, also known as La Uribe accords between the Colombian Government (Belisario Betancur and the FARC-EP).
    1986-90 Multiple meetings between representatives of the Virgilio Barco/ Cesar Gaviria Governments and the National Secretariat of the FARC-EP.
    1991- Talks between the Government (Cesar Gaviria) and the insurgent armed forces that make up the Simon Bolivar Guerilla Coordination (Coordinora Guerillera Simon Bolivar - CGSB) in Caracas, Venezuela.
    1992- Another round of talks between the Government (Cesar Gaviria) and the Simon Bolivar Coordinator in Tlaxacala, Mexico.
    1998- The President elect Andres Pastrana visits the FARC-EP camps and interview with Commander in Chief Manuel Marulanda Velez.
    1998- Members of the National Secretariat of the FARC-EP meet with a governmental delegation.
    1999, 7th of January- The instalation of public peace talks in San Vicente del Caguan, Caqueta one of the five municipalities demilitarized by the Government as a condition demanded by the FARC-EP for the peace talks. These talks where attended by national and international guests, representatives of the powers of the state and the accredited diplomatic body of Colombia.


    Article 43, Armed Forces.
    The armed forces of one side of the conflict are made up of all the armed and organized forces, groups and units that are placed under one command, which is responsible for the conduct of its subordinates, even when this side is represented by a government or an authority that is not recognized by the adverse side of the conflict. Such armed forces must be submitted to a regime of internal discipline that requires compliance, amongst others, to the rules of International Law applicable in armed conflicts. As previously stated the activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP) are regulated by:
    a) The Statute
    b) The Regulations of the Disciplinary Regime
    c) The Internal Rules of the Command

    The revolutionary morality, ethical and principals that bind every member without exception or distinction guide all the rules contemplated in the fundamental documents of our organization. We are integrally part of the people; we are the people's revolutionary army, the reason for our struggle is the solution to the problems of all the Colombian people; for that reason it is not part of our politics to damage the interests and rights of the people. As an example of this we quote these articles from our regulations.

    The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - The People's Army, as the most elevated expression of revolutionary struggle for national liberation, are a military - political movement which develops its action in the ideological, political, organizational, propagandistic and in battalions of guerilla fighters. These conform the tactic of combining all these forms of struggle of the masses to gain power for the people. The discipline of the FARC-EP is political-military and under the direct orders of the Central High Command (Estado Mayor Central) which is the superior organism in the chain of command. Their agreements, orders and decisions rule over all of the movement and all it's members. All the material that is approved by the National Conference and the Central High Command are obligatory for all of the FARC-EP. The initiation into the FARC-EP is an act of conscience, voluntary, personal and between the ages of 15 to 30 years.

    Duties of the FARC-EP

    · Defend the interests and goods of the movement, the political organization and the masses.
    · Respect prisoners of war, their physical integrity and convictions.

    Actions that are penalized

    · Utilizing guerilla columns against the masses
    · Gossiping and spreading false information. Derogatory nicknames and the use of threats against particular persons.
    · Disrespect of the masses by members of the movement.
    · The murder of civilian men or women
    · Sexual assault
    · Theft from the civilian population
    · Fraudulent or advantageous transactions with the masses.
    · The consumption of drugs
    · Any activity, which goes against the revolutionary morality, the healthy customs or that lowers the opinion of the FARC-EP before the masses.
    · Any activity that impedes religious practices by the people.

    The political line that the FARC-EP takes when developing work with the civilian population is regulated in the following manner:
    A. In our fundamental objective of taking power, we must win over the hearts and minds of the people. For that reason all our military, political, organizational and propaganda actions should be directed so that the masses of the country and the city feel that we struggle to defend and represent their intereses, needs and ideas.

    B. In our work of organization, agitation, political propaganda and military action, it is very important that the people understand why we develop each of our activities. Our open struggle as much as our conspirative struggle should be understood by the masses as being their struggle. The FARC-EP is an armed part of the masses.

    C. Our organization and arms should always be at the service of the people so that we are seen as the their army. It is very important to always be transmitting our politics to the masses, so that they are conscious of it and therefore can participate in the struggle.

    D. The work with the masses should always be directed towards consciousness-raising and recruitment to an organization involved in the struggle. Either in a Union, a group of collectives, the Bolivarian Milicia, the centers of solidarity, the guerilla etc.
    E. We should dedicate special attention to community leaders that lead their community in the daily struggle; we will always make a special effort to attract them to our struggle.

    F. We should always reflect our humility and we should always be prepared to give the best of ourselves for the desires and aspirations of the people.

    G. Always remember not to give orders to the civilian population. We will win over their hearts and minds so that they may join the struggle.
    H. The Conference underlines that we must not procrastinate in the work of constructing clandestine political organizations as the necessary tool to reach the objective that we set.

    A clear example of the FARC-EP's concern for the civilian population is this communiqué that was reproduced by the international commission on the 8th of July 1998. It contains recommendations so the civilian population do not suffer the consequences deriving from the armed conflict.

    To the civilian population

    The FARC-EP does not use the technical terms of International Human Rights. However in a few of our documents there are rules established that aim to protect the civilian population from the conflict. These establish criteria that coincide with basic principles of human rights, such as the distinction between combatants and non-combatants and the immunity of the civilian population.

    Recommendations to the Colombian civilian population

    1) The civilian population should avoid having military garrisons or police stations near their houses or in areas that are densely populated.
    2) The civilian population should avoid letting police use their personal cars or public transport. If the proprietor or driver is obliged to, it is preferable that they get out and hand over the keys, leave the car in the responsibility of the army and get a signed piece of paper that shows just that.
    3) The civilian population should not board military vehicles of any type.
    4) Civilian vehicles should maintain a distance of at least 500 meters from military vehicles or convoys on Freeways.
    5) The civilian population should abstain from guiding soldiers in rural areas.
    6) The civilian population should abstain from entering military garrisons or police stations and they should not sleep in them.
    7) In areas of conflict, vehicles belonging to the press or humanitarian organizations should always have stickers or signs visibly indicating their organization. They should also travel at slow speeds.

