Young radicals attend conference

May 27, 2011
Session at the Resistance conference. Photo: Peter Boyle

Resistance held its 40th national conference on the weekend of May 6 -8. One-hundred-and-fifty people came over the three days and took part in diverse workshops and panel sessions.

One major session featured Matthew Cassel, former assistant editor of Electronic Intifada and an independent journalist, gave an eyewitness account of the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

He said: “Something common among dictatorships in the Arab world and so-called democracies in the West and elsewhere is the lack of accurate information available to most people through the mainstream media.

“Whether the media is controlled by the state directly or whether they’re controlled by corporations and the private sector, I think most have a similar goal in maintaining the status quo and hiding the truth from most people, especially when that truth is going to expose those in power. To challenge that domination is a form of resistance.”

Antony Loewenstein, an independent journalist based in Sydney, spoke about how the US and Israeli governments have reacted to the Arab revolutions.

“Obama, in this region, has been an unmitigated disaster,” he said, “and the so-called left have often been paralysed and you have not seen mass protests and outrage over many of the policies that have been continued from Bush.

“If you look at a lot of the key issues in US foreign policy towards the Middle East, rendition, torture, Guantanamo Bay, occupation of Palestine, increased occupation of Afghanistan, maintaining the occupation of Iraq, increased drone attacks in Pakistan, I could go on, ultimately that has only continued.”

Other international guests who spoke at the conference were Heleyni Pratley, an organiser for Unite union in Wellington, New Zealand/Aotearoa, and Ravindran Munusamy, a youth leader from the Socialist Party of Malaysia.

Pratley gave a workshop on the work Unite is doing to unionise young people.

Munusamy spoke about how his party is organising at the grassroots and attempting to provide practical solutions to people's problems that the government ignores.

At the end of the conference, Resistance voted on proposals for its campaign work. These included work in the campaign against coal seam gas projects, action on climate change, support for actions on World Refugee Day, defence of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, and support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the Israeli government.

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