Police Cancel Civil Society Events in Bali, Indonesia on the Sidelines of World Bank — IMF Annual Meetings

Statement in Solidarity with the People’s Global Conference Against World Bank — IMF

October 15, 2018 — The International Accountability Project and NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank denounce the reported actions taken by authorities in Indonesia to silence, threaten and intimidate members of civil society organizing events parallel to the 2018 World Bank — IMF Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia. Groups involved in the ‘People’s’ Global Conference against IMF and World Bank’ report that the police revoked permissions to hold events and pressured businesses to cancel reservations.

We call on the police to cease all threats, intimidation and surveillance of civil society members and strongly urge the World Bank Group and IMF to proactively address and investigate threats faced by the Peoples’ Global Conference and other civil society groups with the Government of Indonesia.

In a seminar organized by the NGO Forum on ADB on 11 October 2018, the meeting was disrupted when local authorities demanded to verify the passports of the participants and withholding it for at least 2.5 hours.

“The Forum strongly condemns this show of threat and intimidation by the Indonesian authorities. The surveillance and monitoring targeted at peaceful assemblies are clear signs of the continuing crackdown of CSOs and peoples’ movements raising their dissent on the harmful impacts of development financing.” states Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of NGO Forum on ADB

This crackdown on dissent is not unprecedented. In the past year, civil society groups in Asia-Pacific have raised the alarm regarding the closing space for civil society, highlighting the threats to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly in the region. In a November 2017 letter to President Jim Kim of the World Bank Group, 26 civil society organizations and networks operating in Asia called attention to the growing reality that “those who voice dissent to development projects have come under increasing harassment and intimidation, physical harm, and prosecution.”

“We received reports that authorities had infiltrated several side events organized by Indonesian civil society around the Annual Meetings, subjecting attendees to intimidation, questioning, and surveillance, including demands to see passports. At least three civil society side events were cancelled due to pressure on the organizers. We stand in solidarity with Indonesian partners in condemning these practices, and we call on the World Bank Group to do everything within its power to safeguard the space for human rights and environmental defenders,” states Jocelyn Medallo, Director of Policy and Advocacy at International Accountability Project.

We strongly urge the World Bank Group and IMF to publicly reaffirm commitments to the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to honor their stated belief “that International Financing Institutions should uphold the highest standards regarding transparency and accountability.” The World Bank-IMF should not proceed with business as usual when civil society groups continue to face a climate of fear and intimidation for exercising their basic freedoms of assembly and association.

This statement has been updated with statements from the NGO Forum on the ADB.

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