ASIO hassling Australian anarchists in lead up to G20 in 2014

  • Posted on: 13 November 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Age</a>

REBECCA Harrison was extremely curious when the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation unexpectedly contacted her last month. What the Monash University student and part-time political activist didn't know was that she had been drawn into a new counter-terrorism probe, and that ASIO is investigating possible threats to the G20 economic leaders' meetings to be hosted by Australia in 2014.

An ASIO officer rang Harrison on her mobile phone, introduced herself and asked whether they could meet to discuss the issue of ''politically motivated violence''.

Harrison, a third-year philosophy student, has been involved in a range of political activities including the Melbourne Anarchist Club, the Occupy movement and environmental activist group Quit Coal. She spoke to other activists and when the ASIO agent rang back, agreed to meet.</td><td><img title="PMV in the house!" src=""></td>...

The meeting took place the next morning at Kafe Mument, near the Monash campus. The female officer was accompanied by an older and apparently more senior, male colleague who did most of the talking.

Harrison thought ASIO might want to talk to her about her involvement with Quit Coal, but the the security officers said they wanted to discuss the ''anarchist scene'' in Melbourne. They said they were talking to ''lots of people'' in an effort to understand anarchist viewpoints.

Broadly defined as a political philosophy that opposes authority or hierarchical organisation in social and political life, anarchism has become more popular in the past decade as part of the international anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements.

Anarchists were active in the demonstrations and riots that accompanied the G20 finance ministers' meeting in Melbourne in November 2006, and Harrison says ASIO asked her whether there was any support among Australian anarchists for violence as a means to achieve political goals. They were also ''very curious'' about connections between Australian anarchists and similar groups overseas.

But the ASIO officers had one specific case they wanted to talk about. They asked Harrison what she knew about Felicity Ann Ryder, another Melbourne activist who had attracted brief media attention in early July. They showed Harrison a couple of news articles about Ryder and asked what she thought about her activities.
The daughter of Lyndon and Jenny Ryder, a couple who run businesses in the Victorian town of Rutherglen, Felicity Ryder is a Melbourne University politics and history graduate who has at least five years' experience as an activist in the anarchist movement. Her interests include animal liberation and environmental protest, and involvement with Barricade, an anarchist bookshop and information centre.

Other Melbourne-based activists describe Ryder as ''quiet, and quite serious'', ''not someone who drew attention to herself'' and '' a typical young activist [who was] active in a general sense but didn't stand out''.'

A talented linguist, Ryder has travelled widely and is understood to have worked in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Her political activities remained low profile until early July this year when media reports from Mexico linked her with an alleged anarchist bomber in Mexico.

The bomber, Mario Antonio Lopez Hernandez, was arrested by police on June 27 after he was seriously injured when he accidentally detonated an improvised explosive device on a street in the Coyoacan district of Mexico City.

Mexico has a long anarchist political tradition that was given new inspiration by the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas state in 1994. Anarchist students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City led campaigns against tuition fee rises and Mexican anarchists were prominent in the protests that accompanied the 1999 Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation.

A series of anarchist bombings took place in Mexico City in 2006 and petroleum pipelines in central Mexico were targeted in 2007. Over the past 18 months so-called ''eco-anarchists'' have also targeted Mexico's growing nano-technology sector with a letter-bomb campaign apparently modelled on the ''Unabomber'' attacks of Theodore Kaczynski in the US.

Hernandez is accused of a bombing outside a Mexican Federal Electricity Commission in Tlalpan in June and of planning at least one other explosion. Mexican police allege that Hernandez declared himself an anarchist, a fighter for ''Total Liberation'', and admitted that he used the internet to research how to build the bombs.
Ryder was immediately linked to Hernandez when her passport was found in his backpack. The Australian activist had arrived in Mexico last December and reportedly met Hernandez through the internet. In early July Mexican media reported that Ryder had been arrested. This was dramatic news for her parents who were bombarded with media inquiries. However, while the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade indicated it was aware Ryder was wanted by Mexican authorities, there was no confirmation of her arrest and no request for consular assistance was made.

Ryder's whereabouts were unknown, including to her parents, and in the absence of new information, Australian media interest quickly faded.

But in a statement posted on the Mexican anarchist website Liberacion Total two weeks later, Ryder confirmed that she hadn't been arrested and expressed her thanks to ''everyone who has worried about me and my situation, to those who have shown solidarity with Mario and I''.

Ryder accused the Mexican police of spreading false reports of her arrest. ''If it was to try in vain to break or manipulate Mario, to manipulate my family, or to try to appear half confident in doing their jobs, I don't know,'' she wrote.

''What I do know is that I am proud of being an anarchist, and proud to be an enemy of authority and the state.''

