Fria Kungsan 15 Interview
Recently thirteen antifascists in Stockholm, Sweden, were served with prison sentences after riots connected to a protest in Kungsan against a Swedish Nazi party during the elections in 2014.
In the aftermath the Swedish security police, SÄPO, singled out fifteen people who they claimed to be active in the antifascist movement. Thirteen were sentenced to prison and will now have to face over €35 000 in fines, damages and trial costs. Brighton ABC in conjunction with Fria Kungsan 15 conducted an interview with the first releasee, who served three months.
What kind of support did you receive whilst locked up?
Above all, written support. Hardly a day passed without receiving letters and support from mates and comrades, something a bit of a rarity in prison. People on the outside also took responsibility for my relations and supported them during my time spent, as family more than often finds it tougher than the person actually serving the time. And as a socialist prisoner I received Samsara from Stockholm’s prisoner’s association.
In what ways did the support effect you?
I was buzzing from all the support and letters I got, many from people completely unknown to me. All the letters gained attention from my co-prisoners and even one inmate commented on the amount by stating ‘I should’ve been an antifascist.’ That was heart warming.
Is there anything else that could've been done to aid you by people on the outside to make your spent time easier?
Not for me, personally. I was serving a relatively short, 3 out of 4 months, sentence, so there was not much else support needed. For people serving longer sentences economical and emotional support for their family is a priority, as they themselves can’t do much in the way of being there for them from their cell. And then it is the financial aspect of covering visitors’ cost for travels etc. Apart from that I found it encouraging to learn that the antifascist struggle carried on in my absence.
Can you describe a standard day for you in there?
Wake up call was at 7am and they would open the cell doors. In the Swedish prison system mandatory activities take place in between 8.00 and 11.00 where you choose to either do manufacturing jobs in the workshop, cleaning duties or study. Following that we would get an hour in the yard until 12.00, when there would be a break for lunch followed by mandatory activities until 16.20, after which we would eat tea. Then you would have until lock up at 18.45 to work out in the gym, play board games or just talk rubbish to the others. After lock up I would allocate about an hour to respond to letters every evening before drifting away between 21.00 and 22.00.
What was the most difficult transition about being on the inside?
What I found most difficult, apart from being a victim of the bureaucracy and educated lunacy of the correctional facility, was to know that armed fascist and organised Nazis would roam our streets without being able to correct that. It was out of order being locked up in a cell and learn of how the brown mass attempted to establish themselves in my hometown and not being able to be by my comrades’ side and fight back. But it made me even more determined to combat them once released.
Are there any major differences in the Swedish prison system, from say the UK?
I unwillingly have to admit that my knowledge of the British penal system is not the greatest but I would assume that as a whole, it is a similar, bureaucratic system maintained to extinguish any hope or fight an inmate may have, held up by semi fascist screws at ground level.
Did you experience any different treatment by guards from the rest of the prison population?
Well, a couple of times I got called up for ‘conversations’ (read interrogations) regarding my political views. I got the feeling that they feared that I would cause havoc in there as well as the eventuality of events if a Nazi would end up on the same ward. I will have you know that the fash are less than popular on the inside.
Where there any organisations at the prison where you served time that focused on prisoners rights?
In Sweden there are prisoner’s councils in almost every institution, or there should be possibilities to form one if not already established. It’s a council led by and for inmates, who act upon behalf of the interest of all other prisoners and their rights. It does vary how effective they are, as the separate institutions will do what they can in order to divide, counteract and crack down on the councils.
It seems there has been an increased repression towards antifascists in Sweden over recent years, why do you think that is?
I believe there are numerous reasons. One may be the consequence of several reports on behalf of Swedish authorities on what threat “extremists” pose to the democracy, investigating the role of antifascist-, Islamist- and fascist groups. And then we have our MI5 (the Swedish security police) who on several occasions claim that the autonomous left are a bigger threat to our national security than organised fascists, which is absurd seeing as more than 25 murders can be linked to the fascist movement over the last 20 years. The same figure for the autonomous left is nil, therefore it can’t be seen as anything but a political stance from the Swedish police. This may have contributed to the fact that they are cracking down on us to strengthen their point. It’s a circular reasoning where their onsets are seen to justify ongoing actions against us. The event that I was sentenced for shows it clearly, a huge amount of man hours and other resources were utilised to prosecute organised antifascist that were in Kungsan, not participating but merely being there, and overlooked unorganised people who part took in the riots.
What support is needed for the remaining 12?
The most pressing matter is currently the economic situation and raising enough money to cover the fines and damages that were handed to us. We’ve managed to raise a substantial amount but more is required and it is now turning in to a race against time. I encourage everyone who is in a financial position of helping to do so, if not, share the Fria Kungsan 15 campaign on social media or in other networks. And then of course, the others will need support through letters, money and solidarity whilst serving their time. A letter means a lot in there, it shows everyone, including other inmates and the correctional facility, that we do take care of one another.
[interview conducted via email, April 23-26, 2016]