Over 100 civil society organizations are threatening to boycott the annual IMF / World Bank meetings in Singapore. They’re criticizing the government’s immigration and security measures, which they say have resulted in offensive interrogations, detentions and fingerprinting.
Singapore says it’s trying to avoid violent protests that have occurred at previous meetings.
Three members of the ngo ActionAid International were among those detained. Sandy Krawitz is a spokesperson for ActionAid. From the site of the IMF /World Bank meetings in Singapore, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the boycott.
“Members of civil society arte being kept out of this country for no verifiable reason. People are being turned away at the gates as they arrive at the airport after a very, very long flight. Some were told even before they left not to come, which we feel is a slap in the face to civil society worldwide. Furthermore… just today, three of our staff members, who are highly educated people here to discuss policy matters, were stopped at the airport, detained,” she says.
One of those detained from the group was Rose Wanjiru of Kenya. Krawitz says, “Rose is a slight woman, about five feet tall. She’s an MBA, who comes from Kenya. Very, very smart woman…She got to Singapore at about 9:30 last night (Wednesday night). She was expecting to go straight to the hotel. It was a very, very long flight for her. Instead, she was detained as she was going through customs and wasn’t told why. And she was held and her body is searched. She was questioned and interrogated again and again and again in numerous rooms… around four o’clock in the morning, she was finally released from the airport without even an apology. She’s just incredibly upset about this.”
Many of the civil society groups at the meets are calling for more debt cancellations for poor countries.
The World Bank has criticized Singapore for barring entry to the activists, saying it violates an earlier agreement.