Where is the community at ICAAP?
Reports from ICAAP-10 say that the community presence at the congress is very thin. How many years, how many congresses and it is still a congress of predominantly of those speaking 'on behalf' of and not the real voices? This raises many questions that are specific to ICAAP 10 and more broadly to the policy makers of this sector itself.
From the word go, we did not see any proactive effort from the organising committee towards facilitating larger community participation.
Everyone knows that most governments and even airlines are unsympathetic to the marginalised communities. How many more experiences of visa denial, deportation, denial of entry into �aircrafts, etc. are required for us to know that every single institution, government or otherwise has inbuilt biases against marginalised communities and they create hurdles at every single step?
This requires neither great intelligence nor much common sense to understand that the logistical implication of this is to ensure that community papers, presentations, posters, scholarships, etc. are finalised well in advance, and the complete list be provided to the the visa authorities of the host country and lobby specifically for those number of visas to be issued.
Was that even in the horizon of the ICAAP 10 organisers?! There is no evidence to say that.
Shantivardhan, community member and General Secretary of the state network of MSM, Navatejam, in Andhra Pradesh, India, had his poster accepted and was granted a scholarship to attend but received all the documents for his visa application only in August.
And the South Korean Embassy rather than deny him visa, after non-communication for days, benevolently called him for an interview for visa on August 29th �the last day of the congress!
Shantivardhanan's case is not an exception but the rule!
Though visa's were issues at the very last minute, the entire contingency from the North Eastern states of India were made to appear for personal interview before being granted visa!
Why? Are they from some other planet that they need individual screening? And the ICAAP organiser's response?
We are not responsible for visa and it is the individual's responsibility.
It is common knowledge that the Govt. of South Korea distanced itself from ICAAP 10 and has shown no interest in the event or the cause.
This begs three questions:
If the host government is not keen on the event, then why hold it in that country?
If the ICAAP organisers are not proactive to community participation, who should be?
If there are no communities, why ICAAP?
For a congress that talks of 'Different Voices, United Action', where is even the basic voice?!
Probably time to rethink these events and use that energy and those resources for something far more useful such as strengthening in-country community networks so that they can galvanize 'Genuine Voices, Genuine Actions'!
CEO, Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices