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Re: [justpeaceinasia] a short question.

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  • max ediger
    Jae, Goldy and all other Justpeace friends: Good to hear from you after a long time. How is your work going? I[ m sure you continue to be very busy but would
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 20 5:24 PM
      Jae, Goldy and all other Justpeace friends:
      Good to hear from you after a long time.  How is your work going?  I['m sure you continue to be very busy but would encourage you to share with Justpeace what you are doing now.
      Concerning the demonstrations, I can say it was a very exciting time and I will try to share some of the thoughts and reflections now going through my head. 
      I have once again experienced how misleading and manipulative the media can be.  Prior to the WTO meeting it was known that about 1,000 Korean farmers, fisherfolk and NGO people would be coming.  Our press was filled with stories of their "violent" tactics in Korea and other places.  The police were preparing for the worst and expecting much violence.  So the HK people were quite afraid of the Korean delegations. 
      Over the next few days we saw a tremendous transformation of the people in HK.  The Korean groups were extremely well organized and disciplined.  For example, during protests, they always cleaned up all the discarded paper, signs etc themselves.  When they confronted the police and managed to take some of the shields etc from the police, they always gave them back and shook hands.  When they ate, they separated the organic material from paper, glass and metal and then some of their group picked this all up and discarded it properly.  While the media never really reported on this, the HK people observed it and were talking about it. 
      Also, the Korean farmers spent a lot of time talking to the HK people through interpreters and this was the first time HK people really begin to learn about the plight of the poor under WTO policies.  It wasn't long before people were offering the Koreans food, water etc, and when we marched (I marched alongside some of the Koreans to see the response) HK people lined the streets in huge numbers and cheered them on.  The Koreans, of course, always had drums, songs and dance which brought much color to the protests.  I saw one paper a group of HK people wrote for distribution to the Koreans that said something like,  "Thank you for coming to Hong Kong.  You have brought us your energy, your music, your dance and your passion.  We deeply admire you.  And now we begin to understand your issues.  We stand with you."
      The media always focused mostly on the Koreans because they were colorful and so creative in their protest styles.  They were determined but polite at all times.  But they were also committed to having their voices heard by the WTO.  As we were always kept a great distance from the WTO meeting site it was impossible for delegates to hear our voices or read our signs.  Also WTO delegates had little interest in us and on several occasions were quoted as saying, "We (WTO) are interested in profits, not people."  So the frustration of all protesters was growing.
      Saturday was the last day the Korean groups were to be in HK and they said that on that day they would escalate their protest because the WTO was still ignoring the people.  So, on that day they broke through police lines and tried to get up to the doors of the WTO meeting site.  The police, of course, were ordered to prevent this so the situation escalated.  Again the media focused only on the "violent" tactics but ignored the thousands of other protesters who were singing, dancing, shouting slogans, jumping into the harbor, etc.   So on the news it looks like there were huge violent demonstrations.  In fact, the protests were relatively non-violent (depending on how one defines violence I guess).
      In the end, the police blocked off a large group of protesters a short distance from the WTO meeting site.  The WTO delegates, still unwilling to hear or see were taken out of the building at the end of their meeting through the back door to boats.  So they still could carry on their work without having to hear the concerns of the people.  I think democracy died a little bit more during this week of WTO meetings.
      Finally, about 900 people were detained.  This included about 100 Thai farmers, Japanese and some other nationalities.  The largest group, of course, were the Koreans as they came in quite large numbers.  They were hauled off for detention, but the HK police were not prepared for this so could not process them quickly or easily.  Again many people in HK rallied around them although there are also those who were very critical, especially those with businesses along the protest routes.  They lost business during the week, not so much because of the more aggressive tactics of demonstrators, but simply because the protests were quite large and thousands of people lined the streets to watch and cheer.  So it was difficult to carry on business as usual.
      Now all demonstrators have been released except about 14 I think who are considered the leaders.  Most are Korean but there is also a Japanese, a Chinese and perhaps one or two other nationalities.  They will be tried on Friday and if found guilty will be banned from returning to HK.
      So, now the question we all are looking at is, what truly is violence.  The media ofcouse like to focus on the confrontations between small groups of protesters and police while ignoring everything else, giving the impression that this was all a violent protest.  At the same time, they ignored the terrible violence of the WTO and its policies that are destroying the lives of many millions of people around the world. 
      Why did the media focus only on the confrontations and ignore the really excellent speaches given by farmers, factory workers, and other activists from around the world?  Some of these speeches were really excellent and laid out the issues in a very articulate way.  If the media would have focused on that, perhaps the frustration levels would not have boiled over.  If the WTO delegates would have indicated a sincere intgerest in hearing the issues and trying to bring those issues into their discussions, things would have been different.  But with blind and deaf WTO delegates and a media that only wanted to see some action, it was almost inevitable that the confrontation would grow.  I am not saying that the confrontation was good or right, but trying to articulate that the entire issue can't be approached so simiplistically.  There are too many other elements involved and too many other forms of violence.  We need to seek out roots and try to deal with that.  I do think that as long as the WTO exists and functions as thought they have a right to manipulate the lives of the people, strong responses will happen.  The violence of the WTO needs to be addressed.
      Well, that's a long answers.  I would just say that in the end, a very large number of HK people developed a high respect for the Korean protesters and offered them much support.  At the same time there are those who loudly criticize them, but these same people also are criticizing all the other protest groups - even those who remained very peaceful such as the hunger strikers. 
      HK is, I believe, a much more aware place now because of the Korean farmers.  I was really inspired to see small groups of Korean farmers sitting with HK people out in the park talking about agriculture and the struggles of the poor.  This may have been one of the best university courses HK people could have every experienced.

      이재영 <kojay99@...> wrote:
      hi Max
      Warm greetings from Seoul.
      It has been while to talk to you last. Sorry!
      I hope this e-mail finds you in good spirit.
      Reading your WTO report, I'd like to ask you a short question.
      As you know, there were a lot of Korean protestors in the rallies
      and many of them actually were arrested.
      How do people in Hong Kong or media see their actions?
      They did both peaceful and violent demostrations (like bowing and walking on the street vs. hitting with sticks).
      Are there any feedback from the public about their different ways?
      If you have sometime, please let me know how Korean demonstrators
      have been discribed and understood in Hong Kong.
      샬롬 (Shalom)
      이재영 (Jae Young Lee)
      평화부 담당 간사 (Peace Program Coordinator)
      한국 아나뱁티스트 센터 (02-554-9615)
      Korea Anabaptist Center (www.kac.or.kr)
      부원장 (Vice-President)
      커넥서스 어학원 (02-501-3224)
      Connexus Language Institute (www.connexus.co.kr)
      "Let's Dream Impossible Dreams!"
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, December 19, 2005 6:01 PM
      Subject: [justpeaceinasia] WTO

      For information and photos about the WTO meeting in Hong Kong that ended on Sunday, go to http://daga.dhs.org/hkpa/

      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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      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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