    One of the accords signed by the Simon Bolivar Coordinator in the first meeting of commanders Jacobe Arenas was:


    We are convinced that in front of our people we should behave and act like revolutionaries, like new men and women, with humility and in this manner contribute to their incorporation into the struggle. The commanders of the Simon Bolivar Guerilla Coordinator have come together in their first summit Jacobe Arenas, to call upon the Bolivarian combatants to comply to the following rules of behavior before the masses.
    1) Our daily behavior and our plans, which we strictly follow, must come from the interests of the people.
    2) We must respect the ideas, political, philosophical, and religious attitudes of the population and particularly the culture and autonomy of the indigenous and other minority ethnic groups.
    3) We should not impede the right to vote or oblige the people to vote.
    4) In the daily development and displacement of our political-military work, the security of the workers, their homes and wellbeing has to be taken into account.
    5) We must respect the different methods that our collaborators use to maintain their secrecy when relating to us.
    6) Our internal discipline and our work within the masses privilege the use of caution with the innocent or with friends, so that they are not left to the mercy of the terrorism and hate of the official army and their paramilitaries.
    7) Everywhere where the masses are attacked by the official army and paramilitary by bombardment or destruction of their goods, we must be active in denouncing and combating these terrorist acts, so the people feel supported by us.
    8) Murder or any kind of insult that is proved to be committed against the civilian population is considered to be a crime.
    9) On our behalf there must be no impositions on the masses. We must endeavor that our arms are seen as their arms.
    10) Claims of aggression made by the combatants against the community or other persons must be exhaustively investigated, taking into account the viewpoint of the community.
    11) The commanders and the combatants must study and practice the rules of International Humanitarian Rights relevant to the conditions of our revolutionary war.
    12) Should it be necessary to detain someone, to check or verify absence, being that this person is a militant or sympathizer from a sister organization, or if possible the person should be handed over.
    13) In cases our fundamental principle is the respect of the right to live.
    14) The commanders and the combatants must keep in mind that execution can only be carried out for the gravest of crimes committed by enemies of the people and with explicit authorization in each case by request of the superior in each organization. In every case there has to be a confrontation of the proof and the decision must be decided collectively, the commander must act in a manner consistent to the proof.
    15) Alcoholism, drug addiction, theft and dishonesty are antirevolutionary vices, which damage the trust of our people.
    16) We must not abuse the trust and generosity of the people and we must never ask for goods for our personal benefit.

    International law for War, part of International Civil Law decides how to classify each armed conflict, which also applies these laws to civil wars and internal conflicts within a country. The war in Colombia is a typical case. These laws were put together and the terminology was regulated and sanctioned by the Geneva Conventions of August 1949 and by the first and second additional Protocols of June 1977, all of these signed and ratified by Colombia. It is these additional Protocols that make explicit reference to the rules for regulation of civil wars and armed conflicts, individually addressing insurgent forces who having taken part of the national territory from the control of the government have become subjects of International Law. The conditions that are decided by the Geneva Conventions, in particular for the additional protocol I, to consider "Legitimate Combatants" as those that are incorporated in politically insurgent armed forces are the following: a) That they wear a uniform that is recognized by the enemy. b) That they openly carry their arms. c) That they are dependent upon a responsible command. d) That they respect the laws and customs of war. Taking into account these rules we must consider all the effects of the law, on the militants of the FARC-EP as "legitimate combatants" of an insurgent force, existing and recognized by the law of the Colombian State. On the basis of President Andres Pastrana, representing the National Government, exercising his constitutional and legal powers in particular those provided by the Act 148 of 1997, issued the resolution concerning the dialogue.

    The resolutions of dialogue

    First resolution

    It is recognized that there are members who represent the FARC-EP and for that reason we can declare the initiation of a peace process, recognizing the political character of an armed organization and their peaceful signals.

    The national government in exercising their constitutional and legal attributes, especially law 148 of 1997 considers the following:

    1) That the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) has expressed their proposals and willingness for peace.

    2) That the national government attending to the willingness for peace, expressed by the Colombian people in the ballet box on the 26th of October 1997 in the "Mandate for Peace, Life and Freedom", has initiated conversations with the previously mentioned insurgent organization with the goal of peacefully resolving the armed conflict.

    3) That the government and the members representing the FARC remember to initiate the dialogue process inside the first 3 months of the new government, these would take place in a peaceful zone understood to be between, Mesetas, La Uribe, La Macarena, Vistahermosa and San Vicente del Caguan municipalities. There has also been a resolution to:
    First Article
    To declare open the process of dialogue with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP).
    Second Article
    To recognize the political character of the organization previously mentioned.
    Third Article
    To establish a peaceful zone in the municipalities of Mesetas, La Uribe, La Macarena, Vistahermosa. These are municipalities in the department of Caqueta.
    This should be done during ninety days from 7th November 1998 until 7th February 1999 with the purpose of carrying out the dialogue already mentioned.

    Fourth Article
    The present resolution will apply from the date of its dispatch.
    Communicated and fulfilled. Given in Bogota on the 14th of October 1998. Signs the president of the Republic, Andres Pastrana and the Minister of the interior, Nestor Humberto Martinez.

    Second Resolution
    Whereby some people are recognized as representative members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), the National Government in practice of its constitutional and legal attributes, especially referring to the law 148 of 1997 considers the following: According to the second paragraph of the eighth article from law 148 of the 26th December 1997, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has designated Mr. Raul Reyes, Mr. Fabian Ramerez, and Mr. Milton de Jesus Daniel as representative members of the organization previously mentioned to participate in the dialogues, negotiations or subscription of accords with the National Government or its delegates. The following are resolved:
    First Article

    To recognize Mr. Raul Reyes, Mr. Fabian Ramerez, and Mr. Milton De Jesus Daniel as representative members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in the dialogue process, negotiations or accords that this organization initiates with the Government. The present resolution will apply from the date of its dispatch. Communicated and fulfilled. Given in Bogota on the 14th of December 1998. Signs the President of the Republic, Andres Pastrana, and the Minister of the Interior, Nestor Humberto Martinez.

    5. In the presence of an existent belligerent relation, which recognizes that "accords between belligerent forces" is possible, based on the international law, which was signed and ratified by Colombia. Among all of the possible accords (the fulfillment of truces, the creation of peaceful, healthy and secure zones, the protection, attention and evacuation of the injured and the sick etc.). Today it seems particularly important, the prerequisite for progress to be the exchange of prisoners as is covered by article 44 of Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, which does not discriminate between legitimate combatants. The FARC-EP has as a compulsory rule to respect life, to provide medical assistance, food and humanitarian treatment of prisoners of war that are captured in battle.

    These principles have always been present. Since the first prisoners that where captured in this war, the rule that predominated was the good treatment and quick hand over to the civil, ecclesiastical authorities or to persons of a recognized moral authority in the nation. This has been carried out on several occasions. This custom matured as the national conflict took on a greater scope, making the FARC-EP strictly respect their rules and ethical principles in regard to detaining soldiers or policemen as prisoners in insurgent camps, where their rights are strictly respected. An example of this situation, is the taking of the military base in Las Delicias, Putumayo. The product of this action was that 60 soldiers where taken as prisoners by the Column Arturo Medina from the Southern Block. From the first moment that these soldiers where under our control our revolutionary rules obliged us to: 1) Return these prisoners safe and sound to their homes.

