Activists slam police for blocking anti-IMF event in Bali

A group of anti-IMF demonstrators shout and hold up placards saying ‘Stop the attacks’ at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Nusa Dua on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on October 11, 2018. (AFP pic)

NUSA DUA: An anti-globalisation conference on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s annual meeting this week in Indonesia has been cancelled due to pressure from national police, activists said Thursday.

The planned event set to kick off Thursday — the “Peoples’ Global Conference against IMF-WB” — has had its approval yanked by police, and the venue organiser cancelled, organisers said.

“While the local police has already issued a recommendation in favour of holding the conference, the national police is now using the local village leadership and paramilitary saying that no event can be held without its permission,” organisers of the Peoples’ Global Conference said in a statement.

The alternative conference, which had attracted around 300 registrants from Indonesia and around the world, was to bring together dozens of civil society groups to draw attention to the impact of free trade and IMF-WB backed policies that critics say aggravate income inequality, abuse labour rights and hurt the environment.

Organisers said police intelligence personnel had infiltrated the event planning team as volunteers, subjecting them to intimidation and constant surveillance.

Hoax banners of the event carrying logos of terror-linked organisations as co-sponsors also appeared around the planned venue in Dangin Puri Kangin village, near the island’s capital Denpasar, the organisers said.

“They are trying to intimidate and even ban our democratic activity in relation to the World Bank and IMF,” Kurniawan Sabar, an organiser from the Peoples’ Global Conference, told AFP.

“We were having the conference to discuss how IMF and World Bank projects affect people.”

Indonesia’s national police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Thousands of security personnel have fanned out around key venues in Nusa Dua, just south of Bali’s main international airport, with some 32,000 delegates, including finance ministers and central bankers, attending the IMF-World Bank meetings.

Delegates are focused on maintaining global growth amid increasing protectionist sentiment and escalating trade tensions between China and the US.

Sabar said the Peoples’ Global Conference was looking for an alternate venue and was in negotiations with police in Bali.