Solidarity with the anarchists and anti-authoritarians charged with terrorism by the Belgian state

Nieuws, gepost door: nn op 08/06/2017 06:02:08

Wanneer: 08/06/2017 - 13:31

This text from La Lime, a solidarity fund based in Brussels (whose name translates to The File, like filing through bars) was republished in early May 2017 before a court hearing for those charged in this case. An older version of the text circulated in April 2016 before the previous hearing.

If fighting for freedom is a crime, innocence is surely the worst of all

At the end of 2008, during the period of diffuse hostilities set off by the revolt in Greece after the police murder of Alexis, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor launched an investigation targeting anarchists and anti-authoritarians [1]. In 2010, on the basis of a list of actions attributed by the police to the “anarchist movement” and while the struggle against a new closed prison [2] in Steenokkerzeel pushed ahead, judge Isabelle Panou was assigned to the case, which was classified as anti-terrorism. In May and again in September 2013, upwards of ten searches were carried out as part of this investigation against various residences and the anarchist library Acrata, located in Brussels. It’s only at this moment that the existence of an anti-terrorism investigation became visible for the first time. This investigation is led by the anti-terrorism section of the federal police, with support from National Security, the General Intelligence Services, and military security at different times, as well as by the anti-terrorism services of other European countries. The investigation was completed in 2014 and today sees twelve anarchists and anti-authoritarians sent to court.

After a session on the legality of the specific investigative techniques used in the course of this investigation (tailing, listening in on phone calls, placing microphones in residences, secret searches, attempts at infiltration, installing video surveillance equipment in front of and inside of homes), in October 2015 the case was sent to the Chambre de Conseil for preliminary hearings [3]. The first hearing before this court took place on May 10, 2016, and now, on May 30 2017, the Chambre de Conseil will decide if there is cause to hold a trial and, if so, with which charges. [This hearing took place, but was indecisive and it is unclear at this time when the Chambre de Conseil will meet again to render a decision on the 13th of June].
In their inquiry, the Federal Prosecutor managed to dig up 29 individual charges. Nine comrades are charged with membership in a terrorist organization and with participating in terrorist activities over various periods of time. Three of them are also accused of being “leaders”. As well, three other people, arrested in the heat of an attack on the Marolles police station, are for their part accused of membership in this terrorist group for one day, in addition to other charges related to this attack. That’s the main accusation.

This is then rounded out by more specific accusations, such as participation in an unauthorized demonstration in front of the closed prison number 127b in Steenokkerzeel (interpreted as “attempted arson” and as a “terrorist act” by the prosecutor), preparing and participating in an attack against the Marolles police station (considered a “terrorist act” by the crown), striking and wounding police officers at several different moments, blocking a public roadway, various acts of property destruction, shoplifiting, burning the cars of prison guards in the parking lot of the Ittre prison, incitement to commit terrorist acts… We should specify that these accusations all name specific comrades and that each person is not charged with all of the incidents described.
In the background of this inquiry, which lasted several years and which produced no less than 32 cartons of notes, the Federal Prosecutor developed the hypothesis of an “anarchist terrorist group”, active especially in Brussels, whose activities those accused would have “participated in” or “furthered”. For instance, the prosecutors drew up a long list of 150 or so attacks, many of them arsons, against structures of domination, such as police stations, courts, banks, businesses that make money off incarceration, construction sites, vehicles of diplomats, eurocrats, and NATO functionaries, mobile phone antennas… All of these attacks took place in Brussels and the surrounding area between 2008 and 2013.
The invention of a terrorist group that would be responsible for all of these acts (even just by “having made them possible”) allows for some amazing contortions to further the charges: a library becomes a site of recruitment, discussions become secret meetings, texts and journals advancing an anarchist critique become manuals for urban guerilla warfare, demos and rallies become calls for terrorism, relationships of affinity between people in struggle and the self-organization this can lead to become “a structured terrorist group”. The invention of an “anarchist terrorist group” is obviously a clumsy attempt by the state to reduce anti-authoritarian and revolutionary subversion to the work of a single “structured group”. By trying to lock up a handful of troublesome anarchists, the state seeks to discourage intransigents from moving to direct action against that which oppresses and exploits them, that seeks to absolutely quell the desires, possibilities, reflections, and critiques that rise up against this authoritarian world.
What is to be judged is thus a whole constellation of struggles, revolts, ideas, direct actions, critiques, revolutionary visions, and agitations that for years sought to attack domination. In this, the likely trial concerns not just the comrades charged, but also each individual, each anarchist, each revolutionary, everyone who rebels against the reigning order, who won’t submit to authority and who won’t stand by and simply watch exploitation and oppression. They are taking aim at the pursuit of autonomy through action, self-organized struggle, the choice to defend and spread anarchist and revolutionary ideas, and joining in the fight along with other rebels on a basis of self-organization and autonomy. And finally, without doubt, it takes aim at a combative approach to anarchism that takes the individual, affinity, and informality as its starting points.
It would be strange to separate the repression that today strikes a few anarchists and anti-authoritarians from all of the repression that seeks to subdue (often preventively) all criticism of revolt against the established order. Using “terrorist threats”, the refugee crisis, campaigns against criminality, and actual wars, state repression is going to a new level these days. In this period, ever faster changes and restructuring transform the terrain of social conflict, neutralizing those whose thoughts and actions are disruptive, while taking aim at the exploited and the oppressed: harsher living conditions, militarization of borders, the imposition of large-scale technological control, the construction of new detention camps…
To defend against this repressive blow that seeks to drag some comrades to court under suspicion of terrorism also means defending the possibility and space to act as anarchists and anti-authoritarians. Our solidarity with those comrades charged allows us to confront a state repression that seeks to paralyze all subversive action.

1] Throughout, this text avoids referring to those implicated in this case simply as anarchists, because participation in these actions was never simply limited to anarchists, in spite of what the prosecution and the police try to say. The authors always include “and anti-authoritarians” or “and revolutionaries”.
2] “Closed prison” refers to a prison set up to isolate prisoners from each other, so avoiding common spaces such as dormitories and cafeterias
3] Like in France, when the police are finished their investigation, the case is sent before a group of judges for a series of hearings called the “instruction”, which corresponds in someway to the preliminary inquiry and pretrial hearings in the anglo-saxon courts. These judges review the evidence, hear testimony, request additional information, and will eventually decide if the case will go trial and if so on what charges. So it is up to them to validate the police’s use of anti-terrorism law. The term used in this text is the Chambre de Conseil.

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