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Aceh Speaker Visits

27 April, 2001

Erwanto, activist leader from Aceh, Indonesia begins speaking tour.

Erwanto (he has only one name) is the International officer, Acehnese Popular Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA). His visit marks the first time that an Acehnese leader has visited Aotearoa for a public speaking tour. He arrives on Sunday 28 April, 2002, 15-40pm (QF042).

Erwanto will offer a challenging first hand perspective on issues of human rights, militarisation, and self-determination just as Prime Minister Helen Clark prepares to leave to visit Indonesia. President Megawati's government has recently authorised stepped up military operations and a revived separate military command in Aceh.

Erwanto's Auckland public meeting will be : Ellen Melville Hall ( Freyberg Place - opposite Metropolis Hotel) on Tuesday 30 April at 7-30 pm. In Wellington he will speak on Thursday 2 May at St Johns, cnr Dixon and Willis St at 7-30 pm.

Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra is in the grip of a hidden war. The province, where most live in great poverty, has long resisted outside rule, and military repression has intensified under the new government of Megawati Sukarnoputri. At least 1700 people were killed last year and human rights atrocities happen on a daily basis.

Erwanto represents an open civilian movement that supports peaceful methods for achieving change. He is a former student activist, and his political skills were honed in the Indonesian-wide movement to get rid of Suharto. He has been active in the campaign against indiscriminate logging and in support of the peasant farmers. Erwanto's organisation also opposes the giant, multinational Exxon-Mobil which is widely alleged to have given logistic aid to the Indonesian military to support their repressive and abusive control over the people.

Erwanto is New Zealand at the invitation of the Indonesian Human Rights Committee. He is available for meetings and briefings, by phoning

for further information: Maire Leadbeater 09-815-9000

Ends

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