Hernandez, under guard in hospital while his wounds healed, released a statement in which he took responsibility for his actions and denied Ryder's involvement in the bombings. He said ''the problem is that [she] is now implicated'' because they left a backpack at the scene of the attempted bombing and her ID was in it. She was also identified in video recorded by street cameras.

Hernandez and Ryder are now heroes for anarchist extremists around the world. In October nine Greek anarchists, members of an ''urban guerilla'' group Conspiracy of Cells of Fire on trial for bombings in Athens, issued a statement that declared ''with our thoughts and hearts, we stand close to anarchist comrade Mario Lopez … and anarchist Felicity Ryder, who chose the clandestine paths and is prosecuted for the same case''.

Jenny Ryder has told Fairfax Media that it was ''beyond comprehension to think that our daughter would have had any involvement with violence.

''We as her parents, and her family, have the utmost respect for her beliefs, her commitment to social justice that we know is very close to her heart.''

Whatever the details of Ryder's association with Hernandez, she is clearly regarded by security authorities in Mexico and Australia as a ''person of interest'' in relation to terrorist bombings.

Fairfax Media has confirmed that ASIO has pursued a wide-ranging investigation in relation to Ryder, including ASIO officers carrying out inquiries in her home town of Rutherglen. ASIO liaises with its Mexican counterpart, the Centre for Research and National Security (Centro de Investigacion y Seguridad Nacional) and the Australian security agency's inquiries have focused on identifying friends and associates whom Ryder might contact.

Ryder has been in intermittent email contact to advise friends and family that she is safe. However, she has not disclosed her whereabouts and has indicated that, on legal advice, she does not intend to present herself to Mexican authorities soon. A warrant has been issued for her arrest by the Mexico City attorney-general and Mexican border security has been alerted.

Rebecca Harrison says she couldn't tell ASIO officers anything about Ryder because as far as she could recall, she'd never met her and her own knowledge didn't extend beyond what was in the news articles that they showed her at Kafe Mument.

Significantly, however, the ASIO officers were also keen to inquire broadly about the Melbourne anarchist scene, asking who the main leaders and identities were, and what they thought about violent protest. After asking whether there would be any ''solidarity events'' organised in support of Ryder, the ASIO officers said they would be ''very interested'' to learn who organised or attended any such gatherings. Harrison says she told ASIO she knew of no evidence of any inclinations towards violence among Melbourne's anarchist groups.

Anarchist extremists have certainly become a focus for law enforcement and security agencies in Europe and North America. In February, the FBI arrested five self-described anarchists for allegedly plotting to blow up a bridge in Cleveland on May Day.

Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon briefly referred to anarchists as a threat when she was asked on the ABC's Q&A program in April about reports in Fairfax Media about federal police and ASIO interest in environmental activists and anti-coal protesters.

''Peaceful protest is one thing, and sometimes peaceful protest can break the law,'' Roxon said, ''but there is also a lot of industrial sabotage, which gets to a point where it is actually the commission of quite a serious crime,'' she said.
''Unfortunately we do see a growing number of links across some sorts of groups who are anarchist … and intent with committing a terrorist offence that might link in with other protest groups.''
Security sources have told Fairfax Media that international connections between anarchist extremists, facilitated by the internet, are ''a matter of legitimate concern'' and that ''radicalisation'' through contact with overseas extremists is ''something that has to be monitored''.

Of particular interest is Australian activist engagement in the potential development of ''Deep Green resistance'', inspired by the writings of American ''anarcho-primitivist'' theorist Derrick Jensen, including the formation of a militant ''underground'' engaged in direct action against economic and energy infrastructure.

Australia's hosting of the G20 economic leaders' meeting in Brisbane in November 2014, together with related gatherings in other state capitals, is raised as a particular focus for security planning.

''These international economic meetings are a traditional focus for anarchist extremists,'' a senior law enforcement official said. ''In order to know what the threats might be in 2014, we need to adjust intelligence priorities and open inquiries now.''

Melbourne's anarchist circles can probably expect more telephone calls from ASIO like that received by Rebecca Harrison, and plenty of surveillance they won't ever know about.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, Felicity Ryder remains at large - a high-priority counter-terrorism target.

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PMV? Que?

got em good last time were down there

Mario & Ryder = awesome
sitting down with a cup of coffee and a chat with the state = not so awesome

WOW! Backpack with ID. One couldn't be that stupid, no rly, a frame-up, a fabrication?! Or is this just an example of amateurs against professionals? The art of war should be mandatory reading for any budding activist lol.

Statement from Rebecca, originally posted on an FB page for:

I decided to meet up with ASIO because people from Quit Coal asked me to do so. They had reason to believe that ASIO was investigating Quit Coal and people thought that meeting with ASIO was worth the risk so that we could get confirmation of this that we could then take to the media.

