Activist continues fight with WTO at Qatar meeting

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

DOHA, Qatar -- Jailed in France and tear gassed in Seattle, French farm activist Jose Bove had to raise a ruckus again to get to the World Trade Organization meeting in Qatar -- only to end up feeling sidelined.

"They don't allow us to attend some press conferences, they exclude us from the debates, guards are everywhere and entire sections are closed" to all except delegates, he complained in an interview.

The sheep farmer has been the star of a few brief demonstrations inside the hotel complex where the WTO session is being held. Each time, he and activists from other organizations invited as observers are quickly surrounded by cameras and reporters, but attention soon wanes.

Bove accused the WTO of intentionally bringing the ministerial meeting to Doha, because "it is impossible to bring people."

WTO officials say Qatar was the only country that volunteered after the 1999 Seattle protests.

Bove was one of thousands of demonstrators who were in Seattle to protest the WTO meeting. That meeting failed to reach agreement on new trade talks amid clashes between the protesters and police.

Bove almost didn't make it to Qatar.

He said Qatari authorities stalled on issuing him a visa although he was accredited by the WTO to attend.

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