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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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Thursday, May 9, 2013



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


The World Social Forum Tunisia
marked a first for the World
Social Forum. It was the first time
the Forum was held in a country
actively engaged in the early
stages of a revolutionary
transformation. The Tunisian
revolution toppled a neo
-
colonial,
oligarchic dictatorship lead by
Ben Ali, and has ushered in a
highly contested democratic
process, where the forces of
political Islam have seized the
political initiative and much of
the social space. The Tunisian
revolution remains a highly
contested process.



Tunisia was chosen to host the WSF to
capitalize on and learn from the world
altering momentum its revolution helped to
inspire, particularly in the Arabic speaking
world (with major protests taking place in
virtually every Arabic speaking country
from Morocco to Bahrain). The revolutions
in Egypt and Yemen inspired hope and
promise the world over in addition to
challenging many of the established
“relations” in the capitalist world
-
system.


The US, EU, and NATO imperialist bloc,
allied with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
Monarchies, have been aiding and abetting
a major counter
-
revolutionary initiative in
the Arabic speaking world since the fall of
the Mubarak regime in Egypt. This counter
-
revolution has seen the dramatic rise in
power and influence of many of the most
reactionary forces of political Islam
throughout the region, such as the Salafists
in Tunisia.



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


However, the counter
-
revolution has not
been able to establish a solid hegemony
anywhere in the region. Left and
progressive forces are mounting stiff
resistance to the neo
-
liberal economic
policies and anti
-
democratic initiatives of
the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Democratic forces in Bahrain are still
struggling for democracy despite intense
repression. The Monarchies of Saudi Arabia,
Jordan, etc., are having to offer numerous
“carrots” to the working class and various
social movements in the effort to divide the
movement and sustain their rule, and where
these aren’t effective they are still relying on
many heavy repressive “sticks” to maintain
the status quo. In Tunisia, the World Social
Forum helped fortify and embolden the left
and progressive forces in the country in
their struggle against the repressive and
anti
-
democratic initiatives of the forces of
political Islam that currently dominate the
government.




Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


Overall the situation is very fluid, and
there is a lot of space to maneuver at
present, but what we clearly learned is
that progressive social movements have
a lot of hard work ahead of us to
organize our bases to be able to
capitalize on transitory moments as
occurred in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011.


View GGJ Executive Director, Cindy
Wiesner speaking at Opening Rally at
http://youtu.be/NatB88vUg18


Also read Kali Akuno’s article at
http://ggjalliance.wordpress.com/2013
/05/07/tunisia
-
social
-
transformation
-
and
-
the
-
world
-
social
-
forum
-
a
-
perspective
-
on
-
moving
-
grassroots
-
internationalism
-
forward/



For more reading on developments in
the region visit
http://www.jadaliyya.com/
.




Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


Additional comments from
Jordan Flaharty,
independentjournalist and GGJ ally
.


This social forum came at a time when the
direction of the uprisings seems in flux. On the
one hand, they continue to inspire people
around the world. On the other hand, in each
country there has been serious pushback from
ruling interests.


There is also a major division in the left on how
people view so
-
called Islamic governments, like
those in Egypt and Tunisia. While many spoke
of Islamic political movements such as Muslim
Brotherhood as regressive forces, others see
political Islam as part of an anti
-
imperialist
front.


In Tunisia and Egypt, dictators were
overthrown, but many of the systemic issues
remain.


In Bahrain and Yemen, popular movements
were for the most part shut down with the
support of imperial powers


though in Yemen,
the situation is still in flux.




Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


In Libya, imperial powers united with forces
within the country to overthrow the
government. And in Syria, of course, the
situation is still ongoing, but you have the US
and other Western powers deciding how closely
to align with forces linked to Al Qaeda.


Marxist theorist Samir Amin, who many of us
saw speak at the Forum, calls the overthrow of
dictators in Tunisia and Egypt the first step in a
continuing process. He said, “This gigantic
popular movement got rid of the dictators Ben
Ali and Mubarak, but not of the system. The
Muslim Brotherhood who are in power in both
countries are just continuing the same
system…The same so
-
called liberal policy, the
same submission to imperialism, the same
social disaster.”


