Queen’s alumnus held at gunpoint

Husband of prof detained by police after protest in Jakarta

Paul Kellogg, wearing baseball cap (left), waits to be questioned by police in Jakarta, Indonesia, on June 11.
Paul Kellogg, wearing baseball cap (left), waits to be questioned by police in Jakarta, Indonesia, on June 11.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of the Kingston Whig-Standard

Queen’s Political Studies professor Abigail Bakan received the scare of her life when she was contacted by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs with a message from her husband.

“Tell Abbie I’m fine,” was the only thing Bakan heard in her husband Paul Kellogg’s short untraceable telephone message left with Foreign Affairs in Ottawa.

Kellogg had been taken into custody and was being held at gunpoint.

The editor of the Socialist Worker newspaper and a Queen’s graduate, Kellogg was the only Canadian attending the Asia Pacific Labour Solidarity Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia earlier this month.

During the second day of demonstration, the 32 delegates and 90 demonstrators were invaded by Indonesian police.

The demonstrators and delegates were held at gunpoint for two hours, after which the delegates were taken to the police station, held in detention for a full day, and then let go without their passports.

“No indication was given that this conference was any different from other similar demonstrations. No one was anticipating what happened,” said Bakan.

“I was shocked and worried, but I knew it was an example of political repression.” Indonesian police considered charging the delegates for not having adequate visas, said Kellogg. This serious charge warrants a five-year jail term for those convicted in Indonesia. The delegates were let go and eventually received their passports. Bakan’s daughter Rachel, 13, accompanied her mother to the airport to greet Kellogg when he arrived home.

“Now I know how Dorothy felt when she came back from Oz,” Rachel said.

Bakan’s 18-year-old son Adam reacted with humour.

“Does this mean that [Kellogg] will have a record?” he asked lightheartedly.

Despite the stress endured by Bakan’s family, the professor emphasized the importance of demonstrations such as the one in Jakarta.

The role Kellogg played in the conference was vital in raising awareness about similar situations, she said. “I am really glad Paul went,” Bakan said.

“I’m looking forward to getting back into my routine of being a Queen’s prof, a mom and an activist,” Bakan told the Kingston Whig-Standard.

“None of us should take anything for granted,” she added.

As for Kellogg, who has already resumed his position at the Socialist Worker, Bakan said he learned a very important lesson.

“I’m always going to travel with a cell phone,” Kellogg told his wife.

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