The Belgrade Six:
Serbian Anarchists Arrested for
'International Terrorism,' 2009
Image: From the International Workers Association (IWA)
December 12, 2009
December 12, 2009
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly, affects all indirectly."
--Martin Luther King Jr, 1963
"Letter From a Birmingham Jail"
On September 3, 2009, the Serbian district attorney arrested five Anarchists, seeking the charge of International Terrorism. [*1] A sixth person who was sought was eventually arrested. Potentially facing three to fifteen years imprisonment, they are being accused of throwing two burning beers bottle that injured nobody and did insignificant property damage. They are also being accused of graffiti art. One of the arrested is Ratibor Trivunac -- the General Secretary of the International Workers Association, a ninety year-old federation of Anarcho-Syndicalist trade unions. The other five are Tadej Kurepa, Ivan Vulovic, Sanja Dokic, Ivan Savic, and Nikola Mitrovic. They are all members of Sindikalna konfederacija Anarho-sindikalisticka inicijativa; or, "Union Confederation Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative."
The Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Greek embassy, striking a window and causing only minor damages. Crni Ilija, or "Black Sun," have claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was committed in solidarity with Thodoros Iliopoulos (often spelled Theodoros Iliopoulos). In December of 2008, Thodoros was brutalized by riot police and the state attorney fabricated a charge of throwing a Molotov cocktail. [*2] The Greek citizen was attacked by the police during the December Revolt, a series of anti-police demonstrations, protesting the police shooting and murder of a fifteen-year old teen, Alexandros Grigoropoulos. [*3]
Image: From the LibCom
On July 10 of 2009, Thodoros Iliopoulos has gone on a hunger strike. After 49 days of a hunger strike, and massive support from the global, Anarchist community, Iliopoulos was freed from prison. Quoting from OccupiedLondon.org, "On the eve of Thursday, 27.8, Thodoros Iliopoulos was ordered free by the Council of Misdemeanors. His detention has been replaced by restrictive orders including a ban on exiting the country and the obligation to appear to a local police station twice a month." [*4]
On September 4th, 2009, the Belgrade District Court ruled that the six Anarcho-Syndicalist suspects will be held for thirty days. They have been prohibited from communicating with the outside world, except their lawyers and family. [*5] And on December 7th, the six were formally indicted on charges of International Terrorism by a Belgrade court. [*6] At the earliest, their trial will come in the Spring, 2010. The Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative has released a statement after the decision to hold their organizers for thirty days. On September 5th, their statement said...
"We use this opportunity to remind the public once again that these methods of individual political struggle are not methods of anarcho-syndicalism, quite the contrary – we proclaim our political positions publicly and through our work we seek to bring masses to the syndicalist movement and all the libertarian and progressive organisations.
"Given the fact that we do not support the acts of now famous anarchist group 'Crni Ilija' (Black Iliya) we still cannot characterise what happened as 'international terrorism', because terrorism, by definition, entails threats to the lives of civilians, whereas in this case no one was even hurt and only symbolic material damage was done.
"It is clear that this state produced farce is just one way of intimidating anyone who decides to point out the injustice and hopelessness of contemporary society." [*7]
On September 14th, 2009, the group known as the Network of Anarcho-Syndicalists staged a protest at a public square in Croatia, in solidarity with the imprisoned, Serbian Anarchists. [*8] One of their members has released a statement saying...
"Due to the unusual course of action of the police and prosecution in this case, the arrested are suspected of having committed a crime of international terrorism. That act, in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, is treated in the same group with the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes against the civilian population, organizing and encouraging to commit genocide and war crimes, the conduct of aggressive war, etc." [*9]
Image: "Stop Repression,"
Croatian Anarcho-Syndicalists Protest
for the Liberation of their Imprisoned Comrades.
The imprisoned owl is a symbol of the campaign
for the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative emancipation.
