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Anti-WTO activists take the plunge

By David Challenger



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World Trade Organization (WTO)
Hong Kong
International Trade

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- People from all around the world have gathered in Hong Kong to protest against policies of the World Trade Organization. But just what drives these people to make such a big commitment?

Dominic, 25, an applied chemistry student from Dhaka, Bangladesh:

We have come here to express Bangladesh solidarity against the WTO's education policies. Education is our fundamental right, and the WTO's push for privatization of the education sector will hurt students.

Jung Ku-Woo, a pig farmer from southern South Korea:

I am here to show solidarity with South Korea's rice farmers, who don't receive government subsidies like rich European and American farmers.

Tushar Rehman, 46, from Dhaka. Works with Global Call to Action Against Poverty:

We are a poor country but we are trying to fight the policies of the WTO, who support rich countries. The WTO should be for all people, regardless of poverty or wealth.

Yeh Song-Lee, 24, from Seoul, South Korea. Works for the Korean Democratic Labor Party:

WTO represents free trade and neo-liberalism, which essentially means privatization as it opens up services like food, agriculture and the industry of goods. But these polices don't care about real people's lives -- the people behind these industries. The WTO just thinks about its profits, which mostly benefit rich capitalists. This makes me angry, so I'm here to protest against that.

Doowgii, 30, a researcher for Women's Village from Ulan Bator, Mongolia:

In Mongolia, people live in great poverty. Some statistics say 90 percent of the country's population is living beneath the poverty line. During the last 10 years, people's lives have become more difficult. This is because our government's economic policies have been shaped by WTO policies.

Ntando, 35, from Zimbabwe. Works for Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development:

We are campaigning for debt cancellation and fair trade. We are angry and disappointed that our farmers are getting poorer due to European Union and U.S. subsidies that are distorting international prices for cotton. So we are here first to fight for the removal of export subsidies to rich nations, and second to fight for a better world where people come before profits.

Eleanor Deguzaman, 26, from Manila, Philippines. Works for Sons and Daughters of the People:

The WTO in general is causing mass problems for poor people. It is intensifying problems for the youth in particular through its desire to privatize education. Education should not be included in any agreement in trade and services, and should remain a basic right for all. The WTO wants big business to run the education sector, which is contrary to the principle of education being a basic right for the people.

Aliyah Brunnir, 27, from Istanbul, Turkey. Works for the International League of the People's Struggle:

We think that the WTO is the main instigator of privatization of economies and we wanted to show people from Turkey share the concerns of other economically struggling nations.

Anju, 28, from Mauritius. Works for a shipping company:

We are here to stand with other nations to show how angry we are against the WTO. Its policies on agriculture are hurting my country's farmers and its youth.

Chrimme, 29, from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Works with non-governmental organizations:

The WTO makes the lives of Cambodia much worse due to their unfair trade policies. I want to protest these unfair practices, which hurt my country.

Glyziel Gotiangco, 24, from Manila. Works for International League of the People's Struggle Youth Study Commission:

I'm here to join the peoples of the world to oppose the unjust policies of the WTO, which brings suffering to poor people.

Leung "Long Hair" Kwok-hung, a Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator:

I'm representing myself and the April 5 Action Group, as I'm totally against the privatization policies of the WTO. So we come here in support of those activists from countries who suffer under WTO policies.

Name withheld (female), 26, a sex worker activist from Taipei, Taiwan:

The WTO is hypocritical. It says it's for fair trade, but it's really all about being fair to capitalists, not the poor. Some people say it's men who exploit sex workers, but a bigger problem is the way WTO policies contribute to massive poverty among women. This leads many women to a life of prostitution. But the government won't recognize the rights of prostitutes, even though it embraces WTO policies that helped make those women prostitutes in the first place.

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