Turned out, they weren't at all interested in Quit Coal. I'd apparently been 'identified as someone active in the anarchist movement.' They asked me a heap of questions. I replied with a lot of 'I don't know's. Should go without saying that they didn't get any information from me that could be used against anyone.

Afterwards, some people thought it would be worth talking to a journo from Fairfax so that other people could know what was going on and we could bring some attention to the way that people in Melbourne are currently being targeted for surveillance for nothing more than holding lefty/revolutionary political views.

As you can see, though, this didn't work out as I had hoped. As usual, the mainstream media is happy to present anarchists as scary terrorists and little else.

I sincerely apologise for any harm/erosion of trust that has been caused by my actions. I'm completely open to admitting that I've messed this up. And I really hope that Felicity's campaign for justice is not negatively impacted by the scrutiny this article has resulted in. In the end, all I can really do is try to think more about the strategical lessons of this and how I can do better in the future.

I think some of the things we should take from this are:

1. The dangers that come with engaging with the state and the mainstream media.

2. We should be aware that in the next couple of years there may be increased attention on anarchists and other lefty dissidents from the state and its various instruments of control.

3. We shouldn't respond to this by stopping the good work that we are doing. I'm proud to be an anarchist and to take part in anarchist organising. Part of the purpose of these approaches by ASIO is no doubt to scare people into silence. I think we should respond by being even more organised and even more vocal.

4. We should think about ways we can show solidarity to anarchists who are facing state repression. My experience with ASIO was what made me want to help organise this rally.

I think a good response to ASIO's bullshit would be a have an amazing solidarity rally to show them that they cannot intimidate people into silence.

WTF! Activists and their missionary roles on FB. It's almost a refinement of the colonialist mentality, damn, talking to cops over a latté, damn!

One problem with speaking to cops and the FBI (especially the FBI) is it's a crime to give them any false statement. Even if it was unintentional, they'll use that to prosecute the hapless soul who believes good faith innocent cooperation won't be punished.

Naturally it erodes trust to be seen or suspected of speaking with the feds. Even experts in lying (attorneys and politicians) get hung out to dry for making a false statement. Or they'll come back and threaten to prosecute for making a false statement unless you cooperate further. It's a perjury trap, one you can't win. Thus, speaking to the cops or FBI is dumb, even for those that might want to help them.

The feds have been trained in counter-espionage techniques. This is how they break down even professional spooks. Run of the mill anarchists have no chance of outsmarting these people. It's foolish to even consider it. The Australian lass got very bad advice from Quit Coal. They assumed they could gain useful information without providing any to the Australian security service. How lame! Those guys are pros. Quit Coal got exactly nothing in exchange for giving up a patsy who can now, if Australia's laws are even remotely similar to those in the U.S., be blackmailed and coerced under threat of having made a 'false' statement.

It's a great article precisely for the reason of demonstrating why talking to the man is ALWAYS a bad idea for anyone, not just radicals.

Hang on, an Austoralian in Mexico doing activist work. Hey, from what I've heard about Austoralia, she should clean up her own backyard, it's a total capitalist police state. Damn jet-setting activists, it's all a frigging ego trip, what about the injustices in their own countries. OMG! Working fucking holidays, activism has gone bourgeois!

ha ha

''anarcho-primitivist'' theorist Derrick Jensen

First off, Jensen is neither an Anarchist and defniitely not an Anarcho-Primitivist. He's a Deep Ecologist mixed with Second Wave Feminism mixed with liberal direct democratic politics. In a recent article, he advocated a Directly Democratic United States of America, where the next war would be decided by a majority of the "people" of US.

On top of that, the Deep Green Resistance book is anti-anarchist. It makes fun of anarchists for being anti-authoritarian (and ALF/ELF types for being misdirected, needing leaders.) Also, anarchists are so anti-code of conduct that they try to misinterpret the spanish revolutionaries as reasons why codes of conduct are a good thing.

Anti-hierarchy is, in general, a good thing if it can ever truly be accomplished. Has there ever been a successful functioning community in that mode (the internet?) anyone can cite? Or is it just a pipe dream, ala The 2nd Coming?

qualify good.

isn't that subjective? What if i like hierarchy and being enslaved?

What they call anarchism in Mexico is really tribal-neo-marxism with alot of catholic religion, cocaine cartels and tequila thrown into the mixing bowl. OK, maybe there are traditional indigenous communities who are anti-statist, but they still retain their theist and hierarchical tribal structure. Proper anarchism just doesn't exist there, unless it be a Stirnerist indivualist type, and they're opposed to activism or violence.

*individualist* although 'indivualism' would be a good word to replace 'anarchism' in this post-modern era.

What's wrong with individualism and concerted non-cooperation as a tactic instead of the mutually crippling effects of violent resistance?

You say "Tribal neo-Marxism" like it's not totally awesome.
I think you are making a terrible mistake.

