APL stands in solidarity with the 14 anti-WTO activists in Hong Kong, calls for their immediate release and the dropping of all charges against them

The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), together with other member organizations of the Stop the New Round, picketed the consulate of China in Makati to express its solidarity with the continuing struggle of Hong Kong 14 and to press the Hong Kong government to drop all charges against them and pave the way for their immediate return to their families.

Last 5 January 2006, 12 out of the 14 protesters started an indefinite hunger strike. “We are warning Mr. Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, that the working class would hold his government accountable should any harm befall on the protesters who are now in hunger strike,” Edwin Bustillo, APL Deputy Secretary General said.

The Hong Kong 14 are activists from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and mainland China, who were incarcerated in Hong Kong and subsequently charged with “unlawful assembly” after protesting against the 6th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference held there last December.

They continue to languish in Hong Kong long after the WTO Ministerial has ended, with our shared call for justice and fair trade remaining their ultimate message against the pomp and pretensions of a Ministerial that essentially boiled down to a further sellout of people’s interests in favor of Northern countries and the transnational corporations behind them.

“We condemn the Hong Kong government for using excessive force in the process of arresting the protesters, for violating their rights while they were in prison and for filing charges against the protestors without enough evidence,” Bustillos said. The APL added its voice to the serious concerns already expressed by other organizations around the world on the uncalled for and excessive use of force by the Hong Kong Police during the night of December 17, 2005.

Many were injured; some were struck with electric shock batons; while some were reportedly fired upon with “beanbags pellets”. We have been told that there were numerous instances of human rights violations during the process of detaining over 1,300 protestors: most were held without the benefit of interpreters as well as legal and medical assistance; some were being beaten up; some were strip-searched; others were not even allowed to use the toilet. For many days, they were held incommunicado.

According to the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on the WTO (HKPA), the Hong Kong government only started to gather evidence after the legal procedures started. In the meantime the Hong Kong government is considering filing new charges against our friends. This is unacceptable. It is for this reason that the APL, together with other social movements and NGOs around the world, is calling on the Hong Kong government to pursue an impartial and thorough inquiry into these matters.

“If anyone should be in jail it should be the bureaucrats who sold out the world at the WTO talks.” Bustillos added. He criticized the ministers from both the developed nations which took advantage of the developing countries and those from developing countries who miserably failed to defend the interests of their respective constituents.

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