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EU's Indonesia Decision Wrong

Press release

17 January 2000



'The EU decision to be announced today to end its arms embargo against Indonesia could not have come at a worse time,' said TAPOL director Carmel Budiardjo, adding that the Indonesian armed forces, TNI, are at this very moment posing a grave threat to the country's two-month-old democratic government under President Wahid.

This weekend, Richard Holbrooke, the US ambassador to the UN said the TNI was threatening to act against the Wahid government and warned that the international community would not tolerate such a move. 'The best thing the EU could have done at such a time was to extend the embargo' insisted Rachel Harford of CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade).

The TNI is also strenuously opposing investigations in Indonesia and at the UN which could result in a number of Indonesian generals facing charges for crimes against humanity in East Timor. The TNI has failed to break the log-jam that allows its proxy militias in West Timor to prevent more than 100,000 East Timorese from returning home, after having been forcibly deported last September. It has failed to halt the yearlong inter-communal violence gripping Maluku, formerly known as the Spice Islands, and stands accused of taking sides in the lethal conflict which has killed thousands of people. Its forces are implicated in daily killings in Aceh, North Sumatra. By ending the embargo, the EU has manifested a failure to understand the threat still posed to Indonesia by the TNI.

TAPOL and CAAT deeply regret that the British government has failed abysmally to take the lead at the EU, having done nothing to persuade its EU partners to extend the embargo at a time when the TNI continues to pose a threat to Indonesia's fragile democracy. Once again, Robin Cook's 'ethical foreign policy' is shown to be a sham.

Carmel Budiardjo of TAPOL said:

'Pressure from the arms manufacturers, keen to resume deliveries of Hawk

ground-attack aircraft and other military equipment, has clearly taken precedence over human rights and democracy. We have drawn the government's attention to the use of British armoured vehicles to support one side in

the Maluku conflict. This alone should have persuaded the Labour Government to extend the embargo as a signal that such an act is intolerable. The UK Government also has the power, but regrettably not the political will to

implement a UK embargo. By contrast, the Dutch government opposes the EU decision and has called on a Dutch company not to ship equipment in the pipeline.

TAPOL and CAAT will continue to campaign vigorously, along with other NGOs here, and throughout Europe, for a Europe-wide embargo on arms sales to Indonesia to be re-introduced, with individual EU states pressed to impose their own embargoes if necessary.


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