It is an affront to a nation that suffered so horrifically and resisted so heroically under fascism to watch it devolve into a fascist state itself decades later. If you thought that Russia’s current fascist trajectory was something Putin dreamed up earlier this year, Dmitry can tell you different.
Dmitry is a Russian antifascist who has been actively involved in the struggle there for years. His involvement increasingly put him in the crosshairs of the Russian state, which lead to his arrest in 2020 outside a court hearing for the infamous RUpression/Network frameup and then again a year later when protesting the poisoning of anti-corruption activist and Putin opponent Alexei Navalny. During that second arrest Dmitry managed to record much of his interrogation on his phone – a daring and incredible feat when you consider the beating he received at the time, compounded with the fact that he is nearly completely blind.
Fast-forward to February 2022 and, on the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Dmitry realized that the authorities would soon come calling on him again, leading him to flee to Georgia, where he actively protested against the invasion and raised funds for the Ukranian resistance. However, Tblisi being just 40km away from Russian tanks caused our friend to re-think his location and he is now applying for asylum in western Europe.
One of the major obstacles preventing him securing safe refuge are his finances – trying to get by on about $300USD/month does not leave much to procure resources to put your asylum case together, so The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund was pleased to be able to help him with that.
That’s what our friend spray-painted on the LA courthouse, in the middle of a protest/in direct response to the murder of George Floyd, back in the summer of 2020. For that crime, police and prosecutors wasted no resource to bring them incorrigible set to “justice.”
Nevertheless, this is what is happening and after some debate about whether or not the context of this action = anti-fascism,The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund has stepped in to help our friend pay off those damages somewhat. We hope their time in the clink is short, unmemorable, and uneventful and they’re back out with the rest of us ASAP.
If the four years under Trump felt like dangerous times to be an American antifascist, you would not believe what being a Filipinx antifascist under Duterte was like. Duterte compared himself to Hitler and, expressing his wish to literally exterminate the over 3 million people involved in the drug trade in the Philippines, gave a green light to police, paramilitaries, and far-right vigiliantes to start indiscriminately murdering people. We may never know the resulting death toll, but some put it as high as 27,000 people murdered.
Imagined for a second what it would be like opposing a fascist national leader whose police and military are on a state-sanctioned killing spree of “drug dealers” and “junkies” (which means anyone they say are either of those things). “Xx” can tell you all about that. As someone with years of activism under her belt, Xx has done organizing work with young people, labourers, and others. This work put her and her colleagues squarely in the crosshairs of Duterte’s extermination campaign as his thugs worked to wipe out opponents to his brand of fascism. After being forced underground when her colleagues were rounded up, “Xx” lived with one eye open at all times, which saved her from an attempt to kill her and her colleagues at a children’s literacy class they were conducting. Two years later, nearly all of her colleagues were murdered by the military – a fate she escaped only because of her being away at an appointment at the time.
This last incident made it clear that staying in the Philippines would be a death sentence for Xx, so she attempted to secure a temporary visa to come visit relatives in a safer country. Unfortunately, her request was denied and she remains in danger while she appeals that decision. The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund sent her some support to help with that appeal and we hope she gets out and finds safe haven as soon as possible.
Unfortunately for Kelly, it turns out that antifascists weren’t willing to turn the other cheek and let him murder them that day and Kelly’s bravado earned him nothing more than a visit to ER for some head trauma no doubt administered in self-defense.
The racist thugs at the scandal-plagued Portland Police Bureau, of course, can’t let a friend of theirs like Kelly get his comeuppance without intervening, so after three years they’ve decided to charge someone, someone who asked us to help with their legal defense. And help is what we did. Because teaching people like Adam Kelly how the sentence “Fuck around…” ends is never a crime.
