People’s Movement Conference in Jakarta seeks to build political alternative

Marsinah FM – April 21, 2018
People's Movement Conference participants - April 20, 2018 (Marsinah FM)
People's Movement Conference participants - April 20, 2018 (Marsinah FM)

The People’s Movement Conference (Konferensi Gerakan Rakyat) which was held over two days on April 19-20 at the Hotel 678 Cawang in Jakarta, was a historical milestone in carving out a new hope for the emergence of a united movement comprising all elements of the people.

Initiated by the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI), the National Trade Union Confederation (KSN), the Populist Democratic Trade Union (SEDAR) and the National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN), the conference brought together some 70 different cross-sector people’s movement organisations including workers, students, youth, women, the urban poor, human rights defenders and environmental activists, to set out an ambitious agenda – to find ideas and initiatives to build a political alternative, namely a force that is born out of the people’s movement itself.

The following are quotes from organisational leaders who initiated the conference:

Sarinah – SEDAR

“For us unity isn’t just unity, unity must be based on democracy for strategic goals, to build a joint political vehicle, namely a political party, this is the only solution to the capitalist system and colonial exploitation in Indonesia. We must implement the results of this conference because if there are decisions but no implementation it can’t be tested. This time we are committed to pursuing the mandate of this conference.”

Yahya – SGBN

“[We are] pleased and happy to be involved in this conference, we are enthusiastic about finding a solution, committed and sincere in pursuing the outcomes of this conference. Thanks to the organising committee, and we hope there will be more conferences to follow”.

Ilhamsyah – Labour activists

“The conference agenda represents a new energy, in the midst of a decline in the people’s movements. We are still a very small force, but not easily demoralised, with unity and convincing our members, we will continue to gather our forces and build mutual assistance between trade unions. All of us have cases, dismissals, low wages, factories closing down, occupations and so on, but the desire for unity is a concrete task that is needed to advance the labour movement and bring victory to the people’s struggle. Let us test out this commitment in unity, don’t be quick to give up hope, become angry, the problems that exist can be resolved together. Let us complement and strengthen each other.”

Nining Elitos – KASBI

“In representing KASBI I appreciate, that we are among comrades. In building our movement, our fortunes cannot depend upon the political elite, of course in the current situation, the problems facing the ordinary people, the theft of natural resources, our human resources simply exploited, in building a people’s movement, we need a political block, to build openness, participation from the lowest to the national level, we cannot forget organisation. We can involve the masses in building this, to win the highest authority. In building the Indonesian people’s movement, KASBI is involved, if the process is inexact, we will not give up easily or be embittered. The character of a fighter is that in the worst situation they do not give up. This is our project, forming, building and growing into a political block of the oppressed people”.

Hermawan – KSN

“Let the future of the people’s movement be bright, from the series of discussions, from joint declarations, the obligation to work and struggle together. There is no other word, this country and its people are in the grip of suffering. Rise up, let us win victory and prosperity, workers united cannot be defeated, power to the workers, prosperity to the people. Today is the start of a movement towards victory, to ensure the future is bright for all”.

Jakarta, 21 April 2018
By Gadis Merah (Red Girl)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Berkonsolidasi dan Bergerak Membangun Kekuatan Alternatif.]