Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Call for Solidarity and Action

Call for Solidarity and Action - The Korea-US FTA is not for the 99%
November 16, 2011

Free Trade Agreements have a long history of mass protests. The Korea-US FTA is no different. Its official negotiation was kicked off in 2006 and signed five years ago in June 2007. From the outset of the negotiations, thousands of people in both countries have opposed the deal. One Korean labor union member took his own life in protest against the negotiations, and several hundreds of activists have been arrested during peaceful and legitimate demonstrations. They know that the deal only benefits big corporations, not the people. Nonetheless, the U.S. Congress approved the deal last month. Now the ball is in the court of the Korean National Assembly.

However, quite contrary to the expectation of both governments and proponents of the deal, a growing number of Koreans are opposing its approval.  Inspired by the Occupy movements around the world, the people in Korea have realized that this deal is not for the 99%, but it is only for the benefit of the 1%.

This agreement is not just limited to trade; it also impacts policies governing public services, public health, environment and the rights of citizens.  Under the name of trade liberalization, the agreement is very likely to jeopardize democratic policies that promote economic justice, alleviate poverty, regulate financial services, and promote healthy communities.  Negotiated and signed before the financial crisis of 2008, the Korea-US FTA continues the dangerous trend of financial deregulation that allowed fat cats on Wall Street to wreck the global economy.  Now, Wall Street wants to export that mistake to Korea, and in turn to other countries through the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement currently being pursued by the Obama Administration.  As the U.S Trade Representative has said, the Korea-US FTA will become a model for trade agreements for the rest of the world.

We must stop this flawed deal.  We have to bring an end to FTAs that are killing jobs and deepening the social divide.  We can do this by asserting our power as the 99%.  Since mid-October, we have held a candlelight vigil every night in Seoul.  Every day more and more people join the movement.  Even young people have started to raise their candles and speak out against the FTA that is bad for their future. As the Korean people’s resistance intensifies, the voting of the Korean National Assembly has been delayed, which has embarrassed proponents of the FTA.  Meanwhile, the police enforcement against demonstrators has grown more violent.  They have aimed high-pressured water-cannons onto protesters, even causing the rupture of a protestor’s eardrums last Sunday.  More and more people are arrested during legitimate demonstrations.

But we will stand firmly against the approval of the flawed deal and never stop our fight.  We believe this is the right way to change the world.  We are confident that we can make another world.  Now, we invite you to join this history-making movement and take action in solidarity with the people of Korea on November 22nd for the International Day of Action against the Korea-US FTA.


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