Right to Food Campaign's anti-WTO Struggle: Organise or "bear the yoke of imperialist slavery" Print E-mail

From: Dr. Lenin
Coordinator, Right to Food Campaign, UP
SA 4/2 A, Daualtpur, Varanasi-221002, INDIA.

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Anti-WTO struggle in Hong Kong and Varanasi
By lighting the candles ministerial meeting of WTO in Hongkong was opposed
If people be united, never be defeated.
Junk... Junk.... WTO

The ministerial meeting of WTO beginning from 13 December in Hongkong was opposed by different organizations under the aegis of people's vigilance committee on Human Rights by lighting the candles in Azad Park at Lahurabir, Varanasi, UP and called for organized action against the WTO.

In public meeting, held on this occasion father Anand of Vishwa Jyoti communication center said that if people would not be organized against globalization and WTO then in that situation our country would be bound to bear the Yoke of imperialist slavery.

Siddique Hasan of forum on rights of weavers and artisans warned the commerce minister Sri Kamal Nath in the public meeting that Textile imports should not be allowed in the country. He said that if it was allowed then millions of weavers would loss their employment. Ms. Shruti told that symbolic funeral treatment of WTO was performed in Ganga River by activists belonging to human rights. She told that 30 meters long banner, signed by prominent persons of the city had been sent to commerce minister for not to go against the interest of poor weavers, artisans and peasants. Young activists of Prerna Kala manch sang a song 'Look my countrymen, American are coming' to make aware of the dangers of the policies of WTO and globalisation. At this occasion Bindu Singh, Surendra, Ranjeet, Vijay Bharti and other hundreds of activists participated in the programme.

Meanwhile on the call of Asian Human Rights Commission and Christian conference of Asia, Dr. Lenin of PVCHR went to Hongkong to join the hands of protestors of WTO. He took part in a protest procession and marched from Victoria park to SAR Government Headquarters on 11 Dec. 05. Nearly 200 people of faith communities and people's organizations, faith-based communities and social movements, representing organizations from 29 countries of the world gathered in Hong Kong and unanimously voiced against WTO.(Declaration is attached) On the same day he appeared before a press conference accompanied by Jane Kelsey (Professor of law at the University of Auckland,New Zealand), Ofelia Ortega (Professor of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cuba), Josef Widyatmadja (acting associate General Secretary of Christian Conference of Asia) and Rose Wu (Director, Hong Kong Christian Institute) and told to media persons gathered there that the Imperialistic Globalisation through the polices of WTO creating disastrous effect on Indian farmers, weavers and small scale producers directly and on poor and marginalized communities indirectly.

He told that 18 children had died in Raup village belonging to Ghasia Tribe. He told them that they were opposing Coca Cola Company within the country. He told them that 135 weavers and marginal workers had died of hunger in the country within two years and 20 thousand farmers had committed suicide in the country. He explained before media persons in Hong Kong extensively that if subsidies given to the Indian farmers were reduced and NAMA was introduced then conditions of the weavers, farmers and marginalized people would be further worsened.

He informed that one could approach www.antiwto.blogspot.com and http://www.petitiononline.com/antiwto to get detailed description about the plight of poor weavers and artisans.


Conference on Globalising Economic Justice and Social Sustainability December 9 , 2005 Hong Kong

We, 200 members of peple's organizations, faith-based communities and social movements, representing all continents of the world from 29 countries, who have met in Hong Kong from December 9 to 11, 2005, to assess and protest the impact of the policies of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the worldworld's poor and to make recommendations to address the hardships that the WTO has created, offer this statement:

From Seattle to Cancun to Hong Kong, people from around the world have gathered in North America, Latin America and Asia to resist the WTO and its policies that are anti-people, anti-environment, and anti-life.

 We celebrate the victory of movements which derailed the previous WTO rounds of talks.

 The policies that the WTO promotes and enforces are life-threatening to the world's poor. The suffering that results from implementing WTO trade rules, solely in capital's interest, angers us. The WTO engenders violence that consumes the lives of the poor as they struggle daily to survive.

 People's food sovereignty is being undermined by the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture (AOA). Agriculture, specifically food production, has become the monopoly of large corporations which, through the current negotiations, aim at further reducing protection to farmers through tariffs or subsidies, while the rich nations use protectionism for their agribusinesses.

