By Malcolm Guy, General Secretary
International Coordinating Committee
June 23, 2019
Comrades, fellow delegates, observers and honoured guests, please accept our warmest revolutionary greetings from the ILPS General Secretariat and staff and the Hong Kong Host Committee who wish you all a very successful Sixth International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle under the theme: “Win a bright socialist future for humanity! Unite the people to fight and end imperialist war, racism and fascism!”
It is indeed a major victory for the anti-imperialist movement to have all of you gathered here today in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. I know that many of you have had to seek funding from friends and family to be here, to reach into your savings and forgo that holiday, or have spent hours and hours fund raising in your communities and networks. Thank you for all that effort, and thank you to the members of your mass organizations, member organizations of the ILPS, for supporting your presence here. That is the victory we are saluting. And you can give yourselves a round of applause.
I would also like at this time to thank the ILPS Secretariat, the talented host country committee, the staff and all the others that have volunteered their efforts, for the excellent preparations and hard work in fulfilling the decisions of the International Coordinating Committee to ensure the successful holding of the Sixth International Assembly of the ILPS at this wonderful venue here in Hong Kong. I think they also deserve a very warm round of applause.
In order to give you a little idea about me, besides being the General Secretary of the International League of Peoples Struggle, I am a member of the Coordinating Committee of the ILPS in Canada and am a founding member of the Board of Directors at the Immigrant Workers’ Centre / Centre des travailleuses et travailleurs immigrant-e-s, the organization I represent in the ILPS. I am active in the Quebec Movement for Peace / Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix, which was set up in 2017 with participation of the ILPS in Canada and I am also the acting coordinator of the Centre of Philippine Concerns / Centre d’appui aux Philippines in Montreal. Finally, when I have time, I work as a documentary filmmaker.
Over the past four years I have been very privileged to work with and learn much from a strong group of comrades in the Office of the ILPS General Secretariat in Utrecht, the Netherlands. They include the wonderfully capable Ruth De Leon, Dan Borjal, ILPS Treasurer Veerle Verscheuren, Aldo Gonzalez, Boyen Baleva and Jon Bustamante.
I have also been very privileged to work closely with the ILPS Chair, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, whose dedication to the struggles of the people of the world combined with an amazing analytical capacity and wise words of advice have made my job as Sec Gen much easier, and I hope, useful. Joma, as most of you know him, will be stepping down as ILPS Chair at this 6th Assembly, and we will be taking time to honour his amazing work later during this Assembly.
The outgoing International Coordinating Group of the ILPS, our executive committee if you like, has been made up of Chairperson Prof. Jose Maria Sison from the International Network of Philippine Studies, Netherlands; Vice Chairperson, Len Cooper from the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union in Australia; Vice Chairperson for Internal Affairs, Antonio Tujan of IBON International; Vice Chairperson for External Affairs, Florentino Lopez Martinez of the Frente Popular Revolutionario in Mexico; myself, Malcolm Guy, from the Immigrant Workers Centre in Canada as General Secretary; First Deputy General Secretary, Liza Maza of BAYAN in the Philippines; Second Deputy General Secretary, Bill Doares of the International Action Center in the U.S.; Treasurer Veerle Verscheuren of IBON Europe in Belgium and Auditor, Lyn Meza, from Chelsea Against the War, also in the U.S., who was obliged to step down for health reasons. We do hope you are feeling much better, Lyn! [Mustafa Kilinc of MRealite of Germany took over from Lyn as Auditor].
The International Coordinating Group, or ICG, has met twice a year and the International Coordinating Committee, or ICC, has met at least once a year since the 5th International Assembly in 2015.
Meetings of the ICG and the 27-member ICC normally take place in the Netherlands, since as you probably know, our Chair, Prof Sison, is not allowed to leave that country because of imperialist machinations supported by the Dutch government. But we have found a way to out-flank imperialist attempts to sabotage our movement. The last meeting of the International Coordinating Committee was held here in Hong Kong, yesterday, June 22.
Could the outgoing members of the International Coordinating Committee here in attendance please stand or identify themselves… and could we give them a warm round of applause for a job well done over the past four years.
