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Suharto official's 'bullying' insults Indonesian nationals

Ottawa Citizen - November 21, 1997

Douglas Todd, Vancouver – President Suharto's top officials warning that actions will be taken against Indonesians who demonstrate when he visits Vancouver is an insult to Canadians and free speech, says Indonesians attending an alternative APEC conference.

"This shows how the Indonesian regime always tries to bully people. They even try to bully people overseas," said Indonesian professor George Aditjondro, a participant in the People's Summit, a conference set up to criticize the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum. "This is not only an insult to the Indonesian people, this is an insult to the Canadian people and to freedom of expression in this country."

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas told several Jakarta newspapers his government "will take measures against" any Indonesian nationals who demonstrate against President Suharto when he is in Vancouver to promote trade ties between Indonesia, Canada and the 16 other APEC economies.

Tati Krisnawaty, a human-rights activist who will return to Indonesia after the summit, said Indonesian nationals often find they can only speak out in foreign countries.

The treat against Indonesians' free speech will help show the world, Mr. Aditjondro said, that the Indonesian government is an oppressive regime that deserves to be criticized by Canada's federal leaders.