Anti-Imperialist Int’l Conf. at Kolkata A Step towards Global Anti-Imperialist Co-ordinated Action

In a development of far-reaching significance for the global anti-imperialist movement, the International Anti-Imperialist and People’s Solidarity Co-ordinating Committee (IAPSCC) was established at Kolkata on November 29, 2007.

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In a development of far-reaching significance for the global anti-imperialist movement, the International Anti-Imperialist and People’s Solidarity Co-ordinating Committee (IAPSCC) was established at Kolkata on November 29, 2007. The committee has the eminent American jurist and veteran anti-imperialist campaigner Ramsay Clark as its President, and Manik Mukherjee of India as its Secretary. Clark is a former Attorney General of the US and President of the New York-based International Action Centre. Mukherjee is a seasoned activist and is Vice-President of All India Anti-Imperialist Forum. The Committee has an International Secretariat drawn from the US, France, Germany, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Nepal, Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran and India, as well as a Support Committee drawn from Turkey, Russia and Bangladesh.
The committee was formed at the end of two packed days of deliberations at the Anti-Imperialist International Conference organised by All India Anti-Imperialist Forum at Kolkata, in which over 1200 delegates participated. Beginning on Palestine Solidarity Day, November 28, the conference was neither academic nor pacifist. It focussed on analyses and strategies, drawing from the experience of the participants. Delegates from Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Nepal, Germany, Canada, Russia and the US keenly participated in the proceedings, providing detailed perspectives and insights into imperialism from their own long experience of anti-imperialist struggle.
In his inaugural speech, Ramsey Clark said that the US should be forced out of Iraq forever, pay reparations for the Iraqi people to start anew but should have no role in the reconstruction of Iraq. Those who had started the war should be held accountable for the supreme international crime of aggression through criminal proceedings. The US and Israel should also pay reparations to the Palestinian people, and recognise the sovereign right of the Palestinian people to live as they choose. Calling militarism a necessary tool of imperialism, Clark said that nobody on earth was safe until the American military budget was reduced to a tenth of what it is, and until there was complete nuclear disarmament.
“Expansion of poverty and concentration of wealth is a consequence of imperialism. Ending nuclearism and militarism alone will free the resources necessary to restore human dignity – education, healthcare and shelter for all, peace and equal respect for all peoples.”
On behalf of All India Anti-Imperialist Forum, Manik Mukherjee set the tone of the conference with an Approach Paper that described the international situation after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc: the deepening crisis in the economies of the imperialist countries and growing contradictions between them over the world market, the failing attempt to manage the division of the world market through globalisation and the WTO, the growing imperialistic aspirations of developing countries like India, and the savage military attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, as well as sanctions and threat of attack on Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.
The paper dwelt on the role of Zionist Israel as gendarme for US imperialism in West Asia, crushing the popular anti-imperialist struggles of Palestine and Lebanon as a warning to similar struggles all over the Arab world.
“What is needed today is to co-ordinate all the individual struggles of the different countries and to link them up with anti-capitalist movements in these countries”, said Mukherjee.
The conference adopted two resolutions on the international situation. One resolution demanded “the immediate withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq,” condemned “the butchering of Palestinian people and forcible encroachment by the ruling clique of Israel with overt and covert patronage from the US rulers,” demanded that “the US ruling clique must stop its aggressive machinations and hegemonistic design against people of Lebanon, and let all people of West Asia decide their own agenda,” and expressed “solidarity with the Iranian people’s struggle to protect their sovereignty from imperialist attack.” The other Resolution noted that “the USA today is the progenitor of wars of aggression in different corners of the world, taking advantage of the absence of the erstwhile powerful socialist camp and of worldwide organised militant anti-war peace movements.” It called upon people all over the world to build broad-based united anti-imperialist struggles. Delegates moved specific resolutions expressing solidarity with people’s struggles in Latin America, Palestine, Lebanon, and Turkey/North Kurdistan.
Another resolution noted that the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, is “part of a blueprint for a bigger political-strategic collaboration between India and the US, a plank for the ruling powers to come closer for mutual accommodation and fulfilment of respective imperialist interests…The US gains by blocking India’s ties with Iran in its bid to isolate Iran, and securing a strong foothold in India for carrying out its economic-political-military designs in West, South and South-East Asia; India gains by accessing foreign markets for its nuclear military hardware and securing stronger hegemony over this region for its economic forays and expansionist manoeuvres.”
