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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Protesters storm WTO conference venue

Sidhartha in Cancun | September 13, 2003 11:19 IST

Despite efforts by organisers of the Cancun ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation, non-government organisations stormed the venue of the conference, forcing the multilateral body to ban civil society representatives from attending media briefings.

About 50 NGO representatives, sporting black bands and carrying white chrysanthemums and placards, held a peaceful condolence walk in memory of deceased South Korean activist Kyung Hai Lee, followed by a press conference, at the venue this afternoon.

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The mourners criticised liberlisation of agricultural and services trade at the conference.

Earlier in the day, some activists shouted slogans at a US media briefing, forcing the WTO to ban their entry, the organisation's spokesman Keith Rockwell said.

But protests seem to be dying down in other parts of the city. Only a handful of Mexican farmers remain at their camps in downtown Cancun.

Protesters said farmers, who had put up tents and occupied a part of the gymnasium nearby, had started going back since food was not easily available in the city.

A couple of blocks away, in another camp, the number of protesters was less than 100, though they continued to fly a tattered US flag with anti-globalisation slogans on it.

The farmers who had not returned home were busy holding meetings to work out a strategy to mark their protests against the asymmetries brought about in the international trading system after the WTO was set up.

Organisers said nearly 4,000 Mexican farmers had tried to enter the fortified "Hotel Zone" on Wednesday, the opening day of the five-day meeting, when the 56-year-old Korean farmer committed suicide. But their attempts were foiled by security personnel.

Protests inside the convention centre are, however, not ruled out in the remaining three days of the meeting.

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