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        Friday, September 22, 2006
        Greetings from Thailand
        A dear friend of mine, who is working in Thailand, sent me an e-mail this morning updating me with what she is doing and her organizations take on the recent military coup in Thailand. As a campaigner of a civil society organization, she was going to attend the World Bank/IMF Annual meetings in Singapore. She, along with 26 other activists, was barred from entering the country. There goes democracy and freedom of speech.

        In a response to Singapore’s actions, the civil society organizations held parallel meetings in Batam Indonasia. My friend, D wrote,
        Many campaigners, although they have no plans anymore to attend the meetings, still needed to pass Sing to go to Batam. Many were deported upon arrival at Changi airport or detained for hours. They were interrogated. Those from Africa were even handcuffed and escorted in the airport for deportation.(My emphasis)

        Well, mainstream media doesn’t give you these fine details. They handcuffed and escorted those from Africa. This is what makes ones blood boil. When you try to be above race biases, at times even push it aside as ignorance, something like this jumps at you and makes you all defensive. Why the hell do they single out Africans and handcuff them?

        The "World Bank has criticized Singapore for barring invited activists from entering [Singapre because it] is a breach of an agreement signed three years ago." But the meeting went on. It didn't occur to the WB/IMF chiefs to pack and leave Singapore to show that they strongly object to a breach of an agreement by their own member…? They handcuffed peaceful activist. What more 'breach of agreement' do they want to stand up against actions like this? Then again these institutions are notoriously known for coming up with special "formula" to get around breeches of all sorts.

        Ironically, the home page of the Singapore government site is full of promises such as "Global city: world of opportunities" – but no global citizens please, I would add - and it features a cultural show called Diaspora which seeks "a better life across the four seas", "an exploration of the memories and tribulations of the diasporic peoples of Southeast Asia." And they throw out Southeast Asian activists? Please!

        If the issue of demonstrations is making host governments so paranoid to handcuff peaceful activists, I have a simple solution for WB & IMF. Organize regional meetings with citizens organizations, sponsor those who cannot afford to travel (if a meeting on African blogging could afford to sponsor participants, so can WB/IMF), gather the claims and demands of these organizations and include them in the agenda of the annual meetings. There are civil society organization with which WB/IMF is consulting, but the issue remains that most of the demands fall on deaf ears. Apparently, what these CSO's are demanding and the WB/IMF's mandate are worlds apart. Is there the political will to listen? I....don't think so.
        posted by Fikirte @ 10:51 AM   Digg!
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