BY RALF SCHARMANN
DARWIN — On May 1, 40 people attended a public forum titled "People power — the new superpower". Organised by the No War committee, the forum was aimed at enabling people to discuss the situation facing anti-war activists following the US occupation of Iraq.
Sibylle Kaczorek, a member of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, described how "people power" mobilisations such those in Venezuela and Cuba will provide direction for the kind of society that working people can build in the future. "We can learn from these experiences and we need to defend them", she said.
Outlining the demands of the anti-corporate movement, Kaczorek argued that the Iraq war was a logical conclusion of increased rivalry between national corporate elites to monopolise natural resources and markets. She quoted the following comment by Naomi Klein, author of No Logo: "Seizing new markets on the battlefield of pre-emptive wars... Negotiations with sovereign countries can be hard. Far easier to just tear up a country, occupy it, then rebuild it the way you want... Bomb before you buy."
Jim Downing from the Uniting Church listed the numerous US corporations that will benefit from the US-organised reconstruction of Iraq, and their links to the US government officials.
Michael Hodgen from the Refugee Action Network discussed the link between war and refugees. Hodgen argued that refugee politics in Australia is about the prioritisation by the government of spending priorities. He used the comparison of two empty building in Darwin to illustrate these priorities and their insanity. "One of the buildings is the refugee reception centre on Stuart Highway, which has cost millions of dollars to construct, and is empty. The other one is the upgraded and extended emergency department building at Royal Darwin Hospital which is empty because there are not enough funds to finish it."
The last speaker was Emma King from the No War committee, drawing together threads from the presentations.
During the lively discussion that followed, members of the audience came up with a broad list of issues that needed to be considered and further discussed such as the role of the UN and the role of the US Pine Gap spy base. Concrete ideas for future campaigning were suggested such as a weekly radio spot on the local Indigenous radio, a monthly magazine and a peace festival.
[Anyone wishing to get involved in the Nowar committee should phone (08) 8981 4714 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.]
From Green Left Weekly, May 14, 2003.
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