'Anti-imperialism' pervades WSF event

Sunday, February 08, 2009 By By our correspondent Karachi

@ http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=161445 (external link)

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 a direct consequence of the capitalist system.