From 17th of July until the 7th of August 2011, the IIRE Manila, the sister organization of the IIRE based in the Philippines, held its third Asian Global Justice School. Like the yearly Global Justice Schools in Amsterdam, this school aims to provide a space for debate, exchange of information, knowledge and experiences and networking between international social justice activists - but with a specific focus on the Asia-Pacific region and Asia in general.
Twelve participants from six different countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia) made the school a success. Similar to the previous Asian Global Justice Schools, the session was divided in three parts: the Asian context, challenges for progressive movements and forms of organizing to change society, but this year more focus was given on the issue of oppression of sexual minorities. Of course, the continuing economic crisis as well as the impact of the Arab Spring colored many discussions.
The international Youth School 2011 ended on August 31st. The final balance sheet written by the participants shows the intensity of this learning experience and the overall quality of the lectures. Twenty six participants from 11 different countries lived together for ten days. It was a period of study, reading and discussions.
Anybody who is politically active and discussed with others about the possibility of a different society will have heard arguments like 'what you want is all very nice but it will never work, that is just not the way people are'. Ecological activists are confronted with the question what human needs need to be fulfilled to ensure a good life. Anybody living in a society characterized by grotesque consumerism, commofidication of human relationships, the marginalization of cultural and sexual minorities, and increasingly precarious working conditions feels a need to develop values that can give direction to their lives.