The Socialist Alliance supports the Stop Bush Coalition’s call for a mass protest when the world’s biggest war criminal, US President George Bush, attends the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney in September. A mass protest is exactly what the John Howard and NSW governments (and the federal Labor opposition) don’t want - and should get.
The NSW ALP government is using APEC as a pretext to introduce unprecedented powers of arrest and bail restrictions to scare people into not joining the protests. Deputy premier John Watkins has even urged Sydneysiders to get out of town while the meeting is on!
But APEC is an important opening for peaceful protest by all who care about the fate of our planet and its peoples. It is an opportunity to express what the majority of Australians think about war, global warming, and attacks on workers’ rights and democratic freedoms. It is also a chance to protest against a model of regional “economic cooperation” that will make the rich countries of the region even richer by stifling and distorting the development of poor and underdeveloped nations.
Look at the powerful grounds for protest that APEC presents:
Eighty per cent of Australians are angry about the US’s illegal wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the devastation of those countries.
The US-led “war on terror” - a war without end - has been an unmitigated disaster for human rights and democracy. What greater terrorism is there than the US’s trashing of international human rights conventions, its illegal gulag at Guantanamo, its proxy wars in Palestine and Lebanon, and its economic aggression against countries and peoples who dare to pursue policies that Washington doesn’t like?
From its beginning in 1989, APEC was designed to assist the club of rich countries prise open Third World markets for First World goods and services, and push low-paid Third World labour into factories owned by the Nikes, Dells and Wal-Marts.
The trade “liberalisation” that goes with this “development” model aims to boost productivity and corporate profits by intensifying competition among workers in all countries. In Australia, we get the nasties of Work Choices partly as a result. At the same time, Philippine unionists who speak up for workers’ rights are murdered by anti-union hit squads financed by the employers.
The Sydney APEC meeting is an ideal opportunity to speak up for international economic relations built on the principles of solidarity, helping those who most need help, and extending and defending workers’ rights everywhere.
In a world of runaway greenhouse gas emissions, APEC 2007 also needs to become a huge protest against the two key Kyoto Protocol rogue states - the US and Australia. All the more so when Howard is marketing the summit as the one that will deal with energy “security” and clean energy for the region.
Such greenwashing is farcical, especially as Howard and Bush continue to push for “clean” coal and nuclear power as “solutions” to the global warming nightmare.
Civil liberties and democratic freedoms
This APEC summit will focus on ending “terrorism” and “weapons of mass destruction”. But the bipartisan consensus that the state needs more powers to tackle “terrorist” threats is everywhere a thinly veiled attempt to drive back the people’s right to protest against bad policies and bad laws.
In Australia, the Muslim community and people of Arabic background have been under pressure from racist “anti-terror” laws for some time. Now, state and federal governments and their security services are striving to marginalise anyone who tries to organise or participate in protests against the wars in the Middle East.
The Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the people throughout the world who have protested in their hundreds of thousands against Bush.
Potentially, such mass protests can not only topple dangerous criminals such as Bush and Howard, they can also begin to push back their political agenda. A massive protest in Sydney against Bush and all he represents would be a fitting prelude to the well-deserved defeat of the Howard government at the next federal election.From: Green Left Weekly issue #713, 13 June 2007.