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Protesters set sights on main targe

The Nation (25 November 1997)
Protesters set sights on main targets 


The Nation 

VANCOUVER ­ Protests emerged throughout Vancouver on Sunday as Canadian
police stepped up measures to guard the 18 world leaders attending the
Apec summit. 

Chinese protesters in about 50 cars drove around the downtown area,
especially near a hotel where Chinese delegates stayed. One of the cars
had a miniature of the Tiananmen-style Goddess of Democracy. 

''We don't want Vancouver to host Jiang Zemin. He's a murderer," said
protester Henry Chau, referring to the Chinese president who was
allegedly involved in the killing of Chinese students in the protest at
Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. 

The Chinese protesters formed a rather strange alliance with their
Taiwanese colleagues, who protested Beijing's claims to Taiwan. Earlier
in the afternoon, over 2,000 human rights workers and unionists staged
another peaceful but noisy protest in front of the Vancouver Trade and
Convention Centre in the downtown area where most of the Apec ministerial
meetings took place. 

They set up a temporary podium, played guitars and Scottish bagpipes and
established a portable audio system to let speaker after speaker voice
their protests. 

Police had to drag away some of the protesters who managed to enter the
police line and approach the entrance of the centre. 

Organisers said the number of the protesters might balloon significantly
if the weather improved. It was raining and the temperature dropped to
about 5 degrees Celsius that afternoon. 

Their banners varied from human rights to political issues which read:
''There is no China on Taiwan," ''China out of Tibet," ''The worst abuser
of human rights ­ China" and ''Chretien and Suharto ­ partners in

It is expected that Jiang and Indonesian President Suharto will be the
targets of most of the protests as posters asking people to participate
in the protest are widely plastered in public spaces. 

The Hongkong-based Far Eastern Economic Review reported earlier this week
that Suharto had ignored advice from the Indonesian Embassy in Washington
to cancel his trip to Vancouver. 

The embassy felt that negative reports on Indonesia in the international
media following the forest-fire haze and the financial crisis might make
his stay unpleasant. 

But Suharto decided to come to Vancouver after the Canadian government
guaranteed that the protesters would not be allowed too close to the
Indonesian delegates. 

The protesters marched from the Plaza of Unions, where activists from
different non-governmental organisations and unions worldwide had
organised a one-week People's Summit to discuss human rights and

One protester splashed a can of blood-like liquid at the entrance of the
building in an apparent bid to create an image that freer trade could
create victims without putting social clauses into the business deal. 

Some Tamil Sri Lankans also took part in the protest yesterday,
distributing leaflets telling the public that the governments of the
United States and South Korea had helped increased violence in war-torn
Sri Lanka by selling arms.