People’s Alliance to use Bali conferences to champion agenda

By Agnes Winarti on 2013-03-23

As many as 30 civil society organizations under the banner of the newly established Indonesian People’s Alliance (IPA) plan to voice the unsung-aspirations of Indonesian grassroot communities at the numerous international high-level conferences in Bali this year.

The IPA, which was established in January in Jakarta, is a broad campaign platform to facilitate and coordinate initiatives from grass root communities — including environmental activists; farmers trade unions; indigenous people; migrant workers; research groups; women; and the youth and students — in response to the international conferences to be hosted in Bali.

The conferences include the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda next week, the Asia-Pasific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit slated for Oct. 1-8 and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ninth Ministerial Conference that will run on the island from Dec. 3 to 6.

The IPA’s members include individuals from the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI), the Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity), the Alliance of Independent Labor Unions (GSBI), the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (ATKI), the Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement, the Alliance of Indonesian Indigenous People, the Institute for National and Democratic Studies (INDIES) as well as the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

“We doubt that the three forthcoming international conferences will bring any significant contributions for our country. For example, attendees of the upcoming High-Level Panel will discuss commitment plans after the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] end in 2015. However, there has been no clear evaluation of the MDGs results, especially in Indonesia,” said Ahmad Syamsul Hadi of WALHI on the sidelines of a seminar hosted by the IPA in Denpasar on Friday. At present, WALHI serves as the national secretariat for the IPA.

To support its claims the IPA cited the government’s proclamations of a significant reduction of poverty from 20.6 percent in 1990 to 5.9 percent in 2008, of reaching 99.85 percent literacy among female students between 15 to 24 years of age in 2009 and the decrease of tuberculosis cases from 443 cases per 100,000 people in 1990 to 244 cases per 100,000 people in 2009.

“The government may announce economic growth of 6.4 percent, however, this country’s citizens have not felt any improvement,” said Ahmad.

The one-day seminar welcomed national speakers from the IPA, representative from Our World Is Not For Sale Deborah James, Len Cooper from the Australian-chapter of the International League Peoples’ Struggle and from Pakistan and representing the People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty Azra Assyayed.

“As long as the process of development in developing countries still uses the old paradigm of large-scale investment and loans, the process continues to only benefit developed countries,” acknowledged Cooper.

“Developed countries led by the US, the United Kingdom and Japan continue to intervene with the economic, social and political lives of third world countries, including Indonesia, thus, seizing our sovereignty. The leaders of developing countries should stop turning a blind eye toward such treatment, they have to be more critical,” IPA coordinator Ario Adityo of INDIES said.

The IPA called for the government to uphold the country’s sovereignty, to put an end to trade liberalization, to stop signing new agreements, to perform trade that served the people on the basis of a mutual benefit between the cooperating countries and to put an end of the WTO.

During the UN High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda WALHI plans to deploy one of IPA’s five civil society representatives, to urge the government to put more focus on solving the crucial environmental issues of the forest moratorium, plantation expansion (perkebunan), mining and food sovereignty.

“We have been told to preserve our forests, but large [foreign] industry continues to wreck our environment and marginalize our own people. We cannot continue washing their dirty laundry,” said Ahmad.


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