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Govt. Must Signal Concern At Increasing Repression

Monday 25 June 2001 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VISIT BY INDONESIAN PRESIDENT: GOVERNMENT MUST SIGNAL CONCERN AT INCREASING REPRESSION

Amnesty International has urged the New Zealand Government to express concern about increasing human rights violations in Indonesia, during talks with visiting President Abdurrahman Wahid over the next two days.

The human rights organization cited increasing repression in Papua and Aceh, and lack of cooperation in the prosecution of those responsible for atrocities in East Timor, as evidence of failing political will to continue human rights reforms.

"New Zealand must take the opportunity of President Wahid's visit to stress that locking up peaceful activists, intensifying military repression, and continuing impunity for those responsible for atrocities will do nothing to maintain stability in Indonesia and damages the country's reputation abroad," said Amnesty's New Zealand director, Ced Simpson.

"Repression is seriously undermining prospects for a peaceful solution to problems in provinces where continuing impunity for past human rights violations is fuelling pro-independence sentiment."

Background

Tension remains high in Papua after moves by the Indonesian authorities over recent months to clamp down on any expression of pro-independence sentiment in the province.

Those with pro-independence views, including members of pro-independence militia groups, are at risk of serious human rights violations, including unlawful killing and arbitrary detention.

Many of those detained have been tortured and some have died in custody as a result.

On 10 March, five leading political activists in Wamena, Papua, were sentenced to between four and four-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of "conspiring to commit separatism". Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and has called for their immediate and unconditional release.

The five had been accused of "masterminding" a series of violent incidents that took place in Wamena in October 2000, in which over 30 people were killed. There is no evidence that the five were involved. In fact, there are reports that at least some of the defendants attempted to calm the situation.

Trials against pro-independence activists have been conducted in a tense atmosphere of intimidation and secrecy. The Indonesian government refused to allow international observers to monitor recent trials and a heavy armed police presence around the courtroom made many local people afraid to attend the sessions.

In Aceh Muhammad Nazar, a leading pro-independence activist, is serving a 10 months prison sentence for "publicly expressing feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt toward the government" by distributing leaflets and displaying banners which, among other things, branded the Indonesian Government as neocolonialist. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, and is concerned at the return to the use of Suharto-era anti-subversion legislation to try them.

The Indonesian authorities have also recently made statements that they are preparing to launch "limited security operations" in Aceh, leading to fears that this will lead to a further deterioration in the human rights situation in the province.

Amnesty International has welcomed the decision to establish an ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor, but has expressed concern that its jurisdiction is limited to cases after the 30 Aug 1999 autonomy vote, and at delays in getting the Court up and running.

Indonesia has also failed to meet its commitments under an agreement with the UN to provide mutual cooperation in investigations and trials -- including transferring evidence, witnesses and suspects.

Ced Simpson Executive Director, Amnesty International NZ Level 5, PSA House, 11 Aurora Terrace PO Box 793, Wellington, New Zealand tel: +64-4-499 3348 fax: +64-4-499 3505


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