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PM congratulated for maintaining Indonesia ban

Helen Clark congratulated for maintaining ban on military ties with Indonesia

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has written to the Prime Minister to express its support for her statement made at the East Asia Summit that re-starting military ties with Indonesia is not on the agenda.

Helen Clark’s concern about the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of human rights abuses in East Timor is also welcome.

“Helen Clark is to be commended for placing human rights ahead of possible trade gain. The military generals responsible for atrocities in East Timor have gone on to serve in new conflict areas and the military remains unreformed. New Zealand must continue to resist all calls to resume military ties with Indonesia.”

For further information: Maire Leadbeater 09-815-9000 or 0274-436-957

Letter Follows:

Rt Hon Helen Clark,

Prime Minister,

Parliament Buildings,

Wellington.

16 December, 2005.

Dear Helen Clark,

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee was pleased to note that the military ties to Indonesia will not be restored and wishes to support the government for taking this position. We affirm also that that the lack of justice for the victims of human rights atrocities in Timor Leste is a matter of grave concern.

As you know the non-release of the report of the Timor Leste Commision for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Report has been a point of controversy in that country. Many prominent East Timorese, such as Parliamentarian Leandro Isaacs, are continuing with a strong campaign for an international tribunal. He pointed out that the people of Kosovo and the people of Yugoslavia have been granted the right to have the war crimes committed against them considered by the international community. Why not the people of Timor Leste?


Moreover, Indonesian human rights defenders believe that impunity is a kind of cancer eating away at the heart of Indonesian society and threatening the prospects for a secure democratic future. Human rights defenders remind us that no human rights trial held in Indonesia has yet succeeded in holding the guilty to account. For example, the two senior police officers in command at the time of the killing of defenceless students at Abepura, West Papua in 2000 were recently acquitted.

It is also important to note that the high ranking military personnel who served during the brutal military occupation of Timor Leste have gone on to serve in posts in other conflict areas such as West Papua and Aceh. The current military commander in West Papua, Major General George Toisutta, has served terms of duty previously in both Aceh and Timor Leste. The current reports from West Papua are of deepening military repression, large new troop deployments and even a significant famine causing the deaths of at least 55 people in an isolated highland region.

New Zealand should therefore continue to support justice and accountability for the crimes against humanity committed in Timor Leste and should maintain the ban on all military aid and training assistance to Indonesia. Instead New Zealand should offer to play a constructive role in the ongoing peace process for Aceh, for example by offering to send election observers to be present at the forthcoming Aceh elections. New Zealand is also well placed to play a role in dialogue and peace making initiatives for both Aceh and West Papua.

In both Aceh and West Papua civil society leaders encourage the presence and participation of peace-minded countries in helping to broker lasting peace for their troubled territories. New Zealand’s past experience in helping to resolve the conflict in Bougainville is often mentioned.

We hope that there will be ongoing dialogue with the Indonesian authorities about the positive contributions that New Zealand can make to supporting sustainable peace.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater

(for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee)

CC Hon Winston Peters,

Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Hon Phil Goff,

Minister for Defence,

Parliament Buildings,

Wellington

Tim Barnett, MP Tim Groser MP

John Hayes MP, Hone Harawira MP

Keith Locke MP Parliament Buildings,Wellington

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