Police in Calgary, Canada certainly try their best to live up to the city’s “wild west” reputation by being as violent as they possibly can with racialized people. Take the case of Constable Alex Dunn – a Calgary po-po who despite being convicted of assault after slamming a handcuffed Black woman face-first onto the concrete in 2017 received no jail time for the assault and kept his job on the Calgary Police Service! People were understandably upset about this and protests at Calgary’s courthouse ensued, demanding that Dunn be fired. After about two weeks, an off-duty officer is alleged to have threatened to physically assault and murder the protesters before running into the courthouse to file charges against the protestors he is alleged to have threatened!
So now our friend, who was concerned enough about the courts turning a blind eye to wanton police brutality, must beat charges levied against him in those same courts. This requires money and we were glad to be able to help him reach the amount needed to have a good lawyer working his case. If you think it’s outrageous for police to get away with assaulting racialized people and then charge the people protesting their violent abuse, we’re with you. If you want to help people facing situations like this, a contribution to the Defence Fund is a great way to do that!
Seven years ago, the people comprising the Antifa International collective grew tired of seeing antifascists jammed up in emergencies trying desperately to raise the funds they needed to get through said emergencies. They thought that a standing fund tasked with providing emergency support to antifascists in trouble was needed. Rather than waiting for someone else to do it, they established The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund in June of 2015.
Since then, the Defence Fund has provided emergency support to antifascists the world over, whenever they’ve faced dire circumstances resulting from their work thwarting bigotry and fascism. It remains the only international anti-fascist solidarity project we’re aware of that’s dedicated exclusively to supporting antifa in emergencies. To-date we have provided over $175,000USD in emergency aid to more than 650 antifascists in 23 different countries.
Since June 2021, we’ve intervened nineteen times to provide game-changing levels of support and material aid to 63 antifascists in eleven different countries (Austria, Australia, Belarus, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Ukraine, the UK, and the US). This was a 72% increase over the number of times we provided emergency support in the previous 12-month period (an increase that may be due to the relaxing of COVID restrictions globally allowing for more people to clash with each other in contentious settings). The $46,468.59 USD worth of support we provided marked a 40% increase over the previous 12-month period; in fact, 45% of all monies the Defence Fund has distributed in its eight years have gone out over the past two years.
89% of the funds disbursed since June 2021 went towards legal defence, court costs, fines, and prisoner support; 11% of contributions coveredemergency relocation costs for antifascists who had been threatened at their homes by fascists.
This was money well-spent; in over half of the cases we intervened in, the antifascists we supported in the last twelve months had criminal charges against them reduced, dropped altogether, or else were found not guilty. One antifascist group that had been banned from existing by the French government won their appeal of the “dissolution” order and have returned to full-force. Antifascists in Colombia and the United States are safe because we helped them relocate to safer homes after they received death threats. In all of these cases, our intervention helped save antifascists from life-altering circumstances they were facing solely because of their public opposition to fascism.
Happily, this was the first 12-month period since the Defence Fund’s inception where we did not have to cover medical expenses or help with the costs of an antifascist recovering from an injury sustained in a confrontation with fascists. We think this is most likely because of the reduced number of street-level confrontations between antifascists and fascists due to COVID lockdown restrictions and anticipate this peaceful blip to vanish over the next twelve months, as antifascists are once again compelled to defend their communities from fascist terror campaigns.
The Defence Fund is operated by the Decisions Crew – a body of antifascists from around the world who have made contributions of at least $20USD to the Defence Fund. Decisions about how the Defence Fund operates are made via consensus wherever possible and by majority vote in circumstances where consensus is not forthcoming. In our first year, there were all of 45 Decisions Crew members. As of today, more than 1350 antifascists from 25 countries have been invited to join the Decisions Crew.
