ASI Report to IWA Congress 2009 on the Belgrade 6

Statement the Serbian Anarcho-syndicalist group ASI presented to the International Workers Association Congress in 2009 on the states attempts to fit up six anarchists.

Report on circumstances which led to arrest of Belgrade anarchists and International terrorism charges

In the night between 24th and 25th of August 2009, some time after 3am, two Molotov cocktails were thrown on Greek embassy in Belgrade. Act ended with a damaged window and minor damage to façade, the fire didn`t spread to the interior of the building and small fire that was started was quickly extinguished. No one was hurt in this `attack` because there were no people at the embassy at that time and on the following morning all embassy services started working on schedule. Greek embassy officials stated that the damage was insignificant – `Embassy is working without any problems. We`re issuing visas and we`re working with citizens as usual`. Serbian ministry of interior (MUP) immediately contacted embassy officials to make sure that everything is in order, and condemned the attack. During afternoon 25th of August, until then unknown anarchist group `Black Ilja`(Crni Ilija) took over the responsibility for the attack and sent the following announcement to the media: “Our comrade Todoris Iliopulos, who was arrested during the popular uprising in Greece during December 2008, is at hunger strike for already 46 days demanding to be released. While trying to set an example to anyone who will dare to fight for freedom, Greek state is leading a fabricated process against comrade Todoris. Belgrade anarchists have decided to join comrades in Greece, and the whole world in actions of solidarity with Todoris, by demanding his release. That is why the members of our group attacked the Greek embassy in Belgrade with Molotov cocktails during the last night. We will continue with our activities until comrade Iliopulus is released! Fredom for Todoris! ”

Anarchist group “Black Ilija” (Crni Ilija)

Todoris Iliopulos was arrested on December 22nd 2008 during the unrest in Athens, which started after a 15 year Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot and killed by a police officer in Excharheia district on December 15th. He was held in Koridlao prison from the time of arrest until August 28th, when he was let out on conditiona release. He is accused of two criminal acts (attack on police with Molotov cocktails) and few offences. All the time during his stay in prison, Iliopulos claimed that the charges against him were based on statements of police officers. He started his hunger strike on July the 10th this year, when his health and life were in danger after more than 40 days of hunger strike, a call was made on a number of anarchist webportals, on “Action for liberation of Iliopulos” and other activities such as propaganda, info-actions, meetings, discussions – with a goal of immediate release of Todoris. These actions were scheduled to start on August 24th at 8pm.

Media pressure – Preparation for a farce called “Terrorism”

The president of Serbia, Boris Tadić, has condemned the incident and in a conversation with Greek ambassador in Serbia, Dimostenis Stodis, threatened that the state will take all necessary steps to find and adequately punish the offenders, which announced the political process which will e held against six Begrade anarchists. The leading media in Serbia, have, by the order of state, started focusing their reporting towards making ideal circumstances neutralization and elimination of leftist groups as well as critical thinking in general. There were speculations of internationally coordinated terrorist actions via anarchist web-portals, after which the preparation meetig for Balkan Anarchistic Book Fair, which was held at the beginning of July of this year, was mentioned in the context of preparation for attack on Greek embassy, and finally a `source close with the investigation` has stated in the media that the case can be characterized as a terrorist attack, but at the moment no one can say that with certainty. `Good informed defense analysts` have also insinuated that the Serbian anarchists committed this act in order to be noticed by (demonized by the media) Greek anarchists ad by that get logistic and economic support from them. Zoran Dragisic, Assistant Professor of Faculty of safety and one of the founders of the new Social Democratic Party of Serbia, considered how it was an organized attack and that certain ideological and political intentions stand behind it: “Our security services should seriously address this group. Another problem is that the Embassy of a proven friendly country was attacked. All these left-wing and rightwing groups that resort to violence must be neutralized. Security services need to monitor all suspicious groups and then arrest those who committed violence. If the state can not stop them, it would be a sign that these groups are stronger than the state. We would then have to pay them taxes, not the state. It cannot be a question of whether the state can do this, it must! Anarchist as well as profascits groups are a serious threat to public order. From the security point of view, their ideological differences are irrelevant as long as they violate the law. It is necessary to urgently implement the arrest, court processing and impose harsh penalties, and the activities of the organization, must be under constant supervision, which is the work of BIA (safety and inteligence agency). “Dragišić also pointed out that such activities can evolve into terrorism, and shouldn`t be underestimated. Božidar Spasić (former head of UDBA) considers that the aim of this action was a atraction of attention of Greek anarchists: “Such an attack could not be done without a good preparation and monitoring of the Embassy, where the security and the building itself was monitored for at least ten days, where someone was sitting in the surrounding cafes and all carefully recorded. It is a worrying factis that there was no reaction from embassy security during the attack on the building, but also a cooperation between Greek and Serbian police in providing information about the anarchists in their countrie.” He adds that: “the anarchists in Greece have gotten so strong that in addition to wing, they also have an economic one that deals with the abductions of Greek tycoons, businessman and attacks banks, and thus acquire a huge amounts money used to finance the attacks. Because of that they are classified in rank with the most dangerous terrorist organizations like ETA and IRA.” Until `Black Ilija` case, anarchists in Serbia haven`t been known to the public by the violent and radical actions. Activities os Serbian anarchists were known to the general public are sharing leaflets in front of faculties adn factorise, spraying graffities, publishing, and organizing cultural events and discussions, as well as participation in the workers’ and student protests.

