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the anarchist black cross is an international network of autonomous groups of anarchists who work to ensure that anarchist, class war and other prisoners aren't forgotten.
the anarchist red cross was started in tsarist russia to organize aid for political prisoners captured by the police, and to organize self-defense against political raids by the cossack army. during the russian civil war, they changed the name to the black cross in order to avoid confusion with the red cross who were organizing relief in the country. after the bolsheviks seized power the anarchist movement moved the abc offices to berlin and continued to aid prisoners of the new regime, as well as victims of italian fascism and others. the black cross fell apart during the 1930s depression due to the incredible demand for its services and a decline in financial aid. but in the late 1960s the organization resurfaced in britain, where it first worked to aid prisoners of the spanish resistance, which had not in fact died after the civil war and were fighting the dictator franco's police. now it has expanded and works in several areas, with contacts and other black cross groups in many countries around the world. the north american section started in the early 1980s.
the abc hopes to bring attention to the plight of all prisoners including, psychiatric prisoners, with an emphasis on anarchist and class war prisoners; and, through contact with and information about anarchist prisoners, inspire an anarchist resistance and support movement on the outside. although we aren't able (except with a few exceptions) to send regular financial aid to our comrades in prison, we do keep in regular contact with as many prisoners as possible, make visits and do whatever we can to prevent prisoners from becoming isolated. we fund-raise on behalf of prisoners or defense committees in need of funds for legal cases or otherwise, and organize demonstrations of solidarity with imprisoned anarchists and other prisoners
we believe, as most anarchists do, that prisons serve no useful function (except for the benefit of the ruling classes) and should be abolished along with the state. we differ from liberal prison reformists and groups like amnesty international in two main ways: firstly, we believe in the abolition of both the prison system and the society which creates it, and we initiate all our actions with that in mind; secondly, we believe in direct resistance to achieve a stateless and classless society. groups like amnesty international balk at supporting anyone accused of so-called violent acts, thus insinuating that anyone who resists oppression and takes up arms in self-defense, or during a revolutionary insurrection, is not worthy of support. the message is clear: do not resist. our message is exactly the opposite, and this is what we work to support. we share a commitment to revolutionary anarchism as opposed to liberalism and individualism or legalism.
outside of prison work, the abc's are committed to the wider resistance in which many of these prisoners are engaged. we see a real need for anarchists to be militantly organized if we are to effectively meet the organized repression of the state and avoid defeat. what is also needed is commitment to revolutionary politics. we see the setting up of anarchist defense organizations, such as the abc, as a necessary part of the growth and development of an anarchist resistance movement, not divorcing ourselves from the revolutionary struggle and then just fighting for prison reform.
raze the prisons, free the prisoners!from anarchist black cross manifesto.