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NGOs demand arms embargo for West Timor crisis

TAPOL and Campaign Against Arms Trade
press release
FAO Newsdesks
18th September 00

NGOS DEMAND RE-IMPOSITION OF EMBARGO ON ARMS TO INDONESIA IN RESPONSE TO WEST TIMOR CRISIS

UK Government guilty of licensing spares for armoured vehicles used to suppress civilians Campaign Against Arms Trade and TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign write to Foreign Office condemning supply of spares and calling for ban on arms sales.

A Coalition of European NGOs today delivered a joint statement to the French Presidency of the EU calling for the immediate re-imposition of an EU ban on arms sales and all military co-operation with Indonesia.

The world is currently witnessing an extreme emergency in West Timor. On 6 September, at least five people, including three UNHCR workers, were brutally murdered by pro-Indonesian militias. 100,000 or East Timorese refugees remain in West Timor at the mercy of the militias who are being trained, armed and supported by the Indonesian military.

Paul Barber said: 'The situation in West Timor has frightening parallels with the appalling events surrounding last year's referendum in East Timor when the Indonesian military-backed militias massacred hundreds of East Timorese. If the European Union fails to act in immediately implementing an embargo it will be held to account for its support of the military and their militia proxies.'

The Indonesian army is heavily implicated in fostering conflict and undermining the authority of President Wahid's government in other volatile areas. In July, a British-made Saladin armoured vehicle was used by Indonesian soldiers involved in an attack on civilians caught up in the violence in the Malukus. The UK Government has confirmed it allowed the supply of spare parts for the Saladins. TAPOL and CAAT have written to the Foreign Office to condemn the Government's supply of the spares.

Rachel Harford said: 'The UK government is still failing to learn the lessons of supplying spares for equipment used to repress and kill civilians. The government is hypocritical in claiming credit for not supplying armoured vehicles to Indonesia while continuing to license the spares which maintain the vehicles.'

Thousands of extra troops have been sent to West Papua to quell the independence movement and militia activity has increased with the support of the military. Papuans have been shot dead for raising the West Papua flag. In Aceh, tens of thousands of villagers have fled their homes in fear of military operations despite the current Humanitarian Pause. Numerous 'sweeping' operations by security forces have led to many civilians falling victim to extra-judicial killing, arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture and violence against women. Two high-profile killings of Acehnese human rights defenders in Medan this year have been followed by the murder of a university rector in Banda Aceh two days ago.

The NGOs' statement warned the EU: 'The continued sale of arms to Indonesia signals approval of the actions of the Indonesian military. It undermines attempts by the Indonesian Government to bring it under civilian control and to resolve the crises in West Timor and other areas. The lack of coherence between the policies of the EU and the US, which still maintains an embargo on Indonesia, is inimical to the promotion of human rights and military reform.'

ENDS

The joint NGO Statement to the European Council of Ministers is availableon the TAPOL website at www.gn.apc.org/tapol/st000918.htm or by telephoning 01420 80153


The statement is endorsed by the following organisations:

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign (UK)
Campaign Against Arms Trade (UK)
Liberation (UK)
Swedish East Timor Committee
Watch Indonesia! (Germany)
Society for Threatened Peoples International (Germany)
Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (The Netherlands)
The Committee of 100 (Finland)
The Peace Union of Finland
Anarchisties Basisdemokraties Centrum (The Netherlands)
Agir Pour Timor (France)
Keighley and Skipton Support Group for East Timor (UK)
East Timor Scotland Support Group (UK)
Novib, the Netherlands Organisation for International Development Co-
operation
Norwegian Council for East Timor and Indonesia (NOCETI)
Komitee Indonesia (The Netherlands)
Pax Christi British Section
SOS Timor (Belgium)
East Timor Solidarity (UK)
International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (IPJET) (The
Netherlands)
Catholic Institute for International Relations (UK)
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Dutch section
VVV Oost-Timor (The Netherlands)
Maluku Info Project (The Netherlands)
Merseyside East Timor Solidarity Campaign (UK)
Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor
Rustungs-Informations-Buro (Germany)
Swedish Peace & Arbitration Society
Aldrig Mere Krig (Denmark)
Centre d'Estudis per la Pau J M Dela (Spain)
AMOK Nord (The Netherlands)
Vredes Informatie Centrum (The Netherlands)
BUKO - Kampagne "Stoppt den Rustungsexport" (Germany)

Contact Rachel Harford (CAAT) on 0207 281 0297 or Paul Barber (TAPOL) on
01420 80153


**************************************************
Paul Barber
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign,
25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ
Tel/Fax: 01420 80153
Email: plovers@gn.apc.org
Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol
Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia and
East Timor, 1973-2000
**************************************************

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