Dozens of South Korean farmers and Taiwanese workers tried to push through a police barricade Friday near a convention center where WTO officials were meeting in Hong Kong. Wearing red headbands, the demonstrators held each other's shoulders as they unsuccessfully tried to shove their way through several rows of female police officers.
The protest came as officials tried to hash out a deal in the last three days of the World Trade Organization's six-day talks. The demonstrators opposed the WTO's goal of further opening markets to global trade.
So far, the WTO talks haven't sparked the large anti-globalization protests that have caused injuries and serious damage at past meetings. Also on Friday, about 200 South Koreans divided themselves into two groups and marched to the U.S. and South Korean consulates to protest free trade.
A group of Korean women clad in white funeral robes with green caps led the march to the South Korean Consulate General. They sat outside the building, singing songs and chanting slogans. "Farmers are people too!" read a large, white banner. "Korean Consulate, do your duty! Protect Korean farmers!" The procession to the U.S. Consulate General was led by someone dressed like U.S. President George W. Bush beating two Korean female farmers with a stick.
"Down, down WTO. No to USA," chanted the demonstrators, marching to a steady drum beat. Sohi Jeon, a march organizer, said, "We believe the United States is using the WTO to push its own agenda. Peasants are becoming slaves under U.S.-led corporations." U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the head of the Senate finance committee, issued a statement the defended the WTO's aims to remove barriers on food imports. "Better market access would benefit farmers in both developed and developing countries," he said, reports the AP. I.L.