Hong Kong court: 3 Anti-WTO protestors remained charged, 11 released. Millions of farmers prisoners of the WTO policies
(Hong Kong/Jakarta) La Via Campesina welcomes the release of 11 anti-WTO protestors today by the Kwun Tong Court in Hong Kong. However two members of the Korean Peasants League and one member of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are still charged with unlawful and unrightful assembly following the December 17 protest organised by La Via Campesina against the WTO Ministerial Conference (1).
In the past two days, solidarity actions in front of the Chinese Embassies and Consulates asking the Hong Kong authorities to drop all charges against the 14 have been organised in at least 19 countries around the globe by various groups(2).
La Via Campesina ask that all charges against all protestors are droped immediately. We believe that the 3 protestors still charged represent millions of farmers around the world, all of them prisoners of the WTO policies. The deal reached in Hong Kong in December by the WTO once again demonstrated the lack of democracy, legitimacy and transparency of this institution. It has failed to address the needs of the world’s people. Farmers and workers don’t want free trade, they want better lives. But free trade is the only thing that WTO has to offer. The neoliberal policies of the WTO cause further misery and unemployment, and increase the expulsion and migration of peasants, farmers and fisher folks from their homes.
The Hong Kong declaration allows the continuation of the liberalisation of agricultural markets and takes the first steps to open the markets of services and non- agricultural products in developing countries for the benefit of transnational corporations. The “development package” offered to the poorest countries has turned out to be an empty promise. In agriculture, what the South got in return was mainly a date – 2013- for the final phase-out of “export subsidies”. These “export subsidies” only play a minor role as far as dumping is concerned and probably will be replaced by other forms of support that perpetuate dumping. But other rich countries’ subsidies that indirectly support export and cause dumping remain basically untouched, which creates dumping.
During the WTO conference, resistance by a large majority of governments from the developing countries almost brought the Hong Kong talks to collapse. But representatives of developing nations eventually pressured and bullied into acquiescence against the best interests of their people. At the last minute the U.S. and EU, supported by the Brazilian and Indian governments, imposed a final text.
These governments are totally deaf to demands to address the problems of hunger, misery and exclusion, well-documented by multiple UN agencies over the past 10 years.
At the end of January, the WTO negotiators of the “main trading nations” will meet in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum to continue the discussion on how to impose their neo-liberal agenda. These governments are totally deaf to demands to address the problems of hunger.
La Via Campesina will keep campaigning for alternative agricultural policies – out of the WTO framework- until food sovereignty is achieved. Food sovereignty gives farmers the right to choose what to produce and how to produce, it also gives priority to family farms and local markets instead of agribusiness and mass consumption.
La Via Campesina movement is asking all social movement and civil society organisations around the world to strenghten the the mobilisation against the WTO and for the complete release of all the Hong Kong protestors.
For more information In Jakarta:
Henry Saragih + 628163144441
International coordinator of La Via Campesina
In Hong Kong:
Tejo Pramono +85267111266
Thechnical staff – International Operative secretariat of La Via Campesina
(1) Their names are M. YANG KYOUNG KYU from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and M. PARK IN HWAN and M. YOON IL KWON from the Korean Peasants League. The Korean Peasants League is a member organisation of la Via Campesina. Unless all charges are dropped, the three will have to appear before the Hong Kong court in March. La Via Campesina is a peasants’ movement gathering millions of farmers around the world.
(2)There have been actions in Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Japan, The Philippines, Bangladesh, Spain, Belgium, Germany, USA, Switzerland, Australia, Austria, New Zealand and Hungary. (Information and pictures are available on www.viacampesina.org).