Edited by Kim Chun-Sam
Published by PICIS (Policy and Information Center for International Solidarity)
October 19th, Thursday, 2000
Editor's Note: The international struggle against globalization shifts to South Korea with the ASEM 2000 Seoul Day of Action Against Neo-liberal Globalization. The O20 struggle will commence tomorrow, but the activists preparing for the struggle have been working vigorously for the past month or so., and the momentum for the actions has been building steadily. In this 'O20 special' edition of the PICIS Newsletter, we bring you the latest from the preparations for the struggle, as well as text for the speech which Dan Byung-Ho, president of the KCTU, will give at the rally on the 20th. A rough draft of the Declaration is also included. Solidarity!! International Solidarity!! We will be coming to you with a evaluation of the actions in our next edition.
Headline: Updates of the Preparations for the O20
The official ASEM 2000 Seoul Day of Action Against Neo-Liberal Globalization is not until tomorrow, but the ASEM struggle has already started in Korea. Workers, students, and activists have started to gather at Sung-Sil Universiy in Seoul to participate in the all-night anti-globalization culture festival. Participants will head straight tothe rally sites tomorrow for the O20 actions against neo-liberal globalization. Tensions are high, as several helicopters have hovered over the university earlier in the evening, and police forces have started to build up around the area. At the same time, however, those of us who have been preparing for this struggle cannot help but be a little excited that tomorrow, the Korean people, in continuation with the international struggle in Seattle, Bangkok, Melbourne, and Prague [global action day], will speak out and act against the brutality of neo-liberal globalization.
The action starts early tomorrow morning and will run throughout the day. There are. continuous demonstrations scheduled at various locations for all of tomorrow, as well as the KCTU(Korean confederation of Trade Unions) rally on the 21st. The people's, social, and civic movement of Korea will come together tomorrow to voice their uniform opposition to the free trade order of modern day capitalism.
The momentum for the O20 struggle has been building for some time now. The joint organizing committee of KoPA (Korean People's Action Against Investment Treaties and the WTO) and the People's Rally Committee have organized a diverse program of actions, discussion forums, publicizing sessions, and culture festivals. We have already let you know through previous newsletters about the concert/culture festival on the 8th, the joint discussions on the Korea-Japan, / Korea-U.S. Bi-lateral investment treaties and neo-libral restructuring, the struggle of the public sector workers against plans for privatization. In recent days, there also have been demonstrations against the anti-trade union activities of Omron, a Japanese company in Korea; a demonstration by temporary workers demanding equal labor rights as full-time workers was held in front of the Korean Employer's Federation building. A demonstration by oppressed workers at E-land was also held the next day in front of the same building. The ASEM 2000 People's Forum, where nearly two hundred people's organizations, social movements, and civil society organization in Korea, Asia and Europe came together to organize a conference entitled "ASEM 2000 People's Forum" with the theme of "People's Action and Solidarity Challenging Globalisation," was held during the past 2 days at Kun-Kuk university in Seoul. Guests and speakers uniformly criticized the neo-liberal globalization process for oppressing the socially weak and destroying diversity, and called for alternatives such as control of trans-national capital. Participants will be present for the actions tomorrow.
The Joint Independent Media Project Group for ASEM 2000 has been busy reporting on the live voices of the people during the preparation process for the O20 struggle. A 10 minute video has been uploaded onto our homepage, several more will come in the near future. We are also offering the standard text news, photos, and radio broadcasts on all that is going on. Our reporting team is currently on the site at Sung-Sil university and we will be bringing you all the action of the coming days.
No one can predict what kind of situation will break out tomorrow, but the government's forceful stand in banning all demonstrations almost guarantees that clashes will take place. We again ask for your interestand solidarity; your continued interest, support, and solidarity for our actions is critical, both for the success of the movement and for the safety of the protestors. The voice of the people will not be denied! Solidarity!
The Struggle of the People Continues in Seoul!!
An Immediate Stop to Neo-Liberal Globalization!!
More information on the ASEM actions can be seen at:
Regular updates on the preparations for the ASEM action can be heard through the PICIS internet broadcasts at:
Today, the United States, world hegemon, the WTO,the IMF and the World Bank have been insisting that "there is no alternative" and have been forcing neoliberal globalization on the world. Right now, government officials from all over Europe and Asia are meeting in the conference halls of that palatial ASEM Tower over there, a tower that cost 1.5 trillion won to build, to talk about pushing neoliberal globalization.
