Massive mobilisation in India against the WTO


Hyderabad (India), 2nd May 1998 - Hundreds of thousands of peasants, agricultural labourers, tribal people and industrial workers from all regions of India took the streets of Hyderabad yesterday to show their rejection against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and neoliberal policies, and to demand the immediate withdrawal of India from the WTO.

The rally was organised by the recently launched "Joint Action Forum of Indian People against the WTO and Anti-People Policies" (JAFIP), composed of 50 peoples' movements representing a wide range of regions and social groups.

The demonstration was proceded by a three-days convetion in which the JAFIP was officially launched. The convention and rally, convened by a number of Indian peoples' movements, including the Karnataka State Farmers'Association (KRRS), the All-India People's Resistance Forum (AIPRF), the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and others, took place against the backdrop of a growing wave of suicides of peasants, which according to all members of the JAFIP are directly caused by the impact of WTO-imposed policies. It also took place in the context of increasing state violence against peoples' movements all over India. The convention and rally were held in Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh, because of the particularly high rate of suicides and killings in this Southern state, where more than 600 peasant activists have been killed by the Indian army from 1992 to 1998, and more than 400 suicides have taken place in the last five months. The assasination of peoples' movements' activists in Andhra Pradesh was intensified in the weeks leading to the convention, in what amounts to a very clear signal of the way in which the Indian government will deal with peaceful opposition to the WTO.

The convention, attended by more than 900 representatives of peoples'movements, produced the "Declaration of Indian People against the WTO" which states that "We, the people of India, hereby declare that we consider the WTO our brutal enemy. This unaccountalbe and notoriously undermocratic body called the WTO has the potential not only to suck the sweat and blood of the masses of two-thirds of the world, but has also started destroying our natural habitats and traditional agricultural and other knowledge systems... converting us into objects of Transnational Corporations' economy of consumerism ... The WTO will kill us unless we kill it".

The declaration also targets the national elites: "any struggle agaisnt the WTO-IMF-World Bank trinity has to go along a simultaneous struggle against the local ruling classes". Finally, the JAFIP also offers alternatives:

"While opposing the WTO, we, the Indian people, have resolved to build a pro-people egalitarian social order through a genuinely democratic process".

This declaration was accompanied by six specific resolutions demanding pro-people agricultural policy, expressing solidarity with other peoples' movements, oppossing the invasion of agriculture by multinationals, condemning the repression of peoples' movements, denouncing the wave of suicides of peasants all over India, and expressing the anti-WTO struggle of the Indian working class. All these documents will be soon available at

The JAFIP made a call to all peoples' movements of India to take part in PGA's decentralised days of action against the WTO that will take place from the 16th to the 20th of May, parallel to the G8 meeting (Birminghan, 16-17 May) and the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of GATT at the second WTO Ministerial Conference (Geneva, 18-20 May). Prof. Nanjundaswamy, president of the 10-million Karnataka State Farmers Association (KRRS),announced at the Hyderabad rally that several hundreds Indian peasants will be presente at the protest actions in Geneva, representing Indian peoples'rejection of the WTO.

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