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50,000 march in New Delhi to halt WTO mini-ministerial

From Reuters: A farmer walks past a banner placed on a vehicle during a protest against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in New Delhi September 3, 2009.

Reuters: “A farmer walks past a banner placed on a vehicle during a protest against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in New Delhi September 3, 2009.”

Afsar Jafri and Benny Kuruvilla of Focus on the Global South report: “Over 50,000 people including farmers, workers and students took to the streets of Delhi as the 2 day WTO Mini Ministerial got underway in the city. Groups that mobilised included the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), the Bharatiya Kisan Union, the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Karnataka State Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu State Farmers Association. Activists from Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Philippines also joined the march.

“The protestors demanded that the Mini Ministerial be called off and the Indian Prime Minister meets them. As we write this the farmers have occupied the Parliament Street Police station (adjacent to the Indian Parliament House). Police records state that 51,000 farmers have been charged with ‘refusing to obey directions of the police to disperse’.”

Read an IPCAWTO press release below.

PRESS RELEASE, September 3, 2009

Thousands of workers, farmers, women, students and youth marched against the WTO Ministerial meeting which started in New Delhi today. Farmers from Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, students and youth from Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi and workers from Delhi participated in the protest march from Mandi House to Parliament Street. The protesters carried colourful banners and placards against the WTO and the UPA Government’s shifting positions in the Doha Round, which will adversely affect the interests of Indian people. The March was followed by a public meeting at the Parliament Street.

The public meeting was presided over by S.P.Shukla, Convenor of the WTO Virodhi Abhiyan. Addressing the protesters, CPI General Secretary, A.B. Bardhan said that the UPA was bypassing the Parliament and betraying the election mandate which was clearly against the neoliberal policies that have caused acute distress to the masses. CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury questioned the very basis of the Indian Commerce Minister’s initiative to break the deadlock in the Doha Round, suggesting that it was being done under American pressure. The peasants and workers, who are suffering from drought, job losses and unprecedented price rise, will rise up against the Government if their interests will continue to be compromised in the WTO, he warned. Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI (ML) Liberation called for countrywide mobilisations against the WTO dictated policies in the days to come. Farmer leader, Krishan Bir Chaudhary highlighted the pathetic plight of the Indian farmers under the WTO regime and castigated the Government for trying to push the Doha Round forward.

Concluding the meeting, S.P.Shukla said that if the Government did not pay heed to the voice of the farmers and workers, a big resistance would be put up in India by the WTO Virodhi Abhiyan before the Ministerial Meeting scheduled in November-December 2009 in Geneva.