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International workers' movement news

Marxism 2000 conference planned

“Marxism 2000” is the theme of the Asia Pacific Solidarity and Education Conference, called in Sydney on January 5–9 by the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) and Resistance.

Featured speakers will include left journalist and film-maker John Pilger, us Latin America analyst James Petras and Francisco Nemenzo, professor of political science at the University of the Philippines.

Other special guests include the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, leaders of the revolutionary democratic movement in Indonesia, the Philippines' Socialist Party of Labour leaders Sonny Melencio and Rasti Delizo and the mass organisation Alab-Katipunan's secretary-general, Cris Gaerlan, plus Labour Party Pakistan general secretary Farooq Tariq.

Others attending include Phil Hearse, a member of Britain's Socialist Democracy Group; Caroline Lund, Barry Sheppard and Malik Miah from the us socialist organisation Solidarity; and activists from at least East Timor, France, New Zealand, Turkey, Burma, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Palestine, Russia and Bangladesh.

Conference plenary panels and talks will take up issues such as the relevance of Marxism in the 21st century, the state of the world economy, imperialism's political and military strategies, revolutionary strategy in industrially advanced capitalist countries and in underdeveloped countries, the pressure for capitalist restoration in socialist countries, recent experiences in trade union and labour organising, Marxism and the national question, women and the fight for socialism, international left collaboration and socialist renewal, and the environmental time bombs of capitalism.

Marxism 2000 will be held at the Hawkesbury campus of the University of Western Sydney. Accommodation is available, with full catering. For more details or to register, phone the DSP on (02) 9690 1230, write to PO Box 515, Broadway, Australia 2007, or e-mail dsp@dsp.org.au.

ATTAC meets in Paris

"The dictatorship of financial markets? Another world is possible!" That was the theme of the international conference of Action for a Tobin Tax to Assist the Citizen (ATTAC ), held in Paris, June 24-26. The conference was attended by some 1100 people from 70 countries.

ATTAC is a recently formed organisation in France. In the year since its creation, it has become a significant mass movement, with around 11,000 members, organised in 120 branches.

The conference was organised with the support of four other international networks: Coordination against MAI [Multilateral Agreement on Investment] Clones, the Forum Mondial des Alternatives (Forum of International Alternatives), Comite pour l'Annulation de la Dette des Payes du Tiers Monde (Committee For the Cancellation of the Third World Debt) and dawn, a network of feminists from Third World countries.

Before the conference there were regional caucuses for delegates from Latin America, Africa and Asia to develop better links within each region.

The final plenary adopted a resolution to popularise and support resistance to the dictatorship of the markets, international financial institutions and governments through an international network.

The first international campaign is aimed at the new round of WTO negotiations at the end of July and the Seattle WTO meeting in November to discuss a new MAI. An international week of protest is planned for October 12-17.

Other activities include a Europe-wide "world petition" for the Tobin tax and the abolition of tax havens. This will be followed up with mobilisations. A demonstration is planned in Brussels in the spring of 2000.

ATTAC can be contacted from its web site at attac.org by e-mail at inter@attac.org.

Dita Sari freed

After spending almost three years in jail for the "crime" of organising Indonesian workers to struggle for their rights, Dita Sari was released from the Tangerang women's prison, on the outskirts of Jakarta, on July 6.

Dita was arrested while leading a rally of 20,000 factory workers in Surabaya on July 8, 1996. Her arrest was part of Suharto's crackdown on People's Democratic Party (prd) activists.

At a press conference following her release, Dita wore a headband with the letters "FNPBI" on it, the acronym for the new Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggles. The FNPBI elected Dita as its chairperson during its founding congress on May 14–16.

Dita's release was reported on all major national and Jakarta television stations. On SCTV evening news, Dita explained that her release was not due to good will on the part of the regime, but the result of pressure from the democracy movement within Indonesia and the solidarity movement abroad.

Pakistan Left Unity Conference

The left in Pakistan took an important step towards unity on March 23 with a groundbreaking Left Unity Workers' Conference in Lahore in which more than 230 movement leaders and activists took part.

The national conference, unprecedented in its breadth and openness, was organised by the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP). Delegations from at least 20 Pakistan organisations attended.

The Saraiki Qaumi [National] Party was there, along with the Baluchistan National Party, Jammu Kashmir National Awami [People's] Party, Kashmir Mutahda Muhaz, Saraiki Inqalabi [Revolutionary] Council Pakistan, Saraikistan Party, Saraiky Party, People's Party Pakistan Shaheed Bhutto Group, Pakistan Workers Confederation Sindh, Itehad [Unity] Labour Union, Railway Workers Union, Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation, Human Right Focus, ASR Resource Centre's Institute of Women's Studies, Democratic Women's Association and Women's Action Forum.

Delegates from the Watan Party of Afghanistan and the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, as well as representatives of the LPP’s section in Britain, also attended.

Revolutionaries elected to European Parliament

A range of far-left parties have entered the European Parliament in elections held June 11–13. In France, the Lutte ouvrière-Ligue communiste révolutionaire (LO-LCR) list won 5.2% of the vote and almost 1 million votes. This means the Trotskyist lo will take three seats and the LCR, affiliated to the Fourth International, will take two.

LO's lead candidate, Arlette Laguiller, has regularly stood in elections and received respectable tallies; she was top of the joint list. Respected LCR  leader Alain Krivine will become a Euro MP.

In Germany, the Party of Democratic Socialism achieved its best ever result, scoring 5.8% of the vote and six Euro mps for the first time. The PDS almost doubled its vote in the former West Germany, in Hamburg jumping from 1.4% to 3.3%. In the former East Germany, the PDS vote was close to that of the Social Democratic Party and overtook it in the states of Mecklenburg and Saxony.

In Italy, the Party of Communist Refoundation won four seats.

In the Spanish state the United Left also won four, while in the Basque country, Euskal Herritarrokan alliance of Herri Batasuna and other left parties, including the Trotskyist group Zutikwon a seat.

In the Netherlands, the Socialist Party won its first Euro MP. The SP was the only Dutch parliamentary party to oppose NATO's bombing of Serbia.

Scottish Socialist Party election victory

Tommy Sheridan from the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) was elected to the first modern Scottish parliament on May 6. Sheridan, a working-class hero to many Scots, spearheaded the campaign in Scotland against Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's poll tax in the early 1990s. He was elected to Glasgow City Council in 1992 in a show of solidarity from the city's working people while he was serving a six-month prison sentence following a poll tax protest.

In line with SSP policy, Sheridan will receive no more than an average skilled worker's wage, the rest of his parliamentary salary going to campaigning for socialism in Scotland.

The SSP is actively involved in many campaigns for justice and contested the election on a platform calling for “a radical redistribution of wealth from the rich to the working class and the poor; an economy which is democratically planned in the interests of society as a whole via social ownership, democratic management and control of Scotland's major industrial, commercial and financial corporations; an independent socialist Scotland free from poverty, privilege, corruption, homelessness, unemployment and greed”.

The SSP platform also “opposes all forms of racism, sectarianism and national chauvinism. We stand for full citizenship and equality for all, regardless of national origin. We oppose discrimination and prejudice on the grounds of gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

The SSP, formed out of the Scottish Socialist Alliance last October, held its founding congress on February 22, attended by more than 200 people. The congress adopted a 16-point “Manifesto for a Socialist Scotland”.

Subscriptions to the SSP's fortnightly paper can be obtained by writing to: Scottish Socialist Voice , 73 Robertson Street, Glasgow, G2 8QD, Scotland. Visit its web site www.scotsocialistparty.org, or email: ssv@mail.ndirect.co.uk.

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