Activists converge for counter-conference

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BY MIKE BYRNE

BRISBANE — While originally billed as a "counter-conference" to the planned Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, a teach-in attended by over 150 activists expanded its field of vision and discussed the US war in the Middle East and the connection between anti-war activism and the global justice movement.

The October 7 conference, jointly organised by the CHOGM Action Network and the Stop CHOGM Alliance, took place a day after a thousands-strong people's march against war through the city's streets.

The international dimensions of the movement were a focus of the first plenary session, which featured Tafadzwa Choto of the Zimbabwean International Socialist Organisation, Jim McIlroy of the No War coalition, Jess Whyte of the Melbourne Refugee Action Collective and indigenous rights activist Sam Watson, who is the Socialist Alliance's lead candidate for the Queensland Senate.

The second plenary moved on to begin discussion about the future of the movement, many participants focussing on the relationship between organising against the war and organising against corporate globalisation.

Featured speakers included Karen Fletcher from the Democratic Socialist Party, who urged the movement to be more flexible in its choice of tactics, Hamish Alcorn of Friends of the Earth, who spoke of ways to develop "dual power" rooted in local communities, Luke Deer of the ISO, Sarah Moles of the Greens and Ciaron O'Reilly of the Ploughshares movement.

Conference participants also had their pick of more than 20 different workshops.

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