LEAGUE CONTINUES TO EXPAND
The League has overcome past problems of sectarianism and narrowness of visions and has expanded around the globe to over 350 mass organizations in 61 countries and territories. Growth has been particularly impressive in Latin America and Africa.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, which has a functioning Regional Committee, Chapters have been built in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Argentina and member organizations are active in Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Uruguay. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the founding assembly of the Mexican chapter on April 9, 2017. There is a large delegation from Latin America and the Caribbean with us today at 6th Assembly. (Could those comrades please stand.)
We have also vastly expanded our forces in Africa and West Asia (or the Middle East as some call it). ILPS chapters have been built in Senegal and Kenya, with members in Cameroon, Togo, Tunisia, Lebanon and Palestine. I was also present at the soft launch of the ILPS Chapter in Senegal in August 2017.
Globally, we now have 15 ILPS country or territorial chapters on all continents, up from nine (9) at the last Assembly. Besides the new Chapters I mentioned in Africa and Latin America, chapters exist in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Netherlands, the Philippines, right here in Hong Kong-Macau and the USA.
Chapters can be formed where there are at least three member organizations present. They can then hold assemblies, elect officers, chart a program of action and resolutions, and process and approve the application of organizations for ILPS membership within their jurisdiction.
We now need to increase our presence in Europe, both east and west, where the ILPS remains relatively weak given the vital importance of this region, West Asia (or the Middle East as it is known) as well as key countries like India, Brazil and South Africa.
PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS
Communications with and between members as well as getting the word out to anti-imperialist allies and the general public around the globe is a primary responsibility of the General Secretary, Secretariat and staff. Our main tools at the moment are email, Facebook and the ILPS website.
1500 copies of the book of proceedings and documents of the 5th Assembly were made available to ICC members and all delegates to the 5th Assembly.
For email we have begun using the MailChimp program to distribute the ILPS on-line newsletter and updates (including information about this 6th Assembly) in three languages: English, Spanish and French.
I would like to acknowledge the excellent initiative of ILPS members in Africa to distribute the AFRICA ANTI-IMPERIALIST MONTHLY by email, which provides a selection of notable articles on anti-imperialist struggles on the continent.
We presently have 848 people on our email list which is made up of members of ILPS organizations and allies. However, only 545, just over 60%, have opened or clicked on our emails.
We have been working hard to improve the ilps.info website over the past four years, trying to make it lively, attractive, up-to-date and relevant to ILPS members, allies and the public at large, and at the same time securing it from hackers and government spies. It is available for the moment in eight languages, but most articles are only available in English.
The Chair has regularly posted declarations and statements on important events on the website, and there is a news section and links to progressive websites. With notable exceptions like the teachers’ commission, the website is underused by members, who send few articles and statements for publication, and as a result the site is visited by only between 14 and 98 visitors a day, even during busy periods like that leading up to the 6th Assembly.
As for Facebook, the ILPS Solidarity group has 2,377 members and there are FB pages of ILPS Philippines (2221 followers), USA (1839 followers) along with the ILPS in Canada, Argentina, Guatemala and others. Not a bad start, but numbers are still relatively low and we are not on all social media.
To date, for example, we are absent from Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… and other such accounts.
All that points to the need to develop a communications policy for the ILPS. Your input on that front during this Assembly is most welcome. And if you have writing and technical skills to offer… please step forward.
Two proposals to improve communications are still on the table from the last ICC.
ILPS MEDIA COMMITTEE
The first is the creation of an ILPS media committee.
At this time a minimal number of ILPS statements, etc. are picked up by the mainstream media, and even the reach within the alternative media could be vastly improved. The ILPS must increase its impact and thus its membership and reach through the mainstream as well as the alternative media.
Therefore, we propose to investigate setting up a system where we can (1) gather the stories from the ground (from ILPS members, mostly from the South), (2) package them in media-friendly ways (including for social media) such as interviews and Question and Answer format, and (3) feed them to international media (mostly in the North).