Arrest, investigation, and international terrorism

Members anarchosyndicalist initiative (ASI) Sanja Dojkić, Ratibor Trivunac, Tadej Kurepa and Ivan Vulovic, were on the 3rd of September detained in the police station suspected of having committed a criminal act of causing a general danger, where they remanded in custody for 48 hours. The police brutally carried out arrests, coming the in apartments without a warrant and ill-treating family members of our comrades. The next day, 4th of September, Nikola mItrović was also arrested, who is not a member anarchosyndicalist intitative, and the police announced wanted Ivan Savić, who also isn’t a member of ASI, and twas at the time on summer vacation. The investigating judge has, in a request for an investigation, classified the foregoing offenses as international terrorism (punishable by 3-15 years inprisonment) and a custody for all the arrested for a period of a month. Detained comrades were entitled to get in contact with lawyers and the right to a visit from close family members once in fifteen days. All other visits, communication with the public, and mutual communication among the arrested comrades were banned. The decision of the prosecution to start investigation with assumption the it is crime of international terrorism, it grew, until then unknown anarchist, a group of “Black Ilija” in the line of world-known terrorist organizations like al-Qaida, the IRA or the ETA . Immediately after the release of qualification, the media have published polic photos of the arresteded, with the titles that pronounce them guilty in advance. Special Prosecution spokesman Tomo Zorić said that “investigations is to show whether it is terrorism or an act of causing a general danger. What is not debatable is that they will certainly be accused of a crime. ” After the publication of qualifications, Zoran Dragisic spoke again who said that “we should bear in mind that anarchists have a sort of its own International. However, the extent to which there is a connection between those who threw our Molotov cocktails at the Greek Embassy and the Greek anarchists, they advertise in their statement that they did that because of the situation in Greece, and this relationship is based on it. However, the real question is whether this relationship really exists and whether the attack on the embassy was inspired by the international anarchist movement.” Vladimir Todorić from legal revue said that “throwing cocktails for political reasons at the Embassy of Greece which was officially exteritorial, meet some of the conditions for qualification of international terrorism”, while in the other hand, lawyer Dragoljub Todorović, counsel of one of the suspects, said that in this case the consequences are missing, and that the embassy remained whole, and that the work was done at night with the apparent intention for no victims to be made. Lawyer dr Radonja Dubljević also representative of one of the six suspects, said that in connection with this case in there is some illogicality. “The first is that in the pre-trial proceedings, which led by the police, treated crime as causing general danger, which is designed for a prison sentence of up to five years, to the proceedings before the court there was a big turnaround, crime was treated as an international terrorism for which the prison sentence of three to 15 years. One must ask the question what happened in that short time interval, from the police to court. ” Dubijević added that the prosecutor failed to take into account that the notion of terrorism has founded its own scientific definition and as a political and legal institutions defined, and that as such can not be made with a device such as a Molotov cocktail, or in this case, device that was thrown at the embassy of Greece. It is interesting that in the case of two Molotov cocktails thrown the Greek Embassy rated as a more difficult crime than burning the American Embassy, February 2008. in Belgrade, when one person lost his life in a fire inside the Embassy. In the burning of the American Embassy one person was accused of a crime causing general danger, for which the Criminal Code envisages punishment of one to six years imprisonment, while in the case of international terrorism punishment is three to fifteen years. This crime is one of the most difficult and is in the group with genocide and war crimes. The definition of terrorism is the premeditated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to instillation of fear with the intention of coercion and intimidation of government and society to achieve goals that are generally political religious or ideological. Key elements of terrorism are a threat, violence, force, fear, political effect and purpose; psychological effect, a random selection of targets and victims, deliberately planned and systematically organized actions, a way of fighting against the legal act – from which it can be concluded that terrorism is an ilegal act of violence directed against a specific country with the intent to cause fear or collective damages, to achieve a political goal. The four main elements of terrorism are:

