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Martin Krämer: Korsakov, on vessel BM2 under the flag of Panama, 21st March 2008 (8:25 local time)

Dear friends,

This is the 12th day of my combined Japanese-Russian deportation arrest on BM2. The vessel is currently being unloaded which will take little more than 12 hours. We might then load timber. When we are ready for sailing, there will be no sailing permission from FSB for I have neither a Russian visa nor a Japanese guarantee for landing. From this minute onwards all charges of the ship (which might go into millions of US $) will be procured from me personally, as announced triumphantly by the German consular machinery and the ship owner unison.

Bild: Otaru Port

Two weeks now, I have enjoyed the same food every day, the same restriction of movement, nervous police reaction whenever I start my regular physical exercise, the same invitation to get drunk and forget the misery around on cheap vodka. If something of this will be added on the final bill finishing my existence as a creditable subject of bourgeois society we do not know yet. So, interestingly, Capitalism is always out for change. We had kicking and a Russian death threat on March the 3rd, two Japanese Gun-boats escorting the unarmed BM2 on the 15th. All this brute show of force was quite counter-productive for the G8 mount-up I think. But now there is a notable shift to more refined forms of personal pressure. I will try to trace some of these shifts, observations as to its origins and dialectical developments in this personal letter. We have to understand the movements of our mortal enemy, we have to grasp its ever-productious perfidy, the blind and forceful material dialects making Capitalism look like something still alive. We have to be very attentive, because in the end it will be either us or them. There can be no peaceful co-existence, one will throw the other into the sea. Let us hold on to facts, so we do not go over board by our very own misconception of reality.

The most negative effect of my detention is not sleepless nights, seemingly endless time wasted with futile formalities for you and me, the most fatal development is that our communication is getting lop sided. For almost a month now, the repression mount-up in the region has effectively blocked me from being able to receive any written message. In spite of the brave intervention by my lawyer Kuperman on the company detaining me on command of Russian FSB border control forces, I still cannot access Emails, there is no fax available, no post handed over, I can phone only with hilarious charges for my colleagues on the vessel. I can write and send electronic texts during 2 or 3 minutes every two days or so but this is worst case for lively communication: instead of listening to you, I compensate with monologues. I beg your pardon, for the time being. As soon as we manage to organize real access to your communication, I will take two days off and read, rethink everything and talk differently. This is a promise. For the time being, I feel obliged to keep you at least roughly informed after a forced break in sending Email during the whole of last week.

Curiously, the failure to access Emails has got several reasons. There is a restrictive policy for access on the part of the company. But there seems to be a technical problem as well. This can (but need not) be related to the forced access to all private electronic data by the Russian political police FSB.

However, there is nothing but communication to keep our political offensive going. We have to make a thorough evaluation of the last 3 weeks of personal support and anti-repression campaigning. How can we avoid the one-person focus in the future? Which communications for press were ineffective, which ones counter-productive? Most important: what is the mood in the activists scene? If we overstress anti-repression work, we will have a motivation drop-back to make the caravan journey through the republic of top profile G8 repression (Russia) to the kingdom of top end G8 anti-migration racism (Japan). But we want to enhance and empower to become active on a grassroots’ level. There is nothing worse for our political aims than to create individual media heroes and show how repression works on them.

As far as I can judge the 14th of March was a very lucky and successful day for antiG8 campaigning in Japan, precisely because I was pushed back into a legally uncanny situation in G8-Russia. I had the distinct impression that taking the malicious German embassy offer to be flown to Germany (on my expenses), that is into a country where I was tortured just as badly as in Russia after our Rostock success, this would have been the death to our message. That way, we would have givien in to jet-set imagery, destroyed the regional link we established between Sakhalin and Ainu Mosir, Russian repression and Japanese anti-migration policy.

I am fully aware, that maybe from this day onwards, since the (Japanese) media bubble of 14th of March, the story can well be on a dramatically declining path to our disadvantage. Maybe its potential is used up and we have to start something completely new? Certainly, this tendency is contrary to the personal sacrifices many comrades engage in in many countries for my support. For me this is a most distressing situation: I need support and people shifting attention from more political antiG8-issues to exclusively personal matters (visa and migration details, civil liability for delaying a ship’s time-table) of one single activist. Please make a point in telephone communication through my lawyer in Sakhalin – as no other way seems to be really viable for the forthcoming days +7-4242-554946, might pass you a direct mobile phone number of the officer in charge on the arrest vessel, but these numbers change daily and there is no use bothering crew members on retreat at home). I need your assessment: what shifts in our political strategy agenda seem advisable now, how can we refine media tactics, how will we tackle the huge task of building viable logistic support for other activists to enter Japan in the forthcoming weeks? I have taken to putting questions more systematically, see e.g. for recent questions on entering Japan below. Please cite the question numbers to relate your answers.

With these technical basics written down, I can now try to give you an assessment of the current shift in repression strategy. My judgment can be mistaken, it certainly needs counter-investigation. Nevertheless, I have been able to gather evidence, that we have a situation now where 4 formally independent and slightly rivaling parties make up a new and effective set of repressing our political initiative in the interest of G8. These parties are: 1st the German diplomatic machine, 2nd the Japanese ministry of “Justice”, its subordinate branches (Sapporo, Otaru) and its political police councilors, 3rd the Russian political police FSB and its subordinates in the migration service, Ministry of Exterior (responsible for granting visa), border control and local police bodies and 4th the more or less combined interest of Big Capital in the development. For me, the 4th block of power is most interesting, followed by the 1st. Both have little visibility in our media work and operate with fabulous dynamics.

