(Introductory leaflet to the debate distributed during the initiative)
This initiative is born from the need to send, as far as we can, a gesture of solidarity to our comrade prisoners in Chile who in the first months of this year have undertaken two hunger strikes. We want to support them, also through the translations contained in the leaflets prepared for this meeting, spreading the determination with which they have carried out the struggle inside the prison, in order for those of us who are outside those walls and far from those territories to feel closer. Even if at the end of their mobilization the prisoners may or may not have obtained everything they demanded, it has nevertheless allowed them to build and forge bonds of complicity, both inside and outside the prison. Bonds that have made this struggle overcome barriers and frontiers and that, from the moment it clearly positioned itself against all forms of coercion and domination, have made it recognizable and defensible for refractory people across the world.
But it is not out of simple voyeurism towards distant rebellions that we are here today. With this initiative we also intend to underline our complicity with our comrades who today are prisoners of the State, so that they know that they are not alone. Even in this part of the world we have, in fact, anarchist prisoners who have recently waged several struggles inside the prison. Struggles carried out individually or collectively, strikes and massive revolts like those of March 2020 against the management of the pandemic inside the prisons. Struggles whose quality, to take up a concept expressed with emphasis in the contribution that John, a prisoner in the prison of Terni, has written for this initiative, is strictly linked to the relationships that exist from inside and outside the prison.
These relations are the same ones on which Chilean prisoners and comrades have repeatedly insisted, affirming that “prison is part of the options of the struggle, it is part of it and therefore, instead of being a parenthesis or a pause, it is configured as another setting in which to carry out the battle” and that it is necessary to understand “the prisoner as an active comrade in struggle, who finds himself in this particular condition consequently to a chosen path that does not end within [those] four walls”. Relations in which it is necessary to invest if we intend to recognize the prisoners as our comrades, as accomplices in the struggle against all power, especially at this moment when these relations are under attack. The latest repressive operations in Italy have in fact, among other things, the objective of attacking the communication between the outside world and that inside the prison, putting pressure on the correspondence through which the prisoners continue to be part of the anarchist debate and struggle, bringing reflections, contributions, proposals for intervention and stimuli for action. Now more than ever, therefore, is the time to increase efforts in the direction of ever greater communication and complicity with the prisoners, aiming not simply to provide assistance, which is also key, but rather to strengthen our offensive capacity against this system of domination and exploitation.
From this perspective, it seems important to us to strongly affirm the conviction that our relations of complicity and solidarity are our greatest strength, and it is these that we must strengthen and care about, both locally and internationally. In the public communiqué of the beginning of this hunger strike, the comrades actually launched an open call to “all those in solidarity and all those who take a stand against prison and oppression to take an active part in this struggle”. We want to respond to this invitation by asking ourselves during this initiative how to qualitatively cultivate these relationships: how to weave them and, above all, how to preserve and strengthen them during the “hot moments” of the struggle?
We also felt the need to question ourselves on the concept of solidarity, specifically solidarity with the prisoners and with the struggles they undertake, on the meaning we give to it, also starting from the limits and the achievements of the mobilizations in Italy in recent times, to seek to go beyond the simple support to the prisoners in the perspective of a convergence between inside and outside the prison in the common struggle against this institution and against the society that needs it. So, what do we mean by solidarity with fellow anarchist prisoners, and through which forms do we believe it needs to be expressed?