OK, it's at least sustainable, decentralised, anti-bureaucratic and has community values. But ummm, what if you don't want to believe in Quexcotyl [ you know who I mean] the god of total destroy? Will I have my anarchist heart cut out on the altar of sacrifice to a priestly hierarchy?

Chin up. It would have the benefit of helping drive down beef prices and diminish animal exploitation.

opposed to violence?? what the in the hell are you talking about?

Individualist-anarchists are opposed to violent revolution. My mistake, they approve of individual violence as self-defense against those that attempt to suppress their freedoms. But they are not into activism violence against the state. This is a fact about the whole rivalry which exists between the BB and the individualist-anarchists. There's no cure to this, it divides the movement. Just saying,,.I mean, activists fall into a political mould and end up having lattés with cops. Explain that please!! It's in their heads, they should clean it out.

"Individualist-anarchists are opposed to violent revolution. My mistake, they approve of individual violence as self-defense against those that attempt to suppress their freedoms."

So-basically they're an-caps. They are sociopaths who claim, globally, to be pacifists, because lord knows they do not actually want the state to collapse or for unseemly to have access to resources, or to not be able to use their "individual violence (ha!) to suppress people who have the natural abilities to soon enough be out-competing them in world markets.

Capitalists have created the greatest violence in the last 200 yrs. An-caps are capitalists posing as anarchists, in a way they are infiltrators and posers. I'm talking about individualist-anarchists, they have a diametrically opposed agenda or values to an an-cap. An-caps are like cops in plain clothes, don't you know the difference, not wanting to beg the question?

The difference isn't understood here. Care to expand on that?

Well a quick summary. For a start an an-cap believes in social-darwinism, they misconstrue, as Spencer did, the idea that survival of the fittest can be applied to socio-economic management within an urban environment. They use this fallacy to create a division of labour and class structure, and equate success to a justifiable exploitation of anyone, because those who are poor or physically weak, or have no individual entrepreneurial zest, deserve their condition because it is the 'law of the jungle'. They imagine themselves as solitary hunters preying on the monetary spoils within an indifferent and equally predatorial totality, a simplistic mythical reification of psuedo-scientific conclusions applied to complex social relationships.
Individualist-anarchists don't accept the division of labour and class structure, or that life is about the accumulation of property acquired by working for capitalists. They do not believe in 'the law of the jungle' or any laws which impose conditions on other people, or territorial restrictions. Individualism has many forms which are diverse. There can be individualist-nazis, but that's a whole different condition. One would have to go into deep psychological impulses and ressentiment to fathom the hatred and obsessions involved, and don't ever think that an an-cap is very much different either.

"Individualist-anarchists are opposed to violent revolution. My mistake, they approve of individual violence as self-defense against those that attempt to suppress their freedoms. But they are not into activism violence against the state."

I think there's some problems with the semantics involved here, because I'm sure a lot of insurrectionists, nihilists, and egoists would identify in some way with the concept of "individualism" - and they are (mostly) the exact opposite of what you are describing.

But yeah I know exactly the sort of "anarchist" that you mean. I don't really know a good catch-all term for them. Academic anarchists? Philosophical anarchists? Theoretical anarchists? Anarcho-liberals? They're the type to have read a handful of books from a century ago and decided that they need to convince everyone else that anarchism is the best thing for everybody, "non-violently", one person at a time. Even if that methodology is in no way similar to the ones used by the classical anarchists they so admire.

I blame The Anarchist FAQ

What do you really know about what's going on in Mexico? What do you know about the APPO and the CIPO-RFM or even what people who's communiques are posted on anarchistnews are doing? You also should know that the main drug of the MX cartels is marijuana. Coca is mostly grown and processed into cocaine in South America not Mexico. Also having ties to religion or theism is irrelevant to whether a movement or an individual is anarchist or not. What would you call the Levellers and the Diggers of the English Civil War for example?

I know that the levellers, ranters and diggers, and a whole lot of sectarian hero worshippers were a bunch of obsessive religious fanatics with a slave mentality, how's that? Read Cohn's pursuit, it paints a dim picture of their movement and its aspirations.

The Levellers are not the same as the True Levellers who were very anarchistic.
" The Ranters revived the Brethren of the Free Spirit's beliefs of amoralism and followed the Brethren's ideals which “stressed the desire to surpass the human condition and become godlike.” Because they believed that God was present in all living creatures, the Ranters' adherence to antinomianism allowed them to reject the very notion of obedience, thus making them a great threat to the stability of the government."
Does that sound like a slave mentality? It's a mistake to generalize and stereotype Mexicans as catholic quasi-marxists and also to generalize all dissenters in the English Civil War as slavish religious fanatics. Humans are always more complex than whatever labels or ideologies they may be given or choose to identify with. Above all what matters most is what people actually do.

Derrick Jensen 2016 !!

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