    2) Give them a humane, respectful treatment that logically includes the necessary medical attention.
    We proceeded with the confirmation that a commission that had a national and international presence was welcomed by organizations, governments and personalities that were asked for their participation, to process before the Colombian Government the necessary guaranties for the return of such prisoners. At last after almost a year the Colombian Government of Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) agreed to create the secure conditions necessary for the return of the 60 prisoners of war captured in Las Delicias, Putumayo and ten that where captured in Jurado, Choco.
    Indeed this experience demonstrates before the national and international opinion that the FARC-EP fall between the parameters recognized by the protocols of Geneva.

    Numerous delegates of the national and international community, diplomats, as well as representatives of international media corporations that were present for the return of the soldiers carried out in Cartagena del Chaira, on the 15th of June 1997.

    Due to acute crisis and the development of the war and the expertise of the FARC-EP's military action, the FARC-EP has more than four hundred members of the official Armed Forces and the National Police as prisoners of war and under guerilla control. Which according to the rules and principles already mentioned guarantees their life as well as their moral and physical integrity. At the same time hundreds of guerilla fighters are in state cells along with thousands of political prisoners that where involved in social struggles and who's political status is not recognized. As it has been continuously proved by specialized organisms, the human rights of these prisoners are not respected.

    Based on this reality and according to the international legislation as well as the Geneva Conventions and its protocols, we propose to the three powers of the Colombian State; Executive, legislative and judicial, to pass a permanent legislation that allows prisoner exchange.

    In this way the FARC-EP wishes to put an end to the difficult situation in which these compatriots and their families find themselves. The solution is in the hands of the legislators.
    The FARC-EP claim to be a belligerent force that practices human rights taking into account the rebellion and free self determination of the Colombian people. Its objectives are to defend the interests of the national majority.

    Free Uganda

    Virunga Mountains

    Dear all,

    Find below an advocacy document against the on going privatization of water and sewage services in Lagos, Nigeria. Kindly circulate among members of your network and other relevant publics. We request groups supporting this anti water privatization campaign to endorse this declaration, by appending their names, and addresses at the spaces provided below.

    Kindly copy all endorsements to blfnigeria@yahoo.com


    The Bread of Life Development Foundation/WaterWatch Box 14055, Ikeja,
    Lagos, Nigeria


    We the undersigned individuals representing various organizations under listed below, having critically examined the on going plan by the Lagos State Government, Nigeria with the support of the World Bank, to privatize the delivery of Water and sewage services to the 14m people of the State; and Noting that:

    1. The on going privatisation process of the Lagos State Water Corporation is not inclusive, open, transparent, and participatory. So far, the Lagos state Government has vigorously pursued the policy without any consultation, discussion, or approval by grassroots organizations that represent the peoples of the state, including water users and consumers, workers, women and children groups, farmers, fishermen and women, labour and trade groups, civil society groups, and private firms.

    2. The 'Lagos model' of Private Sector Participation (PSP) in the delivery of water and sewage services, seeks to relinquish all control over water resources to the private sector through commercialization, privatization, and commodification of water.

    3. No Environmental Impact Assessment has been conducted on the civil works planned under the privatization exercise. The privatisation process therefore constitutes a threat to diversity of water ecosystems and Lagosians who rely on them, and will lead to ecological devastation.

    Hereby affirm that:

    1. Access to safe water is a universally a basic human right and is essential to human life. The peoples of Lagos state must control water, as a public trust and an inalienable human right.

    2. The National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Nigeria states that the national policy is to guarantee free access for the poor for the "basic human need" level of water supply and sanitation.

    3. The Lagos State Governments, as primary duty bearer, must take concrete steps to respect, protect and fulfill Lagosians right to water and sewage services.

    4. Furthermore, projects intended to develop water resources in the state, must be based on respect for the rights of all Lagosians, and must provide full and meaningful participation in decision-making.

    5. Water is social and cultural good and should not be treated as a commodity governed by the rules of market. Any pricing scheme introduced to manage water resources must allow the poor to satisfy their basic needs.

    6. Water privatization all over the world, including in African countries like Ghana, and South Africa, has been shown to decrease access to clean and affordable water and discriminate against poor and under-represented communities who cannot pay "market prices" for water.

    We demand that:

    That privatization cease to be used as a condition on international lending to finance the development of water and sewage resources in the State; and

    We resolve to:

    Mobilize members of our organizations to advocate against the on going privatisation of the delivery of water and sewage services in Lagos State, Nigeria. As part of this campaign, we support the organization of a "Human chain against Water Privatisation' on March 22, 2005, in Lagos.



    For further details of this campaign, contact:

    The Bread of Life Development Foundation/WaterWatch Box 14055, Ikeja,
    +234-14759088, +234-17942833, +24-8035897435

    Contact person: BABATOPE BABALOBI
    Executive Director, The Bread of Life Dev. Foundation

    Free Uganda
  • Remembering the Rwanda Genocide

    Virunga Mountains

    By Edward Clay

    What happened in Rwanda in three months from April to July, 1994, was unprecedented in the history of the world. It was unprecedented considering that between 800,000 and one million people were killed within only three months.

    I was High Commissioner to Uganda in 1994, and non-resident Ambassador to Rwanda. And by a curious coincidence, I had in 1964, a full 30 years earlier, worked in Burundi. I visited Rwanda for the first time and presented my credentials to the then President Habyarimana a month before his assassination was used to precipitate the final act of the Rwandan disaster.

    It was not until the massacres of 1994 were well advanced that I and others even began to speak of genocide. We had been warned in advance by some that this was planned. Failing to recognise the validity of those warnings was at least a failure of information and of understanding and analysis.

    When I returned to Rwanda in July 1994 just before the fighting ended and again just after, I saw in a compound of a tea company the car of one of their managers. Among the items on the passenger seat was his ID card. Its main feature was the word "Hutu" reflecting the universal practice of labelling Rwandans according to their ethnicity. He had been killed notwithstanding his ethnicity.

    It was a series of steps which took past Rwandan governments from describing their citizens by their ethnic origin to begin to divide Rwandans into those for and against the government, and eventually to describing them as "cockroaches".

    In that way they de-humanised people, they created the notion that some citizens were inconvenient, a sign of lack of political hygiene, that they could, and eventually should, be stamped underfoot.

    Radio Mille Collines made of this name-calling a broadcasting policy. They propagated and nurtured it before most of us were aware that there was an extermination plan. In doing so, they spread the inhuman assumptions which led people to believe, when the time came, that they could and should kill those who were Tutsis.

    My other point concerns the nature of governments. The Rwandan government's persecution of its citizens was a long and dishonourable theme in the first three decades of that country's independent history.

    What has happened since the genocide of 1994 is unprecedented. The world's response after the event has been to recognise a massive failure. But the soul-searching since 1994 has led the United Nations General Assembly to designate today, April 7, as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda.

