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Anti-imperialists meet to discuss and act

Published Dec 15, 2007 12:10 AM

It wasn’t just another international conference. It wasn’t just a talk shop.

Kolkata march supports Nandigram
struggle against Special Economic Zone.

The day before the conference on “Imperialism, globalization, Zionism—Resistance to military occupation and war,” which opened on Nov. 28, a powerful demonstration and rally of more than 50,000 people was held in the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta).

Most of the international delegates to the conference came from areas of successful armed resistance to imperialist onslaught. Their experiences were reflected in the resolutions.

The All India Anti-Imperialist Forum (AIAIF) organized the conference, with a strong focus on the U.S. imperialist war in the Middle East and the role of Zionism. An important delegation from Lebanon attended, including members of Hezbollah. Several delegates were denied visas by the Indian government, including from Iran.

Huge rally in Kolkata against U.S. imperialism

Other international delegates came from armed resistance in Nepal and from Palestine. There were delegates from Turkey, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Russia, France, Germany, Canada and the U.S. They were joined by 1,500 delegates and several hundred observers from across India.

The Mahajati Sadan auditorium was packed to overflowing. Outside were several tented areas where video screens allowed more people to follow the presentations.

As international delegates entered the hall, lines of chanting and cheering Indian delegates greeted us with raised fists.

Militant march and rally

The day before, many different contingents had marched to the U.S. Consulate with hundreds of anti-war and anti-imperialist banners and placards. One slogan raised repeatedly was “Death, death to U.S. imperialism!”

90-year-old woman in Nandigram tells
Ramsey Clark how her home was
torched by death squad..
WW photos: Sara Flounders

Youth from Nepal played traditional instruments as they marched, drawing broad support that reflected enthusiasm for armed resistance to the feudal regime in Nepal, which lies directly north of this West Bengal state in India.

At an outdoor rally after the demonstration and at the opening session of the conference the next day, Hussein Sukur emotionally described how the U.S. had supplied Israel with the bombs that wiped out his entire family in Beirut. He is determined that war crimes charges must be lodged against the guilty.

Manik Mukherjee of the AIAIF set the tone of the conference with a paper on the international situation since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc. He described the deepening crisis in the economies of the imperialist countries and growing contradictions among them over the world market.

Leading members of Hezbollah gave presentations on the Lebanese Resistance and the changes it has achieved. Abdul-Halim Fadlallah addressed the conditions and organization that had “inflicted on the occupation state a resounding defeat, the first of its type in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Mustafa Haj Ali explained that “the experience in Lebanon teaches that it is possible to resist imperialism.”

It was a significant participation by important Islamic resistance fighters at a gathering of mainly left secular forces.

A number of the conference presentations dealt with firm opposition to the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and to U.S. imperialism’s support for the Zionist state of Israel. They covered the phony “peace conference” in Annapolis and the continuing heroic Palestinian resistance. This focus was also reflected in the conference resolutions.

The continuing armed revolutionary struggle in Nepal against the feudal state was raised by Suman Jadav from the Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist. This group is leading the resistance that has liberated two-thirds of Nepal and forced negotiations on the archaic social forces still holding the reins of state.

The living struggle against globalization and plans for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nandigram, 60 miles from Kolkata, had the attention of many conference delegates. For the first time a popular struggle has actually succeeded in stopping one of these centers of super-exploitation of labor from being set up.

According to the World Bank, more than 3,000 such zones have been established in recent years in 130 countries. Some 220 SEZs exist in India and more than 500 are on the drawing boards. A conference on imperialism in this era needs a clear view on this aggressive new labor offensive by multi-national corporations, backed up by Pentagon weapons and enforced by local government repression.

Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general and the founder of the International Action Center, spoke in the opening session of the conference and at the rally the day before. On the second day of the conference, Clark went to Nandigram with two other delegates from the IAC—Steve Kirschbaum and Sara Flounders. They returned just before the close of the conference to give a report on the continuing struggle there and the government’s severe repression of local peasants. (See accompanying article.)

This repression is being carried out by a reformist left party that has held office in the state of West Bengal and in the city of Kolkata for 30 years and unfortunately calls itself the Communist party of India–Marxist (CPI-M). Its policies are being successfully opposed by a broad peasant coalition in the Nandigram district and by several revolutionary left parties, including the Socialist Unity Center of India, which was a major force in the anti-imperialist conference in Kolkata. This debate has roiled Indian left politics and the mass media. The repressive policy has been the focus of massive demonstrations and strikes.

Many of the Indian delegates to the conference had played an active role in defending the Nandigram struggle. Some had been severely beaten and even shot. It was a living example of the impact of corporate globalization on the world movement.

At the conclusion, the conference voted to expand its efforts into a wider anti-imperialist formation: the International Anti-Imperialist and People’s Solidarity Coordinating Committee. Ramsey Clark was asked to head it up and Manik Mukherjee to act as general secretary, and both agreed. The organization intends to reach out to many other countries and resistance struggles. The conference proceeding was chaired by Dhrubajyoti Mukhopadhyay.

Concluding resolutions affirmed solidarity with the resistance in Iraq and in Lebanon, solidarity with Iran, full support of the Palestinian demand for the right to return, solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the Cuban Revolution, and condemnation of imperialist aggression and destabilization in Latin America, especially against Cuba and Venezuela.

Two resolutions dealt with international developments impacting on India. One warned that the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal is “part of a blueprint for a bigger political-strategic collaboration between India and the U.S.” A resolution against Special Economic Zones noted the “unrestricted exploitation, loot and plunder” by foreign and Indian capital and demanded their complete scrapping.