WTO Shame: The Death of Lee Kyung-Hae

(Note: There are two articles here. Both are worth the read.)

September 12, 2003

No author given.

On September 11, Korean people get together for celebrating Korean Thanksgiving Day, Chusok festival, all over the nation.

But we are saddened by the news that Mr. Lee Kyung-Hae, Korean Farmer Activist committed suicide at Cancun to protest against WTO talks.

He was former member of Chunbook Province Council Member, famous for his one-month hunger strike at the front of WTO office in Geneva this February. He also attempted a suicide (attempt) in 1990 in Geneva. According to one Korean colleagues participating in Cancun rally, he said that WTO kills farmers and farming industry.

Korean NGO delegates at Cancun set up a temporary funeral in the hospital and extended a candlelight sit-in demonstration. The funeral will be processed with the World Farmers Funeral.

The late Lee Kyung-Hae (55 years old), committed suicide at Cancun to resist WTO's unilateral talks on farm industry, is survived by three daughters and his mother.

His second daughter planned to marry on 28th of September.

She is following her father's career for farmer leaders.

Late Lee Kyung-Hae, graduated from Seoul National University, awarded the Nation's Farm and Fishery Industry Leader in 1989.

According to his colleague, Mr. Lee Bok-Eum, at Cancun, just before his attempt of suicide, he said that Don't worry about me and you should continue this struggle."

He second daughter, Lee Go-Eun, is in despair and losing words, and lamented that his father is the most best person with good knowledge about cows and farming.

As the Mexican government try to block further incoming of international NGOs to protest against WTO and to participate in the funeral, family members will also have problem to enter into Cancun.

Now about 200 Korean NGO delegates composed with 20 organizations of KCTU, anti-WTO, Korean Farmers Association and many other organizations are extending candlelight demonstration in the area of hospital in Cancun.


Photos of Lee:







On the death of South Korean farmer, Lee Kyung-Hae and the WTO's negotiations on agriculture

September 11, 2003

Friends Of the Earth International

No author given.

Cancun, Mexico - On 10 September 2003, during the World Trade Organisation (WTO)'s Fifth Ministerial in Cancun, Mexico, Lee Kyung-Hae, former president of the Korean Advanced Farmers Federation, took his life in front of police barricades erected to prevent access to the Centro de Convenciones where the WTO is meeting.

In doing so, he hoped to focus the world's attention on the plight of farmers in South Korea and across the globe, many millions of whom have been impoverished and even driven to suicide as a direct result of the impact of neo-liberal economic globalization on food production, livelihoods, and the environment.

The WTO is systematically undermining subsistence farming and the lives of small farmers around the world. The globalization of agriculture and food systems has been marked by a move to industrial export-oriented production heavily influenced by the interests of transnational corporations (TNCs), who are increasingly able to dictate the way that food is produced traded and marketed. It has led to the establishment of intellectual property rights systems that permit TNCs to expropriate farmers' knowledge of food production techniques and basic resources such as seeds and it discourages sustainable agriculture and the production of healthy food.

Friends of the Earth International supports and defends the right of all to demonstrate and freely voice their beliefs. Lee Kyung-Hae was a committed campaigner with many years' experience and his death was a significant political protest that has to be understood in a cultural context. His views and those of peasant farmers around the world must be listened to by those governments meeting in Cancun to force through trade rules that promote the interests of transnational corporations.

Friends of the Earth International supports the position of La Via Campesina. The WTO is an inappropriate forum for food and agriculture and therefore the current negotiations on agriculture should be stopped in Cancun. Real solutions -- both in the short and the long term -- require a deep and radical shift away from export-oriented industrial agriculture.

WTO rules should not apply to food and agriculture.

Finally, Friends of the Earth International wishes to express its support for the Korean people in their aspirations to achieve justice, equity and dignity for everyone, particularly small farmers who are suffering the consequences of WTO policies so deeply.