The fourth World Social Forum (WSF), being held in the Indian town of Mumbai from January 16 to 21, 2004, will host a series of events highlighting the rights of the Tibetan people, including a conference dealing with the common housing and land rights problems of Tibetans and Palestinians, according to the organizers.

The World Social Forum was created “to provide an open platform to discuss strategies of resistance to the model for globalisation formulated at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos by large multinational corporations, national governments, IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.” The first three WSF meetings have been held in Brazil.

The theme of the Tibetan participation at WSF is “Another World is Possible: Make Tibet a Zone of Peace.”

Among the Tibet-related events is a conference organized by the Egypt-based organization, Housing and Land Rights Network dealing with “Kurds, Palestinians, Tibetans… Peoples under Occupation or Foreign Domination.”

This conference will “discuss the common housing and land rights violations that the occupying states have been perpetrating, focusing on population transfer, land confiscation and property destruction.” It will include presentations by Kurdish (Mr. Nazmi Gur), Palestinian (Mr. Hamdi al-Khawaja), and Tibetan (Mr. Ngawang Drakmargyapon) representatives. The organizers hope that this conference will not only raise public awareness towards this issue, but also lead to more developed solidarity among these peoples.

Two Tibetan organizations, the Environment and Development Desk of the Tibetan Department of Information & International Relations and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy, are also organizing seminars and conferences on Tibet.

The EDD is organizing a seminar on “Tibet – towards a non-violent society” participated by four thinkers, scholars and practitioners of non-violence as a strategy for conflict resolution. They will address the need for a non-violent society both in political and socio-economic sense in a post conflict situation. The organizers hope to create awareness about the Tibet issue and the benefits of making Tibet an example of a model of alternative approach.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy will hold a Conference on Human Rights Situation in Tibet 2003 dealing with 1) Civil and political rights of the Tibetan people, and 2) Economic, Social and Cultural rights of the Tibetan people. There will be ex-political prisoners who will share their testimony and videos relating to the topic will be screened.

According to WSF, Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi and Joseph Stiglitz, Mary Robinson and French farm-union leader Jose Bove are among those who have confirmed their participation. Indian speakers include Marxist thinker Prabhat Patnaik, peasant economist Utsa Patnaik, social activist Medha Patkar, women’s leader Brinda Karat, journalist P. Sainath, right to information activist Aruna Roy, actress Shabana Azmi and historian Tanika Sarkar.

WSF said more than 75,000 people are expected to gather for the five day event. The forum will feature at least 1,200 seminars, in addition to large public conferences and meetings that will be attended by upto 20,000 people.