January 21, 2004
…· 15,000-strong rally demands the withdrawal of US occupation in Iraq
…· Calls to observe March 20 as Global Day of Action of protest mass actions on the first anniversary of the US-UK invasion of Iraq
The Mumbai Resistance 2004, a conclave of over 310 peoples´ organizations world over, came to a rousing end at the Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (Veterinary College grounds) after a two-day seminar, a day-long cultural performances and screening of several films and documentaries on people´s movements and a massive protest rally.
The culmination of the four day event (held parallel to and as a critique of the World Social Forum) on January 20 was marked by a massive public meeting was held at August Kranti Maidan addressed by representatives of people´s organizations from all over India and many parts of the world. For over four hours the ground was packed to capacity and slogans and songs against imperialism filled the air. As a symbolic act of solidarity with the people of Iraq and Palestine, the US and Israeli flags were publicly burnt at the rally.
The convener of the MR 2004, Dr. Darshan Pal, farmers leaders from Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana, Bharatiya Jan Andolan leader B D Sharma, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha leader Janaklal Thakur, revolutionary writers association secretary Vara Vara Rao were among the well known Indian activists who addressed the gathering. Badruddin Omar, Bangladesh, Padmaratna Tuledhar, ex-MP and president Civil Rights Organisation, Nepal, Crispin Beltran, Philippines, Dr Haluk Gerger, Turkey, both of the International League of People`s Struggles and Alfred Klein, Austria, of the Anti-Imperialist Camp were among the foreign speakers.
Lively cultural presentations by more than 20 cultural organizations from all over the country, led by the world-renowned revolutionary balladeer Gaddar electrified the atmosphere.
Earlier the participants traveled from the venue of MR at Goregaon to the August Kranti Maidan in smaller processions, shouting slogans demanding an end to the US Occupation of Iraq, and opposing the pro-imperialist policies of the Indian government.
A People´s Declaration that outlined the perspective for developing the anti-imperialist struggle and intensifying the battle against the ill effects of globalization and war adopted and a call was given to observe March 20, 2004 as Global Day of Action of protest mass actions on the first anniversary of the US-UK invasion of Iraq
The MR 2004 resolved to "put up a formidable fight alongside the people of Iraq till all the US and other troops are withdrawn from Iraq and the US and other imperialists control over Iraq´s natural resources are handed over to the people of Iraq." The declaration took a pledge to fight imperialist globalisation and war to the end. It gave a call for unity of all forces that stand in opposition to the horrors resulting from the new anti-people offensive. The declaration resolved to fight shoulder to shoulder together with the people of various countries that have come under the jackboots of imperialist aggression, particularly that of the US imperialists. It also said it would fight for the abrogation of all the loans to the third world by the imperialists and their agencies like IMF, World Bank, etc. All 12 workshops also passed separate resolutions regarding the specific issues.
The topics discussed at the workshops included the situation in Iraq, the different national liberation struggles being waged by oppressed peoples in different parts of the world, the negative impact of globalization on dalits, students and youth, and the fascist offensive by the Hindutva forces in India and the Zionist offensive against the Palestinian people. The sessions, inaugurated by noted Bangaladeshi intellectual Badruddin Umar and Crispin Beltran from the Philippines, were marked by a number of spirited speeches by human rights activists Nandita Haksar, Manoranjan Mohanty and Gautam Navlakha, Bharat Jan Andolan leader B D Sharma, Dalit leader Udit Raj, academician Shereen Ratnagar and Dr Anand Teltumbde, trade union leaders A K Roy, Mukul Sinha and Anoop Singh. Over 15 delegations from abroad, including the Philippines, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, New Zealand, Austria, Italy, Pakistan, Bangaldesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as Indian associations from the UK, participated in the MR 2004 and made several presentations, besides giving cultural performances.
Waves of Resistance, an inspiring day-long cultural show was held on January 18 presided over by Gaddar. The show presented a symphony of people´s aspirations in different languages and different tunes with a unified message of people´s resistance against imperialist plunder. A play by Habib Tanvir as well as many other plays and skits were enacted at the venue.
A special pavilion that screened as many as 21 films over the two days attracted a lot of attention. Inaugurated by noted film director from Gujarat Paresh Naik, Reels of Resistance, the pavilion showcased such films as Ban Bush, Chord of the Richter Scale, Anti-Coke Struggle, Final Solutions and Amma Ariyan (Malayalam).
An art and cartoon exhibition named after Chittoprasad and inaugurated by famous political cartoonist Mohan and sculptor Gopal Naidu had displayed over 100 paintings and a number of cartoons against globalization.
Marking the conclusion of the two-day seminar and celebrating the unity of various struggling forces in the country and around the world, a torchlight procession was taken out near the venue on the night of January 18.
Dr Darshan Pal,
Convenor, MR 2004.