    Two, Resolution 58/234 of last 23 December calls on all member-states to implement the recommendations of the independent Inquiry into the actions of the UN in Rwanda during 1994; and three, it calls upon all States to act in accordance with the Genocide Convention to prevent any recurrence of events of the kind that occurred in Rwanda.

    What has been done to try to prevent a recurrence?

    First, there has been a recognition that States cannot just carry on as if what happens inside their borders is strictly their own affair.

    Second, there has been a great advance in acceptance that human rights are or ought to be a central concern of the international community as well as of national governments.

    Third, there has been agreement that genocide is a peculiarly vile crime requiring its own unique remedies. All States are enjoined to help search for and prosecute those accused of genocide in the case of Rwanda. The UN has established the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda. From the outside, the European Union has worked hard to improve its own capacity to react quickly to crises. Its "Operation Artemis" last year helped, in cooperation with the UN, to prevent acts of genocide in Ituri.

    Finally, there has been general recognition that Africa's poverty increases the competition for what resources there are within countries. Making a successful use of those resources and that goodwill depends as much on African governments, and on the way they govern, as on anything else.

    Given the pernicious role of Radio Mille Collines, it is not surprising that the role of information has been scrutinised also: those who are information-poor, dependant on only one medium, often controlled by government, are also suffering from a serious form of poverty. They are vulnerable to propaganda of the worst kind.

    One of the first acts of the British's Department for International Development (DfID) in Rwanda after the genocide was to fund the establishment of a radio station designed to be independent of factions and to promote reconciliation. We continue to provide support to help develop free and independent media.

    Any fair-minded and sympathetic person must recognise and applaud the progress the Rwandans have made in the past 11 years: their efforts to achieve national reconciliation; their determination to ensure that never again can there be a recurrence of 1994; the referendum on a new constitution and the milestone represented by their elections two years ago.

    The European Union and its member-states play a major role in supporting Rwanda; in supporting the efforts of the UN Secretary General to provide a stronger UN role in the effective prevention of genocide; and in supporting African efforts to strengthen its own peace-keeping and conflict-prevention capabilities.

    My government, which had no traditional links with Rwanda, is now that country's largest bilateral development partner.

    Today we condole with the people of Rwanda as they and many of us remember their suffering. We commemorate with them the dead; and we offer our solidarity and support to all those who suffered so grievously and survived. We salute that nation's efforts to achieve reconciliation and development. We hope our collective efforts will make a reality of that promise of "never again".

    Sir Edward Clay is Britain's envoy to Kenya.

    Free Uganda
  • Anarchist Politics & Direct Action

    Virunga Mountains

    People's Media:

    This paper discusses Direct Action - the proper method of anarchist activist action. In it I try to consider some theoretical issues that we don't usually get a chance to discuss in the midst of political campaigns. Some of the issues raised will be, the role of anarchists in other political movements, the difference between direct action and symbolic action, the various traditional types of direct action and the proper attitude of activists towards the police and the media.

    * * * * * * * *

    "Direct Action" is the distinctive contribution of anarchists in the realm of political method. While reformists advocate the ballot box, liberals have their lobbying and their letter writing, bureaucrats have their work through "the proper channels" and socialists have their vanguard parties, we anarchists have direct action. Political tendencies other than anarchism may adopt direct action as a method but its historical origins and its most vigorous proponents are anarchist. Because direct action is a political method, before we can properly understand it and its place in anarchist practice we must first examine the nature of anarchist political activity.

    Ideally, anarchist political activity promotes anarchism and attempts to create anarchy. It seeks to establish a society without capitalism,patriarchy or State, where people govern themselves democratically without domination or hierarchy. As I have argued elsewhere, this is an activity which is inescapably revolutionary in nature and which is best carried out collectively in an organisation dedicated to that purpose. While anarchists remain without a political organisation of their own, the main avenue for promoting anarchism is to participate in, contribute to and provide leadership in other political movements. Our objective in participating in other political movements and campaigns should be to show that anarchist methods and ways of organising work. The best advertisement for anarchism is the intelligence of the contributions of our activists and the success of our methods. Anarchists should strive to provide living examples of anarchy in action. As we will see, direct action is one of the best possible ways of doing this.

    Two dangers in Anarchist Political Practice

    Before I go on, I want to highlight here two problems which may occur with anarchist political activity which both stem from a tendency to be utopian in our political demands. Anarchists are often utopian in their rejection of any political activity oriented towards the state and in their failure to establish a realistic connection between their ends and their means. This sort of utopianism is not a virtue but instead contributes to anarchism's continuing political irrelevance to the majority of Ugandans.

    Anarchism and the State.

    In a capitalist economy the activities of "private enterprise" are rigorously excluded from public scrutiny and control. We have no input into the decisions about production and investment which determine the basic conditions of our existence and which are made in corporate board rooms. In many cases, if we don't like what we see happening around us, the only option open to us is to try to change government policy. Thus most forms of politics today are oriented towards the state. Most obviously, electoral politics seeks to determine the identity of those few individuals who supposedly "control" the state. Most forms of "political protest" also hope to induce, or to force, the state to take some action to address the protesters' concerns. Yet anarchism is largely defined by its rejection of the state as a mode of organising to meet social needs and anarchists have traditionally - and rightly - been extremely suspicious of any suggestion that we can succeed in using the state to serve our ends. It may therefore be tempting for anarchists to proffer "social revolution" as the solution to all problems.

    Anarchists may argue that the problems that people face are the results of an insane social and economic order and that only a revolution and consequent creation of anarchy will solve them. But people have problems and face difficulties here and now which need to be addressed and they cannot wait for the revolution to solve them. Thus in rejecting attempts to force the state to address our needs or serve our political ends we must offer realistic alternative methods of achieving our goals, if we are to be relevant to the struggles of people today. Sometimes this may be possible. Sometimes we can organise together, without relying on the state, to address and solve our problems here and now. As we shall see below, this is the essence of "direct action".

    Often, however, it won't be possible to provide genuine solutions to people's problems, within the existing order, without recourse to the state. Whether we like it or not certain social needs are, in current circumstances, only going to be addressed by the state. Access to medical resources, secure housing, educational qualifications or income support are for most people only going to be available as the result of state action. Relations between the sexes are also another area where the state seems to be the only plausible existing instrument of social policy. Domestic violence protection orders and state funded IDP camps may not be much of a solution to the problems created by violent or abusive partners but for some women they are all there is. For many women they are a necessary step on the road to escaping a cycle of abuse. The society wide education campaigns which are necessary to challenge sexist attitudes likewise can only be carried out with state support.

    Until anarchists constitute a sizeable portion of the community and are capable of providing these services - or alternatives - themselves, activists concerned about these issues will be justified in turning to the state for help in addressing them.

