Voices and Actions Against the New Round
by Lee, Chang-Geun(PICIS, firstname.lastname@example.org)
It has not been long since the progressive sector of Korea have started paying the attention needed towards international financial institutions, trans-national corporations and the efforts and struggles against them. It was only after the IMF crisis 2 years ago that the trade unions and intellectuals turned their sights upon the global effects of neo-liberalism and the ways to counteract those effects on a global scale. However, through the introduction of foreign struggles, movements, and actions to the Korean progressive sector, active action has been organized on several different levels for the WTO New Round.
There is considerable attention being focused on the possibilities of international solidarity and the current movements for international solidarity. There is also increasing support for this strategy among the progressive sector of Korea. The formation of the Korean People’s Action Against Investment Treaties and the WTO New Round (KoPA), with over 30 progressive organization actively participating in it, is a sign of the attention being given to the international financial institutions and their policies. KoPA is not a short term arrangement. It will continue to act after the New Round. KoPA has held many workshops, seminars, and discussion sessions during the road to the New Round, sent a delegation comprised of representatives from the Korean people’s movement, and organized demonstrations, actions and rallies in Korea against the New Round, in solidarity with the actions abroad. We also showed films dealing with struggles against neo-liberal re-structuring at the Seoul Labor Film Festival and the Seoul Human Rights Film Festival.
On the 27th of November, KoPA organized a rally in solidarity with various other progressive groups and organizations. One of the speakers at the rally remarked, “We need to take a long, hard look at the results that the IMF restructuring has brought to the workers and the people of Korea. It is obvious that it has brought immeasurable misery, despair, and a general decrease in our standards of living. We realize that the negotiations in Seattle will further the restructuring, deregulation, privatization, and liberalization that the IMF has brought to us. Our only course of action is to oppose it.” On the 30th, in accordance with the international day of action, KoPA staged a demonstration in front of the government buildings in down-town Seoul.
A central committee member of the National Farmers Association cried out that, “the Uruguay Round has been the source of countless tears and bloodshed by farmers, the WTO New Round is a matter of life and death to the farmers!” Also on the 30th, the Seoul Human Rights Film Festival Organizing Committee acted in solidarity with the international day of action, showing 3 films on the effects that the WTO, IMF, and neo-liberal globalization has had on the people of the world. After the films, there was session in which the agendas scheduled to be discussed at the New Round and the effects that the results of the talks would have on the people of Korea and the world were explained and criticized. One of the speakers said “the Korean government has tried to persuade the people that there is more that can be earned through these talks than there is to lose. However, we have seen through the films and our own experience that this is not true. The talks in Seattle can only bring further destruction of our universal human rights and the universal human rights of the people of the world.”
KoPA is currently keeping the people in Korea up to date on the actions against the WTO New Round in Seattle, as well as the rest of the world. We believe that this is only the beginning of the work to be done in Korea. We have been greatly encouraged by the support we have received from the people as well as the progressive organizations. We are receiving news from Seattle of the demonstrations, and are greatly motivated and moved by them. Our struggle is your struggle! Power to the People!
Source: PICIS Newsletter/ 1999.12.20
We support strongly the argument that Agreements on sectors essential to the people including Agriculture, Education, Health, Culture, and Drinking, water must be taken out of the WTO. Even though we don’t think that it is no alternative to the WTO, we believe that it can pave the way for our future struggles against globalization and the WTO.
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