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Military Exercising With Indonesia Condemned

Peace Movement Aotearoa
pma@xtra.co.nz

3 August, 1999

MEDIA RELEASE:

ONGOING MILITARY TRAINING AND EXERCISING WITH THE INDONESIAN ARMED FORCES CONDEMNED.

The New Zealand Defence Force still maintains intimate training and exercise links with the Indonesian military despite its role in the militia terror in East Timor.

* Right now our Airforce (8 Skyhawks and 2 Orions) is taking part alongside Indonesian units in the Australian-organised air and sea Kakadu Exercise in the Timor Sea, (2-12 August).

* New Zealand is also maintaining the level of training assistance it provides under the "Mutual Assistance Programme" in the 1999/2000 year. Recent answers to Parliamentary Questions put by Matt Robson M.P. to Max Bradford Minister of Defence confirm that 18 Indonesian armed force personnel will be trained. This is an increase in the number trained last year.

" 'Appeasement' is too mild a word for this ongoing complicity with the Indonesian armed forces. The dictator Suharto may be gone now but the evidence is clear that the Indonesian military has not changed its spots. In the past few months they have been doing everything they can to sabotage the August ballot which will determine East Timor's future status. Using the militia as its stalking horse the military have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds and for forcing thousands to leave their homes and suffer in makeshift camps where many have died of disease and starvation. Foreign doctors and aid workers are kept away."

" The latest reports from Aceh of military 'hunt to kill" operations against activists are also deeply alarming."

" What we are doing is honing the skills of the killers. This coming year we will help Indonesian personnel learn how to maintain the Skyhawk fighter jets that once rained bombs on the East Timorese, and we will teach Indonesian officers analytical skills and strategic and campaign theory."

"Our ongoing training programme serves to sanitise and legitimise the murderous actions of the Indonesian military. We have been offering this training since 1973 - 2 years before the all out invasion of East Timor. The absurd claim that our training instills respects for human rights is shown to be arrant nonsense when Indonesian officers flout international law and their militia recruits openly threaten the United Nations Mission in East Timor."

"These links must be severed immediately! New Zealand undermines its chances to be a constructive partner in East Timor's future by continuing to support the Indonesian aggressor."

"We should be calling for the Indonesian troops to withdraw from East Timor immediately and for the security in East Timor to be assumed by a neutral international peacekeeping force."

Maire Leadbeater, East Timor Independence Committee,

ENDS

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