Socialist Alliance Conference in Australia

CPI(ML) Politburo member and AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan was the keynote speaker at the People’s Power in the “Asian Century” seminar in Sydney, Australia on June 7. The seminar was held as part of the Socialist Alliance’s 10th national conference on June 7-9.

Around 250 people from various states in Australia attended the conference, where Kavita Krishnan spoke about the experience of struggles against capitalism, misogyny and sexual violence in India. She argued strongly against the tendency in the Western media to talk about gender violence as though it was a result of the ‘backward’ culture in places like India, Pakistan or Afghanistan. Instead, she argued that the gender violence in these societies should be discussed in conjunction with the terrible crimes against women in advanced capitalist societies – such as, for instance, the recent massacre of women by a man in California. She spoke of how capitalism and neoliberal economic policies are complicit in violence against women in India as well. Drawing from the Indian experience, she argued strongly for revolutionary socialists and communists to intervene positively in movements against rape and rape culture. India witnessed such a movement post December 16th, while in Australia last year, there was a similar movement following the rape and murder of a woman, Jill Maegher, in Melbourne.

Other speakers at the Conference included S Arultchelvan “Arul” from the Socialist Party of Malaysia, Sonny Melencio from the Party of the Labouring Masses in the Philippines and Thai pro-democracy activist and commentator Giles Ji Ungpakorn, via video link, and Shamikh Badra, an activist from Palestine. These speakers explored politics in Asia today and the impact of the developing people’s power movements, including on countries like Australia. Another speaker was research scholar Kevin Lin who gave a presentation on labour struggles and workers’ strikes in China. Farooq Tariq, leader of the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan, was unable to attend due to his Australian visa being granted too late.

The conference was opened by a greeting by Murri leader Sam Watson, the Socialist Alliance spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, who, on behalf of the Conference, acknowledged that the land “always was, always will be Aboriginal land,” stolen from the Aboriginal people.

The Conference took place at a time when massive protest marches are taking place all over Australia against the anti-people budget introduced by the right-wing Liberal Government there. There have also been powerful protests against the Australian Government’s racist policy of detaining and deporting refugees. Recent protests have been spurred by the killing of a Kurdish refugee from Iran, Reza Barati, by a racist mob at an Australian detention centre, and by two recent instances of self-immolation by desperate Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, who were refused asylum.