Sunday, March 22, 2009

The following appeal for solidarity is from the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front. It comes via the Anarkismo website.

Defend the Landless People's Movement/ Protea South 8:
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front Call for Solidarity
Defend the Landless People’s Movement’s (South Africa) Struggle Against Forced Removals!Defend the Struggle for Basic Service Delivery!
Defend the Protea South Eight!
On Sunday 1st March 2009 two Landless People’s Movement (LPM) organisers with whom the ZACF is associated were arrested in Protea South, Soweto after the LPM delivered a petition from the Protea South community to their ward councillor regarding various issues and stating their concern around the prospect of their being forcefully removed to another location far from where they currently live and work.

After the petition was delivered there were minor disturbances and altercations with the police, and six youth from the informal settlement were arrested. The two LPM comrades were arrested a short while later, despite the fact that they were no longer in the vicinity when the disturbances took place.

We believe that the LPM comrades arrested: Maans van Vyk, a libertarian socialist who participates in a Soweto-based anarchist study circle facilitated by the ZACF; and Maureen Mnisi, a long-time community organiser with whom the ZACF has good working relations and who had previously organised for us to do two Red and Black Forums (anarchist educational workshops) in Protea South, are being targeted and victimised for their role as LPM activists and community organisers.

The LPM has, for a long time now, been waging a struggle against the forced removal of the informal settlement of Protea South to Doorenkop, which is far away from where they currently live, from where their children are schooled and where the few community members who are fortunate enough to have a job work.

There is currently a gentrification process underway in Protea South, and the middle-class community members who own bond houses there are concerned that the informal settlement is bring down their property values. Because of this they have started circulating a petition to have Maureen Mnisi removed from Protea South because they believe that with her gone resistance to forced removals will be quelled and the rest of the informal settlement could then be relocated to Doorenkop.

On Wednesday 25th March 2009 Maureen, Maans and the six other arrestees will be appearing in court on charges of public violence, assault, GBH, intimidation, and illegal gathering and the people in the bond houses in Protea South, the middle-class, will be presenting their petition as evidence against our comrades. Given the severity of some of the charges our comrades the accused could face prison time.

To show our support with comrades Maureen and Maans, and the poor people of Protea South informal settlement, the ZACF is calling on all social movements, left-wing organisations, progressives and our sister organisations and anarchist contacts abroad to do everything they can to support our comrades before Wednesday 25th March.

Maureen, as a single mother of five, is finding it particularly difficult to continue her struggle in defence of the poor when she is being victimised and feels that her life and that of her family is at risk. She would appreciate any messages of support to reassure her that what she is doing is right and to give her the courage to continue.

The ZACF supports the demands of the Protea South LPM as follows:
* All charges against Maureen, Maans and their co-accused be immediately
* The immediate cessation of any plans for the forced relocation of the Protea South
informal settlement to Doorenkop or any other location
* Respect and observation of the people’s right to choose whether or not they want to stay in Protea South or move to Doorenkop or any other location
* Free basic service delivery in Protea South and all poor communities in South
We appeal to everyone to please send messages supporting the demands outlined above to us on or before Tuesday 24th March so that these can be presented as evidence in defence of the accused.

All messages of solidarity and support, and endorsement of these demands to be sent to the ZACF at zacf [at] zabalaza [dot] net and to Luke Sinwell, a researcher and activist working with the LPM, at LSinwell [at] yahoo [dot] com

We call on our comrades also to phone in, fax and/ or email messages of protest against the way the South African government is repressing popular social movements and legitimate protest in South Africa to their local South African embassies and consulates and, where possible, to picket these. Please send copies of any such messages and reports or photographs of pickets to the addresses above.

Words of advice or solidarity can be expressed to Maureen Mnisi directly on: 0 27 (0) 82-337-4514and to Maans van Wky on: 0 27 (0) 79 267-3203

For more information on the events which led to the arrests please see the following:
Defend the Landless People’s Movement Struggle Against Forced Removals!
Fight the Criminalisation of Social Movements and Legitimate Service Delivery Protest!
Defend the Protea South Eight!
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