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PM Urged To Reaffirm Military Ban With Indonesia

Helen Clark urged to reaffirm the ban on military ties when she meets with the President of Indonesia

3 April , 2005

This week Prime Minister Helen Clark will meet with the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has urged the Prime Minister to take the opportunity to reaffirm that New Zealand will maintain the ban on military ties, which was imposed in 1999.

“The US has decided to resume military ties and Australia is talking about a new Security Treaty with Indonesia. This “business as usual” agenda sends a signal that crimes against humanity can be overlooked. This is also terrible news for the oppressed people of Aceh and West Papua where new military offensives are taking place right now.”

“New Zealand can buck the trend and show the world that it is serious about the call for justice for the crimes committed in East Timor and about its support for democratic reform in Indonesia.”

Ironically the US State Department’s 2004 Annual Report describes the Indonesian military as an institution of vast wealth and unaccountable power, responsible for crimes including politically motivated extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and robbery.

Indonesian military abuses include:

Unaccountability for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor. Not one Indonesian military or political figure has been held to account for the mayhem of murder and destruction that took place in 1999 before international peace force was sent to East Timor. Several of the Generals who were in command at the time have since been promoted, and have gone on to serve in the conflict areas of Aceh and West Papua.

Human rights abuses in the devastated province of Aceh. The military has faced numerous charges of withholding and controlling the flow of tsunami aid. All calls for a ceasefire have been turned. 40,000 troops continue to prosecute a brutal war against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and civilians caught in the crossfire. Recent crimes include the torture, abduction and murder of villagers suspected of helping GAM fighters.

Human Rights abuses in West Papua: In the highland area of West Papua, around 5,000 Papuans have fled from military bombardment of their homes. These people now shelter in the foothills of the Puncak Jaya Mountain. A list of 53 villagers who have died of hunger or disease was recently sent out to human rights agencies.

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