As a stop-gap measure we are providing links on the ILPS website to progressive journalist sites around the globe, including Telesur in English and Spanish, The Real News Network, Peoples Dispatch, FAIR.org and PRISMM. Your suggestions for other such sites to include on the ILPS website are very welcome.
The second proposal is for the production and distribution of a regular ILPS newsletter containing original articles from around the globe as well as a selection from the ILPS website. The plan is to distribute this newsletter in PDF format and to print the document where convenient.
As a temporary measure the Gen Sec has been circulating via MailChimp an email Newsletter in English, Spanish and French containing member news and updates and links to notable articles and declarations from the ILPS website. Again, your feedback on that initiative is welcome.
Another responsibility of the office of the General Secretary is assuring, in close collaboration with the Treasurer and the Auditor, the financial stability and viability of the League. You will get a detailed financial report from the Treasurer shortly, but I can say that the finances of the League are in decent shape at the moment. The ICC and the General Secretariat along with the Treasurer have kept a tight rein on expenses.
The relatively stable state of the finances has not come without a determined struggle to have ILPS member organizations pay their yearly dues, which are $50 USD for member organizations in the Global South and $150 USD for ILPS member orgs in the imperialist or relatively better off countries. The ILPS has sought to keep dues as low as possible so as not to tax unnecessarily ILPS member organizations, especially those from the Global South.
At the same time, we do need funds to operate a global organization, even if officers and staff work at this time is on a voluntary basis. This includes office minimal expenses in Utrecht, where the Secretariat is presently located, expenses for the ICG and ICC meetings, including food and lodging of ICC members, the website and other communications tools, and minimal travel expenses to allow ICC members to attend meetings or to represent the ILPS at some important global meetings and conferences such as the founding assemblies of new chapters.
With the notable exception of the ILPS Chapter in the Philippines, which has been exemplary in the payment of dues, most Chapters and ILPS members either pay their dues very late, intermittently, or not at all.
The Treasurer and the General Secretariat have sent out a series of Memos in three languages requesting payment of dues, and this has given some results. Still, some member organizations have never paid dues, which is a requirement for membership under the ILPS Charter.
The ICC decided that in order to have voting rights at this 6th Assembly, member organizations present must have paid the last two years of dues (for 2018 and 2019). An amnesty for past non-payment of dues was also announced.
The payment of dues is a political act. If all the approximately 225 members of the ILPS from the global south pay their $50 USD dues each year, that still only provides us with an income of $11,250 USD. So it is not as though we will be swimming in money.
If the remaining approximately 100 members from the Global North pay their dues on time we will have an additional $15,000 for a total of $26,250 USD per year. Not a huge budget for such a growing and important anti-imperialist united front!
And that’s if we get all the dues, which to date has never been the case. In 2016, for example, we received only $2700 USD in dues and in 2017 $4,150 USD.
Last year we were required to fork out around $30,000 USD since we needed to pay in advance for this wonderful site in Hong Kong where we are meeting today. We also recently advanced another thousands more for the food for this conference.
Due in large part to the non-payment of dues, we lacked the funds to pay the full amount. The Gen Sec extends thanks to the HK and Macau ILPS Chapter for organizing to advance funds until some dues payments arrived, which took some time. He would also like to thank the ILPS Philippine chapter for paying their dues up to date, which allowed us to cover our costs up until this Assembly opened.
That is why we had to be very parsimonious with our spending in advance of this assembly, and why we could not consider subsidizing any travel or other extra expenses until a few days before the opening of the Assembly.
Before we agreed to any travel assistance, we had to be sure we would surpass our break even point of 360 delegates to this Assembly, a number that would allow us to pay back our debts for site rental and food.
But the good news is… at this time we are over 400 delegates registered for the 6th Assembly… so financially we are going to survive and even have a few dollars left over. Congratulations to all!
But from now you are required to pay your very reasonable dues on time… and every year!
ASSISTANCE TO ATTEND ICC MEETINGS
To complete the question of finances, I would like to review a policy put into place to assist ICC members from the Global South to attend ICC meetings in person when possible.
