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Oppose resumption of military ties with Indonesia

28 August, 2005

Media Release; Call on candidates to oppose resumption of military ties with Indonesia

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has asked each individual candidate[1] to the 2005 national elections to pledge their opposition to any resumption of military ties with Indonesia.

"The New Zealand Government has said that it is keeping its options open about the restoration of military ties, but we believe a defence thaw would send the clear signal that New Zealand is willing to sweep human rights abuses under the carpet."

Defence ties should not be considered until
a.. the Indonesian military has been held to account for crimes of humanity committed against the people of East Timor and other historic crimes b.. and the Indonesian military is fully under democratic civilian control.

Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom are
progressively "normalising" and increasing their defence support to Indonesia, using the war on terror as justification. This includes the sale of defence equipment, bilateral defence exercises and military training.

However, the Indonesian military is responsible for ongoing human rights abuses, especially in West Papua where large scale military campaigns place at risk the survival of highland communities.

Over 6000 people from the Puncak Jaya area are hiding in the jungles in fear of the military which destroyed their homes and crops late last year. Dozens have died of disease. Eyewitnesses report that the military is recruiting and training militia groups in both West Papua and Aceh. The militia activities in Aceh are one of the main threats to the survival of the recent long-awaited peace accord.

"It is so important that New Zealand should hold the line and remain aloof from the Indonesian military and its brutal practices. This would mean that we are well-placed to support democratic reform in Indonesia and to offer such services as peace monitoring and mediation."

More than 40 candidates from 5 parties have already signed the pledge

ENDS

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