But we know. We know that neoliberal globalization is the deliberate project of capitalists facing a crisis of falling profits. They'll channel the majority of profits back into financial speculation of TNCs. We know that the grave reality is that this neoliberal globalization will bring about the "globalization of poverty," that is, the other globalization. Neoliberal globalization wreaks havoc, and we have seen the results of that globalization.
First, exploitation of workers has intensified, and working conditions are determined by the race to the bottom. In the name of "flexibilization of labor," redundancy dismissals are ruthlessly under way, unemployment rates have shot up, and irregularization of work has advanced. Wages have not been raised, but the work pace has accelerated. In many Asian nations, it is nearly impossible to even establish a trade union and even in countries where laws allow trade union activity, governments repression of trade union activitieshas grown intense. Racial discrimination against migrant workers has allowed even greater exploitation and social exclusion.
Second, in the course of neoliberal globalization, exploitation of women workers has increased. In most countries, when companies hit hard times, the logic of profit and patriarchy rules, and women workers are the first to be sacked. To make matters worse for women, most women are employed as irregular workers. Left unprotected by trade unions, irregular women workers get less than half the wages of male regular workers. Sexual harrassment in the workplace and sexualassault have increased, and with trafficking of women, prostitution has also increased.
Third, because of transnational capital's pursuit of profit, destruction of the ecology has proceeded rapidly. In the name of forest development and the construction of large-scale dams, the world ecological system, beginning with the ecological systems of the global South, are being devastated.Genetically modified crops have reduced the diversity of plant species, and the damage from ecological destruction will now boomerang back to the human race.
Fourth, under the WTO regime, agriculture has become the target of liberalization and small farms are going bankrupt. Small-scale farmers are sinking into extreme poverty, burdened with heavy debt and unable to withstand the attack of major grain producers in the US and agro-business. Agro-business dominates food production, food security is under serious threat, and consumers' right to health is thrown to the wind.
Fifth, because of neoliberal globalization, most Third World nations undergo cyclical debt crises, and are pretty much in a state of bankruptcy. National sovereignty is under serious attack, Third World people's right to a basic livelihood, workers' rights, women's rights, are in crisis, and the destruction of the environment is becoming even more severe.
Sixth, although the cold war system has been dismantled, conflict between regions, states, and ethnicities has not decreased, but instead middle- and small-scale wars continue. The arms race, although temporarily halted, has begun to escalate again, and the NMD-TMD plan promoted by the US and Japan is none other than this escalation. This will bring about a completely new and unprecedented arms race that will make the people's lives more miserable.
We, who take part in the "ASEM 2000 Anti-neoliberalism Seoul Action," demand the following to the governments of Asia and Europe to secure the people's and workers' right to a basic livelihood, women's rights, the preservation of ecological systems, and independent growth in the Third World.
If the governments of Asia and Europe don't listen to our above demands and instead accelerate neoliberal globalization and intensify the exploitation and exclusion of the people, we who are gathered here today from all over Asia and Europe will struggle in solidarity through every means possible. The torch of the people's international solidarity struggle that has come here today from Seattle, Davos, Bangkok, Washington D.C, Millau, Melbourne, and Prague [global action day] will be passed on to Dakar, Paris, and Proto Alegre.
We are confident! Another world is before us.
Let's change the world.
In-Depth Look: KCTU President's Speech at the O20 Rally
All of you will remember the Seattle fight that decorated the end of the last century. This struggle was even condemned as being a 'riot'by the media. But we know why 50,000 of the world's citizens gathered in that place. That was an act of opposition against the unfair and inequal WTO system and a struggle against the brutal neo-liberal globalization. The fight has not ended. It has continued onto Swiss Davos, Washington USA, Melbourne Australia and Prague Czecho. The people's rage against the neo-liberal globalization that has taken away completely their democracy and livelihood right has now come down to Korea where the 1997 financial crisis has swept everything. On this day we support and aim to succeed the people's struggle against the neo-liberal globalization.
Today we wish to go hands in hands with the struggling people all over the world.
The neo-liberal globalization is destroying the outcomes that the people all over the world have been fighting for centuries to achieve, such as democracy, the people's livelihood right, ecology, cultural and sexual diversity and human rights. Ithas destroyed the lives of labors simply for the interest of transnational capital and is devastating Third world countries. The policy of complete employment has already become a relic of history andlabors are being thrown onto streets in the name of 'flexiblization of labor market'. What about the third world countries?
Those nations that have had everything including their natural resources exploited are now caught in the trap of foreign debt and are being stripped of their democratic sovereignty and their right to live.