A year ago, we predicted that Donald Trump’s relegation to obscurity would lead to a drop on contributions to the Defence Fund, as the cause of antifascism subsequently fell from the headlines. At the same time, we also predicted an increase in the requests for emergency support as a resurgent global fascist movement made gains by infiltrating and co-opting the COVID conspiracy movement. Unfortunately, we have been proven correct on both counts. Contributions to the Defence Fund were down 17% over the last twelve months while at the same time dispersal amounts to antifascists in need increased by a massive 40%. Despite our long track record of excellent stewardship, this places the Defence Fund in an untenable position. If contributions to the Defence Fund do not increase, we will be forced to curtail support of antifascists facing emergencies.
If you were hoping that Greece’s Golden Dawn being declared a criminal organization marked the end of fascism in Greek politics, you’d be wrong. Current Greek Minister of Internal Affairs Makis Voridis is living proof of this. Years and years of active involvement in full-on Hitler-worshipping fascist organizations did nothing to deter his appointment to the Internal Affairs post.
But that doesn’t mean that Greeks are willing to just look the other way, least of all in Messolonghi. There local anti-fascists set up a “welcoming committee” after hearing of Voridis’ intention to attend an event there. They let all event attendees know in no uncertain terms that Voridis and his ilk were not welcome in Messolonghi.
Of course the police – whose disproportionate support of Golden Dawn when it was still pretending to be a legitimate political party and not the murderous gang of fascist racketeers and thugs it turned out to be – over-reacted to all of this and attacked the protestors. In the ensuing chaos, one cop allegedly got bopped on the head. In the end, nine people were charged; two with felonies. The two facing felony charges needed bail money and a crowdfunder was set up to cover that and other legal costs. Of course, The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund is going to help pay bail for any antifascist in a situation like this, so that is exactly what we did.
This brave citizen of Peterborough went from facing prison time to going scot-free, because people like us had his back and made sure he didn’t have to worry about having competent legal defence representing him. He wrote us to tell us the good news, saying “I can’t possible thank all of you enough for coming to my defence! This has been super empowering and an amazing support to continuing to help and defend those in need! I feel like it’s a win for everyone! Be sure to pass along my greatest thanks too.”
And so, dear reader, if you have ever made a contribution to the Defence Fund, that gratitude is for you! If you’ve never contributed to the Defence Fund, isn’t it time you did?
What had GALE done to deserve such a severe measure? They had gained the scrutiny of the state after hosting a concert where performing MCs led the crowd in a round of the (in)famous French slogan toute le monde déteste la police (everybody hates the police). Upon further investigation, authorities discovered GALE had also produced a poster with the slogan “Death To The Nazis!” (Quentin Taratino might want to avoid Cannes in case they find out about Inglorious Basterds and issue a warrant for his arrest!).
That was the basis by which the French state banished GALE from existing.
GALE did not take this dissolution order sitting down and, with the support of the Defence Fund and other allies, hired lawyers to file an appeal. On May 11th, the appeal was heard and, once again, what actually dissolved was the French state’s arguments for ordering GALE’s dissolution.
These are two major courtroom victories for Lyon antifascists in less than a year – victories that the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund played a significant role in providing the necessary resources to ensure the outcome.
“We must rely on the state to contend with fascists!” liberals will tell you. “To fight bigotry and fascism, we have to give the authorities the legal powers to combat them for us!” they say. So what happens when a state has the legal authority to decide whether a political group has the right to exist in society? Who will the state wield that power against?
If you’re an anarchist or if you live in Lyon then you already know the answer.
The French state reserves for itself the right to ban or “dissolve” any group it deems to be “extremist.” The dissolution laws have been criticized by radical, extremist organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for their incompatibility with French republican values like freedom of association.
Wrong. Last month Groupe Antifasciste Lyon et Environs (GALE) were informed that the state had dissolved them. Their rationale? GALE had been involved in a concert months before where a hiphop artist performed got the crowd to join in chanting “toute le monde detestes les flics!” (“everybody hates the police!”). That was literally all it took for the state to target GALE and ultimately declare them dissolved. This is the first time we have heard of an anti-fascist group being “dissolved” by the state.