People to People Conference

Issue 

People to People Conference

Activists from a range of grassroots and community organisations in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia will visit Australia in August to attend a People to People Conference between Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia.

People will attend from Indonesia from student, worker and cultural activist organisations, including FISI (Indonesian Forum on International Solidarity), SSDI (Students' Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia), YMB (Advance Together Foundation) and Komite Rakyat (Peoples' Committee).

From Papua New Guinea, there are people coming from Melanesian Solidarity, the Maprick District of Council of Women and from a women activists' organisation.

The conference is being supported by a range of Australian groups, including Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP), Community Aid Abroad, Aksi (Indonesian Solidarity Action) and the Indonesian Human Rights Centre.

"The conference will provide an excellent chance for activists from the three countries to spell out what are the key issues from each of our perspectives", Ellen Whelan of NFIP told Green Left Weekly. "We need to work out together plans for long-term projects as well as to set in train networking and campaigning efforts in the short term."

According to Whelan, NFIP is also concerned to hear the views of activists from Indonesia and PNG as to how best people in the three countries might help resolve regional issues of self-determination. "It is time we dialogued with our friends in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea on these issues and not just assume that all Indonesians and Papua New Guineans have the same views on these questions."

According to Murray Addison from Aksi, the conference will also be a good chance to enhance collaboration between activists from the region who wish to struggle for societies not based on chasing after the dollar at the expense of people's welfare.

"Australia is now conducting a campaign to expand its market share in Asia and in the Pacific as well as to find new ways to invest. This often means making the most of cheap labour in the region and supporting anti-worker policies implemented by governments", Addison told Green Left Weekly.

"Australia is also big in mining, both in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. There have already been complaints against CRA in Kalimantan about cyanide poisoning in local rivers from their mining activities, as well as rumours about very bad conditions in the mines.

"There have been many similar complaints about Australian mining companies such as BHP and CRA in Papua New Guinea. Aksi would like to see many more lines of communication opened up between people and groups in Australia with like-minded groups in Indonesia."

The conference will take place August 14-15 at PSU House, 191 Thomas St, Haymarket, in Sydney. Cost is $40 ($25 concession). People wishing to register should phone (02) 550 9967 or fax (02) 560 3241.