In 1997 the tides of 'financial and foreign currency crisis' have swept the Eastern Asia that has been praised as the model for third world economical development. And the IMF has stood upon the people of East Asia as it has done in South America and Africa. The IMF prescribed and applied its medicine in order to overcome the crisis to the East Asian countries but with three years having passed already, the results are devastating. The structural reform policy that the IMF and the East Asia governments have tried to propel have magnified and reproduced, instead of overcoming, the financial crisis. The second and third foreign currency-financial crisis has now come to follow us everywhere we go.
The stock market and financial market has long since been the speculating field of trans-national capital and localinstitutional investors, and the phenomenon where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer has become intensified.
Matters are the same here in Korea. The neo-liberal structural reform of the IMF and the Kim Dae Jung administration has now put Korean economy into a state of no return. For the last three years that the IMF structural reform has been implemented, the trans-national capital has gained command over more than 30% of the domestic stock market, moving Korean economy according to their will and the difference in income has reached the highest point since statistics were available.
Public corporations that have been providing service to the people have been accused of being 'tax thieves' and are being sold to monopolist capital in and out of the country. The increased number of the unemployed are on the verge of starvation and labors are screaming in agony of increased work load.
As if this is not enough, the Kim Dae Jung administration is securing rights for exploitation of trans-national capital, is intensifying the national economy, and is trying to conclude the Korean-U.S. Korean-Japanese bilateral investment treatiesthat will threaten the lives of the laborers and the ordinary people. Also it is on the verge of concluding the Korean-Chille Free Trade Agreement that will add more strain to the agricultural society already in crisis through the WTO. The Korean people affirm that these treaties and agreements will strengthen the political and economical power of the trans-national capital and trample on the livesof the people. The 'Serious Treatment Clause' raised in the Korean-Japanese investment treaty is very significant. It is nothing more than an attempt to block the fundamental right of laborers to raise strikes. Also the abolishment of the 'screen quarter' raised to the U.S. show the true nature of the investment teaty that does not allow cultural diversity and social needs.
The Korean people, the people of Asia and furthermore the people of the world affirm once again. The neo-liberal structural reform driven by the IMF and the governments of each nations is definitely not a solution to overcome the economical crisis and it is nothing more than selling the national economy and its social, popular rights in the hands of imperialism and the trans-national capital.
But all of us who are gathered here today cannot but show deep concerns toward the ASEM conference. According recent documents the European Commission is mentioning abolition of foreign currency control and liberation of the transfer of surplus profit. Also it is suggesting that each governments need to abolish regulations against privatization and foreign ownership of real estates in order to attract foreign capital. What's more surprising is that it is asking for lesser taxation to companies and block strikes in order to provide better investment conditions.
Such measures do not differ completely from structural reforms forced by the WTO and the IMF or the Korean-U.S., Korean Japanese Investment Treaties. Also in this year's Seoul summit, the governments of the two regions have chosen as official agenda, the discussion for the early launch of the WTO Millenium Round. This shows that ASEM works for the strengthening of the free trade system called the WTO. In such conditions we witness the ASEM turning into an organization propelling for another neo-liberal globalization. We cannot but show serious concerns on the fact that ASEM is trying to accelerate neo-liberal globalization and structural reform.
The struggle of the people against neo-liberal globalization is continuing without rest. Far away from Mexico to Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, Europe and all over the world the flame of resistance is burning hot. In Korea also, the struggle against neo-liberal globalization is unfolding restlessly.
The laborers who are trying to fight the 2nd phase of structural reform and the privatization of public corporations, the fight of people in the film industry who are trying to defend the screen quarter and the diversity of culture, the rage of the farmers who cannot but throw their hard raised water melons, garlic and other crops, the struggle of contingent workers which heatened this year's summer... and the fight of the poor people whose life base is wiped out every time there is an international conference...The Korean people's will against the neo-liberal globalization is being shown in action.
Today's fight will not end as a one-day event. We know very well. In order for a significant 'one-day common act' to be accomplished, it must bedeveloped into a continuous mass struggle. The Korean people will not only unite with the struggle against neo liberal globalization but also continue it onto the anti-Korean-U.S., Korean-Japanese Investment treaties, Korean-Chille free trade agreement and the WTO that is currently in negotiation by the Korean government.
We affirm that Neo-liberal globalization is definitely not an 'unavoidable general trend' but a highly political project aiming to gain more profit and destroy the third world nations and the lives of working people by the imperial states and the trans-national capital. Also we are sure that the hopes of the world people wide for a different world, over the neo-liberal globalization will not give way.
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