Indonesia plans to deport labour consultant

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Indonesia plans to deport labour consultant

By Pip Hinman

Roger Smith, an Australian who works for the American Centre for International Labor Solidarity, which is funded by the US government and the AFL-CIO, has been threatened with deportation from Indonesia. His "crime" was to liaise with and report labour movement activities there.

According to the Indonesian National Front for Workers Struggle (FNPBI), two weeks ago the Australian embassy received a police department recommendation that Smith be deported as soon as possible.

The trouble started on February 2 when Smith reported to immigration, as stipulated by his visa. The secret police had a picture of him talking to workers at a demonstration last year.

Smith was interrogated by police but refused to sign a statement. He ended up smashing a window and being taken to hospital for treatment. Since then, Smith has been interrogated several times.

Smith, a former Australian Services Union member, has appealed to trade unionists here for help. Some trade unionists question AFL-CIO involvement in labour movement activities around the globe, however, Smith's regular reports have helped to inform activists here and around the world about the growing trade union movement in Indonesia.

Smith's case has a precedent. Last November, Chris Latham, an activist with Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, was arrested at a workers' rights demonstration in Jakarta and imprisoned for four days, without access to a lawyer, before being deported back to Australia.

FNPBI international officer Romawaty Sinaga told Green Left Weekly that the threats against Smith revealed the Wahid government's desire to prevent international solidarity among workers. Messages of support can be sent to Smith via the FNPBI, e-mail .