Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Solidarity with Thai anti-WTO protestors

Dec 18, 2005 - 13:37pm

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) is calling for the immediate release of our friends and comrades arrested last night.

In the middle of the night, 900 WTO protesters were arrested, among them are around 45 Thais and around 20 Indonesians, 5 of which are women. Yeni Rosa Damayanti was one of the women leading the Women's March Against WTO two days ago. She is now one of the detainees and is our sole contact for the Indonesians detained. Yeni has been sending SMS messages to APWLD members updating us of their situation. The arrested protesters were kept in the outdoor yard of the Kwun Tong Court from 2 am to 9 am. They had to suffer throughout the cold winter night with no blankets, no food, no water. Women were physically abused and stripped naked for body search.

Then after 9 am the arrested have been moved by police vehicles to undisclosed buildings. There are six detention centres spread all over Hong Kong. APWLD members have been going from one detention centre to another in search of friends who were arrested. It is uncertain as to whether this non-disclosure is due to a language barrier or if it is a deliberate tactic of non-disclosure of information. We believe that this is the Hong Kong Government's way of weakening the intensifying resistance against the WTO. The anti-WTO groups had been planning on holding a large united rally today at 2pm. This is likely to be a method of dispersing the strength of the international movement against WTO.

As stated in Yeni's text messages one of the conditions of release given to Indonesians is that they must show proof that they are leaving Hong Kong tomorrow. However due to the randomness of arrests, they were not prepared for this and did not carry their travel documents with them. Furthermore, friends are unable to bring these travel documents to them due to the unknown whereabouts of their detention. They are therefore left unable to carry out this unreasonable condition for release.

The arrests followed violent police dispersals using tear gas and water canons while protesters staged a peaceful sit-in on a road near the convention centre where the WTO Ministerial Conference was taking place.

APWLD condemns police brutality against people who are exercising their right to assemble and protest. APWLD demands that all protesters detained are immediately and unconditionally released; no charges have been made against the detainees so the police has no right to keep the in detention. We demand that the police provide the full list of arrested and their location

Additional Information: Nine APWLD members from Thailand have attempted to bring food and water to the 45 Thai detainees in the Kwung Tong Courts (photos below). They were denied access to the detainees, however, and have left the food at the courts in hope that it will be brought to our Thai friends. Peasants and NGO workers have been separated from each other while in custody, leaving peasants vulnerable to ill treatment and denial of rights due to their inability to communicate in Chinese or English.

For more information please contact judy 6429 0382 (HK mobile) or asha 6237 9548

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
189/3 Changklan Road
Amphoe Muang
Chiang Mai 50101 Thailand
Tel: (66) 53 284527, 284856
Fax: (66) 53 280847
Email: apwld@apwld.org

Thai activists demanding release of their friends in front of Kwun Tong Law Court, December 18

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