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Discuss Human Rights & Suharto Assets With Wahid

Helen Clark Urged To Discuss Human Rights And Suharto Assets With President Wahid

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has faxed Helen Clark to urge her to raise grave human rights issues with President Wahid when they meet this week.

These issues should include:

ongoing and increasingly desperate situation of the East Timorese refugees still held in West Timor camps

the release from custody of notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres (a major perpetrator of crimes against the East Timorese in 1999)

the raid on the Asia Pacific People's Solidarity Conference in Jakarta this month

Helen Clark has also been urged to discuss with President Wahid the issue of the Suharto assets in New Zealand. This issue has already been the subject of dialogue between the Indonesian Attorney General and the New Zealand government. New Zealand support for repatriation of the assets could be a catalyst for a wider and deeper probe of the ill-gotten wealth of the former dictator, and assist the cause of democracy.

Letter to Helen Clark appended.

For further information: Maire Leadbeater - 025-376-9098 or cell phone 025-436-957

Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

25 June, 2001.

Dear Helen Clark,

We understand that later this week you will be meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia.

We assume that you will discuss with him a range of issues concerning human rights such as Indonesia's failure to bring to account those responsible for the massacres and human rights atrocities that took place in East Timor.

We also urge you to take the opportunity to raise with President Wahid the situation of the East Timorese refugees who remain in militia controlled camps in West Timor. We are very alarmed by the reports we have read that suggest that the recent registration process undertaken on June 7 and 8 was carried out in an atmosphere of intimidation and confusion and without adequate oversight from the international community. As you know, the refugees were asked to decide between resettlement in Indonesia and repatriation to East Timor. Reports from independent sources describe how the people were coerced into voting to stay in Indonesia by threats from militia members. Undoubtedly the presence of many additional Indonesian troops would have added to the trauma of the refugees.

We were also shocked to learn that the militia leader Eurico Guterres is again free having served a mere 23 days of his 6 month sentence for arms offences.

My own recent experiences in Indonesia have brought home to me that democracy and recent reforms are very seriously under threat. The economic and institutional structure of the Suharto era has not been dismantled, and there is a real fear that the Suharto dictatorship forces are attempting a comeback. President Wahid is visiting at a time when he himself is facing a major challenge from right wing forces.

In this context the issue of the Suharto assets in New Zealand is especially pertinent. Progressive forces in Indonesia view this issue as one that could serve as a catalyst to a much wider and deeper probe into thevast ill-gotten wealth of the Suharto family, which would be a significant challenge to the persistence of the old 'new order' in Indonesian political and economic life.

While millions of Indonesian people continue to live in dire poverty none of the wealth siphoned out of the economy by the former President has been reclaimed.

We therefore urge that you take the opportunity to raise with the President the issue of the Suharto assets here. We are aware that there have been earlier discussions between the office of the Indonesian Attorney General and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the New Zealand based assets. More recently, the newly appointed Attorney General, Mr Baharuddin Lopa has stated his intention to resolve outstanding cases of Suharto era corruption. This is an opportune moment for New Zealand to offer again to assist with a renewed probe into the Suharto assets and Suharto corporate wealth within this country.

As you know there are two luxury properties in the South Island which were until recently in in the direct ownership of members of the Suharto family. The South Island High country station Lilybank was owned until 1999 by Hutomo Mandala Putra ( Tommy Suharto). In 1999 Lilybank was sold to Mr L.Y.A. (Alan) Poh of Singapore for $1.00. However, until late in 2000 the records in our Companies office still showed Hutomo Mandela Putra as holding 95% of the company which owned Lilybank - Buckcorp Holdings No 68 Ltd.

Although the station has now been onsold again it is not clear whether or not Tommy Suharto or one of his associates still retain a financial interest.

A second luxury property has been in the ownership of Siti Hediati Hariyadi (Titiek Prabowo): twin chalets in Goldfield Heights near Queenstown. The chalets were worth close to $NZ 500,000. In 1998 or 1999 Titiek sold the chalets to Peachaven Ltd a Jersey registered company she is believed to control.

Indonesian academic Dr George Adtijondro has exposed the ways in which former President Suharto, his family and cronies set up overseas-based companies where they could invest the capital accumulated domestically. There are close links between the Salim Group of Suharto crony Liem Sioe Liong and Brierley Investments Ltd - until recently a major New Zealand conglomerate - now headquartered in Singapore and registered in Bermuda.

Brierleys, which continues to have significant investments in New Zealand, is also a major owner of Asia Power -a company which undertook joint ventures with Tommy Suharto in the past. We believe that there should be an attempt to lift the "corporate veil" to see the extent of remaining Suharto family and crony involvement in New Zealand based businesses.

Finally, I understand that you will discuss with President Wahid the police raid on the Asia Pacific People's Solidarity Conference to which I was a delegate. I hope that you will stress New Zealand's concern not only about the appalling actions of the police, but also about the militia group Angkatan Kabah Muda which was responsible for acts of near-deadly violence against the Indonesian conference organisers and participants. I believe that the police and the militia were acting in collusion and that the real focus of this shocking raid was an attempt to intimidate individuals and movements who are working for democratic change.

By speaking out New Zealand can do much to help support and protect those people in Indonesia who are so bravely resisting all attempts to go back to the bad old Suharto days.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater, (Indonesia Human Rights Committee)

Copies to Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hon Matt Robson, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs. Keith Locke M.P. Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson


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