Many ICC members assist in the once a year meetings via Skype and Zoom, but being present in person is of course preferable. To this end, the ILPS is open to financially assisting full members of the International Coordinating Committee from the global South to attend ICG or ICC meetings for up to 50% of ticket prices from central ILPS funds (provided such funds are available).
It is understood that the application for financial assistance only comes after the concerned ICC member and their organization or country Chapter have done their utmost to raise the necessary funds. This funding is not automatic and is applied on a case-by-case basis by the Chair and Secretary General.
In such instances we also request funding assistance from Country Chapters in the regions (if such funds are available) who are theoretically better off financially: for example, the ILPS Chapter in Australia for ICC members from south and south-east Asia, the ILPS chapters in Canada and the USA for ICC members in the Americas, and ILPS members and chapters (ie Netherlands) in Europe to assist those coming from Africa – West Asia (Middle East).
We were able to assist four ICC members to participate in yesterday’s ICC meeting and to join us here today in Hong Kong. The new ICC will of course review whether they would like to modify or discontinue this policy.
TRIPS TO MANIPUR, LEBANON, TUNISIA AND MEXICO
Over the past four years I have had the opportunity, at the request of the ICC and the Chair, to attend the founding of new ILPS Chapters in Mexico and Senegal, as reported earlier, and to represent the ILPS and the Chair in several international activities. I have also helped to organize and act as Master of Ceremonies, or MC, at ILPS conferences in Canada and Europe. Some of my trips were supported out of ILPS central funds, others by ILPS member organizations, and some from my own personal Visa card.
In August 2016 I helped organize an ILPS intervention during the World Social Forum which was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the first time the WSF had been held in the global North. We organized workshops, a rally and an ILPS conference after the Forum.
At the end of 2016, ICC alternate member Dr. Malem Ningthouja invited the General Secretary to Manipur and New Delhi in India (from December 26, 2016 to January 10, 2017). The reception in Manipur was very warm and the days were filled with activities. I remember the sight of thousands of vehicles lining the road due to a gasoline strike when I first arrived, as well as more military on virtually every street corner than I had ever seen before. As you may know, Manipur, a small state of about 3 million bordering on Myanmar (Burma) was forcibly integrated into India in 1948.
The Gen Sec was joined on the trip by Randy Felix Malayao, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, or NDFP, in the on again – off again peace talks in that country. As you probably know, comrade Randy was murdered under the Duterte regime earlier this year, as he slept… on a bus… heading towards his home in the north of the Philippines. We spent a wonderful time together in Manipur, and later in North Korea, and I will miss, like you, this wonderful man and devoted revolutionary.
In Manipur, I gave a speech on the world situation at the University of Manipur, entitled: Intensifying Global Crisis and Conflicts. Comrade Malayao gave a speech on the peace process underway between the Government of the Philippines and the NDFP.
In New Delhi the Gen Sec was able to meet with comrades from Nepal and India, including Comrade Professor GN Saibaba. The Gen Sec and Prof. Saibaba discussed starting a process for reintegrating as a member of the League the Revolutionary Democratic Front of India.
Unfortunately, since that time, Comrade Saibaba has been re-arrested and condemned to life imprisonment for “contact with the Maoists”. Comrade Saibaba’s health, he was already confined to a wheelchair, has suffered severely from the strain of imprisonment. ILPS members are called upon to continue to organize protest actions to demand the release of Comrade Saibaba and the other Indian political prisoners.
I was MC (Master of Ceremonies) at the Solidarity and Fightback Conference in Toronto, Canada in August 2017 organized by the ILPS and the International Women’s Alliance. (I also participated on the international and Canadian organizing committees.) The Conference was a big success, attracting over 250 participants and ending up with a surplus of CAD $10,000 (about $7500 USD) that was centralized to the League.
In August, as mentioned earlier, I attended the founding of ILPS Sénégal Chapter in Dakar and participated in an October Revolution Centennial Celebration as well as attending a memorable event at the Venezuelan Embassy.
I helped MC an October Revolution Centennial Celebration event in Amsterdam in September 2107 organized by ILPS, NDFP and PRISMM. Oh yes, I should mention I was also the driver, ferrying people back and forth daily between Utrecht and Amsterdam!