Small farmers are affected most as they are being denied their identity, and they watch as their livelihoods are destroyed by agribusinesses and their land is given to large landowners and local elites, resulting in hunger and malnutrition in Asia and the rest of the world. Among the victims are women farmers and farm workers in India who are left with no choice but to leave their land and families and migrate to the cities to seek work. Korean farmers, as well as other farmers around the world, share a similar fate as fewer and fewer people can remain on the land. In fact, some are driven to commit suicide. We stand in solidarity with them in their fight for the right to choose how to lead their lives. Agriculture is the backbone of human history and is crucial for the survival of humankind. Moreover, agriculture is at the foundation of any culture - indeed, sustaining its existence - and the people, especially farmers and peasants, must be involved in any discussion about how their lives and culture develop.

 The WTO negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS, endangers the provision of public services necessary for everyday life. Affluent countries are pushing for access to poorer countries' markets for services. Public services will subsequently be vulnerable to privatisation that will surely increase their cost, putting them beyond the means of ordinary people in less developed countries.

Small farmers are affected most as they are being denied their identity, and they watch as their livelihoods are destroyed by agribusinesses and their land is given to large landowners and local elites, resulting in hunger and malnutrition in Asia and the rest of the world. Among the victims are women farmers and farm workers in India who are left with no choice but to leave their land and families and migrate to the cities to seek work. Korean farmers, as well as other farmers around the world, share a similar fate as fewer and fewer people can remain on the land. In fact, some are driven to commit suicide. We stand in solidarity with them in their fight for the right to choose how to lead their lives. Agriculture is the backbone of human history and is crucial for the survival of humankind. Moreover, agriculture is at the foundation of any culture - indeed, sustaining its existence - and the people, especially farmers and peasants, must be involved in any discussion about how their lives and culture develop.

 The WTO negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS, endangers the provision of public services necessary for everyday life. Affluent countries are pushing for access to poorer countries' markets for services. Public services will subsequently be vulnerable to privatisation that will surely increase their cost, putting them beyond the means of ordinary people in less developed countries.

 Privatisation will also lead to massive labour layoffs. In addition, we reject the increasing liberalisation of financial services, further destabilising the financial system as well as the increasing privatisation of pension schemes instead of promoting solidarity systems. It also degrades the service quality and exploits the grassroots.

 Furthermore, we reject Mode 4 of GATS that promotes the commodification of workers and does not take into account human rights, worker rights and the social cost of forced migration. As migrants are among the least protected people in society, they are among the most exposed to the exploitation of the WTO's policies implemented by exporting and importing countries.

Moreover, the demands for developing countries to lower their tariffs on manufactured goods under the proposed agreement on Non-agricultural Market Access (NAMA) removes one of the last remaining tools they have to create and protect their own industrial sector. In addition, the commodification of natural resources through NAMA undermines the values of the commons: integrity of creation, community, local wisdom and life. The costs of environmental degradation are not considered in trade negotiations and cannot be contained within state boundaries.

 Our discussions confirmed that our world today is characterised by human insecurity which manifests itself in poverty, war, the violation of people's human rights, gender inequality, displacement from land and a lack of jobs, health care, education and social services, resulting in fear, silence and a feeling of vulnerability, broken relationships and communities, religious animosities, forced migration and indifference and contempt for the law. Indeed, the WTO's policies and procedures further enslave people in poverty. In short, the basis of trade should be to improve human security.

 Unfortunately, those who make decisions within the WTO are removed from the people most directly affected by the outcome of their deliberations. We demand that our governments get out of the WTO and protect the interests of their people, not large corporations or business interests, for trade agreements must prioritise people's dignity and livelihood.

In the process, we are saddened by the human-made reality of poverty amidst immense wealth that is spreading throughout the world in spite of the WTO rhetoric that their policies aim to benefit the world's less developed countries and alleviate poverty. The testimonies we have heard from many corners of the world contradict this assertion.

For these reasons, we have no faith that the WTO, in its present form, can meet the aspirations of the people for a just and equitable distribution of wealth. We have even less faith that the agreements of the WTO will lead to economic justice and sustainable development for the world.