Amin added that the biggest change
represented by this period is a new awareness
that change is possible. “The people now, who
have proved to themselves their capacity to
overthrow any dictatorship, will also get rid of
the Muslim Brotherhood,” he says.



These contradictions and conflicts of the
Arab Spring on full display at the WSF.
While one group held a session on strategies
for overthrowing the Syrian government,
there was a rally nearby in support of
President al
-
Assad. Elsewhere in the Forum,
arguments broke out over whether Libya
was better off without Muammar Gaddafi.
Reflecting the importance of these debates,
hundreds lined up to hear remarks by Tariq
Ramadan, a Professor of Contemporary
Islamic Studies and major figure in the
debate on the role of Islam in the West.


The movement for a free Palestine was well
represented, and the Forum closed with
more than ten thousand people marching in
commemoration of Palestinian Land Day.
While Palestine liberation was the
consensus position at the Forum, there was
strife between grassroots activists and those
representing the political leadership in
Ramallah.





Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


Personally, I found a surprising amount of
hope. We have heard so much bad news from
the region, so much about neoliberal and other
right
-
wing forces co
-
opting the revolution, I
was excited to find so many people who were
still excited about the revolutionary possibility.
Of course, this may be partly the result of being
in the middle of 50,000 radicals from around the
world, but the atmosphere in Tunis was electric.
Every night, the downtown was filled with
people singing revolutionary songs until

3am

or
later.


Hamouda Soubhi, an activist from Morocco and
one of the members of the WSF Tunisia
organizing committee, told me. “For us its like
the beginning of the struggle. Tunisia wants to
say to the world, no more fear, we are going to
change the region.”


In Tunisia, a major issue is a return of the
economic policies that brought about the
revolution in the first place. I had three different
conversations with Tunisians where they
mentioned Naomi Klein’s name, and her book
Shock Doctrine. People feel that entities like the
IMF are using this time of transition to push
through even worse economic policies than
those from the time of the dictatorship.






Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


In Tunisia, a major issue is a return of the economic
policies that brought about the revolution in the first
place. I had three different conversations with
Tunisians where they mentioned Naomi Klein’s
name, and her book Shock Doctrine. People feel that
entities like the IMF are using this time of transition
to push through even worse economic policies than
those from the time of the dictatorship.


Mabrouka Mbarek, an elected member of the
Tunisian constituent assembly, told me: “When I
read about shock doctrine, I said, ‘oh my god, it’s
happening to Tunisia. They are going to stop
subsidies after two years, they will increase the price
of gas, they will increase the price of wheat, they
will completely restructure the banking system. All
of this happened without discussion without debate
in the parliament. The fate of the Tunisian people
should not be discussed between this international
institution and a resigning government.”


To more of Jordan’s analysis read the following
articles
https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/
03/27
-
2



http://www.zcommunications.org/world
-
social
-
forum
-
highlights
-
shock
-
doctrine
-
in
-
tunisia
-
by
-
jordan
-
flaherty







Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


Additional Comments from
Charity Hicks
,
with East Michigan Environmental Action
Council.


Current state and impact on Black Libyan’s
in North Africa after NATO war on Libya
2011.


Two years ago on 19
th

March 2011 a
coalition, led by France, Great Britain and
the U.S.A., started bombing Libya, and on
31
st

March, NATO officially declared war
against the Gaddafi regime.


Hundreds of thousands of people had to
flee Libya; among them were many migrant
workers and refugees from all over Sub
-
Saharan Africa, who were suspected of
being of Gaddafi’s mercenaries.


Tunisia left its borders open and accepted
about half a million refugees, from the
European and NATO led war/violence.






Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


Current state and position of
Black Tunisians in North Africa
after Arab Spring 2011.


