N30: Global Capitalism Global Protest

There were actions against the WTO all over the world, including Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Iceland, Turkey and the places below.

Article from Black Flag #219 about the protests on November 30th 1999.

Submitted by Fozzie on January 20, 2021


Activists damaged electricity transformers serving the WTO headquarters in an attempt to wipe out computer links to the ministerial meeting in Seattle. The action caused a short-circuit and explosion in a small power supply building adjacent to the WTO. A two-hour power cut ensued, plunging the building into darkness and blackening computer screens. Computer servers were only restored four hours later at 9am.


Eight thousand members and activists demonstrated outside the US embassy and the Presidential palace and there were massive demonstrations in Central Philippines against the 1995 Mining Act which allows 100% foreign equity in local projects, despite the objections of local tribespeople.


In India, grass roots movements representing indigenous peoples, farmers, slum dwellers, women, victims of corporations such as Union Carbide, workers, students and other social sectors directly affected by the destructive process of capitalist globalisation took to the streets in several states to express their rejection of the WTO regime and demand India's withdrawal from it.

Karnataka demonstrate against Monsanto and WTO

Several thousand farmers, activists and unionists from Karnataka gathered at Mahatma Ghandi Park in Bangalore with banners and placards stating "We Don't Want Monsanto's Bullshit", "Keep Organic Free from Genetic Engineering". The police tried to prevent a sound system being used for speeches, but gave up after the farmers threatened to take the demo onto the surrounding streets. At the end of the demonstration they issued a 'Quit India' notice to Monsanto, urging the company to leave India or face direct action against its activities and installations.

A speaker from the Bellary district, where more than 18 tonnes of Monsanto's sorghum seeds were recently destroyed, said,

"Farmers who used Monsanto's seeds are suffering. This year the entire crop of Monsanto's sorghum failed... ruining more than 1000 families. We already warned agribusiness when we destroyed the Cargill office in Bangalore in 1993... if you don't leave India soon we will kick you out physically."

Another from the Raichur district, declared

"In November 98, when we found that Monsanto was holding field trials in Karnataka, we decided to burn the crops in the action 'Cremation Monsanto'. We will continue taking direct action until these TNCs go away."

Union delegates warned,

"Because of multinational corporations 7,000 Indian industries are closed today. If we keep quiet the whole country will be in the hands of transnational investors. This is the time for farmers and industrial workers to come closer and fight with unity... The WTO is trying to deliver countries like ours into the hands of transnational monopolies. But we will not allow them to interfere in our lives. We don't want multinational seed companies, we don't want genetically modified seeds. We have our own technologies and we are very happy with them."

Bullock-cart rally in Narmada valley

An anti-WTO demonstration with bullock-carts was organised in the village of Anjar by Rewa Ke Yuva (Youths for Narmada). More than 1,000 people from around 60 villages participated in the colourful procession.

Action against WTO and the Maheshwar Dam, New Delhi

Five hundred women and men from the Maheshwar area of the Narmada valley came to New Delhi to protest against the capitalist model of so-called 'development' at a three-day sit-in at Raj Ghat, the burial place of Mahatma Ghandi's ashes. Their action had two specific targets: the collusion of Indian industrial interests, multi-national corporations and the German state to build a dam in Maheshwar, and the WTO regime, for its global vandalism.

At the same time, 10 representatives of the Save the Narmada Movement and supporters delivered more than 11,000 protest postcards written by people from the Maheshwar area to the German Embassy. (The German government is considering approving a Hermes guarantee for the dam which would remove all risk for the foreign corporations which are investing in its construction). The ten representatives were arrested whilst 100 other activists protested outside the embassy.

Back at Raj Ghat, activists from Jagerti Mahila Samiti (Committee for the Awakening of Women, a local grassroots movement organising in the slums of Delhi), Prawaha (a students' organisation), the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements and several local organisations burned a statue symbolising the WTO and made speeches.

World Bank occupied in New Delhi

More than 300 Adivasis (indigenous peoples) from Madya Pradesh jumped the fence of the World Bank building on the 24 November. They blocked entry to the building, covered it with posters, graffiti, cow shit and mud, sang slogans and traditional songs at the gate, and left only after Mr Lim, Director of the World Bank in India, came out to receive an open letter signed by Adivasis movements. The letter denounced the destructive impact of World Bank investments in forestry and of liberalisation of the timber trade enshrined in the WTO system. The letter clearly stated

"We fought against the British and we will fight against the new form of colonialism that you represent with all our might."

Mr Lim's attempts to deliver a speech were shouted down by the Adivasis, who, after talking with World Bank officials for the last five years, had concluded that such ‘dialogues' only served to betray, mislead and deceive while protecting commercial and industrial interests.

Schiphol, Amsterdam Airport ...Let's Fly to the WTO!

Dutch activists asked three airline companies who were sponsoring the WTO summit, to provide them with a charter to Seattle. A letter, sent to Lufthansa, North-west Airways and United Airlines stated:

"The decisions made in Seattle are of direct influence in our lives. We would like to use the opportunity you give us by sponsoring the summit. Let us express our opinions about the policies of the WTO. An estimated 300 people intend to travel with the free charter to Seattle. Our group will check in on 30 November at 12.30 to collect our tickets to avoid causing any inconvenience to other passengers."

On the day roughly 100 people gathered at noon, watched by a crowd of police and press. Flyers were distributed to explain the action to fellow passengers. There were plane 'tickets' for the free flight to Seattle, luggage labels and t-shirts declaring 'Seattle here we come'. After a short introduction to WTO and the action, banners were unrolled and the group entered the departure hall. Surprisingly their visits to the three check in desks produced no tickets. So, unable to take to the air, the group played football, staged sit-ins, and generally made a nuisance of themselves, handing out a list of the addresses of the sponsors of the WTO summit.


Altogether, 80,000 people joined protests across the country, including a 20,000 strong demo in Paris. Our favourite was Eastern France where 800 miners clashed with cops ransacking a tax office and burning cars in two towns.

In Dijon forty activists occupied the Dijon Industry and Business institute and one bank agency 'place du theatre' in the financial centre of Dijon. As ten protesters wearing 'Enslaved by Money?' shirts blocked off the entrances of the two buildings using D-locks and arm-tubes, other groups threw fake blood and money on the pavements, glued anti-capitalist / anti-WTO posters on the walls, hung banners and handed out flyers and free drinks to passers-by.

The WTO is an international organisation of 134 member countries which is both a forum for negotiating international trade agreements and the monitoring and regulating body for enforcing the agreements. The WTO was created in 1995, by the passage of the provisions of ‘Uruguay Round’ of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Their aim is to turn the world into one big market, with business having the power to force governments to remove socially and environmentally protective laws in the name of ‘free trade’. This has already been achieved in many countries. It is the cutting edge of the neo-liberal agenda, the means by which capital hopes to erode the last vestiges of the post-war social democratic consensus.