1. The objectives of the activities are usually always political, whether it is a regime shift, shift the person in power, secession of certain territory or parts.
2. The use of violence or threat of use of violence
3. The victims are usually innocent citizens
4. Lack of direct links between terrorists and victims, ie. attack is not directed towards the victim or victims individually, but the terrorist act would send a message to wider community.

Reactions of the public and the introduction of repression

On Sunday, 6th of September a protest was organized in solidarity with arrested comrades in front of the Philosophy Faculty in Belgrade. The protest was attended by about 40 anarchists and friends of those arrested, carrying a banner: IT WILL NOT PASS! Protesting against very hard qualifications imposed by the prosecution, and abuse of laws by the state to justify the use of repressive measures. In the proclamation read at the protest it was pointed out that :

“at the moment when the rights and freedoms in Serbia are seriously constrict by enactment amending the Criminal Code and Law on Public Information, the initiation of proceedings for an act of international terrorism against the six arrested, indicates the intention of certain state structures that increasing the degree of repression and abuse of legal provisions gradually discourage any political criticism of its actions. Therefore, we express solidarity with the arrested, demand that the meaningless charges against them be raised and seek their release.”

Calling from a special antiterrorist unit base in Batajnica, Interior Minister Ivica Dačić said this is protest as purposeless and said that the police has evidence, but that the police is ready to admit that a mistake has been made if it is proven otherwise. For 11th September, a group of Belgrade University professors and public figures concerned with the announcement that against the six suspects for Molotov cocktail attack on the embassy of Greece in Serbia to be indicted that are they charged for an act of international terrorism, sent an open letter to the public. This group also said burning example of the U.S. Embassy during a protest after the declaration of independence, 21 February 2008, where the work with much greater consequences than seen much milder case of the Embassy of Greece where the effects were insignificant. The group alleges that the U.S. Embassy in Serbia was burned and that is substantially damaged by fire, while one of the attackers lost his life.

“The only participant in this attack which is found on the accused bench was charged with serious offenses against the enforcement of general safety. In contrast, the authorities breaking a window at the empty building of the Embassy of Greece, with two lighted bottles that have not led to a fire characterized as an act of international terrorism, as the work of the Serbian Criminal Code is in the list of the most serious crimes such as genocide, war crimes and conducting an aggressive war.”

The signatories pointed that hey’re afraid that the paradoxical positioning of different law enforcement bodies under the two cases of politically conditioned parts of the current government efforts to improve the rating of the nationalist oriented part of the electorate. “It has a stimulating effect on the strengthening of the right extremist and chauvinist tendencies in our society, such as those that largely without major legal consequences, in early 2008 participated in the aforementioned burning of embassies in Belgrade” The international reaction to the arrest and accusing the Belgrade anarchists of International terrorism were more intense and frequent.

