Marathon weekend for trade justice

 Thousands took part in events around the UK this weekend calling for a re-write of global trade rules in favour of poor people and the environment, at the world trade summit in Mexico later this year. Campaigners and supporters of the 42 Trade Justice Movement member organisations, which include CAFOD and Christian Aid paraded through the Glastonbury festival urging revellers to send messages to all 659 MPS. Festival headliner Ed O'Brien, guitarist from Radiohead, told the crowds: "We want to make sure every MP gets a clear message that British voters want the rules on international trade rewritten to make world trade work for the whole world." Elsewhere, Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who will lead Britain's delegation in Mexico, attended a trade justice event in Leicester City Centre. In Windrush Square, Brixton, South London, Keith Hill, Minister of State in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, appeared to be swayed by campaigners' arguments that the UK government's prescription of 'free and fair trade' is often contradictory for poor nations. "It's totally clear that a totally open market approach to developing countries is dangerous to them and we have to consider how we can protect their interests," said Mr Hill. "I'm not in the habit of yielding to an audience simply because I'm here to please, but I agree that free trade isn't necessarily fair.' In Tottenham, actor and writer Kwame Kwei-Armah lobbied David Lammy MP, along with local campaigners. Kwame recently went to Senegal with Christian Aid. In Nottingham, World Champion Boxer Jawaid Khaliq fought 10-year old Umar Mohammad to illustrate the injustice of world trade rules. Umar landed a few punches but Jawaid was victorious. Three MPs and 300 people watched the bout. In Birmingham, Paul Bradley (Nigel from Eastenders) joined hundreds of people at a city centre carnival. In Newcastle, from five points in the city, campaigners marched to Grey's Monument. They held a minute's silence as a giant set of scales was raised to symbolise the imbalance in world trade. In Glasgow, campaigners took over Bells Bridge, and swathed it in trade justice banners. Glen Tarman, Co-ordinator of the Trade Justice Movement said: "Trade justice has been well and truly pinned to the political map of the UK. The British public has now sent a very clear message to government." CAFOD's Head of Campaigns, Alison Marshall said: "2003 is a crucial year for trade justice. Important decisions about international trade are on the agenda in Cancun; the lives of the world's poorest people and the environment are held in the balance. "The UK government says it wants trade to help end world poverty. Yet the Government is pushing for policies in the World Trade Organisation that are biased in favour of rich countries and the West's corporations. We want to put the spotlight on our government's hypocrisy."

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