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Political Protest Banned At WTO Meeting

Green Party co-leader Rod Donald said it was deeply ironic that the World Trade Organisation, which claims free trade increases human rights, is holding a Ministerial meeting in Qatar where political protest is illegal.

WTO director Mike Moore has announced the next WTO Ministerial Meeting is to be held in Qatar, an Arab state on the Persian Gulf which is governed by a monarchy without democratically elected institutions or political parties, between November 5 - 9 this year.

"I think it is both incredible and outrageous that this organisation which claims to support global human rights has decided to hold a meeting in a nation with no commitment to either human rights or democracy," said Mr Donald.

"Clearly the surging opposition to free trade and globalisation over the last year is behind this choice of venue."

The latest report from the US State Department on Qatar, published last year, found that the government severely restricts freedom of assembly, limits freedom of association and does not permit political parties or membership of other organisations critical of the Government.

"Holding a meeting in Qatar is a further blow to the credibility of not just the WTO but of the whole globalisation agenda," said Mr Donald.

"I call on Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton to urge the WTO to abandon the Qatar meeting."

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