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Singapore deports Indian activist

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Sep 14 (UNI) The Singapore government has deported Indian social activist Wilfred D'Costa, who was on his way to attend a parallel NGOs meeting coinciding with the annual joint meeting of the World Bank-IMF in the island state.

D'Costa, the Ahmedabad-based General Secretary of the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), was detained at the Singapore airport and sent back to India, according to the NGO, which is a network of over 600 organisations across the country against globalisation and communalism.

The Indian activist, who was not accredited with the World Bank-IMF meeting beginning tomorrow, was going to the nearby Batam Island in Indonesia, the venue of the International Peoples Forum.

''I was questioned by over 15 Singapore airport police, my baggage rummaged through five times and several documents I had were photocopied,'' D'Costa said after arriving in India from Singapore.

According to him, the Singapore authorities took his pictures and fingerprints and issued him a 'Notice of Refusal of Entry'.

D'Costa, who holds a two-year multiple entry visa to Singapore, said he was also not allowed to used the telephone or the Internet and was made to wait in a lock-up manned by the airport police for six hours yesterday. Later, his visa was cancelled and he was made to board the flight back to India.

The World Bank-IMF had accredited several social activists from around the world, including from India, to attend the civil society events surrounding the annual meeting.

''D'Costa was not attending the World Bank-IMF meeting. He was in Singapore only to take a ferry to the Batam Island in Indonesia which is only half-hour away by sea,'' said Benny Kuruvilla of Focus on the Global South-India, who was accredited with the World Bank-IMF meeting but had decided not to go.

However, another accredited Indian activist, Shalmali Guttal of the Focus on the Global South-India, chose not to attend the meeting after she received an e.mail from the organisers saying the Singapore government had objected to her attendance at the meeting because of security and law and order considerations.

Ms Guttal wrote a letter to the External Affairs Ministry urging them to take up the matter with the Singapore government.

Earlier, the Singapore Police said it had barred an Indian activist from entering the city state for the week-long World Bank-IMF meeting, but did not name the person.

The Indian activist, who left Singapore last evening, was not accredited with the Singapore meeting, the police said.

The Singapore Police also denied entry to two Filipino activists -- a man and a woman -- on September 12. They were also noted accredited with the meeting.

After ''interviewing'' the three foreigners, it was decided that they should be deported because the assessment said they posed a potential security threat to the annual meeting of World Bank-IMF, the police said.

The police had already objected to 28 international activists accredited with the meeting expressing concern about security.

A social activist from the Action Aid International staged a protest at the meeting venue in Suntec City today. Sandy Krawitz staged her protest at the designated protest area and said her group would stage a silent protest tomorrow on Singapore's tough restrictions on demonstrations by civil groups.


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