    Furthermore, legislation by the state *can* represent a real political victory. This may be because the passing of legislation acknowledges and gives weight to changes which have already occurred in the political consciousness of society at large or it may be because the legislation actually makes a real difference to the living conditions of ordinary people. Legislation guaranteeing a minimum wage, public health-care, health and safety standards at work or a decent standard of living for those excluded from work represents a genuine political victory for the majority over NRM-O. Not only do such state provided services make a vast difference in the quality of life of those who otherwise would have no or little access to them but they also dramatically increase the possibility of political action. The less time Wanainchi have to spend struggling to meet their basic needs, the more time they have to criticise and challenge the existing order.

    The traditional anarchist hostility towards the Museveni's state then should be tempered by the recognition that, while it continues to exist, it is an important site of class struggle. If we reject attempts to exert pressure on the regime we may render ourselves irrelevant to the real needs of large elements in society. Calling only for revolution is not going to interest anyone who needs real change now. Anarchists must provide workable solutions for Wanainchi here and now. Sometimes this will involve recourse to the state.

    Anarchism and Ends and Means.

    One of anarchism's historical strengths has been its insistence on the connection between ends and means. Anarchists have insisted that libertarian outcomes will not result from authoritarian means and, more generally, have been sensitive towards the ways in which compromises made in the realm of political methods may corrupt us or infect our goals. Sometimes, however, this has lead to an over simplistic equation betweens our means and our ends. Anarchists often fail to address properly the *political* question of how our methods relate to our goals. An example of this is the pacifist claim "If everyone refused to fight there would be no wars" Now this is clearly true, in fact tautologically so. But pacifism does not follow from this truism. It does *not* follow that the best way to prevent wars is to make an individual commitment to refuse to fight in them. The connection between our actions and the goal of peaceful world is a *political* one. It is political because it involves the workings of the whole set of power and economic relations which structure our social and personal decision making. For our activities to have their intended effect they must be taken up by others and whether or not this will take place will depend on a whole set of political and economic factors. It is not at all clear that our refusing to fight will cause sufficient numbers of others to do so and thus make war impossible (in fact, this just seems wildly implausible). The best way to prevent wars may be to address the social systems and the injustices which cause them. It may even involve fighting.

    More generally then, for our means to be suitable to the ends we seek we must be able to tell a realistic story about exactly how our activities will bring our ends about. This story will have to take account of the economic and political realities which affect our lives. It is often not realistic to believe that everyone else around us will immediately follow our example.

    The best forms of anarchist politics avoid these two forms of dangerous utopianism and offer people genuine hope and occasional success in their struggle for a better world. Direct action is a crucial component of such a politics.

    Direct Action.

    The distinguishing feature of direct action is that it aims to achieve our goals through our own activity rather than through the actions of others. Direct action seeks to exert power directly over affairs and situations which concern us. Thus it is about people taking power for themselves. In this it is distinguished from most other forms of political action such as voting, lobbying, attempting to exert political pressure though industrial action or through the media. All of these activities aim to get others to achieve our goals for us. Such forms of actions operate on a tacit acceptance of our own powerlessness. They concede that we ourselves have neither the right nor the power to affect change. Such forms of action are therefore implicitly conservative. They concede the authority of existing institutions and work to prevent us from acting ourselves to change the status quo.

    Direct action repudiates such acceptance of the existing order and suggests that we have both the right and the power to change the world. It demonstrates this by doing it. Examples of direct action include blockades, pickets, sabotage, squatting, tree spiking, lockouts, occupations, rolling strikes, slow downs, the revolutionary general strike. In the community it involves, amongst other things, establishing our own organisations such as food co-ops and community access radio and tv to provide for our social needs, blocking the freeway developments which divide and poison our communities and taking and squatting the houses that we need to live in. In the forests, direct action interposes our bodies, our will and our ingenuity between wilderness and those who would destroy it and acts against the profits of the organisations which direct the exploitation of nature and against those organisations themselves. In industry and in the workplace direct action aims either to extend workers control or to directly attack the profits of the employers. Sabotage and "go slows" are time-honoured and popular techniques to deny employers the profits from their exploitation of their wage-slaves. Rolling and "wildcat" strikes are forms of open industrial struggle which strike directly at the profits of the employers. However, industrial action which is undertaken merely as a tactic as part of negotiations to win wage or other concessions from an employer is not an example of direct action.

    As the examples of direct action in the community above suggest, there is more to direct action than responding to injustices or threats by the state. Direct action is not only a method of protest but also a way of "building the future now". Any situation where people organise to extend control over their own circumstances without recourse to capital or state constitutes direct action. "Doing it ourselves" is the essence of direct action and it does not matter whether what we are doing is resisting injustice or attempting to create a better world now by organising to meet our own social needs. Direct action of this sort, because it is self-directed rather than a response to the activities of capital or state, offers far more opportunities for continuing action and also for success. We can define our own goals and achieve them through our own efforts.

    One of the most important aspects of direct action is the organisation involved in order for it to be successful. By organising to achieve our goals ourselves we learn valuable skills and discover that organisation without hierarchy is possible. Where it succeeds, direct action shows that people can control their own lives - in effect, that anarchy is possible. We can see here that direct action and anarchist organisation are in fact two sides of the same coin. When we demonstrate the success of one we demonstrate the reality of the other.

    Two Important Distinctions

    Direct action must be distinguished from symbolic actions. Direct action is bolting a gate rather than tying a yellow ribbon around it. Its purpose is to exercise power and control over our own lives rather than merely portray the semblance of it. This distinguishes it from many forms of action, for example "banner drops" such as those often engaged in by Greenpeace, that look militant but, in my opinion, aren't. These actions do not directly attack the injustices they highlight, but instead seek to influence the public and politicians through the media. Any action directed primarily towards the media concedes that others, rather than ourselves, have the power to change things.

    Direct action must also be distinguished from moral action. It is not *moral* protest. By moral protest I mean protest which is justified by reference to the moral relation to some institution or injustice that it demonstrates. Moral protest usually takes the form of a boycott of a product or refusal to participate in some institution. Such actions seek to avoid our complicity in the evils for which existing institutions are responsible. No doubt this is morally admirable. But unless these actions themselves have some perceivable effect on the institutions which they target, they do not constitute direct action. Direct action must have some immediate affect to demonstrate that we can exert power. It should not rely entirely on others taking up our example. Our own action should have such an affect that we can point it out to others as an example of how they can change - and not just protest - those things which concern them. Boycotts, for instance, therefore are *not* examples of direct action. If only those who organise a boycott participate in it, it will almost invariably be ineffective.

