Asia-Pacific solidarity boosted by conference

Issue 

Filipino Workers (BMP) trade union federation; Philippines Socialist Party of Labour; Khanya College, South Africa; Power of the Working Class, South Korea; Communist Party of Sudan; Left International Forum and Left Party of Sweden; Freedom and Solidarity Party, Turkey; Solidarity, USA; the International Socialist Organisation, USA; the Free Papua Movement, West Papua, Max Lane, Victor Briz, Nina Benjamin, Dale McKinley, Farooq Tariq">

Asia-Pacific solidarity boosted by conference


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BY MARGARET ALLUM

SYDNEY — "Exhausting but absolutely exhilarating!" and "An incredible spirit of solidarity" were how some participants described the second Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference, held on March 29-April 1 at Sydney Boys High School. The conference attracted more than 750 people. Activists from more than 30 countries, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region, attended.

"International work is a responsibility that must be undertaken as well as the national work we do in our own countries", Dita Sari, from Indonesia's National Front for Labour Struggles, said in her address to the conference. Sari recently turned down a human rights award of US$50,000 from shoe giant Reebok.

An important aspect of the gathering was to discuss the strengthening of ties between struggles in the region especially those against war, racism, corporate globalisation and national oppression.

The conference was buoyed by a message of solidarity from the Brazilian organising committee of the World Social Forum, which organised the huge gathering of anti-corporate globalisation activists in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001 and 2002.

The March 28 public meeting which launched the conference was addressed by Sari, Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), Roberto Baggio from the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers' Movement, Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Philippines Socialist Party of Labour, Michael Albert, from Z magazine and Z-Net in the US, and Riz Wakil, a refugee from Afghanistan, now living in Australia.

The variety and extent of campaigns represented by the conference participants were enormous.

In his closing remarks to the conference, Democratic Socialist Party national secretary John Percy noted that the most common complaint about the four-day conference was that there were so many opportunities to enjoy and participate in the rich discussion and important planning and not enough time in which to do so.

Overseas participants included representatives from: the Acehnese Peoples Democratic Front; the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan; Krishok Federation, a peasants' organisation in Bangladesh; the Bougainville Interim Government and Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom; the Free Burma Action Committee; the Socialist Party of Timor; the Socialist Workers Party, Britain; Workers Power, Britain; Workers Liberty, Britain; ATTAC, France; Voice of Democracy, Hong Kong; the Centre of Indian Trade Unions; the Worker Communist Party of Iraq; the Malaysian Socialist Party; Socialist Workers Organisation, New Zealand; Seraiki National Party, Pakistan; Labour Party Pakistan; Philippines Resources Centre for Peoples Development; the Solidarity of Filipino Workers (BMP) trade union federation; Philippines Socialist Party of Labour; Khanya College, South Africa; Power of the Working Class, South Korea; the Communist Party of Sudan; Left International Forum and Left Party of Sweden; the Freedom and Solidarity Party, Turkey; Solidarity, USA; the International Socialist Organization, USA; the Free Papua Movement, West Papua. South African radical writer and activist Dale McKinley also took part.

Hundreds of Australian-based participants active in movements around Indigenous people's rights, international solidarity, the environment, women's rights, lesbian and gay rights, peace, social justice and trade union rights also conducted workshops. Australian left parties were also strongly represented.

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific, formerly Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, was launched by ASAP chairperson Max Lane at the conference dinner, which was also addressed by Victor Briz, president of the 250,000-strong BMP.

On March 31, 1000 people took part in a protest outside the Villawood refugee prison, which was jointly organised by the Free the Refugees Campaign and the conference. Conference guests Nina Benjamin, from South Africa's Khanya College, and Farooq Tariq, from Labour Party Pakistan, were warmly received when they addressed a 1000-strong rally opposing Israeli aggression against Palestine, held in Sydney on April 1.

Four resolutions were adopted by the conference: that participants support for the "Call for Mobilisation" issued by the 2002 World Social Forum; endorse the proposal that the 2004 World Social Forum be held in India; that an Asia-Pacific gathering be held in Manila, Philippines, in 12 months' time to discuss and strengthen coordination and cooperation of the anti-corporate globalisation and anti-war struggles; and finally, and most immediately, to call a region-wide emergency action in solidarity with people of Palestine on April 19.

In the closing session of the conference, Dita Sari stated emphatically, to the earnest approval of all gathered: "It is now the responsibility of each participant from each organisation here to try to put these agreements into practice".

[Papers from the conference will be posted at <http://www.global-revolt.org/>.]

From Green Left Weekly, April 10, 2002.

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