Civil society groups denounce Singapore government, IMF-WB for barring activists

Anonyme, Thursday, September 14, 2006 - 04:55

Freedom from Debt Coalition - Philippines

Jubilee South and the Freedom from Debt Coalition of the Philippines, two of the proponents and lead organizers of the International Peoples Forum vs the IMF and World Bank, denounce the latest move of the Singapore government to prevent the exercise of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition and its President, Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, has been named by the Singapore government as one of at least 20 organizations and representatives in a list of those prohibited from entering Singapore.

Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South said that the eventual number of banned organizations and representatives is likely to be far longer than 20.

“The named organizations and individuals received accreditation from the World Bank and IMF early in the process. Others who were notified of their accreditation just recently may also suffer the same fate. Furthermore, the list furnished to the World Bank by the Singapore government includes only those who have received accreditation. We also suspect that other participants of the International Peoples Forum who did not apply for accreditation for the official events may likewise be barred from entry to Singapore," Nacpil said.

The Singapore government also exerted pressure on the local authorities of Batam to prohibit the International Peoples Forum vs the IMF and WB from taking place in Batam, a city of Indonesia that is 45 minutes by ferry from Singapore.

According to Nacpil: “We decided to hold the IPF in Batam because we already anticipated that the Singapore government would not allow such a gathering. The IPF would be a convergence of activities such as workshops, seminars, forums and outdoor peaceful actions such as a public concert. These activities are not even unusual in most countries. We were astounded by the arrogance of the Singapore government in attempting to intervene in the policies of another country. Obviously the leverage used was its huge economic presence in Batam. We welcome the recent move of the national government of Indonesia to allow the IPF to take place in Batam. But Singapore pressure has already cost us – the permission from the Government of Indonesia comes with the restriction that no outdoor activities will be allowed."

The IMF and WB have expressed their concern about the Singapore ban on accredited civil society representatives. But there are mounting voices of dissatisfaction over the response of these institutions.

“To begin with, the IMF-WB should not have chosen Singapore as a venue of its Annual Meeting," Nacpil said, adding: “They cannot shirk away from bearing part of the responsibility for these serious violations of basic civil rights. The appropriate response now should be the cancellation of the IMF and WB meeting in Singapore unless all the accredited participants are allowed entry."

Meanwhile, Jubilee South clarified that the event in Batam is just one of the activities included in the calendar of the week-long internationally coordinated global actions against IFIs. More than 400 organizations from 74 countries worldwide already signed are ready to mount colorful and creative activities and protest actions, most of which will take place from September 14-20.

“These attempts to curtail the voices and initiatives of social movements and NGOs ban will surely lead to more intensified actions in these 74 countries," said Wilson Fortaleza, Vice President of the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

“Here in the Philippines we have scheduled several mobilizations these coming days, including a picket tomorrow at the World Bank Forum on Corruption and Good Governance at the Shangrila Hotel in Makati. Up next would be the Singapore Embassy," Fortaleza said.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2006

1st set of Photos: 12 Sept 06 - Protest against World Bank at Makati Shangri-la
2nd set of Photos: 13 Sept 06 - Picket at Indonesian Embassy
3rd set of Photos: 13 Sept 06 - Picket at Singaporean Embassy

More Photos with link below

Filipino Civil Society Representatives Not Allowed into Singapore Yesterday (12 Sept. 2006)

by Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)

Two Filipino civil society representatives to the International People's Forum to be held in Batam, Indonesia via Singapore, were not allowed entry into Singapore, according to Francis Isaac of the Jubilee South and the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

A report was received this morning that two Filipino civil society representatives to the International People's Forum to be held in Batam, Indonesia via Singapore, were not allowed entry into Singapore, according to Francis Isaac of the Jubilee South and the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

Chona Leah Ramos, of the Jubilee South and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), and Bobbie Diciembre of the Freedom From Debt Coalition, were interrogated and detained for 5 hours. They were made to sleep in the Traffic Singapore Air barracks and are now being deported back to Manila.

"We are shocked by this news and we express our outrage at the way the Singaporean authorities have undermined the right of some civil society members to speak and gather freely", Marivic Raquiza, GCAP Asia Convenor, said.

"Precisely because of the lack of democracy in Singapore and the severe political restrictions we face, NGOs and citizens groups have decided to organize parallel civil society events called the International Peoples Forum to the IMF-WB meetings in Singapore, not in that country, but in Batam, Indonesia, which is about 30 minutes away by ferry," Isaac states. "But since it is cheaper to travel to Batam via Singapore, many civil society delegates to the IPF have been advised to travel via Singapore. Interestingly, civil society delegates from India and Hong Kong were allowed through by Singaporean authorities yesterday. "

Raquiza adds that, "This sounds like the continuation of the blacklist that the Singaporean authorities have done, where they pick and choose who they want to allow into Singapore and who they will not. While the selection of Singapore has been questioned, given its questionable human rights record, this latest development puts into serious question the IMF-WB's stated commitment to the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance."

Jubilee South, FDC and GCAP are some of the Convenor organizations of the International Peoples Forum (IPF) where some 1000 participants from civil society are expected to attend from Sept. 15-17 in Batam, Indonesia.

GCAP is now the world's biggest anti-poverty alliance, whose organizations represent more than 150 million people in over 80 countries. Uniting its wide array of actors are their calls for the elimination of extreme poverty, an increase in the quantity and quality of aid, debt cancellation and trade justice.

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