Last Saturday, 7-11-2020, the Anarchist Group Amsterdam organized a protest regarding the extremely dangerous situation in which the anarchist Abtin Parsa from Iran is currently in.
Below is the call for the protest and the background is also explained a bit there.
At 2 pm on the Beursplein in Amsterdam people started to gather. Soon we were almost 50 people, with different ages and backgrounds, and there were also quite a lot of people from outside Amsterdam, tribute for that!
There were banners and black / red flags, several people had made a protest sign from cardboard. And hundreds of flyers in Dutch and English were distributed to the passing public. There was a small sound system and various speeches were given alongside Abtin who briefly told about his situation. He wanted to emphasize once again that this is not an individual struggle against state and capitalism, but a collective struggle against systematic oppression of revolutionary movements that oppose the murderous neoliberal capitalism and hyper individualism of the modern “democratic” West. And that it is in everyone’s interest that we as anarchists must always show solidarity with those who fight against oppression in whatever form. That the long historical line of anarchism has always been the line of the class war, of the poor against the rich, of the workers against the bosses, of the powerless against the powerful.
It was a standing demonstration, because we were not allowed to move from the Beursplein by the police. Which resulted in a somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere that was totally out of line with the usual practice of anarchist / autonomous groups in Amsterdam. What unfortunately did not really get off the ground was shouting slogans in Dutch and English, but there will probably still be a second chance.
At 3:30 pm the protest stopped and everyone left on their ways.
No Iran, Nor Greece, Abtin must stay in the Netherlands!
Solidarity is our weapon!
Some experiences and thoughts about organizing an action in times of a corona pandemic.
It was the first time in 19 years that the AGA exists, we had registered an action with the municipality of Amsterdam and therefore automatically the Amsterdam police.
After an internal discussion and consultation with a lawyer, we decided that reporting the demonstration would be the most accaptable option. Why? We estimated that as soon as we gather police will intervene immediately. After all, we had already posted the announcement on public websites and social media (before the new corona rules were introduced on November 4).
And if there will be more than 10 – 20 people, we would immediately receive a fine (with a simple calculation you will quickly end up with thousands of euros in fines), which is extra problematic in these times. Normally we can hold a series of benefits to collect the money, but all places we had access to are now closed and will certainly remain closed for the upcoming period (spring 2021 maybe?). Not to mention, that people are losing their jobs and it is extremely difficult to raise serious amounts of money. So, instead of investing our time and energy in collecting money to pay huge fines, we must focus on the campaign to keep Abtin in the Netherlands. And continue the fight against state and capital, of course. Because THAT is important!
Further more, if you organize a protest that is publicly announced you have a certain responsibility to the people who come to this protest, not everyone is equally experienced in dealing with stressful situations on a political actions. Non every perticipant of such demonstration know how to quickly evaluete a situation and act accordingly. Taking this into consideration, we had more reasons to register the protest in the current situation.
The cop was conspicuously (un) conspicuously absent, only at 2 pm a social cop came to see if everyone kept their distance, had short conversation with the police spokesperson (the person who had requested the protest) and took a picture of a banner. However, there were most likely some plainclothes cops who kept an eye on things. In addition, we were on the Beursplein where several police cameras are installed that are monitored in real time by the cop. As soon as there would be some dynamics and movement, the police could respond immediately.
It was also an important moment when people from the anarchist movement saw each othehas restraint against spontaneity and militant action.
In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to make interventions in the public space without informing the authorities, you can do poster pasting, distribute stickers, hang up banners (hang high!), etc. Or a rotating picketing, 2 people with a banner and handing out flyers and are always alternated by 2 people who are at a distance and are then relieved by another 2 people. In addition, there is also the possibility to mobilize comrades silently through secure communication mouth to mouth, for example (but only with a mask :)), to rally and stop the protest. Creativity is necessary to create new tactics. And test the old ones against current reality. We have been in the situation of the corona pandemic for 8 months now and we have to take it back to the streets, it is now even more important than ever.
The protests of the Black Live Matter demonstrations in the Netherlands have shown that it is possible and that there is a need for that. A relatively small action group such as the Bond van Precaire Woonvorm has taken action after action in recent months and won cases through pressure from Direct Action. It shows that you can and must go out on the streets!
Anarchist Group Amsterdam / Vrije Bond