Mon, Dec 19, 2005 - Page 1 News List

March marks end of WTO talks

AGENCIES , HONG KONG

Thousands of anti-globalization protesters marched through Hong Kong yesterday under the watchful gaze of police, hours before the end of WTO trade talks, after running battles between police and protesters the previous night.

The march came before negotiators hammered out a last-minute draft agreement for wealthy nations to eliminate farm-export subsidies by 2013, appearing to save the talks from an embarrassing collapse.

Organizers estimated that more than 7,000 demonstrators joined the afternoon rally, protesting against the impact of WTO trade rules on the world's poor.

There were no more than 150 remaining members of the militant South Korean contingent blamed by authorities for sparking trouble the night before.

A couple of protesters jumped into Hong Kong harbor and another group set fire to a symbol of the WTO, but there were none of the disturbances seen the previous day.

After a 14-hour stand-off, about 1,000 officers in riot gear moved in at about 4am to take away the last of the protesters, many of them elderly men and women. It took about eight hours to clear the scene.

Police spokesman Ma Wai Luk (馬維騄) said yesterday that around 900 people had been detained.

Most were South Koreans, but about 10 Taiwanese activists were also arrested, he said, adding that they had been taken to a special detention center at a city prison.

Last night, police said they had released 188 detainees but more than 800 were still being held. Among those released were 150 South Koreans.

There have been reports saying that Fang-ping (王芳萍), secretary-general of Taiwan's Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS) and a COSWAS volunteer were mildly injured in the Saturday scuffles.

Police said 97 people were injured in the scuffles, including 39 officers, many of them hurt by protesters wielding iron bars and bamboo sticks.

About three hours after the area was cleared and a semblance of normality returned to the downtown district, the last protest march of the week-long WTO meeting set off from a city park.

also see story:

WTO reaches subsidies breakthrough

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