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Women's Voices at WTO

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  • max ediger
    WOMEN S PEACEFUL VOICES OF RESISTANCE Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) - [ 13 ¸.¤. 48, 12:33 ¹. ] As the men in black suits gather
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 19, 2005
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      WOMEN'S PEACEFUL VOICES OF RESISTANCE
      Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) - [ 13 ¸.¤.
      48,
      12:33 ¹. ]
      As the men in black suits gather today inside the cloistered Hong Kong
      convention centre to discuss deals on how to protect their businesses
      and
      those of the transnational corporations, we, women from the Asian
      region
      join the thousands of people who are out on the streets to march in
      protest
      against the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

      We, women from different communities all over the region – peasants,
      fisherfolk, Dalits, indigenous peoples, activists, human rights lawyers
      –
      have come here not to cause violence, but to expose the violence caused
      by
      unjust and anti-people trade policies by the World Trade Organisation
      (WTO).
      And the violence carried out by those who protect these policies for
      their
      own profits and interests.


      Among us here in Hong Kong from 13-18 December are women who are
      courageously asserting their rights and seeking for change in their
      local
      communities against these powers that be, and have been the subjects of
      state violence. Carmen Buena – a filipina peasant woman leader of a
      national
      peasant women organisation, AMIHAN, who is currently living under fear
      for
      her security and her life, as several of her comrades have been killed
      and
      made to disappear by the Philippine Arroyo government. The crime that
      they
      have committed is their continuous struggle for their land rights and
      against the liberalizing policies of the government.

      With us is an Indonesian peasant woman who has been arrested by the
      police
      for her strong commitment in fighting for their local seeds against
      transgenic cotton by Monsanto.


      Some of us are from the rural communities of Thailand who bring the
      voices
      of those who cannot join us here but are with us in the struggle. One
      of
      these women voices is those of Jintana, who have cases filed against
      her for
      leading protests against large commercial projects which will render
      the
      communities landless and foodless.

      Women workers from Hong Kong take valuable time off to be part of this
      women's resistance. While they face possible consequences from their
      employers, often arbitrary dismissal, the women workers expose the
      harsh
      conditions of contracted labour, unprotected by the non-minimum wage
      system
      in Hong Kong and exacerbated by the liberalization of services.

      Our voices would have been stronger and louder had our sisters from the
      rural communities of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan been allowed to join us
      here. But they have been denied visas, possibly considered as potential
      instigators of violence.


      The threat of violence and actual harassment have continued at the
      island
      border of Hong Kong. Three days ago, one of our members has been
      harassed at
      the immigration upon arrival here, questioned for 6 long hours on why
      she
      was coming here. Indonesian migrant women's workers here are being
      harassed
      for their continuing active demonstration of their opposition against
      the
      WTO.

      Who is then violent? Who then are the real causes of violence?

      In the last few days that we were here, we have been often asked by the
      media and even by the local people here – are you a peaceful group, or
      will
      you be causing trouble and violence? But now that the Ministerial
      Meeting
      has officially opened, that question should be directed towards the men
      in
      black suit – how much trouble are you still planning to create; how
      much
      lives are you still willing to sacrifice to pursue your profit-oriented
      agenda?


      These political killings, harassments and intimidations are meant to
      protect
      the corporate interests both by the governments and the transnational
      corporations. They are meant to silence voices of dissent, even as this
      dissent is expressed in peaceful means. The systematic negative
      portrayal of
      the anti-WTO protesters as violent and trouble-makers in Hong Kong
      media is
      meant to divide the Hong Kong people and us. But our issues are the
      same,
      our struggles are shared, our enemy is one.

      The women's voices will not be silenced. In the next four days, as the
      men
      in black suits do their horse trading, which will not be of any good to
      us
      or to our communities, we will raise our voices to expose the trouble
      and
      the violence that these unjust and anti-people trade policies have
      brought
      into the lives of the rural communities in the last 10 years of the
      WTO's
      existence.


      Don't globalise hunger! Assert women's rights to food and land!

      Women say no to WTO!

      Visit my web page at http://daga.dhs.org/max

      “You don't make peace by talking to your friends; you have to make peace with your enemies.” Nelson Mandela

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