Since 2008 the IIRE Amsterdam has been cooperating closely with its sister organization in Manila, in the Philippines. The mission of the IIRE Manila is similar to that of the IIRE Amsterdam, with a special focus on Asia. We cooperate on organizing courses and our fellows and staff contribute the activities of the IIRE Manila. They organize a yearly Asian Global Justice School which has been a great step forward in building an Asian network of anti-capitalist activists and organizations.
The IIRE Amsterdam provides organizational support to the IIRE Manila and cooperates with them in preparing courses.
Unlike the famous boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the Asian Global Justice School (AGJS) at the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) in Manila was a showdown between political heavyweights, with much less violence and much more love and cooperation – that is, until the karaoke comes out!
Seriously though, the AGJS is 3 weeks of intensive Marxist and political education for the respective cadre of the different sections of the Fourth International (FI) in Asia (with a few European sections thrown in for good measure), and for the selected guests of the RPM-M (Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Mindanao), such as Partido ng Manggagawa (PM); we thus had members of the Peoples’ Liberation Party (PLP) of Indonesia, with an accompanying member of the KPO, a couple of comrades from the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP), a Sri Lankan comrade of the of the NSSP, a particularly colourful member of the Bangladeshi section, CPB-ML, along with comrades from the Australian Socialist Alternative – to say that this was a show of internationalist solidarity would be an understatement!
The programme, with its well-thought out structure and content, attempted to cover the most pertinent issues facing comrades within the region today: issues such as the particularities of the global economic system within Asia – with Alex De Jong doing a great job in covering its imperialist content; questions of migration (in the Philippines alone, remittances from OFWs account for approx. 10% of GDP!); class composition and how this feeds into modes of organising, both in terms of traditional trade union structures, and the less orthodox methods of NGOs and more peasant-based strategies – the latter being covered brilliantly by a comrade from the Philippines; the all important question of feminist politics; what it means to be ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ in Asia; how we should organise for the twenty-first century; and, one of my personal favourites, the ecological question and how Marxism points the way to overcoming the contradiction between capital and nature.
Besides the official programme, there was time to develop networks between our respective sections – I was fortunate enough to accompany our Bangladeshi comrade to a meeting with the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and I’m looking forward to joining BKF and BKS on the second leg of their famous Climate Change, Gender and Food Sovereignty Caravan that was so successful last year; there was also time to visit and make connections with urban poor resisting eviction form their squats, as well as with members of PALEA (Philippine Airlines Employee Association), who have been fighting against contractualization and unemployment for 10 months – inspirational comrades and a particular highlight of the 3 weeks.
All in all, the AGJS is a stalwart of the FI and its particularly pluralist internationalism. I thank the RPM-M comrades for organising a successful and eye- opening school and I hope to see them again next year!
From 17th of July until the 7th of August 2011, the IIRE Manila, the sister organization of the IIRE based in the Philippines, held its third Asian Global Justice School. Like the yearly Global Justice Schools in Amsterdam, this school aims to provide a space for debate, exchange of information, knowledge and experiences and networking between international social justice activists - but with a specific focus on the Asia-Pacific region and Asia in general.
Twelve participants from six different countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia) made the school a success. Similar to the previous Asian Global Justice Schools, the session was divided in three parts: the Asian context, challenges for progressive movements and forms of organizing to change society, but this year more focus was given on the issue of oppression of sexual minorities. Of course, the continuing economic crisis as well as the impact of the Arab Spring colored many discussions.
From this 17th of July until the 7th of August 2011 the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) in Manila will organize the third Asian Global Justice School. At the end of this year the IIRE in Amsterdam will also organize a Global Justice School.
We hope to have participants from all over the world in the Amsterdam GJS. This represents a real enlargement of the discussions with the comrades from Europe (normally the majority of the participants in Amsterdam).
The never ending traffic jams of Quezon City, Philippines, found its ‘compensation’ in the second Asian Global Justice School on August 2-2 1. Representing the Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD), along with 10 other left activists from Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan and Pakistan, I participated in a three-week school in Manila organised by International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)-Manila. The participants came from a variety of revolutionary organisations and parties with different traditions, engaging in different areas of national struggle. Some were peasant organisers, labour and women’s activists while others worked on rural issues or conflict areas.
The IIRE-Manila made a huge step forward in its second Global Justice School in August, with 22 attendees discussing context, movements and on alternative organizing for change. It can confirm that ten organisations are likely to take part in the third school, in the summer of 2011, and that numerous seminars will take part at the Manila campus before then. However, financial support remains needed to help participants to travel to Manila.
The IIRE-Manila recently concluded its first high-profile acitivity, the first Asian Global Justice School. The set-up of the school was inspirired by the many succesful Global Justice School held at the IIRE-Amsterdam. The IIRE-Manila was set up to facilitate educational sessions similar to those organised by the IIRE-Amsterdam, especially for social justice activists from Asia that often have trouble obtaining visa necessary to attend the schools in Amsterdam. Another aim was to provide a perspective more centered on the Global South.