Bangladesh to host South Asian Social Forum

September 24, 2011

The South Asian Social Forum will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from November 18-22. Part of the World Social Forum, SASF takes the democratisation process as its core theme.

The World Social Forum, which was formed in 2001, has its roots in the early 1990s and different NGO initiatives and activities parallel to those of the United Nations.

Its formation was inspired by the mass upsurge across Latin America, in particular the struggle of the Zapitistas in southern Mexico and the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organisation.

The WSF is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, individuals, NGOs and other civil society organisations come together to oppose war, commercial globalisation, militarisation, capitalism and neoliberal imperialism and to pursue their thinking and to debate ideas democratically.

The goal of SASF is to create a new South Asia free from poverty and hunger caused by deprivation, exploitation, discrimination, and establish a common humanity based on equality, freedom and justice.

The conference has five sub-themes: Participatory democracy and peoples movements; gender and sexuality/human rights and dignity; food sovereignty and livelihood security/public service, privatisation and entitlement; globalisation, justice and development; and fundamentalism, conflict and social peace.

The event will be hosted by a range of organisations and activists at the University of Dhaka, which has a long history as platform for nurturing democratic and progressive movements.

The university was the centre of Bangladesh’s historic language movement in 1952, which demanded recognition of Bangla as a national language. It also played a key role in the national upsurge in 1969. Its students and teachers were a major force in the nation’s liberation war in 1971.

Also, the movements in the 1990s against the military regime were led by the university's student organisations.

Organisers hope to attract up to 20,000 participants from across the region. It is a process of engaging with the ongoing social movements for solidarity all over the South Asia.

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