Anti-WTO Activists Denied U.S. Entry by Clinton Administration /

Tom Boland (
Sat, 30 Oct 1999 00:11:55 -0700 (PDT)


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Thursday October 28, 1999 6:27 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network


Human Rights Activists, Grassroots Activists Prevented from Attending
WTO Ministerium in Seattle, Ask `What is Clinton Afraid Of?'

NEW YORK, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- An international gathering of grassroots
activists from around the world begins its cross-country trek today minus
nine of its key members due to a decision by the Clinton Administration to
deny them visas. The organizers of the trek, dubbed ``The Road to Seattle,
Peoples' Global Action Cross Country Caravan'' blame a decision by
Clinton's State Department to stifle opposition to the upcoming World Trade
Organization (WTO) Ministerium in Seattle.

The caravan includes women and men from about a dozen countries who believe
that the WTO meeting will sow the seeds for further erosion of human
rights, environmental protections and health and safety standards. The
caravan is being organized under the auspices of Peoples' Global Action
(PGA), an international movement which believes that the WTO is
fundamentally flawed, is beyond reform and must be abolished. It is because
of this stance that the activists are being excluded from the United States.

Those excluded include Siwakoti Gopal and six other members of the Nepalese
human rights organization INHURED as well as Badrul Alum and Pradip Kumar
Roy, director of the Bangladesh' Krishok Federation.

Gopal received his degree in law in the U.S., teaches human rights and
international law in Nepal. He also received endorsements for his visa
application from U.S.-based organizations and Members of Congress. Despite
this support, he was still denied his visa. ``With these credentials, who
would be allowed to enter the U.S. if not him?'' asked Michael Morrill, one
of the U.S. organizers of the caravan.

``They just ignored all these letters and financial guarantees,'' stated
Gopal. ``They [U.S. Embassy officials] did not even look at them. They said
that they did not have to [give the visas]. They were also questioning our
organizations and our personal integrity. They were very abusive. It was a
terrible humiliation for all of us!''

``Two weeks ago President Clinton said he was not concerned about the
massive protests planned for the WTO summit,'' continued Morrill. ``Now his
administration is hard at work to keep the protest out.''

Activists from India, the United Kingdom, Israel, Bolivia, Germany and
Panama are already in the U.S. to begin the caravan. Among them is Mr.
Sanjay Mangala who is representing a movement, which is heading the
resistance against dam-projects in the Narmada Valley in India. Activists
in London scaled the world's biggest Ferris wheel three days ago,
attracting global attention and highlighting the money interests of
transnational corporations, the World Bank and Western governments in dam
building projects such as those in the Narmada Valley.

Michael Charder, who is involved with Reclaim The Streets, London said,
``This action has been linked to PGA. It's only too obvious the U.S.
government is afraid of our global resistance, and tries to counteract this
by not allowing protesters visas.''

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network


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