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Hundreds gather in Seattle to protest anti-people agenda of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum


SEATTLE, WA — On July 29th and 30th hundreds of people from labor, human rights, anti-war, and environmental organizations around the Pacific Northwest gathered in Seattle to oppose the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. While APEC ministers and corporate lobbyists began their closed door meetings to discuss secretive new free trade dealings, the Pacific Northwest People Over Profit (PNW-POP) coalition organized a people’s summit, holding workshops, featured prominent speakers, and led a march to the Seattle Convention Center to expose APEC's false solutions to poverty, inequality, and climate crisis. PNW-POP and allies plan to continue to oppose APEC’s Seattle meetings through August 22nd.

PNW-POP coalition members march along Pine, and outside of the Convention Center on 7/30.

On the first day of the APEC forum in Seattle, PNW-POP organized a large people’s summit at the University of Washington on July 29th. Over 400 people gathered for a day of workshops and speakers, including a keynote speech from Eni Lestari, chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance. An Indonesian migrant worker in Hong Kong, Lestari has previously spoken before the United Nations advocating for the rights of the millions of people displaced, trafficked, and forced to migrate to escape poverty and economic crisis.

Her keynote speech exposed how free trade policy, which APEC promotes, creates the conditions which force people to flee their homelands in search of better opportunities only to be further exploited as cheap labor in countries where they are vulnerable to deportation, state violence, human trafficking and slavery. She reiterated the importance of building grassroots organizations to stand up against corporate globalization and demand that the rights of workers, migrants, and women are upheld:

“From massive anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-immigrant rights movements, to the more recent calls for racial justice and the end of police killings, to the surging strike movement of retail, shipping, and transportation workers across the U.S., millions are rising up and challenging the exploitation and repression they face in their workplaces, communities, and all the way to their homelands. They are met with government counterinsurgency programs, militarized policing of their communities, detention and deportation of migrant workers, and outright attacks on protesters. But the people press forward to fight for a better world.”

- Eni Lestari, International Migrants Alliance

Eni continued noting that, “despite the outcries and protests, the world leaders choose to deny the people’s concerns and demands. The APEC talks, including the trade ministers meetings here in Seattle right now, have happened mostly behind closed doors and with corporate lobbyists at the forefront, instead of listening to the concerns and voices of the people impacted by APEC.”

On Sunday July 30th, around 400 people rallied at Cal Anderson park for speakers and musical performances, before marching to the Seattle Convention Center where APEC’s senior finance officials were meeting. Despite APEC’s 2023 theme of “Creating a resilient and sustainable future for all,” the public was neither invited nor welcomed inside. When the march arrived, APEC officials largely hid inside, and a few peered down from the roof as protestors chanted "No to APEC!" and demanded that officials come out to hear the voices and demands of the people. The Washington Fair Trade Coalition even tried to deliver over 10,000 signatures demanding that APEC allow more input from workers and the public. However, APEC refused to accept their petition. Undeterred, protesters occupied the street in front of the main entrance and multiple speakers raised the issues of the millions of women, migrants, and workers worldwide who are excluded from these talks, yet will be seriously affected by the resulting policies and decisions.

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Additional Photos included below (all photos attributed to PNW-POP)


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