To reverse these trends, we as members of global civil society and people's movements call on our member governments to:

* Not compromise the nation's sovereignty
*Uphold the fulfillment of their human rights obligations they have made to the United Nations and international community and the delegates to the WTO to:
* Respect people's food sovereignty and terminate the current negotiations on agriculture and the production of food
* Cease the NAMA negotiations
* Cancel the negotiations on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) regarding seeds and medicine
* Conduct an assessment of the impact of WTO agreements in the past 10 years on the world's people, especially the poor, before entering into any further trade agreements
* Increase transparency and accountability in trade negotiations
* Dismantle the WTO as it continues to operate solely in capital's interest

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Message to the Faith Communities

We, 200 participants from 29 countries and different religious faiths, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, who have met at Wu Kai Sha, Hong Kong, from 9-10 December 2005 to protest the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and to work towards a vision on  "Globalising Economic Justice and Social Sustainability", address the following message to the faith communities of the world:

 We are meeting in Asia, the birth place of some of the world's great religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all originated here.

Despite the differences, faith communities hold fundamental values in common based on our belief in the Divine: the pursuit of truth and love, the assertion of equality of all human beings, respect for life and integrity of creation, the quest for peace and harmony, protecting the dignity of others, upholding justice and righteousness and compassion for those who suffer, who are poor and marginalized.

Members of all faiths are involved in building sustainable communities with the participation of all.

To us, as people of faith,  it is imperative that these values be reflected in the economic and political order of our societies.

Today these values are under assault by transnational corporations and governments in their comprehensive pursuit of profits and economic growth. Economic globalization promoted by the WTO destroys the economic basis of communities in many parts of the world and causes irreversible damage to the natural resources of our world. The liberalization of financial markets allows for the uncontrolled flow of capital in search of the greatest gain. Investment is taking place where labour is cheap, labour rights are suppressed and where laws on industrial health and safety are lacking or not being implemented. Privatization results often in a drastic worsening of employment conditions and deprives the poor of essential services such as water, health and education. Deregulation of the economy destroys local manufacturing industries, creates unemployment and drives farmers and indigenous people from their land.

Economic globalisation is anti-life, anti-people, anti-integrity of creation, anti-justice and anti-peace. Faith communities must say an unequivocal "No" to neo-liberalism and the WTO. It is sin to accept the proposition that there is no alternative to the present process of globalisation, in the form of market fundamentalism. The logic of globalisationleads to imperialist wars, conquest and plunder.

Motivated and sustained by faith we are committed to collaborate with people from different backgrounds to redress and transform the situation we face. Together, we must seek alternatives and work with social movements of resistance and transformation. Our aim is to establish a new social order based on ethics of the common good and ethics of care.

 We call on our faith communities to:
* Critically look at our complicity, and challenge our membership to dismantle the destructive structures within own institutions and to act as agents of transformation in a globalising context.

* Move towards sustainable systems that celebrate life, hope and liberation, connect with the healing power of land and foster positive consumer-producer relationships that go beyond the exchange of goods, and include the exchange of stories and wisdom. 

* Engage in educational processes and aid in the creation of popular materials that are appropriate to the local population and mindful of language and culture, in order to expose how our governments are exploiting people and natural resources in the guise of free trade and increased market opportunity.

 Through education and action we must hold our governments accountable.
* work together with civil society and people's movements and take proactive roles in strengthening community-based organisations
* create communities safeguarding rights of women, youth and children, and marginalized groups.
* recognize the importance of the role of youth in carrying the vision of faith communities
* uphold education as a right not a privilege and to orient it towards the needs and aspirations of communities rather than the market economy
* use our resources for peoples' livelihood and promote sustainable agriculture/alternative livelihood options and peoples' economy
* organize and participate in an interfaith round table conference during the World Social Forum, Nairobi 2007
* lobby our governments to get out of the WTO
* Support and create a human and earth centered economy for life and peace.

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Rally on 11 December 2005 (first protest against WTO in Hong Kong): Migrants in Hong Kong from Indonesia and other countries organized a huge rally against WTO on 11 December 2005.They began to make their gatherings at Victoria Park from 10 December 05.In the morning before the rally different faith communities performed their traditional worship against WTO. There were nearly four thousand people participated in rally in which there were representatives of student unions, trade unions, human rights groups, people's organization