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BrisCAN Peoples Summit Statement in response to the G20

Attached is a slightly expanded version of the Brisbane G20 Peoples Summit Statement that was read out at the final session of the Peoples Summit on Friday 14th November 2014.

The preamble/ background section gives some explanation of how this has come together. Please feel free to leave comments on the Statement at the Facebook page for Briscan (will post the statement here: https://www.facebook.com/briscan.g20).

We thought this might be an opportunity to again acknowledge everyone for getting involved in the Summit and the Convergence and express hope for continuing collaborations forged during last year.

Sending good wishes
Sally
(on behalf of BrisCAN)

****

Brisbane G20 Peoples Summit
12-14 November 2014
BrisCAN Peoples Summit Statement in response to the G20

Background:
This Brisbane G20 Peoples Summit was organised by Brisbane Community Action Network (BrisCAN), an alliance of individuals, members of community organisations and activist networks in and around Brisbane, Australia. The Summit was made possible through building local networks and the solidarity of national and global organisations. The Peoples Summit was part of a broader Peoples Convergence which spoke, organised, marched, stood, and protested against the event of the G20 meetings in Brisbane and against the injustice and inequality that the G20 represents.

The Peoples Summit recognises the sovereignty of the first peoples and their ongoing custodianship of the lands on which we live, meet and on whose lands these words are written. The Peoples Summit was organised and run in collaboration with the hosts of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy First Nations meetings and ‘Genocidal20’ convergence in Musgrave Park.

The Peoples Summit was held across three days and seven venues located in South Brisbane and West End, with discussions, workshops, film showings or speakers occurring in parallel and a total of 42 different sessions: all on a very small budget and wholly volunteer labour. The Peoples Summit was attended by approximately 300 people, and many others were involved in the broader convergence, exercising their democratic rights to congregate and peacefully protest the G20 meetings through street marches and alternative events during the week.

How did the Peoples Statement come about? At the venue hosting the Citizen Journalist and Media Centre – located on the southern edge of the city and nestled up against the city’s restricted zone – workshops were programmed each afternoon to gather together the ideas from the day’s sessions. It was decided to structure the statement by declaring priorities, acknowledging obstacles and stating commitment to decisive actions. The statement was designed to respond to the G20 Leaders Summit communiqué (see here) and other statements released at this time (for example, the C20 Statement, see here), to create a record of alternative discussion and to express solidarity with global grassroots movements.

At the final session of the Peoples Summit, a summary of the Peoples Statement was handed to the Director of International Relations at DISK, Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, who is involved in preparations for the G20 meetings to be held there in 2015.

Since the Peoples Summit, the summary has been expanded through collaborative work among BrisCAN networks, bringing together and reflecting on the details of presentations made by speakers and notes and reflections of participants. From all discussions, an overwhelming emphasis was for the Peoples Statement to include a declaration that alternatives to the capitalist ‘growth at all costs’ model are needed; and where these already exist they need to be built upon to achieve a fairer and more just society.This statement stands for positive social, environmental and economic change. It celebrates the efforts towards this and records our hope for ongoing movement building.

This statement is put forward publicly as a record of grassroots community work to respond to the G20 meetings in Brisbane, Australia, 2014.

Peoples Summit Statement

We stand for inclusivity and peace.

Our PRIORITIES are the following:

We call for sovereignty for First Nations – This means a true respect for the sovereignty of First Nations Peoples’ histories, presents, and futures. We call for respect and effective actions to enable Indigenous Peoples to determine their future.

Equality & justice for all – We call for gender equality and equality before the law for minority groups. Violence and all forms of injustice need to be addressed. Ways of eliminating the patriarchy should be embraced and progressively built upon. We abhor and protest the rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and First Nations peoples and the continuing, present, and unaddressed national shame of Aboriginal deaths in custody. We call for the recognition by all in society that inequality and injustice is bad for everyone.
Commitment to protect ecologies and to confront climate change – It is clear to us that using alternatives to coal and moving away from a carbon based economy is a priority. The world must move to renewables and away from finite fossil fuels before it is too late. We oppose privatisation of water & other natural resources, and measures that are characterised by Carbon Violence. Climate change is a reality and needs to be addressed by urgent and widespread change. We note especially that climate change threatens some nations and peoples more than others and that any moves to address the current situation need to recognise this fact.

Participation in true democracy & decision making – Corporate power has made inroads into democratic rights of all kinds, including to the very spaces in which we go about our daily lives. Corporate power makes new inroads into our rights, our lives, and our spaces all the time. We need to reclaim decision making and participation in governance and political processes, and to be vigilant about these inroads in order to safeguard our public spaces and our democratic process.

