PAKISTAN SOCIAL FORUM

National Secretariat; ST-001, Sector X, Sub-Sector? V, Gulshan-e-Maymar?, Karachi-75340
Phones: 021- 635 1145, 46, 47 Fax: 021- 635 0354, e-mails: ,

PSF Bulletin-8

07th February 2009 - WSF symposium on 'Rights of Indigenous People' at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi


DAWN

KARACHI: WSF activists call for action against capitalism

By Shamim-ur-Rahman?

KARACHI, Feb 7: Liberal and progressive participants of the World Social Forum event held on Saturday strongly condemned the ongoing Israeli aggression in Gaza and the genocide of the Palestinian people taking place there with the "abetment" of the United States. They also deplored extremists' acts of terrorism and the ongoing military operations in the NWFP and Balochistan.

Participants also condemned the "exploitative" capitalist system, which was trying to deprive indigenous people of their independence and rights.

Saturday's event was organised at the Arts Council as a follow-up to the World Social Forum held in Belem, Brazil, from Jan 27-Feb 1, 2009. The main themes of activities included "mobilization against Zionist and imperialist aggression against unarmed Palestinian, Iraqi Afghan and Pakistani people and the 'Rights of Indigenous People', under the over-arching themes of Globalisation and Militarism, Peace, De-militarisation and Freedom of the Media & Democracy," according to a press release.

A colourful display of folk music, symposia, a poster and picture exhibition and film, theatre and other cultural events were part of the day's schedule. Books, films, music CDs and souvenirs were also on sale.

While endorsing the Belem declaration, the participants were of the view that the objective of wars was to create or install subservient and puppet regimes, establish political and cultural hegemony, occupy territories and control/dominate the economic resources of these regions.

Prominent speakers included former Senator and HRCP co-chairperson Iqbal Haider, M.B. Naqvi, Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui, Saleha Athar, Fahim Zaman, Shumaila Jabeen and Zulfikar Halepoto.

The main thrust of the day's speeches was the rights of indigenous people, as spelt out in the UN General Assembly's non-binding declaration of 2007, which emphasises the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

The resolution also prohibited discrimination against indigenous peoples and promoted their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. It further reaffirmed their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

It was noted that even with this progress, indigenous peoples still face marginalisation, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into conflicts and land disputes that threaten their way of life and their very survival and they suffer from a lack of access to healthcare and education.

Fisher folk, trade unionists and human rights activists contended that the theme of the discussion was particularly relevant in Pakistan. Speakers were critical of human rights violations across the country, and condemned the ongoing military operations in the NWFP, FATA and Balochistan. They called for an immediate halt to military operations, and also condemned all extremist activities.

Participants at the WSF event committed themselves to the Belem declaration at the WSF in Brazil, which calls for a Global Week of Action against Capitalsim and War from March 28-April 4, 2009. The week will include an anti-G20 mobilisation on March 28, a mobilisation against war and crisis on March 30, a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people to promote boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions against Israel on March 30 and a mobilisation for the 60th anniversary of NATO on April 4, among other events.

Speakers emphasised that the ongoing global economic crisis was a direct result of the capitalist system's characteristics, and therefore a solution could not be found within the system. They said that current efforts to fight the crisis are aimed at saving the system, while putting the burden of losses on the masses.

The WSF declaration adopted at Belem, and endorsed by the participants of the follow up moot in Karachi, held that the present system is based "on exploitation, competition, promotion of individual private interests to the detriment of the collective interest, and the frenzied accumulation of wealth by a handful of rich people. It results in bloody wars, fuels xenophobia, racism and religious fundamentalisms; it intensifies the exploitation of women and the criminalisation of social movements."


THE NEWS

Anti-imperialism' pervades WSF event

February 08, 2009: The World Social Forum (WSF) organised a small event for indigenous communities at the Arts Council on Saturday to mark this year's theme 'Rights of Indigenous People, Peace, Demilitarization, Freedom of Media and Democracy'.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) activist Tahira Ali opened the debate at WSF with her speech on the rights of indigenous people. She condemned the government's policies, which she believed threatened the lives and livelihood sources of the fishing community. She said that despite the fact that the fishermen were the founders of this mega-city, their rights were being violated and they were being deprived of their right to live.

Faheem Zaman, Saeed Baloch, Nigar Barkat and other organisers of the WSF said that they wanted to change the world, where everybody felt secure and their rights were protected. They demanded that measures be taken to ensure food and energy security, stop wars, withdraw occupation troops and dismantle military foreign bases, as well as acknowledging peoples' sovereignty and autonomy.

Groups of musicians, which were sponsored by the Sindh Cultural Department, received participants at the forum by playing different classical songs. The event was the most striking and colourful event of the WSF where indigenous communities including fisherfolk, human rights activists, political campaigners, writers and development experts made their presence felt.

Embroidered work of female artisans that depicted the typical culture of Thari was also on display, attracting a large number of people to buy different items. Publication houses also set up book stalls on various topics, ranging from politics, folklore, history, politics and literature to environment and flowers.

Political activists and human rights groups also set up stalls. CDs containing themes of social mobility, T-shirts with WSF slogans, posters and photographs depicting the massacre of people in Gaza by Israeli were also on display. Meanwhile around 300 female activists from the PFF, wearing their traditional colourful costumes, expressed solidarity with world activists who were struggling for change.

At the film and documentary section, videos were shown to lobby against imperialism, capitalism and exploitation. Activists believed that the world was facing a terrible crisis, which was the direct result of capitalist system.