Tunisia has a 10%
-

15% Black
African population which is non
-
Berber/non
-
Arab, whom live
mostly in the southern regions of
the North African country of 10
million people
.


The Arab Spring which removed
Ben Ali from power in Tunisian
in 2011 also unearthed the
profound inequality and racism
of the Tunisian state, and
marginalized social identity of
Blacks within Tunisia.


The apparent contradictions of the popular
movement, revolutionary thoughts, and ideals
of the Arab Spring also woke up in Black
Africans in Tunisia a sense of social identity
and racial politics, which the moment of the
Arab Spring crystallized in the Black African
Tunisian community towards a call for
recognition, protection, and participation.


Standing firmly in the moment of the Arab
Spring and fully aware of the contradictions of
race, class, culture, and privilege many in the
Black Tunisian community organized an
association which could carry their movement
building work to strengthen the focus on the
internal/external contradictions of society and
historical racial dynamics in Tunisia.


Black Tunisian moving to fully seat their
identity and participation in the current
constitutional convention happening in Tunisia
formed an association; “ADAM” for equality
and development in May 2012 under visa
number 2012G03190APSF.




Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum


The objectives of ADAM are to: 1) Defend the
principles of justice, equality, and tolerance
between all the individuals and the sections of
society and fight against all the forms of
segregation and discrimination. 2) Combat
marginalization and exclusion. 3) Support in
partnership with the official structures and the
organizations of the civil society the rights of
the Black minority on the legal, economic,
cultural and social levels.


ADAM ahead of the WSF organized an
international conference March 21
-
22, 2013 on
Racism in Tunisia to lift up and explore the
history of Tunisia, and bring into their work
international, Maghrebine, national, and local
frames and to call out the contradictions on the
Arab Spring.


At this international conference the Black
Tunisian community commemorated the
December 1966 United Nations anniversary for
the convention on Elimination of Racial
Discrimination and remembered the victims of
the Sharpeville Massacre March 21, 1960 whom
were peacefully protesting Apartheid in South
Africa.



ADAM and the Black Tunisian community are
pressing their way to fully hold the Tunisian
government and civil society accountable to the
words/ideals of the Arab Spring and the ideals of
equality, liberty, and dignity.


ADAM can be reached via the following means.


ADDRESS:


ADAM: Association for Equality and Development


8 Rue Borj Bourguiba


1001


Tunis, TUNISIE





TELEPHONE/FAX:



+216 71 240 204



+216 71 240 201





EMAIL:



adam@gnet.tn





WEBSITE



http://www.adam.tn





Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum



Tunisia, the Arab Spring, and the
World Social Forum



Climate Justice




What is the Climate Space? Why Was it Created? From the Open Call to
create the Climate Space:
The Climate Space aims to bring together
environmental activists and social activists in order to discuss: What went wrong
from Bali to Doha? How can we achieve the target to leave more than 2/3 of the
fossil fuels under the ground? What are our decentralized energy alternatives?
How do we tackle the food crisis that is aggravated by the climate and financial
crises? How do we stop the disruptions of the vital cycles of water? How do we
respond to the need of employment and stop this suicidal path of endless growth?
How do we strengthen the fight against false solutions like GMOs, Synthetic
Biology, Agrofuels, and Geoengineering?

What are the implications of the
financialization of nature through green economy, carbon markets and REDD?
What are the threats of climate security for peace, democracy and migrants? How
do we build alternatives to capitalism from experiences like “
Vivir Bien

, the
defense of the commons, the happiness index, food sovereignty and other examples
that have already been developed from the grassroots?


As the 16 Organizations who created the space stated, the Climate Space
was created to Turn the Tide and create real solutions to Climate Change.
For more read
http://ggjalliance.org/WSFclimatespace2013
.

Climate Justice



Climate Justice


The capitalist system, particularly
in its industrial form, has become
a threat to the sustainability of
life on planet Earth.


