Indonesian delegates to a "People's Summit," an alternative gathering on the sidelines of next week's APEC summit, voiced fear Thursday at reported threats against them by the Indonesia Government.
The Indonesians, largely human rights activists and opponents to Indonesia's continued occupation of East Timor, held an emergency meeting at The People's Summit to discuss how they would handle the situation.
The People's Summit is a gathering of diverse groups -- largely opposed to the economic integration aspirations of the 18-economy Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
Thurday's meeting of Indonesian activists was prompted by a Vancouver Province report from Jakarta that Foreign Minister Ali Alatas had threatened action against Indonesians who protest when President Suharto arrives here this weekend.
The report, quoting the Indonesian Observer, claimed Alatas had said of the anticipated protestors in Vancouver, "If they are Indonesian nationals, yes, we will take measures against them."
He did not specify what those measures might be. Reporters and photographers were barred from Thursday's meeting of the Indonesian delegates, but two of the participants agreed to give a news conference.
George Aditjondo, an Indonesian who describes himself as a "self-imposed exile" as a sociology professor at Australia's Newcastle University, said he was not surprised at the latest threat from Jakarta.
He claimed that the Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa had been busy in recent weeks taking photographs of demonstrators protesting human rights conditions in Indonesia and demanding Indonesia give up control of East Timor.
"And yes," said Aditjondo, "they have photographed us here (in Vancouver) and have come to listen to us (at the various meetings at The People's Summit)." Taty Krisnanati, who described herself as a social rights activists for Indonesia's peasant communities, said she was not afraid to return home.
"What they are doing to the peasants is far worse than they do to us," she said, maintaining that peasant farmers were being subjected to intolerable living conditions by the Indonesian Government and multinational companies.
An Indonesian delegate, who declined to be identified, claimed that Indonesian Embassy officials attended a ceremony Wednesday to honour 1996 Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.
Ramos-Horta lambasted next week's APEC summit. "APEC's political diversity comprising rich and democratic countries as well as some of the poorest and most repressive regimes of the region reduce it to essentially an annual extravaganza of leaders and bureaucrats who are alienated from the common people's problems and needs," Ramos-Horta said.
Sat, 22 Nov 1997
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