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Police threaten Australian unionist

Green Left Weekly - February 23, 2000

Indonesian police are threatening to imprison or deport Australian trade unionist Roger Smith. Smith, who works in Indonesia for the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, has been detained and interrogated over his participation in labour rallies and his meetings with Indonesian unionists.

In an e-mail message to supporters in Australia, Smith said, "I have indeed been in trouble here since February 2. On that day, I went to register with the police as required by immigration regulations.

"However, the secret police had a picture of me talking to people at a demonstration organised by [the independent union] SBSI and [to] Dita Sari [president of another independent union, the FNPBI] last November. They therefore tried to arrest and detain me with the view to deportation as soon as possible. After 13 hours of detention and interrogation, they tried to force me to sign a statement I didn't agree with."

He is now free but has been interrogated on several further occasions. Indonesian authorities have confiscated his passport. Smith says that the US ambassador has sought to end the police harassment but that the Australian embassy has shown little interest. He asked supporters raise the issue with the department of foreign affairs in Canberra and with the Australian embassy in Jakarta.