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Tuesday, December 21, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters To The Editor

WTO Commentary; Writer Has A Lot To Learn On Human Rights, Democracy

While Bruce Chapman purports to uphold "law and order," he has a lot to learn about how a democracy should work. Chapman obviously has no qualms about gassing nonviolent demonstrators whose only "crime" was that they were protesting in public places. ("What's in a name? A disservice to the truth," Dec. 12.)

People have a right to demonstrate in public places. They have no obligation to disperse simply because the police order them to, nor can police create the necessity of dispersing a crowd by attacking it.

People who fear being gassed by the security forces have the right to protect themselves by wearing gas masks, and people arrested for protesting in public places have no obligation to "cooperate" with the security forces by giving their names.

Chapman's failure to understand these fundamental principles of human rights places him in the company of those narrow-sighted functionaries who believed they had the right to use force to clear Tiananmen Square of demonstrators in June 1990.

Perhaps Chapman and the WTO will meet in China next time, thereby sparing themselves the inconveniences of democracy.

Neil Fox

Seattl.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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