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Mass protests meet WTO in Hong Kong

Notts IMC | 14.12.2005 16:18 | WTO Hong Kong 2005 | Globalisation | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | World

The 6th Ministerial Conference of the WTO has been taking place from December 13th through 18th in Hong Kong. Negotiations have been continuing on key controversial issues such as agriculture, services, and market access for industrial goods and natural resources. The meeting hoped to shape the final agreement of the Doha Development Agenda, which members hope to complete next year.

The nations agreed to cut the agricultural subsidies by the end of 2013, and terminate any cotton subsidies by the end of 2006. This breakthrough is considered to be small but essential for the trading negotiation to be completed by the end of 2006.

The Ministerial Declaration text can be found here. BRIDGES Last Issue of Daily Report is available now from ICTSD, on HK WTO MC6. Click: PDF | HTML
For more news on the draft agreements, visit Focus on Global South or Trade Observatory.

What is wrong with the WTO?

The protest of this conference turned out to be the closest protest to the venue of the conference in the WTO history, the police were forced to use tear gas to prevent the protester forced their way into the venue of WTO, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. An estimated 10,000 protesters were present in Hong Kong during the meeting and the areas around the convention center, where the meetings took place were barricaded from 6pm on December 12. During the last days of the summit, the police arrested more than 1000 people, many of whom reported police brutality and ill-treatment of prisoners. Read the dispatches for more info.

>>> Latest news: (and more from outside and inside the WTO negotiations).

Tuesday December 20th:
(i) A South Korean vice foreign minister flew to Hong Kong on Monday to try to negotiate the release of hundreds of his countrymen arrested during anti-free trade demonstrations.
(ii) There are still several (numbers unconfirmed as of now) WTO protest detainees from Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe whose status remain in question. If you have any more specific information about these people, please contact legal support at 2831-9837.
(iii) There is a rally outside the Kwuntong Courthouse to support the fourteen WTO protesters who are being charged with 'Unlawful Assembly'. Their next hearing is set for Friday. Protesters in solidarity with the incarcerated continue to hunger strike and camp outside the courthouse until the remaining detainees are released.
(iv) Confirmed: ALL Thai, Indonesian and Koreans currently incarcerated will be released by late tonight, except for eleven Korean nationals who are being taken to court.

13th: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
14th: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
15th: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
16th: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
17th: 1 | 2 | 3
18th/19th: Photogallery
Also: Photo collage | Image Pool | View Slideshow
Video: Protests on the 15th: 1 | 2 | 3 | Protesters enter conference centre [download].
Video websites: 1 | 2 | 3 | videoblog
Audio: G-20 Challenges WTO in Official Meeting | Hong Kong New Media and Social Transformation Conference | WTO and biodiversity: interview with Simone Lovera (Friends of the Earth) | Openings speech by Pascal Lamy, Director General of the WTO
Radio: People's Radio Hong Kong | Media Culture Action | Real World Radio | Forum de Radios

Solidarity actions: Paris | Reading (Read report) | Germany (Berlin) | Portland (US) | New Delhi | Lahore, Pakistan | Online demonstration | New Zealand

From UK Indymedia newswire: Take Action: 100's of protesters still detained in Hong Kong | Stop the WTO Negotiations! Save Jobs! | Kong Yee Sai Mau (No to WTO): The Battle of Hong Kong | Police brutality and inhumane treatment of prisoners at WTO summit in Hong Kong | NO-WTO! REPORT OF READING SOLIDARITY DEMO | Migrant Workers Strike against Poverty Wages and WTO | Inspiring photos from the WTO summit in Hong Kong | Fisherfolks Murdered By Drowning, Suspect 6th WTO | pics from the WTO Hong Kong | Insurgent Zombies Occupy Paris Supermarket in WTO Protest | NO-WTO: DEMO SAT 17TH DEC, READING | WTO Protests – You Cannot Speak If You Wear Too Little | WTO - HK05 - Images of Resistance | WTO Protests in Hong Kong - Day One report | Report on the WTO Conference Day One Protect Actions | A list of sites with news on the WTO protests. (with links) | anti wto HK site | Philipinos protest WTO | KONG YEE SAI MAU! - Protest against the WTO! | Peaceful direct action violently oppressed by HK media | Free Trade Endangers Jobs Worldwide

