Social forum in Istanbul blasts globalization

Monday , 02 October 2006 The New Anatolian

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Under the slogan "A different world is possible," anti-globalization groups in Istanbul over the weekend blasted efforts to quash democracy and restrict people's rights.

The Turkish Social Forum was held on Saturday and Sunday in Darphane Amire, the Istanbul Journalists Community and the Istanbul Chamber of Physicians. Seventy institutions were represented in the forum, and 24 seminars and 16 workshops were held.

The forum started with the opening speeches of Turkish Union of Engineers' and Architects' Chambers (TMMOB) Executive Board head Mehmet Soganci and Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) head Ismail Hakki Tombul.

In his speech Soganci emphasized transformation policies in Turkey, adding, "The TMMOB will oppose whoever it is that insists on violence and pressure policies, dragging the country into a conflict environment, and blocking efforts for human rights through undemocratic methods. The TMMOB will side with people who respect others' identity, culture and beliefs and are seeking solutions to the problems of the country, including the Kurdish problem. A different world, a different Turkey and a different life are all possible. Let's come together and globalize the struggle and hope."

For his part, Tombul said that the groups that joined force for the social forum will change Turkey through opposing International Monetary Fund policies, which he said only serve to exacerbate poverty.

The forum was also attended by renowned writer Tariq Ali, representing the UK's Stop the War Coalition. Ali said that the Middle East had slid into chaos, and called on the UN not to support the U.S. policies in the region. "We don't trust politicians who change their minds every day, it is we who will change history," said Ali.

The demonstrators marched to the historical Gulhane Park on Sunday and chanted anti-Bush and anti-U.S. slogans.

The social forum, which was initiated with the World Social Forum held in Brazil's Porto Allegre in 2001 and the European Social Forum, developed as part of the movement that started in Seattle in 1999 against neoliberalism, globalization, poverty, privatization, war, climate change, environmental degradation, restrictions on democratic rights, gender discrimination and racism.