As members of APEC-Alert we want to respond to the article "Students set to voice diverse opinions" (UBC Reports, July 10).
It is correct that we strongly believe that the UBC campus should not be used as the venue for the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM). But stating that we believe this solely "due to human rights violations in some member economies" is incomplete. There are many more reasons for our position, some of which include:
The decision to host the AELM was made without consulting students, staff or faculty. This is representative of the undemocratic nature of APEC which does not have a mechanism for the genuine participation of civil society.
APEC's goal to implement a free trade zone in the region will have dire consequences for the environment and labour rights, and thus especially for women, children, workers, peasants, the poor and indigenous people.
APEC purposely and mistakenly divorces business and human rights.
Having APEC at UBC serves to legitimize APEC and make the UBC community complicit in both the abuses and the free trade initiatives APEC supports. One of the primary functions of universities should be to facilitate genuine debate and discussion, free from the coercion of state or corporate interests. Hosting the AELM at UBC seriously compromises these objectives.
We would also like to comment on the claim that "the Alma Mater and Graduate Student societies have adopted more moderate policies."
The Graduate Student Society passed a motion to publicly oppose the hosting of the AELM. The Alma Mater Society (AMS) has not taken an official position on APEC or the hosting of the AELM.
I am writing to call attention to the inaccuracies of "Students set to voice diverse opinions" on the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM) (UBC Reports, July 10).
For the record, APEC-Alert's (AA) position is that the AELM should not be held at UBC because several of the invited "economic leaders" are military dictators who massively abuse the human rights of the people they govern. It is unacceptable that (former) President Strangway single-handedly decided that mass-murderers, like President Suharto of Indonesia and President Jiang Zemin of China, were fit to be welcomed at UBC. Now the UBC administration and APEC co-ordinators are anxious to have the world believe that UBC respects the "diverse opinions" of its students' voices. This is untrue. The administration refuses to discuss relocating the AELM.
For the record, AA has widespread support -- APEC does not. The Graduate Student Society, CUPE 116 and nearly a thousand petitioning faculty and students have endorsed our position. Other union locals are considering following 116's lead.
For the record, the AMS's position is not more "moderate" than AA's; it's just less principled. The AMS promised to "support and uphold human rights" in a resolution on the AELM but have yet to do anything more than organize a series of panels on APEC. The government-connected, APEC-University Forum students, on the other hand, want to help the administration transform UBC into APEC-U in November.
UBC belongs to its students, faculty and staff. It belongs to the people of B.C. and Canada. It does not belong to APEC.
AA is calling for a complete shutdown of UBC Nov. 25 and will be leading a peoples' march to the Museum of Anthropology that day. United, we will peacefully reclaim our campus from dictators, their economic allies and the police.
UBC Reports welcomes letters to the editor on topics relevant to the university community. Letters must be signed and include an address and phone number for verification. Please limit letters, which may be edited for length, style and clarity, to 300 words. Deadline is 10 days before publication date.