It was a global gathering of fighters for labor and the oppressed: workers on sugar cane plantations and in textile mills, domestic workers and dockworkers, Indigenous people, peasants and urban poor, fighters for women’s and LGBTQ2S rights, health care workers, students, environmental activists and others. They came from the Philippines and Philadelphia, Indonesia and Ireland, Central America and Southern Africa, South Korea and West Papua, from every corner of the world. They were united by the theme, “Win a bright socialist future for humanity! Unite the people to fight against imperialist plunder, war, racism and fascism!”
The occasion was the Sixth International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, held in Hong Kong from June 23 to June 26. The ILPS, founded in 2001, describes itself as “the largest and most consolidated global formation of militant, anti-imperialist and democratic organizations in the world today.”
The 6th IA bore out that description. There were 400 delegates and guests from people’s organizations in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kawthoolei-Karen State of Burma, Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan, Laos, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Manipur, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sabah, South Korea, Thailand, Netherlands, Togo, Venezuela, United States, West Papua and Zambia.
The assembly opened with the League’s stirring anthem, sung by migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong.
Some came despite fierce political repression in their home countries. Prospective participants from 15 more countries could not attend due to visa denial or repression where they live. Some who might have attended have been martyred by state terror. Philippine human rights workers Randy Malayo, Ben Ramos, Nelly Bagasala and Ryan Hubilla are among the dozens of unionists, farmers, lawyers and church people murdered over the past year by the death squads of the U.S.-backed Duterte regime.
‘A reliable force for people of the world’
Among those unable to attend in person was outgoing ILPS Chair Jose Maria Sison, world-respected hero of the Philippine revolutionary movement, now in political exile in the Netherlands. Speaking by video, Sison said that since its founding the ILPS has grown in “strength and proven itself as a reliable force of the people of the world in their struggle for greater freedom, democracy, social justice, all-round development and international solidarity against imperialism and all reaction. …
“We have stood firmly, spoken clearly and acted militantly in defense of the political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of the people against the depredations of monopoly capitalism, the unbridled greed unleashed by neoliberalism, the ceaseless wars of aggression, and the plunder and environmental ruination by U.S. imperialism and its allies and puppets.”
Sison discussed the current global crisis of the capitalist system, the intensifying exploitation and oppression of the people by imperialism and reaction, and the growing popular resistance. After announcing that he would not run for re-election after 15 years as chair, the assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution designating Sison as Chairperson Emeritus of the ILPS. He will be succeeded as chair by Australian labor leader Len Cooper, president of the Communications Workers Alliance and previous vice chair of the league.
Also barred from attending was planned keynote speaker Khaled Barakat of the International Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat. A Palestinian refugee living in Germany, Barakat has been threatened by the German state with a year of imprisonment if he speaks publicly or by video. Charlotte Kates of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network addressed the final plenary on Barakat’s situation and the growing repression facing the Palestine solidarity movement by U.S. and European imperialism and the racist Israeli state.
Other keynote addresses were given at the opening plenary by Nilufar Koc of the Kurdistan National Congress and Pedro Rosas of the Movement Gayones in Venezuela, and by Helda Khasmy of the Indonesian Women’s Union and Raphael Chiposwa of the Socialist Party of Zambia at the closing one.
In between, the bulk of the assembly consisted of meetings of the commissions, which featured lively discussions and debates. The ILPS has 18 commissions addressing such concerns as national and social liberation, human rights, trade unions and workers’ rights, the fight against war, the rights of peasants, farm workers and fisher folk, women’s liberation, refugees and migrants, the rights of the elderly and differently abled and LGBTQ2S rights. A newly formed commission on the right to housing held its first workshop.
Michael Africa Jr. of the MOVE Organization in Philadelphia was among the presenters at Commission Three, on human rights and fighting state repression. Born in prison, he is the son of MOVE 9 political prisoners Debbie and Michael Africa Sr., who were just paroled after 40 years in Pennsylvania concentration camps.
