(Hong Kong) Last night, December 17, three thousand unarmed farmers and their allies participated in La Via Campesina-organized march against the WTO. We were stopped by the Hong Kong riot police as we attempted to open the gates of isolation behind which WTO Trade negotiators are deciding our fate. The march was halted by violent repression by the Hong Kong police, injuring many. Consequently, more than one thousand farmers occupied the streets and were completely surrounded by the police.
· More than 500 peasant farmers of La Via Campesina have been detained.
· Among the detainees are La Via Campesina leaders, and leaders and members of La Via Campesina organizations from Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, and France.
· They remain detained without food or water.
· 70 people were injured, 2 seriously.
· La Via Campesina is an international farmers’ movement that is peaceful and non-violent. The purpose of yesterday’s demonstrations was to go to the WTO negotiators to deliver our message of despare and difficult conditions of our lives. As a response, they sent the police. The only weapon we brought to the march was our body.
· We hold Pascal Lamy directly responsible for this ATTACK against our rights and liberties. The WTO wages institutional violence on farmers. Its policies cause daily death and destruction in our rural communities all over the world.
· Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, the WTO 6th ministerial is yet another disaster.
· We thank the people of Hong Kong for their patience, support, and solidarity.
La Via Campesina demands :
1. The immediate public and unconditional release of those who are immorally detained.
2. Freedom of movement guaranteed to all peaceful protestors.
3. We reaffirm our right to continue to be farmers and produce the food that the world needs to survive.
4. We demand the end of all WTO negotiations.
International Coordinating Committee, La Via Campesina
For More Information: Diamantino Nhamposa +9305 8035 (or 6055 0450)