Dispatches from Hong Kong
Dispatch 1: As The Tide Rushes In: Four Days Before the WTO in Hong Kong
Dispatch 2: Raids Target Migrant Workers as WTO Summit Nears
Dispatch 3: WTO 6, Day 1: Just The Beginning
Dispatch 4: WTO MC6, Day 2: Face-Off at the Barricades, Stand-Off at the Summit
Dispatch 5: Celebrating Resistance Art and Culture at the Peoples Camp
Dispatch 6: Hear the Silent Majority Speak!
Dispatch 7: “Toxic Hotspot” - Kerala Activist Challenges Industrial Pollution Exacerbated by Intensive Globalisation and WTO
Dispatch 8: Low Wage Workers and Migrants Lead Opposition to GATS and Imperialism
Dispatch 9: Farmers Procession Sways Hearts and Minds at WTO Protests in Hong Kong
Dispatch 10: Hong Kongers hunger strike in support of Korean farmers against the WTO
Dispatch 11: Respect the Rights and Dignity of Our People!
Dispatch 12: WTO Indicted for Crimes Against Humanity at Rural Peoples Tribunal
Dispatch 13: WTO Out of Agriculture !
Dispatch 14: WTO MC6, Hong Kong, Day 4: “We’re Hungry. We’re Angry.”
Dispatch 15: Agricultural Workers of the World Unite!
Dispatch 16: Asian Farmers Condemn TRIPS as One of the Worst Agreements this Century
Dispatch 17: Rice Farmers Want WTO Out Of Agriculture!
Dispatch 18: Why We Do This: One Story from the WTO Protests in Hong Kong, December 17
Dispatch 19: A statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about police brutality.
Dispatch 20: Release Those Fighting to Save their Livelihoods from the WTO!
Dispatch 21: WTO FIASCO: Lamp Spins Deception Deal at Hong Kong
Dispatch 22: La Via Campesina Delcaration on Farmers Protest March
Dispatch 23: DRAFT Timeline of Events, Dec 17th - 18th 2005 Hong Kong WTO
Dispatch 24: Target: WTO condemns Police Brutality - Drop Charges NOW!
Dispatch 24: Kong Yee Sai Mau: The Battle of Hong Kong
Dispatch 25: Focus: Off the Hong Kong road and back on the streets Number 10, 19 December 2005
Dispatch 26: “The Struggle Continues: Protesting Around the Clock” – Report from Dec 17/18 Battle for Hong Kong
Dispatch 27: Human Rights Abuse by Police on WTO peaceful occupiers
View more dispatches here.

More links: No WTO Hong Kong Wiki | People's caravan aims for WTO and Hong Kong | Direct Action Against the WTO | Go Media (videos) | People's Radio Hong Kong | article | Stop the New Round Coalition | Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO | Transnational Institute: Beyond the WTO | Global Exchange's WTO Page | International Forum on Globalization | Peoples Global Action | Global Issues article | SEATINI - WTO and Africa | Media Culture Action (South Korea) | Stop WTO Video Blog | Hong Kong Independent Media | Vatican Releases Guidelines for WTO Summit

Monday December 19th:
(i) Some protesters have been released, but Korean activists are still being held. The first bus of 150 Korean women who are reportedly "released" has finally left the courthouse. Police say they’re taking them back to the camp they’ve been staying at. However, people are worried that the women might actually being taken to the airport to be deported. People are worried about what condition they are in.
(ii) 700-800 protesters (primarily Korean and Southeastern nationals) are still detained. Seventy-two imprisoned activists have declared a hunger strike inside the Kwuntong Jail.
(iii) Fifty activists and lawyers are visiting the 200-plus protesters who are still detained at the San Uk Ling Immigration Centre. Although more than 200 are inside, only the names of 40 are known. Legal Team: 28319827 (HK).
(iv) The 150 Korean women who were reportedly released last night have been released and were not deported. Some protesters have been released, but Korean activists are still being held.
(v) Back in the UK, in Reading, around 20-30 anti-capitalists, environmentalists, students and others marched to Starbucks to make a free cafe and anti-World Trade Organisation demonstration in the town centre. Read article.
(vi) As prisoners have started to be released, like 155 released women early in the morning of 19th, many are bearing witness of police brutality and inhuman treatment. Read the statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and see the video. There is also a video of the pressconference.

Sunday December 18th:
(i)The police have started arresting the 1000 protestors held in the area of Wanchai. The arrests will continue throughout the morning.
(ii) All of our sources say that almost all of the people who were arrested early this morning are still waiting to be arraigned. According to a lawyer, as of now the charges they are facing are still unclear and may involve jail time and/or deportation for foreigners. Many of the detainees are Korean and some are Southeast Asian, and police are not providing them with information in the languagues they speak. In addition, police are not allowing interpreters to see the prisoners.
(iii) A rally is being held at the protest zone. See video. All the Hong Kong activists have now been released with $1,000 HKD bails. A march will leave from there heading for Kwuntong - where the incarcerated activists are being held. Activists will be running a relay hunder strike and camping outside of the detention facility, to demonstrate their solidarity with the Korean farmers and others who were arrested last night.
(iv) A crowd of 7,000 people took part in the march to mark the end of a week of anti-WTO Protests. Read article. There was a strong contingent of migrant workers, and lots of locals. At the conclusion of the march 200 Koreans and some of their local supporters sat down right outside a fence on the periphery of the legitimized protest zone. Later on a crowd of 400 people gathered.
(v) Fifteen people - mostly Hong Kong activists - are gathered outside the Kwuntong jail in solidarity with those locked up, drumming with the hope that the activists who are inside will be able to hear them.
(vi) Outside the Kwuntung jail nearly 20 people are still banging on the police barricades and otherwise being rowdy and cheerful as they continue to demonstrate their support for the WTO protesters who are in detention. Some police are setting up in the area with riot shields, and the police presence continues to grow.
(vii) 40-50 people are gathering outside the Kwungtung courthouse. See video. One woman announced that contrary to maintream news reports, no one really knows what is going on with the legal statuses of the prisoners. Some activists fear that police hold special antipathy for the male Korean protesters and will retaliate on them.

Saturday December 17th:
(i) Pakistan's Commerce Minister and facilitator Humayun Akhtar Khan has stated "no breakdowns or breakthroughs" had occurred during the WTO talks, although with news circulating that no new agreement may be signed, the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) are now preparing for a "celebratory mass action" tomorrow.
(ii) Big protests are expected, reports say people are confronted with a large police presence. The police are using a lot of pepperspray and rubber bullets to try and disperse people.
(iii) Hong Kong Police stopped the protest from approaching the conference center. Teargas and rubber-bullets are used. Some of the protesters are injured. 900 people are besieged in Wanchai near the conference center. Some protestors are charging police lines using metal barricades. No-one has been arrested so far.
(iv) It has been reported that hundreds of protesters from South Korean farmers' groups, have managed to brake through police lines, although were prevented from actually getting inside. Fifty riot police rushed inside the building. They are not allowing anyone out. Smoke could be seen rising from an area near the convention center and policemen could be seen preparing to use tear gas. Read article.
(v) Hong Kong has today been the scene of some very serious clashes between protesters and police. Forty-one people are reported to have been injured in the clashes, five of them police.
(vi) Hong Kong riot police began arresting activists after announcing by loudspeaker to the 900 cordoned-off demonstrators that they were going to take everyone into custody. Latest video's can be seen here (click on 'live cast'). There is also a live stream.
(vii) Back in the UK, in Reading, around 20-30 anti-capitalists, environmentalists, students and others marched to Starbucks to make a free cafe and anti-World Trade Organisation demonstration in the town centre. Read article.

