Asian governments criticised for silence on Singapore clampdown

Agence France-Presse
17 Sep 06

Non-government groups denounced Asian governments for their silence on Singapore’s crackdown on foreign activists critical of the IMF and World Bank.

Unlike European governments which issued strong statements supporting citizens who were on a Singapore blacklist of activists banned from attending IMF and World Bank events here, no statements have been heard from their Asian counterparts, they said.

The organisations said around 25 activists attempting to transit through Singapore to attend a series of seminars on the nearby Indonesian island of Batam had been turned back by the authorities, a large number of them Asians.

Most of them complained of being detained at Changi Airport and subjected to intense questioning before being refused entry.

Their mobile phones were confiscated and no contact was allowed with family or friends, according to individual accounts.

Among those deported were Filipinos, a Japanese, South Koreans, Indians and Sri Lankans.

“It’s very unfortunate that Asian governments have been silent on this,” said Jenina Joy Chavez, a senior associate at activist group Focus on the Global South.

“Most disappointing is the silence of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” she told a news conference outside the convention centre where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings and related events were being held.

Chavez was one of 22 activists taken off a Singapore blacklist of 27 persons after IMF and World Bank officials complained to the host government.

Singapore is Southeast Asia’s most advanced economy but has been regularly criticised for its record on human rights and tight controls on free speech and assembly.

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