Resisting state & non-state terror (What’s Happening newsletter #14)

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Welcome to the third Real Media / Phoenix Media Co-op newsletter of the year. Please also remember to subscribe on YouTube to check out our What’s Happening round-up, which will be back in February.

Assange appeal

One year ago, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Julian Assange should not be sent to the US because of his psychological state. The basis of the US appeal was that they were willing to give assurances they would treat him fairly.  

But as they hadn’t given these assurances as part of the original hearing, on 24 January the High Court handed down a ruling that gives campaigners a tiny ray of hope. 

The legal argument over at what stage any US assurances should be considered will now be ruled on by the Supreme Court, and Assange’s legal team is hoping that the Supreme Court will allow a further appeal on that basis.

The High Court ruled against any other arguments about whether US assurances were adequate or trustworthy, so Assange’s fate is down to the Supreme Court and whether they are willing to consider this narrow point of law.

Meanwhile, Assange has been held in horrific conditions in Belmarsh for more than 1,000 days in what has been described as “punishment by process”. 

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer reminds us of the real issue at stake in this exclusive Real Media video.

If you currently donate to The Guardian (whose editor earns around a third of a million pounds a year) then take a look at the newspaper’s part in the demonisation of Julian Assange, as explored in this video, and consider supporting independent journalism instead.

Palestine Action

On 24 January, six activists scaled the roof of drone engines factory UAV Engines Ltd in Staffordshire, a subsidiary of Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems. During the course of the day they smashed windows, specialist air conditioners, and even brickwork, pouring red paint down the sides of the building and spraying the inside of the factory through smashed skylights. All six were finally arrested after around eight hours of occupation. Full exclusive film report coming soon at

The factory has been targeted on multiple occasions by campaigners who claim to have evidence of direct links to war crimes.  A Crown Court trial of Palestine Action activists who had previously damaged the factory was due to begin earlier this month but was adjourned at the last moment. A magistrate’s trial of three activists who blockaded the site a year ago found them not guilty last month.

The recent acquittal of three young women who poured red paint and occupied the roof of the factory’s landlords means that to date, there has been no successful prosecution of Palestine Action activists despite a sustained campaign of dozens of actions. Elbit recently announced the shutdown of its major factory in Oldham.

Resistance against Daesh in northern Syria

Seven years ago, Kurdish-led forces attracted the world’s attention by successfully resisting a Daesh (Isis) invasion in the northern Syrian city of Kobane. Their resistance didn’t only cement them as one of the region’s most effective forces in the fight against Daesh and other extremists, but also placed a spotlight on the radically democratic system that Kurdish-majority communities had been building in northern Syria (aka Rojava) in recent years.

As Daesh retreated, media attention waned. But in the last few days, there has been renewed fighting in northern Syria. Daesh fighters attacked Ghweran prison, a reportedly understaffed and underfunded detention centre where Kurdish-led forces have long been holding thousands of extremists. Thousands of local people have been displaced as a result of the attack, and operations to retake the prison are ongoing.

Local official Dr Abdulkarim Omar insisted that the international community has failed to meet its responsibilities, saying: “The massive attack by dozens of Daesh members on Al-Hasakah prison and its repercussions are the result of the international community’s failure to shoulder its responsibilities towards this big and serious issue, which we consider to be an international problem.”

Stressing that Daesh terrorism “is far from over”, he added: “We have consistently appealed to the international community for ISIS militants in jails and camps. We warned that the current situation could not be maintained. … Every country should take its citizens back. Those who do not accept them should come and assist us, and ISIS members should be prosecuted.”

Animal rights action

People across the UK have been continuing the struggle for animal rights. Some news in the fight against hunting includes:

  • 15 Jan: Nottingham Hunt Sabs capture footage of hounds from the Belvoir Hunt ‘chopping’ a fox. (Graphic footage.) Facebook post / Local news report
  • 15 Jan: Sab with Staffordshire Hunt Sabs ridden down by a rider with the North Shropshire Hunt. Hospitalised but discharged with concussion. Facebook post / Facebook video / Local news report 
  • 17 Jan: AXA Insurance, which previously provided insurance including legal fees for the Hunting Office, appears to confirm that they no longer provide the hunting industry with insurance. Hunt Sabs Association post / Background article by HSA
  • 18 Jan: News emerges that a huntsman for the Quorn Hunt elbowed a police officer in the face while the officer was attempting to seize evidence following reports of illegal hunting and NO ARRESTS WERE MADE. (Incident happened on 8 Jan.) HSA post

Elsewhere, campaigners have resisted other animal-rights abuses:

  • 18 Jan: Activists shut down Impex, a company that provides the vans transporting beagles out of MBR Acres (among other animal research facilities). Two people also locked on. Twitter post / Facebook post / Local news report
  • 15/16 Jan: Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade USA (CAFTUSA) protested and occupied “every Stone Island in the country” due to the fashion brand’s use of fur. Instagram post / Facebook link


That’s all for this week, but please let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel.