Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hunger Strikes & Resident Reflections

There are two hunger strikes going on, both in support of Korean farmers and other groups here. One is Indonesian migrant working women, and the others are Hong Kong residents who wish to make a public statement to help explain to the Hong Kong public, which has been receiving messages about the protests that are really negative and misleading.

For instance, in talking to a local friend who doesn't know I am in town, she said, "You know, my daughters are having to take the subway to get to work, since they work in that area. They can't take the usual taxi or bus; they're worried it'll get a little too crazy. The government's been saying that we should stay away from the protest areas because you never know what the Korean farmers will do, and if local Hong Kong people get up in the mix, then it'll be a real mess."

Our delegation has been supporting the Indonesian Migrant Workers Center. From up here, you can see the marches taking off for other parts of the city. The full body bow, described by Puck's last post, is called ke to in mandarin, it's even more a deep sign of repentence or respect than ju gong, which is a half body sort of bow.

Just now, the Korean farmers delegation passed, the drums and gongs ringing, and inside-outside circle formation. It's getting colder, moving towards night. They're supposed to try and sign something. Many of the smaller developing countries are blocking the move.

Then via campesina also rolled by, purple flags and indonesian flags waving, dalits from india, bangladeshis, and so on .... somehow many of those delegations have found Cantonese speakers who can message to the crowdsin Cantonese. And today, in the park, since it's Saturday, there are lots of kids and parents walking. A famous Indonesian singer, Franki, is also in town, and tomorrow is domestic workers' day off is tomorrow. THere will thus be more people to support. Ahhhhhh.....

Many Hong Kong people have joined the marches now, more people talking as the mood has been festive. In the Indonesian migrant workers center, someone says, yes, the Hong Kong police have been so much more restrained than in indonesia. They'll even block you from doing a licensed and permitted action. Here they have seen police help marchers clear the way and provide security for impromptu marchers. Yesterday's action with folks tagging the US Consulate General is an example. What with so many cameras around, a few police standing by didn't really do anything.

Earlier today, I was showing some of our delegation a few capoeira moves. The two police watching nearby came over to ask what I was doing, then moved to the normal questions: where are you from, what are you doing here. It was a chance for someo f our other folks who speak Cantonese to talk with the police, and they were nice, and curious. I didn't understand the actual conversation that we had about the WTO, but I'll check in with folks later. DA, CD. we've always got to also have support on the outside. Laters.

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