War, censorship and resistance (What’s Happening newsletter #21)

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War and censorship

A new article on Real Media looks at the recent ‘tsunami of censorship’ wielded by a handful of enormously powerful big tech internet platforms. It’s not just state-sanctioned news channels which have been closed down or restricted, but so many independent journalists are under attack too, sometimes by self-appointed ‘fact-checkers’ who wield enormous power over free speech without scrutiny. We expose connections between major corporate platforms and NATO, and we compare coverage of this conflict to others like Yemen and Afghanistan which have killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions in dire hunger. In Afghanistan alone, three million innocent children are malnourished. 

We stand with Ukrainian citizens caught up in global geo-politics, but ask why this war has been so singled out by all our available media with a unified voice. 

We also ask why, when António Guterres tells us that “half of humanity is living in the danger zone NOW” why has that not had similar saturation media coverage?

Occupying a Russian oligarch’s mansion in London

On 14 March, peaceful protesters occupied the mansion of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in London. Police officers were soon on the scene, including a large number in full riot gear. People supportive of the occupation insisted that it was a legal protest.

The people occupying the mansion said they wanted to show solidarity with Ukrainian people under siege and with the many Russian people “who never agreed to this madness”.

They insisted that the mansion would “serve as a centre for refugee support, for Ukrainians and people of all nations and all ethnicities”.

At night, masses of police arrested the protesters.

Ongoing persecution of #KillTheBill protesters

In previous newsletters, we covered the trial of Jasmine York. On 14 March, York was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for ‘arson’.

Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign (BARC-KTB) supports people facing ongoing persecution after taking to the streets in opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts (PCSC) Bill. It says York “was brutally beaten by police at a demonstration” on 21 March 2021, and that “demonstrators like Jasmine faced repeated and excessive violence from police officers”.

BARC commented on York’s sentencing, saying: “Although we were hoping for a non-custodial sentence, this wasn’t unexpected – the repression following Kill the Bill protests has been harsh. The police and Judge Patrick are trying to send a message to anyone who takes a stand. Just last week, Mariella was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison. We’re proud of Jasmine, who tried hard to protect other women from the police and was severely beaten by them herself. We’re glad that she was found unanimously not guilty of riot, and also not guilty of a more serious form of arson in her trial last month. We do not recognise the legitimacy of this sentence. We recognise that the legal system is designed to maintain inequality, protect the police, and prevent political dissent. We know that the justice of the courts is a tool the state uses to preserve and defend itself. We see Jasmine’s sentencing as part of the broader political repression following the Kill the Bill demonstrations, which has already seen 14 people receiving prison sentences – including one of 14 years – and many more awaiting trial. We stand in solidarity with them all, and with all people facing repression. Please send letters to Jasmine and show her she is not alone! And continue to send letters to other prisoners, support other defendants as the trials continue, and organise. We won’t go quietly and this is not the end. Collective self defence is our greatest weapon.”

There is a support fund for prisoners here.

Other News

  • The BAFTA awards were interrupted by around 30 youth climate activists associated with new civil resistance network Just Stop Oil. While some glued themselves to the approach road, a few managed to invade the red carpet, and sat down attached to each other and shouted out “Just Stop Oil” and “Don’t Look Up” to the passing celebrities. Just Stop Oil released this video statement from one of the young people involved.
  • More than 670 international organisations have signed a petition in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, calling for an end to the “fossil fuel addiction that feeds Putin’s war machine”. They stress that it is imperative we don’t simply substitute Russian fuel with fuel from other countries, instead following the IPCC’s warning that fossil fuel is a dead end for our planet and for humanity. If you haven’t watched it yet, please take a look at last week’s Real Media film making the connections between war, oil and the need for climate rebellion.
  • A protest outside the UK parliament on 15 March at 6pm has been organised to oppose arms fairs and support refugees. This is in the context of Farnborough’s Security and Policing arms fair this week.
  • Recent successes for organised workers include XPO Transport Solutions employees, who “secured a significant pay increase” after voting to strike. In a similar situation, Stagecoach West bus drivers called off a strike after accepting “a greatly improved pay offer”. Organised workers elsewhere, meanwhile, will be taking action via the UVW, NEU and GMB unions to encourage employers to give them better conditions.
  • The New Scientist Live festival is the latest in an ever-growing list of organisations that are rejecting oil sponsorship of culture and science. They’ve announced there will be no fossil fuel sponsorship nor exhibitors. Read more at Culture Unstained.
  • The Zapatista movement and its allies in Mexico and beyond have launched a campaign to oppose all capitalist wars. The Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked these efforts, but as young Zapatistas said in a peaceful march on 13 March: “We are millions of brothers and sisters in the world who suffer the same unjust wars of capitalism – so let’s organise!” Participants in the campaign have called for artistic acts of resistance that aim to “change consciousness, understandings, and hearts”. Independent media outlets have shared footage of the protests online.

The next couple of months are shaping up to be extraordinary. Please let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of, remember to subscribe on YouTube, and please consider donating to help us carry on our work.