WTO ministerial begins amid protests

2005-12-13 00:00:00

As the march from Victoria Park reached the Wan Chai cargo area next to the Convention Centre, around 75 Korean farmers jumped into the sea and attempted to swim to the Convention Centre before being picked by up the coast guard. They were cheered by the colorful and noisy crowd. Clearly over-reacting, the Hong Kong police immediately cordoned off the streets surrounding the convention centre and the entry to the bay area.

Hundreds of police officials in riot gear moved menacingly towards the protestors – inducing a scuffle between the two groups. Activists attempting to present flowers to the police were roughly pushed aside. The Korean farmers were visibly agitated by the escalation of events.

‘This is sending a wrong signal for democratic protests in Hong Kong.
The police should be more sensitive to peoples concerns and allow them to express their views, said Sajida Ally of the Asian Migrants Centre, based in Hong Kong.

As WTO Director General Pascal Lamy began his address, the views of those outside were reiterated by a small but vocal group of activists who unfurled a banner that read ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’.

Interestingly their demands were echoed earlier by developing country delegations as well in an Open Forum on the G20 co-organised by the Indonesian Peasants Union and Focus on the Global South. The Brazilian Minister for Agrarian Reform Miguel Rossetto and senior Indian negotiator Gopal Pillai agreed that given the way things were moving on the negotiations they preferred a no-deal at Hong Kong.

Source: Focus on the Global South http://www.focusweb.org/