Bulgaria: Letter from jailed anti-fascist Jock Palfreeman

Anti-fascist march. Sofia, Bulgaria, February 12.
February 16, 2017

Jock Palfreeman is a 30-year-old Australian man wrongly jailed for the murder of a neo-Nazi in Bulgaria in 2007. Palfreeman came to the assistance of a Roma man being assaulted by a gang of fascist football hooligans. During the ensuing fight, one of the attackers was fatally stabbed.

The dead youth came from a family with powerful political connections. Despite serious weaknesses in the case against him, Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

From prison, Palfreeman has continued struggling for social change, helping form the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Association to campaign for prisoners’ rights. From his jail cell, he has continued to support struggles against racism, fascism and for social justice around the world.

Below is a letter Palfreeman wrote ahead of the February 18 annual march by Bulgarian fascists, in which he defends the right of victims of fascist violence to self-defence.

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The annual fascist “Lukov March” is again planned for February 18, the date marked by Bulgarian fascists as it was when Bulagarian fascist leader Hristo Lukov was killed by Communist rebel Violeta Yakova in 1943 as part of the class war and resistance against the then-fascist regime.

In reaction to the barbaric affront that the Bulgarian fascists commit yearly, there is also a yearly anti-Lukov March demonstration. The anti-Lukov March is more than just symbolic opposition to fascists in Bulgaria; it is also symbolic opposition to the crimes that the fascists commit against all human decency.

For example, the fascists from the Bulgarian National Union make illegal identification checks on public streets and the Bulgarian National Resistance makes ambush attacks on human rights demonstrators in trams. There was a beating and assault of a random Bulgarian man in the park with the “excuse” that they thought he was a Roma.

The anti-Lukov protests are symbolic opposition not simply to General Lukov, but against the crimes committed by his modern day acolytes, the fascist political parties such as Ataka and the Patriot Front. It is against the crimes committed by the fascist street gangs such as National Resistance and neo-Nazi football formations such as Sector B.

It would be reasonable to presume that a theme of the anti-Lukov March would be to discuss the crimes committed by the very people that the anti-Lukov protestors claim to oppose. But you’d be wrong. The majority of people are only happy to discuss and talk about the crimes committed by these fascists as long as their victims did not resist.

It is more acceptable for these neo-Nazis to kill someone than for one of their victims to accidentally kill one of them when 15 of them launch an attack. Resistance is acceptable to this sector of society as long as it remains symbolic. When resistance takes on its actual meaning, which is “a force that opposes or hinders the motion of another”, it suddenly becomes abhorred and passé.

On December 28, 2007, there were two forces at work that night. The first force was that of members of Sector B (football neo-Nazis) and the Bulgarian National Resistance (an overtly neo-Nazi formation). Fifteen of them were attacking people as they passed them on the streets, and of course targeting people who looked Roma with darker skin.

The second force was myself, who offered resistance to their force. At first, I shouted at them but they soon started attacking me with stones. I was hit on the head many times and knocked out at least two times, maybe three.

Is defending the victim of fascists a crime? Is defending oneself from fascists a crime?

In the eyes of the hypocrites, the fascists who go to the Lukov March are fascists only on the night of the Lukov March and then, like Cinderella, on all other nights they are “normal Bulgarian men”. This means no one, especially a foreigner, is allowed to defend themselves from their hate crimes.

Ironically, people walk around howling at the corrupt justice system in Bulgaria, but they are very fast to make the argument that as I was convicted by the same justice system, I must therefore be guilty.

The corrupt justice system is the same system that protects the fascists. How many fascists have been convicted for their hate crimes? Many people are attacked by these thugs and yet there is not a single conviction. Sons of politicians murder and the courts release them on bail so that they can escape the country to avoid a life sentence.

It is the same corrupt justice system that convicted me and the same that protects them —  in my case it served both purposes.

Those from National Resistance who attacked me will be at the Lukov March. They are the sons of high ranking officers, of politicians, of judges and prosecutors. As is common with fascists, they have a superiority complex instilled in them by their elitist parents who have raised their sons to believe that Bulgaria serves at their behest.

Those who believe that I didn’t have the right to defend myself and other victims of the fascists should join the Lukov March and not pretend to be interested in either anti-fascism or human rights.

It is a human right to defend oneself; it is a human right to defend each other from those who attack us.

It is the fascists who want to both attack us and then convict us for defending ourselves against their attacks. During this time the question should be raised, “why are we opposing the actions of the Lukov marchers but not showing solidarity to others who have been persecuted by them?”

It is simply hypocritical to oppose the Lukov fascists and yet remain silent about my conviction, a conviction for defending myself against these same people.

Solidarity to those brave enough to go to the anti-Lukov March protest and who risk repercussions from the neo-Nazis.

Solidarity to the comrades from abroad who have joined us here in Bulgaria and especially to our comrades from Greece.

Solidarity to Panagiotis Argyrou, Giorgos Nikolopoulos, Korydallos Prison, Michalis Nikolopoulos and the revolutionary struggle continuing inside the prisons of capitalist Greece.

Solidarity to all anti-fascists. The fascists will never be able to quench our fire.

[Reprinted from mpalothia.net.]

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