Singapore ups security for IMF talks

Singapore has taken a tough stand against protesters before the IMF and World Bank summit in the country, despite complaints from activists.

    Previous IMF meetings had met strong protests [file]

    The Straits Times, a pro-governmental newspaper, also dismissed concerns from the World Bank and IMF themselves, after it was revealed that demonstrators had been assigned a space smaller than a basketball court to hold their protest.

     

    An editorial in the papers read on Tuesday: "The WB-IMF appear more concerned over the fact some of  their critics and interlocutors are being denied entry to make their case, as they put it."

     

    Singapore has banned 28 activists, among them what they described as "disruptive characters", from entering the country even though they were accredited by the IMF and the World Bank as part of a deal between the institutions and their critics before Thursday's meeting.

     

    Activists will be allowed to gather in a roped-off corner of the lobby of Singapore's Suntec Convention Centre near a coffee shop, where they must abide by numerous regulations.

     

    They are forbidden by Singapore police from holding outdoor  protests and while they can shout, they cannot use loud-hailers or other sound amplifiers.

     

    Police have said they will provide free plastic placards on which protesters can write their slogans, but if demonstrators bring banners they cannot hoist them with metal or wooden poles as this is considered dangerous.

     

    Activists' anger

     

    Protesters have also been told they should be "appropriately attired at all times" and cannot stage burnings or display placards that may "provoke a breach of peace, cause alarm or distress [and] offend religious or racial and ethnic sensibilities", according to police guidelines.

     

    Although more than 500 activists from 261 groups have been  accredited, police said they did not expect all of them to gather at any one time.

     

    "We have never been involved as an organisation or as individuals in undemocratic and violent behaviour"

    Antonio Tricarro,
    activist

    Juan Jose Daboub, the World Bank managing director, said in Manila: "We have asked respectfully to the government that they allow more open demonstrations, but at the end of the day we have to respect that we are guests of a sovereign country and we cannot impose any rules."

     

    However, one protester told the Straits Times that he found the restrictions excessive.

     

    Antonio Tricarro, of Campaign to Reform the World Bank, based in Italy, told the newspaper: "We have never been involved as an organisation or as individuals in undemocratic and violent behaviour.

     

    "We have never been charged in our lives and we don't understand why this is happening."

     

    About 1,500 foreign activists have also said they will hold their protests in the Indonesian island of Batam near Singapore instead.

    SOURCE: AFP


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