18 Sep 06
Singapore police barred a Japanese activist from entering Singapore for the International Monetary Fund/World Bank annual meetings and deported him after holding him for 24 hours at Changi Airport, civil activists said Sunday.
The man, whose name has not been disclosed, is said to have links with Japanese civil group “ATTAC Japan” — the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens.
He flew into Singapore on Thursday and was deported Saturday, they said. He had planned to observe and learn more about civil society activities related to the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He was confined in a room, his cellphone was taken and he was not allowed to get any access to the Internet,” said Donatus Marut, an activist from Jakarta. “The immigration officers only gave back his cellphone just before he boarded the plane.”
Civil groups have complained that about a dozen other activists who arrived in Singapore for the IMF and World Bank meetings or who were in transit to Indonesia’s Batam Island near Singapore to protest the meetings have been deported.
The Singapore authorities have given no clear explanations for the deportations.
Activists say Singapore has have two sets of blacklists barring people from entering Singapore or taking part in the meetings.
One is an “official” blacklist, banning 27 of 500 activists accredited to the meetings by the IMF and World Bank.
Under strong pressure from the two financial institutions, which have roundly criticized Singapore’s undemocratic stance, Singapore later reduced the number of activists officially blacklisted by 22 to 5.
But there is also another list containing the names of more than 100 people not accredited by the institutions, activists say.
Those deported so far include people from India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Canada, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Brazil.
Many other activists canceled plans to come to Singapore after hearing of the deportations.
More than 160 civil groups are boycotting the financial meetings to show their unhappiness with the way they have been treated by Singapore.
They also backed out of planned meetings and seminars with the IMF and the World Bank and canceled or scaled down other forums.
And many activists said they were saddened that while most of those deported have been Asians, only European governments have so far been criticizing Singapore while the Asian countries remain silent.
Singapore, which bans outdoor demonstrations, has been determined maintain its control of the streets, despite the strong condemnation from the IMF and the World Bank.