    Of course, these distinctions are overdrawn. Any action at all involves some exercise of power. By acting at all, in any way, we overcome our passivity and deny that we are helpless to affect change. Any action short of revolution is to some extent both moral and symbolic. Capital, patriarchy and state have the power to undo all our efforts short of revolution. Any form of protest can be effectively prevented if the state is willing to employ the full range of its resources for authoritarian repression and control. The only form of "direct action" which cannot be contained by the state is popular revolution. This is the ultimate direct action that anarchists should aim for, when all people organise to destroy the existing order and cooperate to run society without capitalism, patriarchy or authority.


    So given that any action will be less than ideal, how should we assess potential direct actions? I would suggest that possible direct actions should be assessed both as examples of direct action as described here and against the broader criteria for anarchist actions set out above. That is, of any action we should ask:

    1) to what extent does our action affirm our own power and right to use it?

    2) does it advance the theory and practice of anarchy and, in particular, will it build the anarchist movement?

    Some further questions we can ask ourselves to help determine the answers to these are as follows. Firstly, will it draw others in? Is it the sort of activity which encourages other people to become interested and involved? Actions which necessitate a high degree of detailed organisation or secrecy are unlikely to score highly against this criterion. Will it succeed in achieving its defined objectives? For instance, will a blockade actually stop work on a site for some period? Successful actions are the best advertisement for anarchist methods. Are the politics of the action obvious or at least clearly conveyed to those who witness it? If the targets of our actions relate only obliquely to the issue which they are intended to address or the goals of our activities unclear to those not "in the know" then we are unlikely to convince others of the relevancy of anarchism. For this reason we must always be conscious of the messages which our activities convey to other people and try to ensure that this is the most appropriate possible. What consequences will result from the action for those involved in it? Actions which involve a high risk of police beating or of arrest with consequent heavy fines or imprisonment may reduce the willingness or capacity of those affected to engage in further political activities, if any of these things occur. Very few people are radicalised by being hurt by the police, most are just scared. Often the hours spent dealing with legal hassles for months after an arrest could have been more productively spent in other political activity, if the arrest was not necessary. Finally, how will the action transform the consciousness of those involved in it? We should aim to engage in activities which establish within us an increased awareness of radical social and political possibilities, broaden our base of skills and leave us confident and empowered. Sometimes actions may have other, less welcome, effects on the psychology of those involved. Unsuccessful actions may leave us feeling disempowered and embittered. Actions which involve a high degree of aggression, confrontation or potential violence may breed hostility and aggression within us which might hamper our ability to work productively in other political circumstances.

    By assessing our political activities against these criteria and asking these questions and others like them, I believe that we can ensure that our actions have the greatest chance of achieving our goals and thus demonstrate the superiority of anarchist methods of political action.

    Some consequences

    Anarchists and the police

    The relation of activists and demonstrators to the police is a contentious issue in activist politics in Uganda. This is not the place to give a detailed treatment of the politics of various ways of relating to the police. But a brief consideration of some of the matters discussed in this paper can, I believe, aid discussion of the issue by ruling out a number of possible (bad) answers to the question of how we should treat the police.

    The first implication of the politics of direct action with regards to our relations with the police is that, wherever possible, we should disregard the authority of the police. Direct action is action which acknowledges our own power and right to exercise it. To the same extent that we recognise the authority of the police and obey their instructions we are relinquishing our own right and power to act as we would wish to. So it is actually essential to direct action that we do not concede the right of the representatives of the state to restrict our activities. Of course, for tactical reasons, we may have to acknowledge the consequences that may occur when we ignore the law and may even have to negotiate with police in the attempt to minimise these. But it is important that, in doing so, we remember at all times that although they have the means to do so, they have no right to restrict us in our liberty.

    The discussion of the necessity of a *political* analysis of the relation between our ends and our means is also crucial here. Any strategy of dealing with the police must take account of their role as a political - and ultimately a class - force. The police force exists to defend the status quo and the interests of the ruling class. Individual police officers may occasionally have reservations about doing so but, when push comes to shove, that is their job. A police officer who doesn't follow the orders of the state is no longer a police officer. As anarchists therefore, the police, not as individuals but as an institution, are our enemies. They exist to defend all that we wish to destroy. In their defence of private property and the state, the police are backed up by the armed force of the state. Behind the police lies the military who, as numerous historical examples illustrate, are ready to step in and restore "order" if the civilian population becomes too unruly.

    Once we recognise the police force as a political institution and that its members therefore necessarily stand in a certain political relation to us then a number of things become clear.

    Firstly, any attempt to "win over" the police, one by one, is doomed. We can win the cooperation of the police for precisely as long as we fail to genuinely threaten the existing social order. As soon as our activities begin to threaten the interests of the state or the profits of the ruling class the police will move to disperse/arrest/beat us, as sure as night follows day. Of course, individual police may be moved by personal convictions. But as I suggested above, this does not change their *political* relation to us and the necessity of them acting against us. It's their job and if they refuse to do it they will (ultimately) lose it. A gentle cop does not remain a cop for long. Attempts to win over the police may succeed in winning over individuals then, but at the cost of them ceasing to be members of the police force. We will never to able to win the cooperation of the police as a political force when it counts.

    Secondly, the fact that the police are ultimately backed by the armed force of the state determines that any attempt to resist or overcome the police through violence will ultimately fail. While the state and ruling class are secure politically and can succeed in maintaining the passivity of the majority of the population, they can defeat any attempt to threaten them through violent means. The state has more repressive force at its command than we can ever hope to muster. This is *not* a pacifist position. We have every *right* to employ force in the attempt to resist the violence of the state. Where a specific act of violence against the state will achieve a particular tactical objective, without provoking crippling repression or a disastrous political backlash, then we would be justified in committing it. But as a political *strategy*, in a non-revolutionary period, attempting to overcome the state through force is doomed.

    The beginnings of an anarchist politics with regards to the police force, then, are to be found in a conscious hostility towards them as an institution, tempered by an awareness of the tactical realities of dealing with them. Recognising that the police are our class enemy is itself an important gain in political consciousness. This is not to deny, however, that there may be tactical advantages to not antagonising the police. Indeed, antagonising the police is a sure way to guarantee extra hassles for protesters. So it should never be done unnecessarily. But in our care to avoid creating unnecessary trouble for ourselves we must remember that the source of the confrontation and violence which sometimes occurs around the police is the police themselves in their attempts to protect an unjust - and ultimately itself violent - social order.

    Anarchists and the Media

    The other important area of politics where my discussion of direct action has significant practical consequences is in protesters' relation to the media. This is an issue which often generates heated discussion within activist groups and which can have a significant effect on their politics. Again consideration of the politics of direct action allows us to go some way towards settling this question.

    As I suggested earlier any protest where protester's are acting entirely for the sake of media attention or - as actually often occurs - are even being directed in their activities by the media is not a case of direct action. Such "media stunts" do not themselves seek to address the problems which they highlight and are instead directed to getting other people (usually the government) to solve them. Thus in as far as we are concerned to be practicing direct action we should shun this sort of involvement with the media. We should not "perform" for the cameras or reporters.