Rather than make any serious
efforts to transform and adjust,
the capitalist class has sought to
profit from this escalating
calamity by commodifying more
and more of the Earth’s natural
resources and processes of
regeneration (water management)
and reproduction (DNA patents,
GMO foods, etc.).



Climate Justice


GGJ played a major role alongside 20
internationalist organizations from
across the world in anchoring and
advancing the Climate Space at the
World Social Forum Tunisia. The
objective of the GGJ delegation was to
forge deeper relationships with social
movements struggling against climate
change, environmental racism, and
displacement throughout the world,
and to develop strong international
campaigns to transform the system in
order to stop the advance of climate
change.


A listing of the Climate Space
workshops that GGJ helped to
develop and co
-
facilitate are included
in the next several slides.





Fighting Fossil Fuel and extractive industries to build new alternatives!


Workshop Outline:
Fighting fossil fuel industry (tar sands, shale gas & shale oil, onshore and
offshore drilling, pipelines…) to build new alternatives and get rid of the highly polluting current
extractive system. The fossil fuels session will be an open space for collective discussion on fossil
fuels as foundational drivers of the engines of extractivism, exploitations and climate change. Fossil
fuels have lubricated the current manifestation of “civilization” and have been seductively presented
as cheap energy sources making humankind addicted to it with the winners being the fossil fuels
companies and collaborating states. It has recently been acknowledged that unless 60
-
80% amount
of known fossil fuels reserves are left untapped the world is headed towards an irreversible and
catastrophic global warming whose costs will be not spare any life form. This workshop will serve as
a broad social, political and economic convergence process whereby different struggles will be linked
for a rapid transition to a decentralized, equitable and ecologically sensitive energy and transport
system. Energy security has become a cover for wars and other destabilizing geopolitical struggles
overturning national sovereignty, criminalising door communities and locking humanity into
energy forms that are clearly harmful. This is the time for a serious conversation on energy
sovereignty unhooked from massive grids and polluting systems. The debate will look at alternatives
to the present energy production/consumption model imposed by governments and transnational
companies and link to groups/social movements working on agrofuels/bioenergy including those
dealing with the impacts in the South. We will aim to build convergence and point at ways of
conceiving true planetary civilisation.


Tom Goldtooth, with the Indigenous Environmental Network was the GGJ Representative



Climate Justice




Climate Jobs Now!: Organizing Campaigns for Transitioning to Low Carbon

Economies


Workshop Outline:
This session will discuss the organizing of ‘one million climate jobs’ campaigns in
several countries around the world. These campaigns arise out of two converging conditions, namely,
increasing mass unemployment due in large measure to austerity measures being invoked to salvage a
broken economic model and the corresponding prospects of catastrophic climate change mainly due to the
spewing of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere by carbon polluting industries. Tackling the
climate crisis of our times demands changing the prevailing economic model. Transitioning to and building
a low carbon economy for the future is imperative. Originally, the ‘one million climate jobs’ campaign was
developed by progressive labour unions and civil society organizations in both South Africa and the United
Kingdom. The campaign has to do with opening or reviving sectors of the economy to create new decent jobs
that contribute both to the reduction of carbon emissions and the advancement of social equity at the same
time. This session will explore strategies proposed for creating new climate jobs in energy, transportation,
and construction, plus water, health care, waste management and other sectors of the economy. Strategies
from both the global south and north will be considered along with the corresponding challenges to be
undertaken by governments. Activists from progressive labour unions, environmental organizations, youth
and social justice groups are encouraged to participate. The session will be participatory, drawing from the
interests and experiences of the participants as well as inputs from several resource persons.


Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

was the GGJ representative for this workshop


Read Miya’s article here
http://ggjalliance.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/confessions
-
of
-
a
-
climate
-
denier
-
in
-
tunisia/



Climate Justice




Faith Communities, Mother Earth, and the Militarization of the Climate


Workshop Outline:
The community of faith have deep concerns about nature and
peace. This event will try to generate a dialogue between different faith
communities (Buddhists, Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Animists and others) in
relation to Mother Earth and Climate Security. Climate change is not just an
economic, social or scientific issue. It has ethical implications and it is being used
to promote new forms of colonization and militarization. The idea is to bring
progressive representatives of different faiths to discuss in a very open way their
common and different visions in relation to Mother Earth, the role of humans and
nature, the meaning of climate security, and the threats for peace and justice. In
this event we will also discuss how to strengthen our struggle against the
criminalization, assassination and forced disappearances of climate and
environmental activists all over the world.


