Indian feminist and socialist Kavita Krishnan was the keynote speaker at the People's Power in the “Asian Century” seminar in Sydney on June 7. The seminar was held as part of the Socialist Alliance’s 10th national conference over the weekend of June 7-9.
Around 250 people attended the conference over the weekend to hear Krishnan speak on the anti capitalist struggle in India, and on Capitalism, misogyny and sexual violence. She was joined by other international guest speakers, including S. Arultchelvan ‘Arul’ from the Socialist Party of Malaysia, Sonny Melencio from the Party of the Labouring Masses in the Philipines and Thai pro-democracy activist and commentator, Giles Ji Ungpakorn, via video link. These speakers explored politics in Asia today and the impact of the developing people’s power movements, including on countries like Australia.
The conference was opened by Murri leader Sam Watson, the Socialist Alliance spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. Shamikh Badra, an activist from Palestine, was also a feature speaker. Farooq Tariq, leader of the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan, was unable to attend due to his Australian visa being granted too late. Tariq’s visit to Australia will proceed over the coming months, however.
Conference organiser Peter Boyle told Green Left Weekly: "This conference took place at a time extreme inequality, intensified conflict and ecological crisis on a global scale. Even in Australia, one of the 'richest suburbs' in the world, the political temperature is rising with the 100,000-strong March in March signaling a broad people's resistance to the attacks from the federal government.”
Following the People’s Power in the Asian Century seminar were two days of debate and decision-making for Socialist Alliance members. A panel, Our Lives are Worth More than their Profits featuring Sam Watson, Socialist Alliance Councillors Sam Wainwright and Sue Bolton, as well as TAFE activist Sarah Hathway was held on Saturday night. The Sydney premiere screening of the new documentary, Radical Wollongong was held on the Sunday, followed by a Latin American solidarity evening on the Sunday night, co-hosted by the Sydney Latin American Social Forum.
Venezuelan Ambassador Nelson Davila was a special guest at the conference, and he delivered a powerful address on the need for solidarity with the Venezuelan people following the recent adoption of sanctions against Venezuela by the US government.
Over the weekend, Socialist Alliance delegates voted on several resolutions dealing with international and Australian politics, adopted a new policy on electoral reform, and on the next steps in strengthening the work of the Alliance. A new Socialist Alliance branch in Cairns was launched at the conference, building on the Alliance’s work in far north Queensland.
The resolutions on international politics included condemnation of the intervention of the EU and US in Ukraine, condemned the recent coup in Thailand and condemned the Australian government’s recently changed position on the Palestinian occupied territories such as East Jerusalem.
The response to the Abbott government featured prominently in discussion around Australian politics, including the large protests that have erupted since the federal government released its budget, and the recent victories of communities against gas exploration and fracking.
The conference elected a new National Executive and Susan Price and Alex Bainbridge were elected as Socialist Alliance national co-convenors. Members of the newly formed Socialist Alliance youth wing, Resistance, met during the conference and elected a national leadership, with Angus McAllen and Sarah Hathway elected as Resistance national co-convenors.