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9 Injured in Anti-WTO Protest in HK

Nine people, including two police officers, were injured during clashes between protesters and Hong Kong police on the day of the opening ceremony of the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC6) yesterday.

Demonstrators said police had arrested several of them, and later Albert Ma, Chief Superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, said protests around the international trade talks should be nonviolent.

"Hong Kong citizens do not allow violent acts," said Ma. "All activities have to be peaceful and orderly and they should not cross the line." He added that police had used minimum force to control the situation. 

Yesterday's demonstrations started at 1:30 PM at Victoria Park and people of various protest groups reached Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, the venue of the MC6, at 3 PM.

The protestors, numbering more than 5,000, came from South Korea, Japan, India, the Philippines and some African and European countries.

Yi Hoon-chong, manager of the Korea Fisheries Association, said there were almost 2,000 demonstrators from South Korea who had come to make their message heard that opening markets and eliminating tariffs would make them suffer.

Gi-soo Park, representative of the Nongso Agricultural Cooperative, said such measures would also affect individual farmers like their members, with an average farm size of 145 hectares.

"It is hard for us to compete with international prices," said Park.

After arriving at the designated protest area, police said more than 100 mostly South Korean demonstrators jumped into the sea, apparently trying to swim to the venue of the talks.

South Korean farmers also pushed a wooden structure weighing several hundred pounds towards the conference venue. When stopped by police, they tried to burn the structure, but police soon extinguished the fire.

According to the police, after some protestors charged at them reinforcement forces in full riot gear fended them off with irritant foam similar to pepper spray.

Among those sprayed in the eyes was Leung Kwok-hung, member of the special administrative region's Legislative Council.

Demonstrations involving thousands of anti-globalization and anti-WTO protestors began on Sunday, and the MC6 is scheduled to run until December 18.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2005)


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