IMCs (Independent Media Centres) throughout Europe have experienced \x93repression tactics\x94 despite a growing popularity spawning 92 IMCs across five continents despite recent awards given to two European IMCs. German IMC received a \x93poldi\x94 award for e-democracy and IMC UK won a \x93New Media Advocacy\x94 award from the New Statesman.
Legal and political sanctions are the first tools used by those seeking to sabotage people or groups engaged in informing or campaigning to protect human, environment and social justice. But using September 11 (attack leading to the deaths of 2.950 people on the same day 28,000 people died of poverty unnoticed) to bypass international law and re-define the value of life with new laws designed to repress political dissent and undermine human rights is not new either.
The modern-day version of the age-old problem of \x93terrorism\x94 now recognised by mainstream press originates from the secular French Revolution. One of the founders Robespierre declared democracy could only be achieved through \x93virtue\x94 or \x93terror\x94 similarly to US President George W Bush\x92s\x92 you are \x93with us\x94 or \x93against us\x94. Dealing with those who opposed views was dependent on motive not behaviour or actual actions and ordinary rules of evidence were abolished for being a hindrance to the process.
Today, the same rules are being adopted and the rule of law has expediently been abandoned, in a climate of terror and panic. A compliant media manipulates to divide people and destroy values. State Governments are employing more extreme measures as a response to the growing disquiet over the impact of neo-liberal policies. International law and the United Nations are becoming increasingly powerless. The killing of 23-year-old protestor Carlo Giuliani in Genoa and increasing abuse suffered by protestors and minority groups particularly immigrants is becoming part of the new neo-liberal world order.
Groups including the global Indymedia network, which provides an independent alternative media platform, have been targeted for political reasons.
The concept of the Indymedia website portal is unique. This interactive tool is both informative and educational and provides a platform for the news and concerns of people and groups dedicated to environmental, human and social justice. The site offers free and open publishing subject to editorial guidelines and political considerations for each IMC.
Media Democracy Day exposes the increasing popularity of much-needed alternative media platforms. Indymedia preserves the legitimate right to free speech allowing people to determine the content of their own media by using an empowering interactive tool not only through the web but also with photos, posters, film, print and radio.
Indymedia Europe is dedicated to act in unity when any local European Indymedia faces a legal challenge from institutions and governments acting in an arbitrary way so as to threaten the functioning of a free and open Indymedia. Such acts would clearly flout the intention of the Declaration made by the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU at a meeting on November 16 to protect the rights of Indymedia and others engaged in political dissent.
That Declaration stated:
"The council declares that the framework decision terrorism covers acts which are considered by all Member States of the European Union as serious infringements of their criminal laws committed by individuals whose objectives constitute a threat to their democratic societies respecting the rule of law and the civilisation upon which these societies are founded. It has to be understood in this sense and cannot be construed so as to argue that the conduct of those who have acted in the interest of preserving or restoring these democratic values, as was notably the case in some Member States during the Second World War, could now be considered as "terrorist" acts. Nor can it be construed so as to incriminate on terrorist grounds persons exercising their legitimate right to manifest their opinions, even if in the course of the exercise of such right they commit offences," (12647/4/01, 19.11.01)
The list below is individual IMCs including the recent targeting of IMC Melbourne in advance of the next WTO meeting.
IMC Netherlands - INTERNET TEST CASE \x96 Appeal pending
German railway network Deutsche Bahn brought an action against Indymedia Netherlands for not removing indirect links to two internet pages. The links led to several mirror sites of the German periodical Radikal, containing two-pages which the original host in the Netherlands was forced to take offline because it gave tips on how to delay trains carrying nuclear waste. The judge's decision that all links that lead "directly or indirectly" to these two pages should be removed despite the indirect links but this would make the entire internet unworkable. Send MONEY to Indymedia NL for its appeal to preserve the democratic right to publish indirect links and to document content.
