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Asia Pacific Cities Summit Protests In Seattle


On Monday, May 6th at approximately 2 pm a dozen anti-biotech and fair trade acitivists were forced to leave the lobby of the Westin Hotel by a large group of Seattle police officers after they checked in with the registration desk to inquire about meetings being held there as part of the Asia Pacific Cities Summit.

A spokesperson for the Westin Hotel, Elizabeth James, told the activists that they were not allowed inside the building regardless of their intentions to find out more information about the summit and talk to delegates about the dangers of genetically modified organisms(GMO's), including "Frankenfood" during the APC Summit plenary session on biotechnolgy, sponsored by Immunex - one of 11 mulitnational corporations sponsoring the summit.

The activists wanted to point out to delegates that a major stockholder in that corporation, American Home Products, bought Monsanto in 1998, one of the world's most controversial GMO firms for 33.9 billion dollars. The group opposes the promotion of biotechnology by APC Summit sponsors who were making presentations on how local governments can attract biotech businesses to their local communities. They complained about the lack of labeling of GMO food products in the US and the contamination of the natural environment by GMO pollen, as well as genetically altered salmon which could cause the extiction of native salmon species. They cited a recent PBS documentary, "Harvest of Fear" which investigated the serious health and environmental risks associated with GMO's.

Former King County Council member Brian Derdowski also sent a representative to investigate the summit's agenda - Michael Sherrard from the Eastside Green Party. Sherrard arrived alone and entered the building to check on the day's agenda but was forced to leave by security and Seattle police. He was warned that he had committed trespass and would be arrested immediately if he did not leave theWestin Hotel. A Westin security guard claimed that Sherrard was being ejected because he had been seen talking to demonstrators outside the hotel and that none of the activities taking place at the Westin were open to the public.

According to Westin Hotel spokesperson Elizabeth James, an order had been given by a representative from the Mayor's Office, Shannon Baldazar, that the activists were to be expelled. Several media representatives were on hand to document the incident, including reporters from the Associated Press, the Seattle Post Intelligencer and MSNBC. James also objected to the presence of the media. She accused the activists of trying to hold a press conference inside the hotel but she was informed that media cameras and reporters were simply following the activists inside to report on what happened.

A sympatheitc delegate named Christopher Pickernill from Christschurch, New Zealand met with the activists outside the hotel and told them that his country was completely opposed to the WTO and IMF/World Bank. Anti-corporate globalization activists are upset that tomorrow's plenary session is described in the APC Summit literature as a session on how local municipalities can form partnerships with the World Bank and
"other international organizations". They see the World bank as a major promoter of corporate globalization and the privatization of public education and public services. Major protests against the IMF and World Bank took place in Washington DC last year
in April.

Since officials in charge of these local government programs are being specifically targeted by corporate representatives at the APC Summit, community and student groups fear that back room deals will be made which will adversely effect citizens and students. They claim that increasing corporate control of the public sector will result from these meetings, including higher tuition and utility rates and loss of local control of public services. According to the APC Summit's own website, the main focus of the APC Summit is to create public/private partnerships between multinational corporations and local, regional and state governments.addition, groups critical of the summit point out that the City of Seattle is not even a sponsor for the conference, despite statements made by city representatives. In the APC Summit registration documents, Seattle is listed only as a "supporter". In reality, 11
multi-national corporations tied to international trade are the official sponsors, including Boeing, Microsoft, Preston/Ellis/Gates, Weyerhauser, and Bank of America.
It is clear that international trade is also a major hidden agenda of which the public has not been informed.

The city of Seattle's main organizer and spokesperson for the summit, Clifford Traisman told a representative from the anti-corporate globalization coalition on Friday that no APEC representatives would be attending the summit, but the APC Summit official agenda, available at www.apsummit.org, shows clearly that a senior representative of APEC- Medhi Krongkaew of Thailand, will be the main speaker at tomorrow's session on the World Bank.Major demonstrations are scheduled to begin in a few days in Honolulu against the APEC Asia Development Bank conference which was originally scheduled for Seattle, but the city was turned down by APEC because of the WTO demonstrations in 1999.

The activists also approached the Asia Pacific Cities Summit Welcoming Committee chairperson Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, and Clifford Traisman as they arrived at the summit. The city officials were handed leaflets describing the connection between Immunex and Monsanto and the group explained to them the reasons for the protests and education campaign.

More Protests:

A major convergence by protesters from around the Northwest is planned for today, May 8th at the Westin Hotel at 10 am by students and fair trade activists coming from Vancouver BC, Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Portland during the APC Summit on the World Bank. At 8 AM a group of activists will be meeting with a sympathetic resident of the hotel who is opposed to the huge police presence at the Westin. The healthcare worker from Philadelphia has offered to buy them breakfast at Pike's Place Market and discuss their issues of privatization of public education and public services.

A protest march has been organized for 6:30 PM on Tuesday May 8th to demonstrate against the US military's bombing exercises in Vieques, Puerto Rico where dozens of protesters have been arrested. A rally will be held at Seattle Central Community College at 6 pm, followed by a march to the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct starting at 6:30.

On Thursday May 10th, another major protest is scheduled for 7 AM at the Westin Hotel as Fair Trade, youth and music and civil rights activists plan to demonstrate against Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran's mayoral campaign kick-off event during the Asia Pacific Cities Summit. They claim that Sidran has repeatedly violated the rights of citizens by backing repressive city ordinances like the Teen Dance Ordinance, the postering ban, the no-sitting on the sidewalk ordinace and the Added Activities Ordinance(a law regulating music clubs) which a district court judge threw out as unconsitutional. This protest has been organized by a dozen different groups and should bring out a large crowd.

There will also be a protest at the Westin Hotel in solidarity with activists in Honolulu who are opposing the APEC Asia Development Bank conference which begins on
May 9th.

For Information on GMO's contact:

The Campaign To Label Genetically Altered Food

Friends of the Earth

homepage: homepage: http://www.seattleindymedia.org
phone: phone: 206-955-6037