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Indonesia Human Rights Committee

May 5, 2002.

Helen Clark urged to defend human rights as she flies to meet President Megawati in Indonesia

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee wrote to Prime Minister Helen Clark in advance of her Monday 6 May departure to Indonesia urging her to take a strong stand on human rights issues.

Right now the ad hoc human rights trial for East Timor is stalled amid criticism that it is little more than a smokescreen to deflect international concern. Many of generals in charge at the time of East Timor's devastation remain in charge - including military spokesperson General Syafrie Sjamsuddin. The Indonesian people continue to suffer from military repression and arbitrary killings.

In Aceh, as visiting activist Erwanto has just reminded us , us the people live with constant terror and there are almost daily reports of civilians being assassinated. In West Papua a new armed militia group is now active - it uses the same name as a notorious militia group formerly active in East Timor. While late last year President Megawati literally told a miltary assembly that the troops should do their duty without worrying about human rights abuses.

Helen Clark and the New Zealand government should :

maintain the ban on all military ties, joint defence exercises and defence exchanges

insist on an internationally just trial for the East Timor war criminals

take a strong stand for the human rights and against ongoing military repression in areas such as West Papua and Aceh.

Ends

(Erwanto, International Spokesperson for the Aceh Peoples Democratic Resistance Front, said in a NZ Herald Interview: "I hope that [Clark] will talk about the Acehnese people too, because there have been many human rights abuses in Aceh. I hope she doesn't say that she respects Indonesian sovereignty because if you say that, it means you agree with what the military has done in Aceh, and that offers the military confidence to do anything.")

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