I keep to Bert Brecht’s advice to portrait Injustice as personally as possible. The culprits have a name, a face and an address. Where we know it already, it is high priority to proliferate this data and enhance further research. Let’s take Mr. Torkler, mobile manager for the interest of the German embassy in Tokyo for a start (+81-357917700 or mobile +81-9017084960). Not I found him, the Japanese repression officers sorted him out to assist them in their deportation job as early as 10th March 13:50 local time. Mr. Torkler is a full-size cynic. Such characters seem to develop only in colonial service. Take George Orwel’s novel “Burmese days” (none of Orwel’s works is so poignantly real because he had become a colonial cynic himself during the 1920s to be able to write it). In Burmese Days they go out to the Asian colonies as officers to play polo and keep up appearances of not yet declassed aristocracy… and end up habitually beating their Asian domestic prostitutes.

I cannot say much on Torkler’s personal live yet, but I know him to be a full-fledged enemy of our cause in the service of G8 interest. He has remarkable legal intelligence. From the beginning he was hilariously frank to be well-informed on my antiG8-stance. He was fully supportive of the Japanese effort to abort immigration on these grounds. His pleading for my admission was a pure legal formality. Japanese officers visibly laughed with amusement at the ridiculous fax he sent “in my support” (on 10th of March 16:42 local time, official sender: “German embassy Tokyo”). Interestingly, not the whole document was handed out to me, an important part was retained by immigration officer Kunigane. I assume that this part was addressed to him, I should not see it. The following 3 days when the decision on my appeal was formulated, Torkler kept a completely passive appearance. He called me immediately before the refusal of my appeal expressing amazement that I had manage to file a legally valid appeal in time. Indeed with just his “consular help” and without the relentless efforts of comrade Naoto and his financial expenses, there was no chance to do so. Then, he at once set the agenda of our conversation on pressuring me for agreeing into immediate air deportation to Germany. I informed him, that I had still terrible pain in my side 10 days after the kicking in Russian FSB custody. I told him, that the medical personal examining me after release from torture in Vanino had strongly advised me to be taken to hospital which I decided to postpone until my landing in Japan because the most effective function in Russian hospitals for political suspects is FSB control. I told Mr. Torkler that medical expertise in Japan was overdue, the Russian personnel had indicated that there might be serious damage to my ribs. Mr. Torkler completely ignored the call for medical assistance. He made a point in linking it to my reluctance to be deported by air and said in a mocking voice “I also have regular rib problems when flying, Mr. Kraemer, I fully understand you.” He later excused for this sentence with a pure sense for the formal necessity to do so. Equally, he asked routinely if I was fit to travel on the deportation departure of BM2. I had told him before, that only a doctor was able to tell so. There was no doctor on board. In this situation, he brought in the topic which is now, 7 days later, taking first row on the agenda for intimidation. He said decisively on 14th of March:”You will pay for any delay to the vessel.” This sentence is legally incorrect. Liability has to be checked and is neither all-inclusive nor unconditional. Interestingly enough, the owner of the vessel only took up Torkler’s threat 7 days later. He is a Korsakov major entrepreneur who managed to privatise a whole fleet of boats for importing Japanese cars to Sakhalin. His freight charges are far overpriced. It is much cheaper to get a car from Otaru to Vladivostok than to Korsakov (500 US $), though the mileage distance to Vladivostok is net double. On working with the crew on board, I learnt that their boss is notorious for not paying intervals of half a year in wages. Such policy even proves a successful part of employment policies because the faint hope to receive the outstanding wages one day from the company actually ties workers to the job. If they resign, they practically resign from all the unpaid wages. Anyhow, wages are barely above the existential minimum for extremely tough work. There is a number of pensioners with high training and experience working on the ship on heavy duty jobs to be able to survive on their pathetic retirement payments by the state. The majority of the crew keeps to the notoriously underpaid job just for the opportunity of more or less legal trafficking of Japanese goods to Russia.
So, the entrepreneur behind this accumulated workforce is of some importance for the southern part of Sakhalin. My urging the Novosibirsk consul of Germany to start activity on 13th of March and Mr. Torkler’s promise to activate him on 14th was quite ineffective. The moment he got active was 19th at 11:40 local time, just 3 hours after I had suggested to the vessel owner to pressure the German consul on the subject. A German citizen, a well-known Russian human rights activist, a consular colleague from Tokyo had no visible effect on the Consuls agenda… a Mafiosi entrepreneur of the New Russian Capitalism makes all the difference as we see now.

Everything, my detention, my liability for claims from the Russian vessel magnate, my possibility to communicate with you more fully depends on three institutions now. 1st the German Consul in Novosibirsk has to support my visa application case with 2nd the Russian ministry of the Exterior (Sakhalin Oblast delegation, unfortunately without a consular department) and receive the consent of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation (Juzhno-Sakhalinsk regional direction). At this point of time, that is Friday, 21st March 2008 8:25 local time (20th March 22:25 GMT) we know all three parties to have all necessary documents and all of the three are not acting. In the meantime, my year-long invitation to work scientifically in the Russian Federation has appeared in Moscow, signed by the Russian Exterior Ministry and luckily not sent to Sapporo by neglect.

I wish you a nice week-end,

Let’s keep up the fight,

Friend and comrade Martin under arrest

PS: I am still positive to get a visa for Russia allowing to tour all the collectives of caravan activists along the transsibirian railroad in some 12 meetings. I then want to visit our important Belarus anti-capitalist supporters (another problematic visa) before hitting Germany to assist in starting our caravan Rostock-Sapporo with a work-shop at www.kommune-kowa.de end of April.

Source: email