Charity Hicks, East Michigan Environmetnal Action Council (show photo of
Charity) was the GGJ representative for this Workshop


Climate Justice




Convergence Assembly
-

Climate: What New Strategies?


The New Strategies Convergence Assembly will summarize the
different proposals that will come out of the Climate Space
events and will focus on what we can do together to increase
our impacts and achieve some milestones that can strengthen
our different struggles and campaigns. The discussion will be
focused on what are the new issues that we have to address, the
link between the grassroots actions and system change, what
are the most appropriate mechanisms to coordinate multiple
actions of different kinds but with the same aim, how to
strengthen key proposals like food sovereignty, rights of nature
and others, the development of new ideas for new initiatives
and many more.The aim is to come up with a proposal for
concrete follow up steps and an action plan.


Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice was the GGJ representative


Climate Justice



Climate Justice



Climate Justice



Climate Justice


The convergence assembly
of the Climate Space
produced a very critical
document that we think is
an advance within the
Climate Justice Movement.
To read the document visit
http://ggjalliance.org/clima
tespacedeclaration

and to
follow the climate justice
debates and outcomes visit
http://climatespace2013.wo
rdpress.com/




Climate Justice



Gender Justice



Gender Justice



Gender Justice


Following the WSF preparatory
assembly in 2012, which discussed the
ongoing struggles of women in
Tunisia and throughout the world,
GGJ came away with the real urgent
need to press for solidarity with the
women's movement and the overall
movement integrating women's
rights.


As women of color we we wanted to
express that there is diversity to the
Feminist movement in the US, and
that not all of it is bad Feminism.


Following theses objectives, GGJ
collaborated with the World March of
Women to help organize the Gender
Justice space and several workshops
on Gender Justice and Women’s
Solidarity.




Gender Justice


The 2013 WSF Forum was kicked of
March 23
rd

by a Women’s
Assembly.


Here are some reflections on the
Women’s Assembly from Charity
Hicks with Black Workers for
Justice and Miya Yoshitani with
Asian Pacific Environmental
Network.



Sol
-
Sol
-
Sol


Solidarité!


was the
chant from the crowd as the GGJ
delegation squeezed into the packed
amphitheater for the World Social
Forum Women

s Assembly. The room
was electrified by the powerful voices of
women activists from Tunisia, all over
the region, and the world.




The invitation to the Women’s
Assembly reads, “we the Dynamic
Tunisian Women of the WSF, call upon
women from all over the world to come
together to express our solidarity with
all women in struggle and our rejection
of unbridled capitalism and any model
of development that objectifies us,
marginalizes us, commits violence
against us, abandons us to
unemployment and precariousness, and
excludes us from the centers of power
and wealth
.”


Read more at
http://ggjalliance.wordpress.com/
2013/03/27/sol
-
sol
-
sol
-
solidarite
-
ggj
-
at
-
wsf
-
womens
-
assembly/





Gender Justice


Attacks against women
and women’s rights by
conservative forces
throughout the world
have dramatically
escalated over the past
several years. To combat
this conservative
movement an emerging
global women’s
movement is growing.



Gender Justice



Gender Justice


To stand in solidarity
with women and
women’s struggles
throughout the world and
challenge these
conservative social
movements and their
aggressive promotion of
patriarchy as a system of
global oppression, GGJ
played a significant role
in the women’s
convergence space at the
World Social Forum in
Tunisia.



Gender Justice



Gender Justice


GGJ also participated in a critical
Workshop organized by the World
March of Women, called “Women’s
Rights in the Age of Empire”. Video
of the workshop can be viewed here
http://youtu.be/lXucT1gIjdM
.