Ensuring food security – Our food has become chemicalised, industrialised, over-produced, and over-processed; but also under-used and thrown away in great and shameful quantities. We need to take back control of food systems from industrial and corporate production We must resist the chemicalisation of plant foods and halt the spread of Genetically Modified seeds and foods.
Opposition to the dominance of the market over society – The needs of people and their place in the world are more important than the ability of a minority to make a profit. The capitalist ‘growth at all costs’ model is to be resisted and alternatives promoted. Where less destructive and more collaborative models already exist they are to be developed further and put into action to build a fairer and more just society.

Overall, economic power ought to be held by the majority. We call for greater social ownership of resources, production & finances.

Finally, we prioritise collaboration over competition. We seek a society and a world that values inclusiveness, rewards the building of non-monetary economic relationships and finds avenues for the creation of more extensive sharing economies.

This means that we call out for a REVISIONING OF ECONOMIC GROWTH and this means – again, because it cannot be said enough – the development of alternatives to the current economic system. The G20 (so-called) leaders summit had a tiny and limited agenda and could not see beyond the constant reiteration of the need for growth as though this would solve all of the problems we face in the world. We oppose the specific agenda of the G20 (so-called) leaders summit in relation to free trade agreements that have the effect of increasing socioeconomic and geopolitical inequalities in the world. In response to the Brisbane meetings in particular:

We oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements as having the potential to trap developing countries into particular industries, to entrench inequalities, to threaten food security through ensuring food production by particular corporate actors and threaten local property rights. Aspects of the TPP threaten democratic rights and include measures to enable corporate rights to over-ride domestic or national laws.

We call out to resist the growing shift from state and public service provision to ‘public-private partnerships’ which remove public control of essential resources (water, minerals, territory, other land management) and services (education, health, housing, and welfare) away from public and citizen control.

We call for all working people to reunite, to find ways to work with trade, professional and workers unions. We celebrate the participation of unions in democratic forms of economic change and call out for more public debate of alternatives like the AMWU proposal for an alternative economic agenda.

We celebrate in solidarity with the recent socialist Syriza victory in Greece and recognise that these democratic responses to austerity measures are part of the existing global support for changes to the economic agenda that is put forward by G20 leaders and do not benefit the majority.

There are OBSTACLES to overcome.
In organising a community response to the G20 we faced significant obstacles, frustrations and difficulties. Our right to organise was curtailed by the creation of ‘declared zones’ and restrictions on the instruments of protest. Our movement was demonised as perpetrators of aimless violence by the mainstream and indiscriminate corporate media. This media generated fear and hostility toward us, and fear in some who otherwise would have stood, spoken, and marched with us.

These local experiences speak to broader challenges for global social change. These include corporate media and powerful strategies by the minority for minimising public debate & participation and enabling state violence and threats to citizen participation in democratic action.

We are COMMITTED TO DECISIVE ACTION.
Thousands marched in solidarity in Brisbane to protest the G20, demonstrating that there is broad-reaching opposition in our community to the agenda of the One Percent.

While the banner of opposition is now passed from us to our comrades in Turkey, we have an ongoing task to organise. We must find ways to encourage and increase critical participation in social, economic and environmental change by the broader community, the political left, and Australian and international activist collectives and organisations.

The presence of thousands on the streets of Brisbane, despite the significant obstacles we faced in calling people to action, can inspire us in building an ongoing grassroots campaigns fighting for services, jobs, rights, and the environment.

The Peoples Convergence and Peoples’ Summit in Brisbane was an opportunity to learn, strategise, practice solidarity and to build links between different social movements. We know what we are against. We need to begin the difficult but essential process of collectively arguing what we are for.

To reinforce a commitment to decisive action means maintaining the links we have built into the coming weeks, months and years. We are committed to build on networks we made during the week in November 2014, and use this to reinforce a platform for future action and promote the system change that many of us passionately desire for humanity and the planet.

In addition to individual contributors who are too many to mention, organisations making contributions to the Peoples Summit included:

Action AID (international)
Australian Metal Workers Union
Australia Greece Solidarity Campaign
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network AFTINET
Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network
Brazilian Network for Peoples’ Integration (Rebrip, Brazil)
Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy
Brisbane Blacks
Brisbane Solidarity Network
Catholic Social Action/ West Papua Solidarity Network
Earth Laws Alliance
Ecotera (business)
Friends of the Earth
Friends of Hatcliffe (Brisbane)
Frontline Films
GM-Free Australia Alliance
International Trade Union Confederation
IWW International Workers of the World (Brisbane)
Madyam (India)
May First Movement (Kilusang Mayo Uno) KMU
Mothers Are Demystifying Genetic Engineering (MADGE)
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
Occupy Brisbane
Our World Is Not For Sale (international/Canada)
Oxfam (international)
Quakers (Brisbane)
Search Foundation (Australia)
The Greens
The Zeitgeist Movement
Universities/academics (University of Queensland, Griffith University, Massey University (NZ))

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