(en) Two students arrested at UBC in non-violent protest

Jaggi Singh (jaggi@vcn.bc.ca)
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 06:12:36 -0700 (PDT)

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NEWS ADVISORY For immediate release


VANCOUVER, September 23, 1997 -- Yesterday, two University of British Columbia (UBC) students were arrested by RCMP officers while participating in a non-violent action to raise awareness about the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Leaders' Summit to be held on campus this November 24 and 25.

The arrested students, Shiraz Dindar, 25, and Mark Luchkow, 22, were painting a circle on pavement around the Goddess of Democracy statue which commemorates the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre. The students, part of a grassroots campus group called APEC ALERT, have dubbed the circle an "APEC-Free Zone."

RCMP arrived on the scene and promptly arrested the people who happened to be painting at the time. Dindar and Luchkow were fingerprinted, had their photos taken and were charged with mischief. RCMP officers told the students, who have no criminal records, that they were told to make the arrests by members of the UBC administration. The administration decided unilaterally to hold the controversial APEC meeting earlier in the year.

Dindar, a sociology student, defended the actions of APEC ALERT: "We're trying to establish an APEC-Free Zone, a place where we can be free from the tyranny of dictators like General Suharto." Suharto, the President of Indonesia, is due to visit UBC this November along with 17 other leaders as part of APEC.

Dindar also scoffed at the charge of mischief against him: "What's more mischievious, our line on the pavement, or [UBC] sneaking in APEC withot consulting students, faculty or staff?"

According to Luchkow, a music student, yesterday's protest by students is to draw attention to the negative effects of the APEC process, which aims to impose a "free" trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region by the year 2010: "I think APEC is a mechanism to create an aura of approval that doesn't exist .. having it at a university legitimizes it."

Members of APEC ALERT are also claiming intimidation from the administration in the form of threats from campus security. Security officers threatened suspension and academic discipline for the actions of APEC ALERT, some of which involve non-violent civil disobedience and are unrelated to classroom work.

The action yesterday is part of a campaign called "REFUSE APEC!." After the arrests, UBC students vowed to increase their awareness-raising activities and civil disobedience in order to show their opposition to APEC on campus and the APEC agenda in general.

As part of yesterday's action, a permanent shelter was constructed near the Goddess of Democracy statue. Moreover, at a meeting shortly after the arrests, UBC students agreed to return to the statue on Monday, September 29th at 12:30pm to enlarge their APEC-Free Zone. They intend to have the zone reach the Museum of Anthropology -- site of the APEC Leaders' meeting -- by November, in time for protests against the Summit. APEC ALERT members insist that they will not be intimidated by the administration's threats of arrest and suspension in order to exercise their free speech.

For more information, or for interviews, contact APEC ALERT at 251-9914 or alert@netinfo.ubc.ca.


APEC ALERT ... grassroots action to oppose APEC at UBC ... tel: (604) 251-9914 * alert@netinfo.ubc.ca www.cs.ubc.ca/spider/fuller/apec_alert

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