50 Indonesian farmers join action against WTO in Hong Kong

Detik.com – December 18, 2005
World Trade Organisation protest in Jakarta (Satu Harapan)
World Trade Organisation protest in Jakarta (Satu Harapan)

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta – Coinciding with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Level Conference (KTM) in Hong Kong, 2,000 farmers gathered at Victoria Park on Saturday December 17. They were commemorating Farmers’ Day by holding an action opposing the WTO. Fifty of the demonstrators were from Indonesia.

“We farmers have gathered to reject the agenda of trade liberalisation. We will keep demanding that the WTO be expelled from [involvement in] agricultural [trade agreements]”, said the secretary general of the Indonesian Farmers Federation, Henry Saragih, in a press release received by Detik.com on Saturday December 17.

According to Saragih, workers and farmers are united in opposing the WTO’s free trade regime because they believe that this meeting will take decisions on free trade. “We don’t want any new agreements at this WTO KTM in Hong Kong”, explained Saragih.

Saragih said that there are indeed indications that the Sixth WTO KTM will not reach an agreement. But there is concern that the Doha round of trade talks that will end in 2006 will produce new rules on liberalisation.

Farmers and all elements of society therefore will continue to close ranks to resist the agenda of liberalisation. “It will still be a long struggle, there are still may other neoliberal agendas. There are still free-market agreements such as the FTAs, BFTAs and their camouflaged forms”, said Saragih.

Two well-known Indonesian artists also joined the action – singer Franky Sahilatua and actor Rieke Dyah Pitaloka – who invited the farmers to sing together. They sang the song “We Shall Overcome”.

“The people united cannot be defeated. I share your concerns and will continue to struggle together with migrant workers and farmers”, shouted Pitaloka fierily. (ahm)

[Translated by James Balowski.]