Last Saturday, as the national Palestine solidarity demonstration began its march through central London, City of London and Metropolitan police officers detained three members of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), leading to the arrest of one IMT member for several hours.
Their ‘crime’? Carrying a placard reading ‘Intifada ‘til Victory’ and selling The Communist newspaper, which carries the slogan ‘Fight imperialism with intifada!’
According to Jack – one of the comrades dragged behind a line of officers just outside of Oxford Circus – the comrades were accused of breaching section 12 of the Terrorism Act, i.e. expressing support for a proscribed terrorist organisation.
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This is a serious attack by the British state. The law states that such a crime, if prosecuted, can carry up to 14 years of jail time.
Click here to find out what you can do to help us fight back.
We have explained elsewhere what the slogan of intifada really means.
While Tory politicians, university bosses, Zionist activists, and right-wing rags like the Telegraph have outrageously accused us of whipping up antisemitism and violence, we have steadfastly defended this slogan.
The ‘offending’ back cover of The Communist explains in no uncertain terms the real meaning of intifada – the Arabic word for ‘mass uprising’:
“[The Palestinian masses’] only true friends are the workers of the world. And it is time that the unstoppable power of the working class was brought to bear, through class-struggle methods such as strikes, blockades, walkouts, and other militant mass action by organised workers internationally.” (emphasis added)
This is what the British state now deems as ‘supporting terrorism’: calling for masses of ordinary people to mobilise and put an end to the terror and bloodshed of imperialist war.
That the British establishment – those bloodsuckers who provide military, financial, and political support to Netanyahu’s genocidal regime – can accuse peaceful demonstrators of ‘supporting terrorism’ is rank hypocrisy of the highest order. We expect nothing less from our class enemies.
But let us be clear: the imperialists in Tel Aviv, Washington, and London – they are the real terrorists. They have the blood of 27,000 innocent Gazans on their hands.
While two of the comrades were soon released after being forced to provide their details, one comrade, R, was carted into a police van by a large group of officers and taken to a police station miles away in south London.
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The fact that the cops chose to arrest only the comrade with brown skin speaks volumes. Such racist policing should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the names ‘Stephen Lawrence’, ‘Chris Kaba’, ‘Mark Duggan’, or ‘Child Q’.
Comrades from across Greater London mobilised at lightning-speed to defend R. Within a couple of hours, a crowd of more than fifty comrades gathered outside Walworth police station, near Elephant and Castle.
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For three hours, comrades gave speeches denouncing this flagrant attack on our organisation, the Palestine movement, and the democratic rights of the working class.
As one of the comrades detained pointed out:
“This will not be the last time that the British state uses heavy-handed tactics… the ruling class is preparing for a period of intense class struggle in the coming years. That’s why they’re beefing up the powers of the police… they’re breaking the police in and getting them used to their role as a weapon in the class struggle.”
Comrades chanted slogans that could be heard from where R was being held: ‘Free our comrade!’, ‘Met Police, shame on you!’, ‘No justice, no peace!’, and ‘Intifada ‘til victory!’
Notably, this loud protest attracted the attention of local workers and youth, who joined our chants, bought copies of The Communist, donated to our fighting fund, and discussed various political questions with us.
A number of delivery riders stopped to beep their horns in solidarity. One driver who spoke to The Communist told us that police harassment is a daily experience for couriers, especially those who, like him, have been involved in grassroots efforts to organise for better pay and conditions.
Only the beginning
After several hours, comrade R was released, with all charges dropped. The police could no doubt see that they hadn’t a leg to stand on. The accusations were bogus from start to finish.
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Clearly, this was nothing but the latest in a series of attempts to intimidate and cow the Palestine movement; of making an example of the most militant section of activists.
This is not the first time this has happened. In November last year, three of our comrades had their faces plastered on the Met Police’s social media page, accusing them of a ‘hate crime’ for raising the slogan of ‘intifada until victory!’
Members of other left-wing groups like FRFI and the CPGB-ML have also been arrested, for supporting Palestine and denouncing Zionism in their speeches and literature.
What is emerging is a clear pattern of the British state targeting those who speak out in defence of Palestine and who oppose imperialism. And they are singling out the communists as the most uncompromising layer in this struggle.
This is an international phenomenon too. Communists from other sections of the IMT have faced similar repressive methods at the hands of the state, the media, and the bosses.
This should be a wake-up call for the Palestine solidarity movement, and the wider workers’ movement.
As Niemöller’s famous poem warns, “first they came for the communists”. But next, the mailed fist of state repression will be brought down upon strikers, trade unionists, and other activists.
The movement must mobilise to defend political rights and freedoms. An injury to one is an injury to all!
What you can do
We, the communists, will not back down. We will continue to proudly call for intifada, come hell or high water. We won’t renounce this clarion call for mass struggle, revolution, and internationalist support for the Palestinian masses.
As the response to our comrade’s arrest shows, these attacks will only galvanise our ranks, and toughen our resolve.
We understand, however, that these methods will only continue to be employed against us by our class enemies, especially as we continue to grow.
We therefore need to get prepared. And if you agree, you need to prepare as well. Here’s what you can do:
- Share this article widely online. Tell your trade union branch, Palestine solidarity group, friends, family, and workmates what is happening.
- Send in letters to The Communist using our submissions page, and tell us what you think about this repression and how to fight it. Get quotes from those around you to fill our paper with the thoughts and opinions of ordinary workers about Palestine, the attacks on democratic rights, and the repression we face.
- Organise meetings in your community, workplace or trade union, campus or school, to raise awareness about the repression of the Palestine solidarity movement and communists at the hands of the British state. Use these speakers notes to explain why this is happening, and the need to organise a fightback. Pass motions in your student unions and trade union branches. Most importantly, call on people to help build the Revolutionary Communist Party.
- Donate to our Fighting Fund. We are under attack, and we need funds to cover potential legal costs, to keep The Communist on the streets, and to continue campaigning to end capitalism. Share this link widely with friends and family, colleagues and classmates, and fellow activists.
- Subscribe to our paper. Our comrades have been targeted for selling The Communist – the paper the British state clearly doesn’t want you to read. Support our paper financially by setting up a subscription, and by selling it in your workplace, college, or community.
And finally, join the IMT, and help us build the Revolutionary Communist Party – the only vehicle capable of advancing the interests of our class; the only force that can provide an alternative to the dead-end of imperialism and capitalism. We appeal to all of our readers and supporters: join and help us become the political voice the working class needs!