The Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific expresses its grave disappointment over the Indonesian government’s repressive acts against the Peoples’ Global Conference Against IMF-WB (PGC).

As a South-led network concerned with the proper use of development assistance and effective development cooperation, ROA-AP has resolved to strengthen its engagement with the IMF-World Bank to enable civil society organizations to raise their concerns and propose policy alternatives to the institution. Several of its members, who are also active in the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, are attending the official meetings but are aware of the very little opportunities for their critical concerns, much less for their recommendations to be acted upon. As one member, the Arab NGO Network for Development, said during their session at the Civil Society Policy Forum, they come to the Annual Meetings every year but their just demands fall on deaf ears.

ROA-AP is co-organizing the PGC to allow its members to join hands with peoples’ movements in reclaiming their rightful space in the shaping of the development agenda, of their lives, and of the world’s future. For while the World Bank proclaims poverty alleviation as its mission, peoples and communities most affected by its policies and projects are clearly kept in the dark on its meeting agenda and excluded from its official processes, even as it keeps talking about inclusion. ROA-AP is keeping a close eye on the IMF-WB’s “Maximizing Finance for Development” approach, which essentially seeks to hasten the handing over of public resources to private sector, that is, big corporations’ hands for super profits, in the guise of “attracting private finances towards development projects”.

The Indonesian government should understand that the people cannot simply leave the development discourse in the hands of IMF-WB and the likes. Even as ROA-AP’s members and allies are resolved in strengthening engagement with these international financial institutions, there is no illusion that change will come from such institutions. Hence, the need for democratically-initiated spaces such as the People’s Global Conference; to enable the oppressed and marginalized to reclaim their future, reclaim their rights, and fight corporate takeover of development.

Critical as it may be, there is nothing terroristic about the Conference’s objectives. On the contrary, it is for advancing the interest of peoples and communities devastated by IMF-WB projects and policies. The Indonesian government should realize that its paranoia and subservience to IMF-WB is actually causing it to commit state terrorism – an undue response to people’s legitimate exercise of their right to expression and peaceful assembly, and right to development.

ROA-AP, being based in the Philippines where state terror and impunity continues to escalate, calls on the Indonesian government to show that it welcomes critical voices as much as it welcomes the voices of institutions, mainly the IMF-WB, responsible for the people and the planet’s devastation.

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