It was Friday night, when Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH had to step down from its position. Over weeks the city-owned exhibition corporation insisted to hold the Inter-tabac ASIA in Bali despite massive international protests. Now the company was taught a lesson: the Bali police withdrew the permission from September 2013. The Westfalenhallen had to cancel the date of 27/28 February 2014.
We sincerely congratulate all activists in Indonesia, who have been working towards the cancellation of the trade fair. A broad alliance consisting in actors from the health sector, government institutions, university, tourism industry (!), NGOs (especially Indonesia Bebas Rokok and Bali Tobacco Control Initiative) as well as local media has maintained the public pressure until the permission for the fair was withdrawn.
Why is this remarkable? Because Indonesia hasn’t yet ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the country had the reputation of “the booming market in Asia” for tobacco industry. Now the people in Indonesia, the sixth largest tobacco producer in the world, showed: We are not the ashtray of tobacco industry!
Chronology of Resistance
1 December 2013: Yosef Rabindanata Nugraha (Indonesia Bebas Rokok) and Max Vollmer (Deutscher Jugendschutzverband) start a Petition on change.org and call upon the Dortmund Mayor Ullrich Sierau to stop the Inter-tabac ASIA. They are supported by the Dortmund Kills campaign.
January 2014: Several (international) organisations and members of the German parliament write open letters to Mayor Sierau urging him to stop the tobacco trade fair.
24 January 2014: Protests in Indonesia gain strong momentum and make the Governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika, to publicly reject the tobacco trade fair. He refers to the law on No Smoking Areas which is violated by the tobacco fair.
3 February 2014: Yosef R. Nugraha visits Dortmund to hand over the petition with more than 11,000 signatures to Mayor Sierau. He refuses any appointment and finally his staff threatens to call the police. Yosef: “I am stunned. In Indonesia the government is willing to meet with its citizens in such a case. The mayor does not show respect for his own citizens and the thousands of Indonesians protesting against this trade fair.” Indonesian media report the case.
10 February 2014: The Governor of Bali threatens to close down the fair if the organizing committee insists on holding it.
13 February 2014: The Green Party brings forward an urgency motion in the Dortmund city council: city-owned corporations have also to comply with the “MagnaChartaRuhr.2010 – against exploitative child labour”. The motion is turned down and adjourned.
16 February 2014: During a demonstration in Bali, students of the medical faculty of Udanaya University thank the Governor for his rejection of the fair.
17 February 2014: The Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare reminds Mayor Sierau to cancel the tobacco trade fair.
21 February 2014: The Convention Center in Bali informs the Westfalenhallen, that the permission for the trade fair has been withdrawn by police.
Westfalenhallen look for new location – Keep alert!
The press release of Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH shows the stubbornness of the responsible persons. The Inter-tabac ASIA would be postponed. They would look for another location and date for the fair to take place. It might well be that the organizers will face more trouble than expected with this plan, because several governments in the region sided with Indonesia: Nepal, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and East Timor.
The Philippines allowed twice the tobacco trade fair to be held – despite massive public protests. There are rumours about another try. Keep alert!