Friday December 16th:
(i) Hong Kongers go on hunger strike in support of Korean farmers against WTO, starting 11am at the Protest Zone outside Conference venue. Read Declaration of Hunger Strike.
(ii) A text message circulated by activists this morning said that a Filipino activist was detained at an airport at 10am as he tried to enter the country.
(iii) Fifty Korean trade unionists stormed the Korean and US consulates in Hong Kong, spraypainting on the outside wall of the US consulate "Down, down WTO" and "No Bush." Reportedly, the unionists got into a scuffle with police officers. No one was arrested.
(iv) Hundreds of woman take part in the Women’s March Against the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the intent of demonstrating that worldwide—and certainly in Asia—peasant and low-income women suffer the worst effects of poverty, insecurity and displacement caused by WTO policies. See photos.

Thursday December 15th:
(i) About 500 Korean peasants are making very slow progress towards the convention centre while marching three steps and then lowering to their knees and bowing their heads to the ground. See photos.
(ii) Thousands march through Hong Kong - see photos - see video: 1 | 2
(iii) Fisherfolks marched down the Victoria Harbour, exchanging petitions to delegates.
(iv) Low Wage Workers and Migrants took action as part of a "consulate hopping" protest opposing the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). See article.
(v) Women Peasants lead march and parade to Conference protest zone.
(vi) Cultural Solidarity display lights, dancing, songs and chants outside convention centre.

Wednesday December 14th:
(i) Police threatened to raid a place where Korean farmers are staying and camping.
(ii) Police violence continues on protestors who demand right to protest at the conference
(iii) Indonesia migrants go to Indonesia Consulate to protest against government neglect of its people.
(iv) Korean farmers take over a road to hold a candle vigil for Lee Kyung-hae who commited suicide at WTO protests in Cancun.
(v) Girl protesting gets arrested for wearing 'too little'. See article and videoshots

Updates Dec 13th:
(i) Migrants, Farmers, Poor People, and Allies try to break police barriers who use pepper spray on demonstrators. One group tried to get closer to the WTO delegates by swimming towards the conference centre.
(ii) Police have raided office of Indonesian migrants two days in a row. [listen to audio].

On Saturday, December 10, three days before the 6th Ministerial World Trade Organization summit, Hong Kong police raided the offices of the Indonesian Migrant Worker's Union (IMWU). Although no one was injured or taken away, activists see the raid as part of a general build-up of state repression on activists. In an interview, Revitriyoso, an Indonesian artist and organizer with Institute for Global Justice, speaks about the raid.

Conferences, cultural events, mass mobilizations, and direct actions are being planned for the dates between December 11th and 18th. Organizations that are mobilizing to protest the WTO meeting and corporate globalization, and to present alternative proposals, include peasants and small farmers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Korea. Events: A new media and social transformation conference and workshop will take place in early December. Global Exchange will bring a delegation/reality tour to Hong Kong and parts of China in December.

More video: From SWTOP:
Video Stream: March and Parade (A), Sun Dec 11
Video Stream: March and Parade (B), Sun Dec 11
Video Stream: Funeral at Conference Centre, Mon Dec 12
Video Stream: Day 1 MC6 - Rally, Protest, Direct Action, Tue Dec 13
Video Stream: Day 2 MC6 - Asian Rally and Candle Vigil, Wed Dec 14

Torrents: A collection of 20 videos from and has been posted as a single torrent to - [download].

More articles: Lamy's "Development Package" Lies Unfurled | Its Always Christmas for the Big Service Corporations! | Asia Pacific Peasant Women Denounce the WTO | A Swimming Lesson from the Koreans | Aid for Trade : Poor Washing Abounds at the Sixth WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong

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