September 11th: Anarcho-Syndicalists in Sydney, Australia, protested at the Serbian Consulate, demanding the release of the political prisoners. [*10] September 18th: anti-state Greek activists held a protest at the Serbian embassy in Thessaloniki, demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades. [*11]
On October 7th, In France, Comrades of the CNT-AIT, the French Anarchist Federation affiliated with the International Workers Association, occupied the Serbian Cultural Center of Paris. In a statement to the public, they have said, "The characterization of graffiti as a terrorism act, in a country that has experienced recent population cleansing, bombings and civil war, would be a grotesque trick..." [*12]
On November 23, a member of the Slovenian group, Federacija za Anarhisticno Organiziranje, or the Federation for Anarchist Organizing (FAO), gave an interview concerning the developing conditions in Belgrade. When asked the kind of support the political prisoners were receiving, they replied, "Many kindred organizations have expressed solidarity with the comrades and also public figures (film directors, journalists, writers, etc.)." When asked about other anti-government groups, they replied...
"...the Serbian state has very repressive policies. One of the most active struggles today is anti-fascism and one of the few where all organizations are quite united. This is so because fascism is very strong in Serbia, including in the parliament.
"Notably, the fascist movement tends to focus its campaign against the anarcho-syndicalism. For example, just a couple weeks ago when they made a strong campaign against the ASI. I would dare to say that Serb fascism does not focus their struggle against liberal anti-fascism. Its real enemy is anarcho-syndicalism, demonstrating, and I never get tired of repeating it, the great work ... done by the ASI." [*13]
In December, Serbian presses already have started publishing fictitious accounts, allegedly by the accused, describing how these six union organizers threw a molotov cocktail at an embassy. [*14] However, not all middle-class response towards the Anarchists has been negative. Also in December, a group of intellectuals have released a open letter in support of the accused. According to one news report, it "states that the Public Prosecutor's Office on November 3, 2009 characterized the alleged throwing of 'two burning beer bottles' at the Greek embassy as the most serious crime, charging the six 'proven anti-fascists' with international terrorism." They also went on to say...
"We live in a country where there are no guarantees that a person inciting racial, religious and national hatred will be tried. Members of clero-fascistic organization Obraz, which has been working smoothly since 1993 and Serb National Movement 1389 which represents itself as ‘patriotic’ while having close contacts with the Russian fascistic organizations, have not been held responsible for the threats, attacks and the beatings of the members of LGBT [Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transexual] community over the years.
"Keeping in mind Article 10 of the European Human Rights Bill, we do not hesitate to express our opinion that all this leads to a conclusion that the court process against these six young people is essentially political. Therefore we are demanding dismissal of these absurd charges." [*15]
Image: "Today Athens, Tomorrow Belgrade!"
Anarchist Graffiti in 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia,
in Reference to the riots of the December Revolt,
The Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative had organized workers' resistance in an upper-class, Serbian restaurant, in June, 2006 -- where a violent boss was refusing to issue final paychecks to dismissed workers. The Anarchist federation had introduced unionism to a nation where there are virtually no unions in the private sector. [*16] In November, 2006, the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative had organized a 600-strong, student occupation at the University of Belgrade. They were resisting neoliberal reforms, which would've increased tuition significantly and would give unequal education to Serbian students. [*17]
"Although one of the accused, General Secretary of the IWA Ratibor Trivunac clearly and publicly declared that he knew nothing of the action, he was arrested. It is not the first time that authorities have come after him or his comrades for no other reason than the fact that they are radical critics of the state." [*18]
Image: Australian Anarcho-Syndicalists protest
for the imprisoned Serbian, Anarchists;
From YouTube Video
The CNT section of the IWA have started collecting donations for lawyer fees for the detained revolutionaries. [*19] The Croatian group Network of Anarcho-Syndicalists, or MASA, has also started collecting donations for legal fees. [*20]
The Belgrade Six are still held in custody by the state today, awaiting for their trial, completely isolated from the entire world -- a precaution of the anti-terrorist law, so that the six might not communicate to other beer bottle-throwing terrorists. There can be nothing quite so revolting as to be aware of the injustice of authority, but to be surrounded by its walls, bars, and its guards. Those six are suffering in an inhumane, degrading, and also ridiculous situation -- for acting on the ideal of a free humanity, they have been picked up and locked away by the government.