    Yet, because an important criteria for a successful anarchist action is its success in reaching other people and convincing them of the efficacy of anarchist techniques, we can't really ignore the media. Sadly, the only contact many people have with political events around them is through television or the papers.

    From these two facts, I believe, the rudiments of an anarchist stance towards the media emerge. Anarchists should neither ignore the media or perform for it. Instead we should remain true to our own politics and seek to achieve our ends through our own efforts. While we do so we should welcome media attention which might spread news of our activities and so help build an anarchist movement. When we cooperate with the media we should do so without compromising the integrity of our own politics and without distorting either ourselves or our message. Once we compromise our politics for the sake of media attention then we are no longer conveying the success of anarchist methods.

    Finally the advantages of direct action should encourage us to make maximum use of our own and community media in attempting to reach out to others. Rather than relying on the capitalist press to communicate our message to the people we should do it ourselves. Community papers, radio and television are themselves examples of direct action in the media.

    A final note.

    This paper has discussed and advocated the politics of direct action within the broader context of the purpose of an anarchist politics. Direct action has many virtues, not least that it is, in essence, itself anarchy in action. But direct action is not the only form of worthwhile political action. Anarchists should remain open to the possibilities of an entire spectrum of political methods. Any form of politics that involves people and transforms their consciousness in a progressive way may be useful in the struggle to build an anarchist movement and ultimately a revolution to create anarchy. Which particular political movements and methods deserve our support can only been decided within the framework of a well theorised, consciously anarchist, politics. This paper is intended as one small contribution to the project of developing such a framework.

    Free Uganda
  • Uganda alleges world hate campaign against Museveni

    Virunga Mountains

    African War Criminal


    Kampala, Uganda, 04/03 - Uganda has alleged that there was an organised international hate campaign against President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Resistance Movement who have ruled the East Africa country for 19 years.

    Government spokesman and Information Minister James Nsaba Buturo pointed his accusing finger at the media, saying that "there is a growing bad international press against President Museveni orchestrated and organised by sections of the international community with local collaborators aimed at bringing him down."

    "This campaign is designed to whip up resentment against the leadership of President Museveni," he said.

    Visibly dismayed, Buturo retorted that "it should be realised that the president enjoys massive countrywide support and that his vision for Uganda could transform the country."

    Buturo targeted the New York based Human Rights Watch and international and local journalists as the promoters of the hate campaign.

    "Neither HRW nor anyone else has the moral authority to teach Uganda how to fight HIV/AIDS. Our record in fighting HIV/AIDS is well known to the whole world, except the HRW," Buturo told a weekly news conference here.

    "The hate campaign against Museveni and the NRM started in 2003 when the government supported a proposal to lift presidential term limits," he said.

    Dutch Minister for Development Corporation, Agnes van Ardenne, said she had cautioned Museveni against the third term during her visit to Kampala in February.

    Last week the US government joined a growing list of donors and international figures criticising Museveni`s ongoing campaigns countrywide to lift the presidential term limits so he could remain in power.

    In its 2004/2005 report on the US support for human rights around the world, the US State Department warned that "democratisation could suffer a setback if the NRM succeeds in removing presidential term limits from the constitution."

    The Department had earlier criticised the country`s human rights record, accusing security agencies of carrying out torture and illegal detentions.

    A British Minister recently questioned Uganda`s democratisation process while Irish rock star and anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof criticised Museveni for aiming to rule for life.

    The comments sparked off two pro- and anti-third term demonstrations in Kampala last week.

    Free Uganda
  • The evil regime of Uganda

    Virunga Mountains

    Encampment is NRM, LRA 11th point programme, commandment
    By Samuel Olara
    The atrocious conditions of the camps have been well documented. However, little has been discussed in the media about the origin, and if any, the legal instruments governing the creation of these dreaded concentration camps. There is no article that stipulates the declaration of camps in the NRM ten-point programme, the ideological thinking behind the Luwero war fought between NRA and UNLA (1981-1986).

    Similarly, in the Ten Commandments that the LRA allegedly uses as an ideology to guide their brutal struggle against the Museveni administration, nowhere is the use of encampment articulated. Inspite of this, both parties are united by the 11th point Programme and Commandment, respectively, which they have jointly helped conceive, and implement.

    CASH FOR ARMS: Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh
    Having failed to defeat the LRA by conventional military attack by 1996, the NRM/NRA/UPDF devised the 11th point programme to "deny the LRA access to both food and human resources" using encampment, to defeat the so-called "mystical army". Secondly, it is widely believed that the 11th point programme was advocated by the NRM as a means to punish, emasculate and humiliate a recalcitrant population, particularly when after the 1996 presidential election President Museveni still found the people of the north to be "recalcitrant, unrepentant, and unyielding."

    In October 1996 after the May Presidential elections, President Museveni's Advisor on Political Affairs, Major Kakooza Mutale, deployed in Gulu; and set in motion the recruitment and deployment of the Popular Intelligence Network (PIN); whilst addressing rallies in which people were told that a big military confrontation with Sudan was imminent.

    Following Mutale's tour, the UPDF started forcefully removing people from their homes, enforced in some instances by the shelling of villages in Pabbo, Opit, Anaka, Cwero, Unyama, Awach, KocGoma, Amuru and Anaka, to mention but a few. The aim was to drive people out of their homes and into concentration camps. The shelling was supported with aerial bombardment. However, the NRM government has consistently stated that the UPDF only shelled rural areas where it suspected that the LRA was present.

    To enforce this 11th Point Programme, in July 1996, important changes were made in the high level of military command in Gulu. The 4th Division Commander based in Gulu Brigadier Chef Ali (RIP), was transferred and replaced by Lt. Col. James Kazini, a first cousin to the First Lady. To politically sooth the negative impacts of the implementation of this programme, President Museveni's younger brother, military-cum politician, Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh was also sent to Gulu as Presidential Advisor on Military Affairs. Both commanders are known for their die-hard views on implementing the "military solution" based on the assumption that the Acholi supported the rebels; even though rebels were killing Acholi daily.

    Saleh's politico-military strategy was to use the Acholi population to provoke the LRA through policies such as the creation of Acholi paramilitary youth brigades to fight LRA or groups for economic production through his Divinity Union Ltd.

    These policies drew the local population directly into the conflict between NRM/NRA/UPDF and rebel LRA, and made the local population sitting targets for the LRA.

    One unforgettable incident took place on the road between Parabongo and Pabbo where some civilians unearthed an LRA arms cache and handed it to the area Commander Salim Saleh, who insisted on giving them cash. In reprisal, the LRA chopped off 80 heads of the local population and lined them along the road, as a deterrent. They then ordered the local people to vacate the countryside, in what has become their 11th Commandment; in so doing, they have helped NRM/UPDF implement its 11th Point Programme of Encampment of Acholi.

