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Farmers plan FTA protests in Seattle

Korea Times | 30 August 2006

Farmers Plan FTA Protests in Seattle

By Christopher Carpenter
Staff Reporter

More than 100 South Korean farmers and activists will go to Seattle next week to stage rallies against a free trade agreement (FTA) between Seoul and Washington, a chief organizer told Yonhap News Agency yesterday.

South Korea and the United States will hold their third round of FTA negotiations in Seattle on Sept. 6-9.

Korean farmers and factory workers claim the accord will threaten their livelihoods if it is adopted.

Members of the Korean Alliance Against the Korea-U.S. FTA, a group representing hundreds of farmers’ organizations, civic organizations and student groups, will stage peaceful protests, but they are preparing for any contingency, said Park Seok-won, chief of the alliance.

``The number of protesters has doubled compared with the first round in Washington, backed by growing public sentiment against the Korea-U.S. FTA talks,’’ Park told Yonhap by telephone.

During the third round, the protestors plan a series of demonstrations, candlelight vigils and press conferences to consolidate FTA opposition, Park said.

Scheduled to head to Seattle himself, Park said the protesters were due to arrive on Sunday or Monday, with demonstrations beginning on Monday.

At the first round of talks held in Washington in June, the group sent about 50 demonstrators but no clashes were reported.

Scuffles erupted during the second round of talks in Seoul in July, and the South Korean government deployed some 3,000 riot police to protect the venue.

Unlike the previous two rounds, the South Korean government has responded silently to the protests planned for Seattle.

On Monday, the Seoul Economic Daily, citing an unnamed official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, reported the government was considering making a public statement requesting the group withdraw its protest plan in Seattle. A ministry official declined to comment on the report, according to Yonhap.

 source: Korea Times