Anti-GM Rice Activists Arrested in Jakarta!
8 April 2008 : Fifteen people from six countries were arrested today in Jakarta (Indonesia) by Polda Jaya (the Police Corps of Jakarta Raya Territory) for participating in a peaceful people’s gathering to voice their protest against GM rice and call for saving the diversity of local rice to ensure people’s food security.
The demonstration, part of WORA (Week of Rice Action) that celebrates the rice culture of Asia, was jointly organized by Koalisi Rakyat untuk Kedaulatan Pangan (KRKP), Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA), Gabungan Serikat Buruh Independen (GSBI), Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN) and the Workers’ Union.
Those arrested include Sarojeni Rengam (PAN AP, Malaysia) and Rhoda Gueta (Asian Peasants’ Coalition) and 13 others, all foreigners, from Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, Thailand, India and Pakistan.
They were present at the demonstration as observers and were waiting in the bus, following the discussions between Ir. Anton Aprijantono, the Minister of Agriculture (Indonesia), and the 300-400 demonstrators, outside the Ministry, when they were suddenly forced to follow the police car to the police station, and where at the point of writing, they are still detained for the last five hours. They are being charged with violating the immigration laws of the country and contravening the “social” status of their visas.
Witoro of KRKP said that this is an over-reaction by the police who had been duly informed of the rally and the presence of international delegates in it. The organizers of the demonstration stated that the Indonesian police was abusing the people’s freedom of speech and demanded that all arrested be released immediately without any charge.
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Reference: Biju Negi, PAN AP
The Week of Rice Action (WORA) 2008 brings together farmers, rural communities, and other sectors of society to celebrate and protect rice culture. WORA 2008 “No to GE Rice in Asia” is being celebrated in Indonesia from 2-8 April.
WORA, initiated in 2007, is organised by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) and its partner organisations in Asia. Besides organizing a multitude of activities, it collected over a million signatures for the "People's Statement” on Saving the Rice of Asia" calling on policy-makers worldwide to protect Asia's rice heritage and food sovereignty.