A resolution critical of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in India for “unrestricted exploitation, loot and plunder” by foreign and Indian capital and demanding their complete scrapping noted, “The CPI(M), the leading party in the so-called Left Front ruling the state of West Bengal has been following a policy of offering special concessions to the multinationals and Indian monopolists and is acquiring the land for them by forcibly ousting the peasants.”
The resolution saluted the struggling peasants and people of Nandigram for their unprecedented resistance against attack by police, hired criminals and ruling party cadres.  “…all over the world the name Nandigram has become synonymous with people’s battle against imperialist economic attack… providing courage and inspiration to the struggling people everywhere.”
This resolution demanded withdrawal of CPI(M) marauders from Nandigram, arrest and exemplary punishment of cadres, criminals and police guilty of rape, murder and torture, and relief and compensation to the affected people.
On the second day of the conference, Ramsey Clark, accompanied by Sara Flounders, Central Secretariat Member of Workers’ World Party of the US and Steven Kirschbaum, Vice-President of United Steel Workers of America Local 8751, visited Nandigram and interacted with people in the villages and at a refugee camp there. Returning to the closing session of the conference, Clark said, “I am not sure we will find a better battle cry today that brings everything together than Nandigram – a struggle against power that destroys people and places for its own enrichment while impoverishing others. I hope we can carry the banner of these people, not just to help them, but to save ourselves from the march of imperialism which is at its most dangerous today.”
The malevolence of imperialism was also brought home to the conference by the saga of Lebanese delegate Hussein Shukur, who lost his entire family when his home was bombed to rubble by Israeli forces during their illegal attack on Lebanon in July 2006. Shukur’s wife and three young children were killed in their sleep. Shukur, who has now devoted himself to travelling around the world to highlight the crimes of imperialism, showed delegates a film of his family’s pictures in better days and their mangled corpses. Holding aloft pictures drawn by his young son, he declared, “Let the story of this massacre be told all over the world so that people can know of the cruelty of George Bush…I ask for a common consciousness against US imperialism and its crimes.”
Showing the delegates the shroud that he always carried with him in readiness for death, he said, “Never be afraid of the killers, there are enough of us good people… the criminals will be punished here on earth before they are punished in heaven.”
Messages of solidarity were received from the renowned jurist and President of the All India Anti-Imperialist Forum V.R. Krishna Iyer, Indian historian R.S. Sharma, Indian educationist M.S. Agwani, American activist Lenora Foerstal, the Turkey Peace Initiative, the Anti-Imperialist Struggle Co-ordination of the Middle East, Kominform, the Communist Party of Sweden, the Nino Pasti Foundation of Italy, the World Federation of Trade Unions, the New Communist Party of the Netherlands, the Jordanian Communist Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organisation of the US, Communist Marxist- Leninist Party of Greece, Ba’ath Socialist Party of Lebanon and Action Chadian for Unity of Socialism.
Significantly, two Iranian delegates from the Neda Institute for Scientific-Political Research, and Alexander Moumbaris, editor of the French journal Democrite, were not given visas by the Indian Government to attend the conference. They too sent their messages of solidarity.
An important paper by Salah Almukthar, Chairman of the Friendship, Peace and Solidarity Organisation, Iraq and Co-ordinator of Free Trade Unions and NGOs, Iraq, was presented in absentia at the conference. The paper described the extensive preparations for guerrilla resistance in Iraq by the late President Saddam Hussein and its operationalisation from the very first day of American occupation, the composition of the Iraqi resistance, and the significance of the resistance in the world arena.
“The failure of the United States to defeat the Iraqi armed revolution, on the one hand, and the full success of the Iraqi armed resistance to contain and defeat all American strategic choices has determined the course of the war and emphasises the fact that America is losing the war, and the Iraqi resistance is marching towards the final victory.…”
Almukthar’s paper concluded that all-out support for the Iraqi armed resistance would guarantee the defeat of America, and the world would consequently witness the defeat of American influence and bases the world over.
The conference was preceded by a rousing rally of over 10,000 people. Peasants, workers, intellectuals and activists from all over India marched in a huge procession from College Street. With tableaus, banners, placards and slogans against American imperialism and in support of people’s struggles in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, as well as in Nandigram, the procession wound its way to the American Consulate at Esplanade. A mass meeting was held, which was addressed by Ramsey Clark, Manik Mukherjee, Dhruba Mukhopadhyay and all the international delegates to the conference.