As the letter of the Serbian intellectuals had stated, there are many racist and bigoted organizations that attack minority groups. But the state has pardoned them, and taken up the Anarcho-Syndicalists as "the greatest threat to public security." This situation has produced another proof, that the state cannot protect its people -- it only makes itself into another one of the wolves of the people, side-by-side with church and capitalism. As Anarchists, me must organize for the emancipation of our falsely-accused comrades. Anarchism will suffer if these bright souls are smothered.
"My book about the Spanish civil war, Homage to Catalonia, is of course a frankly political book, but in the main it is written with a certain detachment and regard for form. I did try very hard in it to tell the whole truth without violating my literary instincts. But among other things it contains a long chapter, full of newspaper quotations and the like, defending the Trotskyists who were accused of plotting with Franco. Clearly such a chapter, which after a year or two would lose its interest for any ordinary reader, must ruin the book. A critic whom I respect read me a lecture about it. 'Why did you put in all that stuff?' he said. 'You've turned what might have been a good book into journalism.' What he said was true, but I could not have done otherwise. I happened to know, what very few people in England had been allowed to know, that innocent men were being falsely accused. If I had not been angry about that I should never have written the book."
--George Orwell, 1946
"Why I Write"
Image: "Revolution like in Greece"
Anarchist Graffiti in 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia,
in Reference to the riots of the December Revolt,
*1. "Belgrade: anarchists arrested; state attorney seeks international terrorism charge," Libcom.org, Sep 4 2009 16:25
*2. "Thanks to solidarity mobilizations, Theodoros Iliopoulos is free at last!" Anarkismo.net, August 27, 2009
*3. "Nikos Tsouvalakis: the forgotten hunger striker in Greece," Athens.Indymedia.Org
*4. "#78 | Thodoros Iliopoulos is free!", After the Greek Riots: Irregular Updates and Articles on the Situation in Greece, in English
*5. "Financial help needed for Serbian anarchists," Libcom.org, Sep 17 2009 14:39
*6. "Belgrade Six Formally Indicted, To be Kept in Remand," Libcom.org, on Dec 8 2009 04:28
*7. "Statement of Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative on Arrests of their Members," LibCom.org, Sept. 5, 2009
*8. "Zagreb: Solidarity action with Serbian anarchists," LibCom.org, Sep 14 2009 22:54
*9. "Financial help needed for Serbian anarchists," Libcom.org, Sep 17 2009 14:39
*10. "Free the Belgrade anarchists : Protest in Sydney," September 13th, 2009, SlackBastard
*11. "Protest at Serbian consulate in Thessaloniki linked to Belgrade attack," 18. September 2009. | 05:17, Emportal.rs
*12. "France, Occupation of the Serbian cultural centers of Paris," 06 Nov 2009, CNT-AIT Paris
*13. "Free the Belgrade Six," Indymedia.uk.org, 13.12.2009 17:55.
*14. "Belgrade Six Formally Indicted, To be Kept in Remand", LibCom.org, Dec 8 2009 04:28
*15. "Anarchists' terror trial is political," 10 December 2009 | 17:50 | Source: B92
*16. "Serbia: Report on the first successful independent union action of ASI," ASI Website, 20 Jun 2006; also published by anarchosyndicalism.net.
*17. "Student protest in Serbia," Nov 27 2006, Libcom.org; "Serbia: Students protest and occupy," anarchosyndicalism.net, 17 Mar 2007.
*18. "Political Arrests in Belgrade - Freedom for Anarcho-Syndicalists."
*19. "Serbia: The Belgrade 6 charged with 'international terrorism'," A-Infos: Anarchist News Service, Date Wed, 04 Nov 2009 14:04:52 +0200.
*20. "Financial help needed for Serbian anarchists," Libcom.org, Sep 17 2009 14:39.