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Menado students demonstrate against Asia Africa Conference
Tempo Interactive - April 22, 2005
Ahmad Alheid, Menado – Dozens of students from a number of organisations in the North Sulawesi city of Menado held a demonstration opposing the Asia Africa Conference on Friday April 22. They believe that the conference agenda is taking a soft line on neo-imperialism.
“The spirit of the Asia Africa Conference is different to the spirit of the Bandung Asia Africa Conference [in 1955]. Before an anti-neoliberal spirit was built, now it is actually the reverse”, said Irfan Basri from the Indonesian Islamic Student Movement (PMII).
According to Basri, the indication that the conference is not siding with the interests of ordinary people is that the conference’s agenda for discussion only revolves around the economy, business and trade. “Issue of the political struggles of developing countries in Asia and Africa along with social and cultural equality are no longer the theme of the discussions”, he said.
Like Basri, the chairperson of the Indonesian Christian Student Association (PMKRI), Mechxy Watung, said that it is wrong if the conference is inconsistent with its original spirit. “Our wealth is being drained away but the people are unable to enjoy affordable education and health”, he said.
The action which began with chanting and speeches in front of the Joeang Menado Building involved the PMII, the PMKRI, the Islamic Student Association (HMI), the Students Association for Reform (a splinter group of HMI), the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the Student Union for Democracy (SMD) and the Children’s Socialist Movement (GAS).
The action started at around 9.30am. After giving speeches in front of the Joeang Building they held a long-march towards the Korem Santiago (military command at a level below the residency) headquarters. “Oppose imperialism which oppresses the people! Oppose fascist militarism!” the group of students shouted repeatedly.
Demonstrators dispersed at the sound of the Friday call to prayers but plan to hold similar actions over the next three days. “On Saturday and Monday will take to the streets again”, said Basri.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
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