That same month I travelled to Tunisia to meet future ILPS members, and partly as a result of that visit we now have a new ILPS member organization in Tunisia, Santé pour le people (Health for the People in English).
I visited Mexico again in November 2017. At that time we were still planning to hold this 6th Assembly in Mexico City. I met with members of the ILPS Mexico Chapter and related organizations and participated in another October Revolution Centennial Celebration.
The Mexican comrades had worked extremely hard to put into place the infrastructure to allow the 6th Assembly to take place. However, after several discussions and exchanges and verification with ILPS members globally, it was decided, in large part for financial reasons given the cost of travel to Mexico from Asia particularly, to move the 6th Assembly to Hong Kong.
TRIPS TO LEBANON, VANCOUVER AND DPRK
In March 2018 I was part of an ILPS delegation, that included ILPS Vice Chair Len Cooper and members of ILPS USA, that attended the Fourth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine organized by the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. The Convention was held in Lebanon, just south of Beirut in Hezbollah-controlled territory.
During that trip ILPS USA Chair Berna Ellorin and I were able to meet with and firm up the membership application to the League of the Red Oak Club youth organization from Lebanon.
In May 2018 I participated in a Symposium on the struggles of homeless, urban poor and internally displaced in Vancouver organized by the ILPS in Canada… along with the 4th ILPS in Canada Country Assembly. I was re-elected a member of the ILPS in Canada Coordinating Committee.
I helped organize an ILPS in Canada delegation in June 2018 which participated in rallies and actions against the G7 in Quebec City (The G7 meeting was actually held in an extremely well-guarded small town one hour from Quebec City).
And from September 2-12 I organized and participated in a small 2-person ILPS delegation (myself and young activist from Montreal) to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea… North Korea. It was the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK. We travelled in North Korea with a 9-person Philippine delegation led by Norma Biñas. (Randy Malayao, the assassinated NDF consultant, was also on that trip.)
The DPRK visit was very successful and we have been invited back for another visit (possibly in the winter of 2019-2020).
On the same trip I visited Hong Kong to meet with the Host Country Committee about the 6th Assembly before returning to Canada via Brussels, Belgium where I attended (for one day) the very successful International People’s Tribunal on the Philippines.
(I then spent a week in a Brussels hospital being cured of Legionnaire’s disease, a virulent form of Pneumonia transmitted by water vapour probably picked up during my trip to North Korea or while in China en route. Fortunately, thanks to the wonderful and competent staff at that Belgian hospital, I am completely recovered from that episode.)
Since that time I, the General Secretariat and the Host Country committee here in Hong Kong have spent considerable time on preparations for this Assembly, including regular meetings via Zoom.
In concluding, the Gen Sec reiterates his appreciation to the members of the General Secretariat for their work over the past four years. However, the Gen Sec would like to point out that the General Secretariat, which looks after the “daily administration and implementation” of ICC decisions, is short staffed at the moment.
The General Secretariat is a crucial part of the ILPS structure. It looks after communication with members (including memos and directives), monitors the official ILPS email account; refers communications addressed to the Chair and General Secretary for appropriate action/response; maintains the filing system of ILPS official documents and minutes of meetings; arranges the meetings of the ICG, ICC and General Secretariat (including travel, lodging, food and technical arrangements (recording, sound, etc.) and the taking and sharing of minutes and decisions; and maintains/administers the ILPS website along with print/electronic publications of the League. The Secretariat may also be assigned extra tasks by the Chair and General Secretary.
As you can see, it has been a very full and successful four years, with of course, much left to be accomplished. We need to take our organizing up to a new level during the next four years and beyond in order to not only defend people’s rights globally but to weaken and start winning some crucial battles against imperialism.
I have very much enjoyed my most recent stint as General Secretary. I would like to conclude by thanking ILPS members for their support and enthusiasm and particularly to thank the outgoing Chair, Professor Jose Maria Sison, for making this period an exciting, fulfilling and educational experience.
Thank you for your attentive ear.
Vive l’internationalisme proletarienne!
Long live Proletarian internationalism!