There were also stirring cultural events and forums on such topics as the struggle in Africa and West Asia, the freedom struggle in West Papua and the future of socialism. The latter featured author and former Soviet citizen Irena Malenko speaking on life under socialism and an extensive online talk by professor Sison on the history of socialism and prospects for its resurgence.
Looking toward ‘great resurgence of revolutionary forces’
On the final day, the delegates adopted a general declaration and elected a new International Coordinating Committee for the league. The general declaration reflected the work of the commissions and the debate and discussions during the assembly. It put the concerns addressed by the commissions in the context of the global capitalist crisis and projected global revolutionary struggle as the only solution. Here is an excerpt:
“U.S. imperialism, although on strategic decline due to its internal problems, remains as the most dangerous, the most destructive imperialist power, and the number-one enemy of the people of the world.
“The triumphalism of the apologists for capitalism upon the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries has long worn off. Amidst the new world disorder under capitalism, characterized by endless wars and social, economic and political crises around the world, no one can now take seriously the claim that capitalism is the end of history.
“In the wake of the crash of 2008, interest in Marxism and socialism has grown. There is now a widespread and profound disillusionment in capitalism and the people are looking for an alternative. That alternative is socialism.
“More than ever, the proletariat and the people of the world need to further build their unity to resist imperialist plunder, war, racism and fascism. They have to strengthen and steel themselves by waging various forms of anti-imperialist and democratic struggles.
“We are in a period of transition from unprecedented imperialist dominance, interimperialist contradictions, social and political turmoil, state terrorism and aggressive wars to a period of great resurgence of the revolutionary forces of the anti-imperialist resistance and the world proletarian revolution.
“We call on all progressive, democratic and anti-imperialist forces around the world to unite in a broad anti-imperialist and anti-fascist united front to stop imperialist wars and the growing trend toward fascism in many countries.”
‘Make the final blow’ against imperialism
The 6th International Assembly concluded on a bright note with all the participants in high spirits as they joined in a Solidarity Night of rousing speeches and moving cultural numbers. Through dance, songs, poetry and drama, the assembly participants depicted the sufferings inflicted on the people by imperialism and reaction, and the struggles of the people to win liberation.
A highlight of the Solidarity Night was a tribute to outgoing Chairperson Jose Maria Sison for his invaluable contributions to the ILPS since its founding and his outstanding contributions to the overall anti-imperialist movement.
The Solidarity Night was also an occasion to celebrate the success of the 6th International Assembly in uniting the entire ILPS for the work and struggles ahead and inspiring them to carry on the work of advancing the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the people.
The spirit of the assembly was well expressed in the keynote talk by Indonesian Women’s Union chair Helda Khasmy. Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, has suffered centuries of plunder by West European and U.S. colonialism and imperialism. The people’s movement there suffered some of the most brutal repression in history following a U.S.-backed coup in 1965 and under successive U.S.-backed regimes. Today, however, it is undergoing a revival.
“With full spirit we come together for the 6th International Assembly of the ILPS, united under the theme ‘Win a bright socialist future for humanity! Unite the people to fight and end imperialist war, racism and fascism,’” Khasmy said. “This theme made me very excited, remembering the recent national and global occurrences showing the brutality of imperialism in its war of aggression and intervention, as part of its efforts to mask and cover up the worsening economic and political crisis.
“Parasitic imperialism is increasingly decaying, it is indeed moribund. And as it rots it worsens further the condition of the people of the world. But imperialism, however, will not annihilate itself. It will not just die on its own. In Bahasa we say, ‘hidup segan, mati tak mau,’ which means ‘life is reluctant to end willingly.’ It will continue to rot and as it does it will destroy the productive forces of our society, and also those who try to rebel out of the restraints of imperialism.
“What is absolutely needed is to make the final blow! A blow that will be delivered by the oppressed and exploited people of the world–the proletariat, the peasants, the Indigenous people, women, youth, migrants, LGBT, all of us!” Khasmy concluded.
Visit the ILPS website to learn more about the Sixth International Assembly.