The Irish delegates were invited to speak at 3 different Forums, but as with all support groups, were allowed to make contributions from the floor to the Forums panel, which we duly did when the occasion required it.
The Irish delegations first Forum was on the second day of the five day camp. The title of this Forum was Anti-Globalisation process and the debate about non-violence. Also on the panel were Italian editors and lawyers, the delegates from Colombia and Norway and a representative of the Anti-imperialist Camp.
The Irish delegate explained that globalisation was nothing more than the internationalisation of capital; this can be seen on a day to day basis, when large multi-national companies consume smaller companies from different individual countries, thus diminishing those individual countries economic and political control
A recent example was pointed out in the case of Ireland. As American Capitalist and Political power are one and the same, America was able to force the Free State Government to hand over the use of Shannon Airport (not that there was much opposition from the Free State Government which goes to show how Capitalists of a feather flock together) to aid the war in Iraq.
Many Irish people feared that if the Free State government refused to comply then America would pull out its investment. This example shows how much the sovereignty of individual nations can be eroded when multi-national companies take hold of a nation`s workforce and economy. It was also pointed out by the Irish delegation, that everyone who has a social conscience has an obligation to boycott goods and services of these multi-national companies who are the engine of globalisation. It is not good enough to condemn globalisation on the one hand and wear Nike and drink Coca-Cola on the other.
The second part of the Forum engaged in a debate about non-violence. The Irish delegation made it very clear, that as long as British interference in Ireland continued the Irish people have the right to resist occupation by any and all means necessary and this included armed resistance, the delegate went on to say that this right of resistance applied to all nations that find their sovereignty impinged upon, this view was widely applauded from the audience and other delegations.
The next Forum on our invitation took place the next day, titled "Symphony of Freedom." Delegates attended from several different countries including the Basque Country, Palestine, Iraq, Russia, Turkey, Kashmir, Italy and a delegate from the Anti-imperialist Camp and renowned philosopher, Francesco Giuntoli. Delegates from Palestine spoke first and outlined the history and ongoing situation there with the imprisonment of its Secretary General and the incarceration of near 10.000 Palestinians in mass internment camps. The Basque delegate produced a lengthy document, outlining its past and what they see as the way forward for them. They called on other delegations there present to study their document and lend support to it. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is now in the process of studying the Basque document with a view to submitting its opinions.
The Irish delegate was next up and spoke at length about past, present and future of Ireland`s struggle against imperialism under a discussion forum entitled, " Their Europe and ours: The American Imperial strategy and the future of Europe." The Irish delegate spoke from a document entitled Anti-Imperialism-An Irish Republican perspective: See opposite page.
The third Forum, the Irish Delegation were invited to the panel which took place on the last day of the camp. This Forum was on the issue of political prisoners throughout the world and the struggle against colonialism.
The Irish delegate from I.R.P.W.A outlined Ireland`s 800 year old struggle and the important part that Republican prisoners have played in that struggle from the Young Irelanders to the present day. There is no doubt that political prisoners by their example and determination in the face of adversity, give strength and resolve to any liberation struggle. From Terence Mac Sweeney in the early 20th Century and Bobby Sands and the Blanketmen in the latter part of the 20th Century right through to the Dirty Protests of 2003 and the present day struggle in the prisons for political status, shows that a nations right to be free cannot be broken if that nations people are prepared to struggle and fight for the rights of the nation, no matter how long that struggle takes.
The I.R.P.W.A delegate went on to outline British state oppression, the use of Diplock non-jury trials, emergency laws and powers, state collusion with Ulster Loyalists and armed Pro-Agreement forces, extensive breaches of due process at initial arrest and detention, the unequal treatment of Republicans at High Court bail applications, intimidation of defence lawyers, the tampering by governments security forces of forensics evidence before and after arrest of detainees and the physical abuse and mental torture of Republican prisoners which included isolation cells and the use of "white noise." The plight of our prisoners struck a cord with the Basque, Turkish and Palestinians who shared similar experiences. The Turkish delegate spoke about their prison struggle and outlined the on-going hunger strike in Turkish gaols and how their prisoners took inspiration from Bobby Sands and his comrades in the Hunger Strikes of 1981. The Basque delegate relayed how their prisoners are dispersed throughout Spain, France and even further a field which made it difficult for family visits. (A tactic used by the British against Irish P.O.Ws) This tactic was and is being used to try and break the prisoners resolve.
In conclusion, the five day camp was very successful and delegations from all countries felt that the solidarity of resistance struggles against imperialism has been strengthened because of such camps. One thing that was very prominent throughout all the struggles in different parts of the world was that governments use the same tactics of oppression against liberation struggles, the only thing that is different is the degree of severity and when the eyes of the world aren`t looking this degree of severity can be very extreme indeed, all the more reason for worldwide solidarity.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association would like to thank the organisers of the Anti-imperialist Camp 2004 for a very memorable week in Assisi.