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In Cancun, Korean Farmers' Leader committed suicide because the WTO is killing farmers


Issued by the Africa People's Caucus with "La Boca del Hurakan" -


Africa Peoples Caucus Salutes Fallen Korean Comrade

Lee Kyang Hae, 54 years old, leader of farmers, past president of the Korean National Future Farmer's and Fishermans Association, came to Cancun to participate in the Farmers Forum on the agricultural policies of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

During the mass mobilization on the 10th of September in the ultimate symbol act, he took his own life in protest against the destruction of farmer's lives and livelihoods caused by the agricultural policies of the WTO.

On top of a large wooden platform that was being repeatedly thrown against the government blockades Hae impaled himself with a 30cm sword. Mr Lee died a few hours later from the excessive loss of blood in the General Hospital of Cancun.

In a press conference, the Korean delegation declared that he committed suicide because the WTO is killing farmers, and that his death could have been avoided if the Mexican authorities had permitted the Korean delegation to bring their message to the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO. According to an International Forum on Globalisation press release Hae's suicide also symbolized the pressure put on farmers in Korea. "Many Korean farmers must commit suicide due to their heavy burden of debt" they face as a result of WTO agricultural policies.

The suicide of Lee Kyang should have an impact on the negotiation inside the WTO since agriculture is a central theme this week.The intention of this act was to stop the meeting which was being held in Cancun until Sunday.

The Korean delegation has a deep desire to express to the world their opposition to the policies of the WTO, since those mean the death of their agriculture and culture.

This was an honourable political act that is part of the struggle for survival of more than 3 million Koreans. For this reason, the delegates demand that the Korean government halt negotiations, and that it not bend beneath pressure from the US and the EU.

One day after his death hundreds of people gathered around the large fountain near where Hae fell. Despite a thunderstorm that soaked onlookers speeches and songs continued for over an hour. The ceremony was conducted in Korean, English and Spanish, reflecting the ecletic support Hae's death has garnered. Spanish and Korean organizations insist that Hae's death will only serve to strengthen solidarity amongst farmer's movements.

The Africa People's Caucus shares their vision and offers their support.

Issued by the Africa People's Caucus with "La Boca del Hurakan"
- 11/09/03