Sarah Peart – During Indonesian President Suharto's recent visit to South Africa and Canada, he faced hundreds of activists protesting against the human rights abuses in both Indonesia and East Timor.
These types of actions help maintain international pressure on the dictatorship. International solidarity with the democracy activists in Indonesia and freedom fighters in East Timor is a vital part of the struggle in these countries.
Similar solidarity actions are important to the struggles for democracy and against repression in many countries in Asia and the Pacific, such as Burma, Bougainville, the Philippines, West Papua, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tahiti, Kanaky and Nepal.
The Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference being organised in Sydney in April is part of building links between all progressive activists in the region. Among those attending are movements in the countries named above and many more.
The socialist youth organisation Resistance is supporting the conference and helping to organise and build it.
The conference will have an emphasis on building links between young people and student groups throughout the region. Workshops will involve groups such as the All Burma Student League, the Communist Youth League of Russia, Kamalayan from the Philippines and Students in Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia.
Further actions like the successful anti-Nike international day of action in October will be discussed.
Resistance member Lachlan Malloch, who is involved in organising the conference, said, "The fact that the conference is so broad, involving so many different parties and organisation from many countries, means it is a very important event in the calendar of progressive activists.
"This is particularly the case in the context of the neo-liberal offensive being waged against the peoples of the region. The discussion about campaigns and strategies will prove to be very rich indeed."
Topics to be covered in workshops include the role of multinationals in the exploitation of Third World countries, the role of the World Bank, IMF and APEC, women's liberation struggles and the environment.
"Young people have played and do play a leading role in struggles for democracy in countries all around the world", Malloch said. "The conference will be important in drawing together some of these young activists to map out plans for more joint solidarity actions."
The Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference is being held April 10-13 at Glebe High School in Sydney. It will open with a public meeting on April 9. The conference is being organised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Democratisation and Development. To register send $60/$30 concession before January 30 to API, c/o PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007. Phone (02) 9690 1230, fax 9690 1381. E-mail