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Anti-imperialist forces gather in Dhaka

Published Dec 23, 2011 8:23 PM

Mass support greets anti-imperialist conference in Bangladesh.
Photo: ILPS

The Third International Conference of the International Anti-Imperialist and Peoples Solidarity Coordinating Committee met in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from Nov. 27 to 29. The conference’s theme was “Imperialist Attack: Economic, Political, Cultural and Military Aggression and Occupation.” Special reference was made to imperialist aggression in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Cuba and the Democratic Peoples ­Republic of Korea.

The international program opened with an outdoor rally of 20,000 militants organized by the Socialist Party of Bangladesh, a co-sponsor of the assembly. It was followed by a militant march through the capital city’s crowded streets.

The 800 official delegates represented anti-imperialist forces from 24 countries. There was strong representation from South Asia, including from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Two women guerrilla fighters were sent from Nepal. The DPRK sent a delegation. Resistance organizations were represented from Middle Eastern and African countries, including Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco and Chad.

Straight from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an Egyptian delegate gave greetings from the revolutionary people of Egypt. A representative from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militantly greeted the assembly. Additionally, representatives came from Europe, the United States and Canada.

Manik Mukerjee, Secretary General of the IAPSCC, gave the keynote speech. He said, “Today we are witnessing … throughout the world, including in the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and even in the metropolitan capitalist countries and in the very citadel of imperialism, waves of people’s movements surging forth.”

Bill Doares, vice president of the International League of Peoples Struggles, read a solidarity statement from ILPS President Jose Maria Sison, who is in exile in the Netherlands. It demonstrated the unity of anti-imperialist forces opposing imperialism at its most rapacious stage.

Sara Flounders, a Workers World Party Secretariat member, who is on the ­IAPSCC’s executive committee, expressed solidarity with the conference at a time when people of the world are rising up. When she mentioned Occupy Wall Street, the crowd roared. Flounders later presided over a conference session.

Heather Cottin, a representative of the International Action Center, spoke about the exploitation of women migrant workers, many of whom face sexual abuse. Simin Royanian, from Solidarity Iran, spoke on U.S./NATO plans to destabilize Syria and the war threats against Iran. Mohammad Kassem brought greetings from the Lebanese resistance.

Ramsey Clark, IPASCC’s president, sent a message, as he was unable to attend. Prachanda, the Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal, also sent greetings. Because of the severity of the crisis in Nepal, he could not join the assembly.

The Socialist Party of Bangladesh is a vibrant and growing party, whose youth swelled the crowds at the opening ceremonies. Their leader, Secretary General Khalequzzaman, gave a rousing speech, which brought the masses to their feet at the outside rally in Mahanagar Natyamancha. Though imperialism may be at its most bloody, he said, the people of the world were in the final struggle for the victory of the working and peasant classes over the system of capitalist exploitation.

The two-day conference that followed featured parallel sessions with hundreds of participants. The Dhaka Declarations that came from the conference are a clear and cohesive anti-imperialist statement.

Mass struggles in Bangladesh

Dhaka was an appropriate venue for holding this anti-imperialist conference. Imperialism has devastated Bangladesh. The IAPSCC gathering followed a major conference, attended by thousands who are organizing to mobilize national opposition to the plunder of gas, oil and coal resources in their country.

Bangladesh is the size of Iowa with a population of more than 150 million. The land is fertile and there is oil, coal, fresh water and natural gas. The rivers that run through this beautiful green land and the seas surrounding it are filled with fish and other resources.

However, transnational corporations and the national bourgeoisie own the means of production. The government has sold the people’s patrimony to the highest bidders. Despite the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the liberation struggle and civil war against Pakistan’s military dictatorship in 1971, and despite the nationalization of the country’s resources, Bangladesh’s leaders have opened the country to imperialist depredation.

Bangladesh exports rice and other food products that its own people require. The rice paddies, date palm and coconut plantations, the fishing industry, and the oil, natural gas and mining sectors have been grabbed up by Indian corporations and by U.S. and other imperialist transnational companies. Or they are owned by the national bourgeoisie.

Transnational corporations in Bangladesh have built factories employing several million workers, mostly women, which pay the lowest wages in the global economy. The people are impoverished; half the population lives on less than $1.25 per day.

Many Bangladeshi workers have been forced to migrate all over the world to seek work which pays low wages. They are living in lonely, horrific poverty in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and in the U.S. and Europe as migrant workers with no rights. They send needed remittances home to their families like millions of other global migrants. These remittances are the major source of foreign exchange earnings.

IAPSCC participants shared their experiences of struggle, and deliberated on the ways and means to build a strong global anti-imperialist movement while developing solidarity among the anti-imperialist fighters in different countries. The international delegation responded to the warmth, solidarity and cultural expressions of the comrades from the Socialist Party of Bangladesh with a strong “Red Salute.”