Information before and after the courtcase see http://www.indymedia.nl/nl/2002/06/4841.shtml
Background information about the history of repression against Radikal with an English translation at the very end: http://www.indymedia.nl/nl/2002/04/3498.shtml
IMC Switzerland \x96 Re-launches website after being temporarily Offline
IMC Switzerland faced a lawsuit against two alleged Indymedia activists were accused of being anti-semitic because a \x93Latuff\x94 cartoon the posting was not deleted in February 2002. But this attack was part of an ongoing conflict initiated in December 2001 when a left group started to attack Indymedia. The IMC group then began a process of re-evaluation and moved from the net to face-to-face meetings resulting in a re-launch after a month and a half. The site is still \x93under construction\x94 and discussions are ongoing. A few weeks ago, a judge decided the posting of the Latuff cartoon was not anti-semitic because it was not against all Jewish people.
IMC Athens \x96 FALSE POSTING \x96 Police and media repression
IMC Athens has been subjected to media manipulation. It began with state and mainstream media using a 27-year-old guerrilla organization known as N17 to attack left wing political groups including branding Indymedia Athens as a \x93terrorist\x94 web site and calling for it to be shut down. The Greek National Police Department Head of Cyber Crime also attempted to infiltrate the editorial group of the Athens IMC. A few days later, Indymedia Athens received a posting erased within 20 minutes, as it was false and provocative and claimed responsibility for an attack on a newspaper office. A public prosecutor has since launched an inquiry for the police to discover the source of the posting and may use this to obtain server logs.
For background information see http://athens.indymedia.org/?lang=en
Italy: Post Genoa \x96 climate of repression and police intimidation
Several social centres with links to Indymedia Italy were raided by police on February 20 to get video footage and documents related to police brutality and subsequent torture of protestors sleeping in a school building opposite the main umbrella organisation Genoa Social Forum building during the Genoa-G8 protests in July 2001. The government has still not produced an independent inquiry despite condemnations from Amnesty and the UN. Indymedia Europe believes the Italian government launch of a spurious evidence gathering exercise is a blatant attempt to criminalise all those connected to Genoa with a complete disregard to human rights law both nationally and internationally. Please contact Indymedia Italy for further information.
IMC Germany \x96 POLICE AND STATE intimidation
IMC Germany has so far politely declined police requests for log files of articles but is aware of an intimidation process instigated by police and a number of repressive state bodies. It been threatened with several civil lawsuits for libel and defamation by many others including a right-wing journalist who also participated in an anti-Indymedia press campaign supported by Conservative politicians. One local section of the secret police (Verfassungsschutz) refers to Indymedia as "extremist" which in German legal terms means \x93criminal\x94 rather than "radical" and could result in criminalisation.
See general repression article http://de.indymedia.org/2002/10/31186.shtml
IMC Belgium - POLICE THREAT
IMC Belgium was summoned to a police station where an individual was informed that a \x93police\x94 file was being kept on Indymedia Belgium since December 14 of last year. The police also threatened legal action over photographs of plain-clothes police.
IMC Basque \x96 BASQUE PARTY BAN
Newly formed IMC Basque is fearful after right-wing Spanish government banned main Basque party Batasuna after a raid claiming it was linked to terrorist organisation ETA. IMC Basque continues to promote the language and views of the Basque country.
IMC Melbourne \x96 Police Minister threatened to Shutdown anti-WTO websites
NSW Police Minister Michael Costa has included Melbourne Indymedia in attempts to shutdown several anti-WTO (World Trade Organisation) websites because he claims the sites are designed to aid the violent disruption of the forthcoming World Trade Organisation meeting in Sydney in November. People have the right to air legitimate concerns about the poverty created as a directly result of the unelected and unaccountable policies forced on developing and third world countries by the WTO.
The above and one eyewitness account reported by Italian daily La Republicca states just one reason why the UN and Amnesty condemned the actions of the Italian government during the G8 summit in Genoa. \x93The police "lined them [protesters] up and banged their heads against the walls. They urinated on one person. They beat people if they didn\x92t sing Facetta Nera (a fascist hymn). One girl was vomiting blood but the chief of the squad just looked on. They threatened to rape the girls with batons."
Indymedia Europe will continue to observe and report the actions of the state but remains concerned about the continued erosion of human rights. For those engaged in political dissent and others suffering from neo-liberal policies. Indymedia UK thanks the politicians, lawyers and other public figures that have agreed to support us.
- 17 Oct 2002