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Government urged to withdraw Indonesia's invite


Indonesia Human Rights Committee,

Box 68-419,

Auckland

10 September, 2000.

MEDIA RELEASE: Government urged to withdraw Indonesia's invitation to attend Naval Symposium

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has asked Minister of Defence Mark Burton to cancel Indonesia's invitation to attend the Western Naval Symposium scheduled to be held in Auckland 8-10 November 2000. Indonesia should also be banned from any other New Zealand hosted conference.*

" New Zealand must back its words with actions and ban the Indonesian military from coming here," said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee. "The withdrawal of Indonesia's invitation would send a powerful and effective message that the Indonesian military must act to stem the terrible violence in West Timor."

"The Government must adhere to its own Defence Policy Framework which states that New Zealand will not engage in military co-operation with the armed forces of states which sanction the use of their armed forces to suppress human rights. If this policy means anything it must be carried out now and the Indonesian military subjected to full isolation."

"Independent reports confirm that during the recent violence perpetrated against the United Nations staff neither the military nor the police intervened to protect the international community. What is worse, there is strong evidence to suggest that the militia attacks on humanitarian staff and UN soldiers in the border regions have the backing of Indonesian territorial units based in West Timor and the special operations unit Kopassus. It is also clear that there has been direct military intervention in paramilitary atrocities in other areas such as West Papua and Maluku."

" Both the Indonesian Defence Minister and Foreign Minister have conceded the possibility that certain soldiers have participated in killings. Their suggestion that "rogue elements" may be responsible for supporting murderous violence is no excuse for failure to take firm action against the perpetrators and their commanders."

"Our concern is not about the content of this symposium - but any benefits of the get-together must be weighed against the far more serious consequences of continuing to do 'business as usual' with Indonesia."

"The Indonesian military must not be invited until there is clear evidence that the Indonesian military is no longer responsible for human rights abuses."

for further information: Maire Leadbeater 09-376-9098 (Cell 025-436-957)

* The biennial Western Naval Symposium is being held for the 7th time this year. It brings together the navies of 17 South East Asian, Pacific and Pacific rim countries. According to a letter from the New Zealand Defence Force (15 February, 2000) released under the Official Information Act the purpose the Symposium is "Confidence Building Measures" and promotes co-operation in areas such as disaster relief, environmental issues and safety at sea.


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