Read Maria Poblet’s reflections on
Feminist Internationalism at
http://ggjalliance.wordpress.com/
2013/03/19/womens
-
rights
-
in
-
the
-
age
-
of
-
empire
-
maria
-
poblet/



And Part 2
at
http://www.organizingupgrade.
com/index.php/component/k2/ite
m/981
-
under
-
construction







Feminists Unite! Women’s Rights in the Age of Empire


Workshop Description:
Any revolutionary movement aimed at fundamental, long
-
term change cannot
exist or flourish without the full participation of historically disenfranchised communities. This has never
been clearer or truer, than in the role of women in historic revolutionary movements across the world. The
inclusion of a Feminist perspective has therefore become an inherit part of making a different world possible.
Our discussion will revolve around the participation of women in revolutionary spaces and the evolution of
Feminist demands in the Maghreb/Mashrek region, and in Tunisia in particular. We will highlight the
contradictory role the U.S. has and continues to play both economically and politically in its promotion of
hegemony in the region. Particularly through “disaster capitalism” models which are used to take advantage
of countries where disasters strike or wars are waging on, to privatize state enterprises and the commons,
engage more women workers into low and no wage informal sector work, and make land grabs. Dispelling
the myth of the “development” narrative which has become the framework for the discussion of women’s
economic access and social mobility; through claims that integrating women from the global south into
“income generating activity” is an emancipatory project, because it gives women access to money. We will
develop a deeper understanding of the limited fountains of resources women in the region have access to, for
their own agency and take a closer look at the problematic intervention of western feminists and funders not
rooted in true solidarity models derived from a class and anti
-
imperialist analysis. We seek to collaborate
with women's organizations and networks in the region and internationally. We intend to have this be a
panel and participatory discussion of how we can help to create spaces of empowerment that support
feminist demands, particularly in Tunisa and the Maghreb/Mashrek region in a way that does not reinforce
colonial dynamics and becomes yet one more obstacle in the advancement of the economic rights of women


GGJ was represented by Maria Poblet, CJJC; Marcia Olivo, Miami Workers Center


Gender Justice



Social Movement Assembly and
Next Steps for WSF



Social Movement Assembly and
Next Steps for WSF


Social movement assemblies
and coverage spaces within
the World Social Forum have
served as major vehicles for
the development of
international campaigns and
solidarity initiatives over the
past decade.


GGJ played
a major role in
anchoring the social
movement assembly in
Tunisia in the effort to create a
greater degree of synergy and
coordination between the
various international social
movements.




Social Movement Assembly and
Next Steps for WSF


This Forum’s Social Movement
assembly encountered many
challenges (Indigenous struggles
against various nation
-
states,
conflicting land claims, etc.) and
demonstrated how much
attention the Social Movements
must pay in the future to
resolving conflicts, antagonisms,
and contradictions amongst
progressive forces. To see the
outcome document of the Social
Movement convergence space
visit
http://ggjalliance.org/SMAdecla
ration2013
.




Social Movement Assembly and
Next Steps for WSF




A major debate is now underway about the future of the
Forum. This debate is primarily concentrated within the
International Committee, but is not isolated there. There are
two primary visions and proposals on the table. One vision sees
the Social Movements playing a more central role in shaping
and defining the Social Forum and orienting it more towards
the development and promotion of coordinated international
campaigns. The other vision views it being primarily a space for
“open” dialogue and exchange between individuals, civil
society and the social movements. This debate will continue for
some time. But, it should be clear that GGJ has always viewed
the Social Movement convergence process as central to the
advancement of grassroots internationalism and will continue
to support it going forward.


Social Movement Assembly and
Next Steps for WSF



WSF 2013 Tunisia



WSF 2013 Tunisia



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WSF 2013 Tunisia



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WSF 2013 Tunisia



WSF 2013 Tunisia



WSF 2013 Tunisia