A memorandum addressed to George Bush demanding the immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq was read out by Dhruba Mukhopadhyay. Aavishkara, a theatre group from Karnataka, presented a powerful street play on the war crimes of George Bush – the war of aggression and occupation of Iraq, and the hanging of President Saddam Hussein.
The conference was a truly historic event for three reasons: one, it created a coordinating body of anti-imperialist organisations and individuals drawn from four continents; two, it heralded a new chapter in the genuine anti-imperialist movement in India; and three, it internationalised the Nandigram struggle by correctly recognising it as an epitome of anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movement.
As the delegates rose at the end to sing the historic Internationale in unison, there was a palpable renewed resolve to slay the monster of imperialism.
What happened in Nandigram reveals most aspects of the crisis facing all people in the planet today, something that is not quite understood by merely reading about it. People who have lived on the lands of their ancestors going back 1500 years, a beautiful people, attacked by their own Government, killed, injured, their homes burnt – 119 homes in one part of Nandigram. We saw the homes and talked to the survivors, their property taken or destroyed, many still missing. I saw a boy hit by a bullet in the front forehead; I could also see the exit wound. He was able to stand up, but was unable to talk. The death toll is far greater than what we are told. In one small area that we visited, people were sure of a hundred.
Why? Why is the Government doing this to its people? It is doing it so that powerful foreign interests can come on to the lands of the Indian people to exploit not only people of India, but people of the whole world. In the SEZ they are planning, you will find chemical companies, perhaps Dow Chemicals again. Can you imagine Dow Chemicals returning to India after Bhopal? That’s exactly what’s being planned, to pollute life, to exploit resources. One plan is to manufacture munitions there. To kill Iraqis, perhaps? What nations will be assaulted with these munitions?
We have to be united if we hope to stop the march of imperialism. The concentration of power that comes from imperialism becomes so dramatically clear in Nandigram. People utterly impoverished have lost all they had, their loved ones, their homes, so that wealth can come in, poison the environment there, exploit the rest of the country, concentrating wealth in fewer hands, while the masses get poorer and poorer.
How incredibly courageous the movement has been! As of this moment, they have successfully defied enormous power, at tragic cost to themselves. They say they can’t make it without our help. We can’t make it without the help of each other and without reaching out to more and more people… I am not sure we will find a better battle cry today that brings everything together than Nandigram – a struggle against power that destroys people and places for its own enrichment while impoverishing others. I hope we can carry the banner of these people, not just to help them, but to save ourselves from the march of imperialism which is at its most dangerous today.
Besides Ramsey Clark, important participants of the conference included Sara FloundersMember, Central Secretariat, Workers’ World Party, USA; Steven Kirschbaum,Vice-President, United Steel Workers of America, USA; William Woodward,Professor of Psychology, New Hampshire University, USA; Nina Andreeva, General Secretary, All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik), Russia; Mohammed Kassem,Left Intellectual, Lebanon; Mustafa Haj Ali,Hezbollah, Lebanon; Abdulhalim Fadlallah,Left Intellectual, Lebanon; Mohammed TayProfessor of Law, Lebanon University, Lebanon; Kassim Ezzedine,Left Intellectual, Lebanon; Ali Akhil Khalil,Ambassador for Peace and Human Rights, Lebanon; Hussein Shukur,Anti-Imperialist Campaigner, Lebanon; Barish Aynoor,Marxist Leninist Communist Party, Turkey/North Kurdistan; Ahmed Chahine,Left Intellectual, Palestine; Amir Ahmed Al-Mukhareq,Democratic Progressive Tribune, Bahrain; Violette Daguerre,Arab Commission for Human Rights, France; Michael Opperskalski,Editor, Top Secret, Germany; Sonia Boschki,International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet People, and North Star Compass, Canada; Ninu Chapagain,Nepalese Communist Party Unity Centre (Mashal), Nepal; Suman Jadhav,Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepal; Khalequzzaman,Convener, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh; Mobinul Hyder Choudhury,Socialist Party of Bangladesh; Manik Mukherjee,Vice-President All India Anti-Imperialist Forum, India (AIAIF); Ranjit Dhar,AIAIF; Dhruba Mukhopadhyay,General Secretary AIAIF; Tarun Sanyal,poet, educationist, president Forum of Artists, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals, West Bengal, India.