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Call for Arms Embargo on Indonesia to be Reimposed


Joint NGO Statement to European Union Council of Ministers

Situation in West Timor: Call for Arms Embargo on Indonesia to be Re-imposed

The grave developments in West Timor, triggered by the murder on 6 September of at least five people, including three UNHCR workers, has created an extreme emergency in the territory.

We welcome the European Union Declaration on 7 September condemning these murders and deploring the current state of insecurity in West Timor, but we concur with the statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, that 'words are no longer enough'. Decisive international action is needed urgently. This must include the immediate imposition by the EU of military sanctions against Indonesia.

The evacuation of all international aid and humanitarian workers has left the 100,000 or so East Timorese refugees remaining in West Timor at the mercy of the pro-Indonesian militias who are free to sustain their murderous reign of terror with impunity. West Timor is now close to anarchy with a virtual absence of law and order. The militias are being trained, armed and supported by the Indonesian military. The military leadership could put a stop to the violence if it has the will to do so. The argument that 'rogue elements' of the military are responsible is unsustainable.

The Indonesian military is heavily implicated in fostering conflict and undermining the authority of President Wahid's government in other volatile areas. The Government has acknowledged that soldiers have taken sides in the Malukus conflict. A British-made armoured vehicle was used by soldiers involved in an attack on civilians caught up in the violence. 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.

One of Aceh's leading human rights defenders, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, was recently brutally mudered in circumstances which strongly suggested military involvement while the regional military command simply refused to take part in any investigation. 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.

The human rights situation in West Timor is akin to that which prevailed in East Timor in September 1999 when the EU imposed an arms embargo on Indonesia. We, therefore, call upon the Council of Ministers to re-impose a ban on arms sales and all forms of military co-operation with Indonesia without further delay.

September 2000

This 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)

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Paul Barber, TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

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