Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Kotaji's report on Korea-US FTA protests

Kotaji has prepared a post on yesterday's protest which I'll reprint here as it saves me a bit of time and you can get the general impression. I'll post the photos when I get them though. -J

From the frontlines

This post is also over at the Tomb.

The battle against neo-liberal globalisation brought Seoul to a halt today
as at least 60,000 people came out onto the streets in the pouring rain
to protest against the current round of FTA talks between the US and
South Korea. Reports here and here.

Seoul anti-FTA 3

Got some firsthand impressions of the action from Jamie who seems to have been a little closer to the frontlines than I would probably have been:

…not exactly sure [how many were there], a lot of people though. Four simultaneous rallies: City Hall, Seoul Station, and two other locations… so wet… rain, plus water cannon and tear gas were used… got stuck in a stampede, cops must have charged 8 meters, anyway we were too close to the action so got a small cloud [of gas], but it was just vinegar smelling, did nothing.

Seoul anti-FTA 1

So, the protest marched to Kwanghwamun [near the US Embassy], fought the buses, then we made our way up to a back alley, and, surprisingly, were able to burst out and occupy the main street, the student groups kept on running to get to the Blue House [presidential residence], got about 800 feet away from Kwanghwamun but were blocked too much, went back, ended the thing in front of the US embassy…

[I’m still] trying to figure out what this localized gas was, there was some water cannon too when people were fighting the buses… they nearly killed some kids moving a bus to block the road when the crowd burst out the side street, they stopped the bus though, shoving lots of bamboo poles at the driver through the window, must have hurt.

People were able to seize some riot shields too… man people were wet, everyone had a rain poncho…
If you want to read Jamie in a more analytical frame of mind check out his piece on Korean Neo-liberalism and Empire at ZNet. There is another eye-witness report here, while over at Frog in a Well, Pak Noja posted some thoughts on the economics of Korean agriculture and what liberalisation means for Korean farmers.

Seoul anti-FTA 4

Parking Korean babylon style.

The Korean union federation (KCTU) is apparently planning big strikes over the FTA in November, so watch this space.

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