Report: Police expect 20,000 activists at WTO meeting in Hong Kong

Original Publication Date: 
23 April, 2005

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police expect 20,000 anti-globalization activists at the World Trade Organization meeting to be held in Hong Kong in December, including thousands of South Korean farmers, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The estimate is based on the fact that budget guest houses and hotels have been fully booked for the period of the WTO meeting, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unnamed police sources.

The expected presence of South Korean farmers has raised alarm after South Korean farmers' association leader Lee Kyang-hae stabbed himself to death during clashes with police at the WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico in 2003, the report said.

Police spokeswoman Annissa Chan declined to confirm the report.

WTO member nations aim to lay the groundwork for a treaty liberalizing global trade _ including slashing agricultural subsidies _ at the Hong Kong meeting scheduled for Dec. 13-18.

WTO meetings are magnets for anti-globalization campaigners who claim the global economic system unfairly benefits rich countries at the expense of poor ones. Some protests have turned violent.

Hong Kong police, who are accustomed to mostly peaceful protests, have geared up their preparation for their meeting, ordering non-lethal ammunition such as rubber bullets. - AP

Malaysia Star