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Thousands attend WSF opening


By Saleem Samad, Daily Times of Pakistan

MUMBAI: Thousands of people from various world communities united amidst slogans, singing songs and dancing to the beat of drums on Friday at the inaugural session of the World Social Forum (WSF) 2004 here in India.

Residents of Mumbai, traditionally known as the commercial capital of India, unsurprisingly, remained aloof about the huge event taking place in their city.

The mammoth crowd gathered under the WSF banner to protest the threat of globalisation and the World Trade Organisation on poor countries, which would leave millions unemployed in developing countries.

At least 100,000 people from nearly 90 countries converged at Goregaon in the suburbs of Mumbai. Six hundred social justice activists, trade unionists, members of civil society, women groups, non-government organisations and other organisations from Pakistan arrived in Mumbai by train in several batches.

The WSF inauguration started with a fun-fare, an exhibition, film show and musical programme. Those who spoke at the inauguration ceremony included Shanti Patel, VP Singh, Arundhati Roy, Shabana Azmi and Lakshami Sehgal from India, Ahmed Ben Bella from Algeria, Chico Whitaker from Brazil, Jeremy Corbyn from UK, Shireen Ebadi from Iran, Mustapha Berghouti from Palestine and Abdul al Rekaby from Iraq. The ceremony was chaired by Ms Sehgal.

World Federation of Trade Unions General Secretary Alexander Zharikov asked developed nations to cancel outstanding liabilities of the developing nations.

(Reported by the Daily Times of Pakistan)