By Rio Apinino in Denpasar, Bali
Indonesian police have closed down the Peoples’ Global Conference Against the IMF-World Bank which should have opened earlier today at the Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) Auditorium in Denpasar, Bali.
As its name suggests, the conference opposes the annual International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting which is currently being held in Nusa Dua, Bali.
The event, organised by the People’s Movement Against the IMF-WB — which is made up of a number of Indonesian non-government and social organisations — was to have several discussion panels on a variety of themes broadly aimed at trying to present an alternative to the narrative promoted by the IMF and World Bank.
The event however had to be cancelled after being blocked by police.
Agrarian Reform Movement Alliance (AGRA) chairperson Rahmat Ajiguna, who is on the conference organising committee, told Tirto that until the evening of October 10 all of the preparations for the event had proceeded smoothly. All of the technical issues related to the conference had been completed.
“But in the end, the venue was cancelled by the RRI [radio] management”, Rahmat told Tirto last night.
The organisers tried to find an alternative venue and finally found one at the Nirmala Hotel and Convention Centre, also located in the capital Denpasar.
Once again, however, the event was cancelled by the hotel management at the last minute on the grounds that the organisers did not have a permit from police.
After being pushed on the issue, said Rahmat, the management admitted that “the hotel had been approached by police intel [intelligence officers] and were told that we are not allowed to hold the event there”.
The conference participants were not just from Indonesia but also included international guests.
Several international organisations were to take part including, among others, the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, the Asia Pacific Research Network, the Asian Peasant Coalition, the Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self Determination and Liberation and People Over Profit.
Rahmat said that all of the participants agreed that the IMF-World Bank annual meetings brought no benefits to the majority of people.
In fact they result in the majority of the world’s people “falling into poverty, hunger, unemployment and long-term suffering. It’s like they [the IMF-World Bank] are the gods that determine humanity’s lives from the beds they sleep in to their [lives] outside the home”, he said.
The participants were only told about the cancellation when they arrived at the venue. They then formed a line holding banners in front of the hotel lobby and give speeches, which resulting in an argument between the participants and the hotel management.
When hotel security personnel tried to remove them one of the overseas guests said: “You’re working class. You should be with us!”
In the end they were forced to disband and participants are now trying to find an alternate venue so that the conference can still go ahead.
Rizal Assalam, one of the conference guests, said the “operation” against the conference had in fact being going on for several days.
On October 7, Peoples’ Global Conference posters appeared on WhatsApp with the logo of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), yet the alliance has no links with the radical Islamic organisation which was outlawed by the government last year.
“Then on October 8, at the Puputan Margarana park [in Renon, Denpasar], out protest action was forcibly broken up by intel officers who claimed to be local residents. Police continued to harass [us] until the action disbanded and while participants waited to be picked up to leave the location,” Rizal said.
“On the evening of October 10, police came to the Bali LBH [Legal Aid Foundation]. Students who were staying overnight there were ordered to leave,” he added.
Earlier this morning, Rizal said, several police officers were also at the Nirmala Hotel and Convention Centre taking pictures of the participants.
Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Diskusi Tandingan IMF-WB Diberangus Kepolisian Bali”.