    Almost immediately after the move to drive people out of their villages, members of the Acholi Parliamentary Group sought audience with then Minister of State for Defence Amama Mbabazi, and expressed concern about the government and UPDF's unconstitutional conduct. According to the ARLPI report "Let my people go"; the Minister's response was: "Since the people in Acholi supported the rebels, the Army had no choice but to move people away from their villages in order to deny the rebels food and information". He further noted that he "did not believe that the reported atrocities committed by soldiers were true." Mbabazi later repeated the same statements to a delegation from the EU, who had visited Gulu and had in fact, voiced the same concerns.

    The decision to create camps was officially announced by President Museveni on the 27th September 1996 to members of the Parliamentary Committee of the Office of the President and Foreign Affairs. Former Member of Parliament (MP) for Chua Constituency, Livingstone John Okello Okello, recalls that on that date the MPs from the North raised serious objections about the plan to move the population of Acholiland into camps, and that at the end of the meeting the President agreed to consult with the military saying that he would let them know about his decision, something which never took place.
    Officially the UPDF denies that it ever used force to make people move away from their villages. According to the then Army Public Relations Officer, Lt. Khelil Magara (RIP), "People came voluntarily to the camps … nearer to UPDF detachments … since it is not possible to dispatch a soldier at every homestead in Acholi." (New Vision 6th July 2001).

    However, the evidence shows that this was a deliberate war policy. Maj. Gen. Salim Saleh, in charge of military operations in Gulu, at that time, indicated one year after the move took place that the Army acted alone in creating camps because it "suspected bureaucracy and politicking over the issue".(The Monitor, 26 October 1997).
    In Pabbo, people quoted former Deputy 4th Division Commander Lt. Col Lakara as saying in an address at the trading centre, that "all rural areas should be left free for the UPDF to finish the rebels in a matter of few months".

    The LRA position vis-à-vis the UPDF/NRM was to use the civilians as a tool in their campaign. Observers believe that in pursuit of their objective the LRA devised the 11th Commandment, one that stipulates the assault on the civilian population. These brutalities on the civilians played well into the NRM's 11th Point Programme and enabled the UPDF implement a deliberate non-intervention policy against LRA attacks, as a strategy to force the people into camps.

    As a result, between the 7th and 12th January 1997, LRA rebels allegedly murdered more than 412 men, women and children in Lokung, Padibe and Palabek, in Kitgum District; one of many gruesome murders in Acholi. This triggered the first wave of flights to the so-called military detaches which were deliberately erected far away from the local villages and trading centres.

    Most political observers agree that this 11th NRM point programme, which was in line with the LRA's 11th Commandment, brought about the widely known "non-intervention" policy from the UPDF, to drive out those reluctant to leave their villages. In Kitgum for instance, when non-intervention was skillfully adopted, the acting Brigade Commander of the 503 Brigade based in Pajimu barracks, Lt. Col. Edson Muzoora (now exiled) was on "official leave."

    Over time, this policy of encampment began to fall apart, as people dared to return to their villages. But the UPDF then came up with the 48 hour ultimatum on the 4th October 2002, ordering people back into the concentration camps.

    Of course, both the LRA and the government have been told many times over that their IDP policies are counter productive. First, the LRA cannot use the camps as justification for the continuation of the war since it was partly responsible for creating the camps. Secondly, the M7 regime can no longer absolve itself of the responsibility of creating the camps. Thirdly, both sides can no longer continue to force people to live in the camps indefinitely since it is clear that as a military tool, the concentration camps have failed to bring victory to either side of the conflict. Finally, it is high time that all Ugandans and the international community rejected any attempt by either the government or the LRA to continue to hold the people in the camps anymore.

    As the Acholi Religious Leaders have aptly put it in their pastoral letter, will NRM and LRA"Let my People Go"?

    The writer is a human rights advocate resident in the UK. olarasamuel@hotmail.com

    Free Uganda
  • Uganda Army Killing Civillians

    Virunga Mountains

    Silent Voices:

    The Ugandan army has moved hundreds of thousands of civilians against their will into “protected villages” that offer little security and hardly any assistance, and has victimized ordinary people with brutal raids against suspected LRA militants.

    While the death toll from direct violence reaches into the tens of thousands, chronic food and water shortages in the 200 makeshift settlements throughout the north have also exacted a heavy price. In November 2004 alone, MSF recorded staggering death rates in six camps in Lira and Pader districts, with many dying from preventable diseases like malaria, respiratory disease, and diarrhea. Recent peace overtures from both the LRA and the government have not led to a noticeable improvement of the situation for people living in deplorable conditions and in constant fear. GULU district councillors have accused UPDF soldiers of killing civilians in displaced people's camps and in the villages.

    The LC5 councillor for Lalogi sub-county, Ben Acellam, said the UPDF shot dead three women in the sub-county, adding that two of them had children, one aged seven months and another aged two.

    He said the UPDF 4th division commander, Col. Nathan Mugisha, had promised to take action against the killers but so far nothing seemed to have been done.

    "UPDF soldiers are arresting and killing civilians in the villages on the allegations that they are rebel collaborators," he said during a meeting at Gulu district council hall on Tuesday.

    Richard Oweka Kagwa, without giving the number of civilians arrested and killed by the UPDF, said some civilians were killed by the army in Awach and Cwero villages in Aswa county.

    The councillor for Koch Goma sub-county, Tom Ocitti, said five soldiers and two civilians died when the UPDF opened gunfire against each other due to poor coordination.


    U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland compared the situation to the well-publicised problems in Sudan's Darfur region.

    "If they go out (of camps), they are killed as much, or raped as much or worse as in Darfur, by the Lord's Resistance Army and others," Egeland said in a recent statement.

    Museveni has rejected the comparison, but that hasn’t stopped aid workers continuing to make it.

    “One hundred percent of the population is affected by this kind of crisis -- it’s huge,” Gael Griette, an expert covering Uganda for the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), told AlertNet.

    Griette said that the entire rural population of Acholiland was in displacement camps.

    “People have been cut off from their livelihoods, cut off from everything. They are in camps with nothing, and insecurity is very high,” he said.

    “In terms of magnitude and acuteness we can compare what is going on in Northern Uganda to Darfur.

    “What is very different between the two crises is the way it is addressed in terms of funding, humanitarian agencies being present in the field, and on top of all it is very different in the way it is being covered in the media.”

    Griette said one of the reasons northern Uganda did not get much media coverage was because the LRA had been terrorising the local population for so long that the crisis was seen as old news.

    “But this is short-sighted because the crisis has tripled in terms of the number of people affected and multiplied by five or six in terms of acuteness in the past two years -- more or less the same time as the Darfur crisis,” he said.

    Free Uganda