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NZ's ban on military ties with Indonesia supported

Indonesia Human Rights Committee supports New Zealand’s continuing ban on military ties with Indonesia

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has sent a letter of support to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to back their commitment to maintaining a ban on military ties with Indonesia.

New Zealand and other western nations broke military ties with Indonesia in the wake of the murderous military rampage that took place in East Timor in 1999. The United States has just announced that military ties will be resumed.

While Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, has rightly said that the perpetrators of mass killings in East Timor must be held to account, IHRC believes that there are equally strong arguments for the maintaining the ban based on the current behaviour of the Indonesian military.

The Indonesian military is not democratically accountable or as Indonesia’s Minister of Defence Juwono Sudarsono said the military “retains the real levers of power”.

In Aceh the military continues to terrorise the civilian population without respite or mercy despite the terrible suffering the people have endured since the Boxing Day tsunami. Many areas remain off-limits to international aid workers, many of whom may soon be forced to leave Aceh. Innocent civilians are killed daily.

No one has been held to account for the 2002 murder of two US citizens on a Freeport mining company road in Timika West Papua. Independent investigations have revealed that the military was involved.

In West Papua military repression is intense, particularly in the remote highland areas, where the international media and aid workers have been barred from entry. Thousands of refugees in the Puncak Jaya area remain trapped behind a military cordon without proper food or medical support. Many have died.

The Indonesian military is deeply complicit in the devastation of one of the last tracts of pristine native forests in the Asia Pacific region. This illegal racket has been stealing 300,000 cubic metres of rare merbau wood a month from West Papua. The Indonesian Government has freely admitted that the military has been involved in this crime.

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