List of international solidarity actions in chronological order:

6.9. – Belgrade (ASI)
7.9. – Bratislava (PA)
7.9. – Warsaw (ZSP)
7.9. – Lisbon (IWA Portugal)
8.9 – Zadar
9.9. – Prague (squatters)
9.9. – Vienna (anarchists)
10.9. – Ljublana (Federation for Anarchist Organizing)
11.9. – Vienna (FAS)
11.9. – London (SolFed)
11.9. – Sydney (Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation)
11.9 – Warsaw (ZSP)
14.9. – Zagreb (MASA)
14.9. – Bratislava (PA)
15.9. – Moscow (KRAS)
15.9. – Kiev (Direct Action)
16.9. – Thessaloniki (AK, ESE)
16.9. – Athens (AK, ESE)
16.9. – Hamburg (VAB Altona) morning
16.9. – Hamburg (VAB Altona) afternoon
16.9. – Denver (ABC)
18.9. – Sofia (FAB, Anarcho-Resistance)
18.9. – Berlín (FAU)
18.9. – the Hague (AGA, De Vrije Bond)
19.9 – Komotini
25.9 -Frankfurt / Main (FAU)
25.9 – Skopje (Anarchist Front)
28.9 – London (SolFed)
28.9 – Budapest (anarchists)
1.10 – Bern (FAU)
2.10 – Madrid (CNT)
2.10 – Oslo (NSF)
3. 10 – Madrid (CNT)
4.10 – Bern (FAU)
4.10 – Petersburg
8.10 – Trieste
16. 10 – Prague
17.10 – Paris (CNT-AIT)
22.10 – Ankara (Ankara Anarchist Collective)
23.10 – Frankfurt/Main (FAU)
27.10 – Granada (CNT)
3.11 – New York
30.11 – Santiago de Compostela (CNT)

The desire of government to criminalize ASI as an organization and prohibit it at the end, became apparent when, on September 15th, during a wave of creating atmosphere of fear, in some media an obviously false news appeared, how Anarcho-syndicalist Initiative will use “pride parade” to attack the police in the streets of Belgrade and avenge the arrested comrades.

Events that followed, the Serbian government will use to open the introduction of state repression.

Since the “Pride parade” was scheduled for September the 20th, tensions in the Serbian public scene grew since the spring, but have reached the culmination on18th of September evening, when a French citizen Brice Taton was brutally beate. He was kept in hospital for treatment, in critical condition, and the same night was, due to severity of his injuries, subjected to a series of surgical procedures. State Public Prosecutor’s Office, “shocked” by violence, has condemned attacks on French tourists and announced that he will seek the strictest prison punishment. The “Pride parade” the following day, 19th of September, however, is prohibited with the explanation that the police and security services are unable to guarantee the safety of parade participants, and officials have stated that the State capitulated before the violence and profascist groups. The same day, police banned the holding of meetings in downtown Belgrade, under the pretext that it could lead to violent acts. Farce directed by the state, called the struggle against violence, was continued by the arrests of members of nationalist organizations “1389″ and members of the clericalfascist organization “Obraz”, due to the occurrence of unauthorized gathering. Interior Minister Ivica Dačić said that “the state will decisively deal with everyone who is threatening with violence and that public meetings cannot be held in downtown Belgrade, where there is a threat of endangering life and property. The police will, as much as it is in its power, prevent all kinds of attacks, and will be repressive to extremist groups that threaten the various parties, organizations and movements. ” Officials of the police are once again emphasized that “and in the future” in the center of Belgrade, for security reasons will not be allowed holding of public meetings. “Police has on the 20th of September arrested 37 activists of rightwing organizations for violating ban on gatherings in public places, and four of them were detained in prison for up to 30 days. Ministry of Justice on 22nd of September launched an initiative to ban any organization whose members propagate violence and carry out criminal acts. And then President of Serbia Boris Tadić announces that “all extremists, left or right, will be prosecuted before our courts.” In Article 55 Serbian the Constitution states that the Constitutional Court may prohibit the association which is aimed at violent overthrow of constitutional order, violation of guaranteed human or minority rights, inciting racial, national or religious hatred.

Indictment for international terrorism

Investigation ended after two months, on 3rd of November, prosecutor and the Belgrade District Court and the Trial Chamber by a unanimous decision filed for international terrorism against six anarchists from Belgrade, and extended their detention for another month on Article 42 paragraph 1 point 3 CPC (when punishable penalty for a crime is more than 10 years, the accused has no right to defend himself with freedom), while the indictment says that there is fear that the offense will be repeated because the defendants are members, and supporters of ASI.