Tag Archives: UK Weapons sales

Tapol: Britain and Indonesia – Too close for comfort?

TAPOL Press release
President’s visit prompts fresh concerns about arms sales and training of anti-terror police

30 October 201

British-funded training of Indonesia’s anti-terror police, Special Detachment 88, should be reviewed in the light of serious concerns about the unit’s human rights record and its operations in Papua, says TAPOL ahead of a state visit to London by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from 31 October to 2 November 2012.

In the run-up to the visit TAPOL, which promotes human rights, peace and democracy in Indonesia, is also appealing for an immediate ban on the sale to Indonesia of any military equipment that may be used for internal repression.

“While British businesses are no doubt eagerly anticipating the President’s visit, victims of human rights abuses will derive little comfort from the prospect of increased arms sales and ongoing training of Indonesian security forces,” says Paul Barber, Coordinator of TAPOL.

As the UK government prepares a state welcome for President Yudhoyono, rights groups from the UK and beyond are organizing an alternative welcome at a demonstration on behalf of the victims of human rights abuses outside Downing Street from 13:00 to 14:30 on Wednesday 31 October.

While Indonesia has made substantial progress in its transition from dictatorship to democracy since the downfall of former President Suharto in May 1998, serious human rights concerns remain.

“The news that the President is to receive a prestigious honour from the Queen is a gross affront to those who have suffered violations at the hands of successive Indonesian governments,” said Barber [1].

Special Detachment 88, known as ‘Densus 88’ was formed after the Bali bombings in 2002 to combat terrorism, but is reportedly being deployed to tackle other issues, such as alleged separatism in Indonesia’s conflict-affected provinces. Local civil society monitors say Densus 88 is being used to crack down on the Papuan independence movement, and the unit has been implicated in the assassination of its leaders, such as Mako Tabuni who was shot dead in June this year.

The unit is trained at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, JCLEC, which received a minimum of £400,000 in funding from Britain in the financial year 2011/12, as well as training provided by British officers. These include the UK’s South East Asia Counter Terrorism & Extremism Liaison Officer Detective Superintendent Phil Tucker; former Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Milton, and David Gray, an officer from the Counter Terrorism Command at New Scotland Yard who sits on JCLEC’s Board of Supervisors and has been teaching on the course since August 2009.

In July this year, leading Indonesian human rights NGO, KontraS, published research which stated that Densus 88 operations commonly involved arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, physical abuse and injury causing death [2].

Indonesia has been identified by the UK as a priority market for defence sales, with Prime Minister David Cameron boosting the export effort when he visited Jakarta with arms company executives in April 2012. The value of approved arms export licences has risen dramatically under the coalition government. The use of British equipment such as Hawk jets, armoured personnel carriers and water cannon for internal repression has been widely documented over the years and was acknowledged by the British Government in the 1990s. UK Tactica vehicles have been used to crush protest on the streets of Jakarta as recently as March this year, and are used by Indonesia’s notorious paramilitary police unit Brimob.

During the President’s visit, groups including TAPOL, Down to Earth, Survival International, Progressio and Christian Solidarity Worldwide will be highlighting these and other key issues, including Human Rights in Papua; The Need for Dialogue in Papua; Freedom of Expression; Rights, Livelihoods and Climate Justice; Religious Intolerance; and Timor-Leste and Impunity.

Information on these issues is set out in a briefing available here.

ENDS

Contact: Paul Barber on 01420 80153 / 07747 301 739 or Esther Cann on 07503 400 308.

Notes:

1. President Yudhoyono will reportedly be awarded the Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Bath by the Queen during his visit.

2. KontraS report on Densus 88 available from TAPOL on request

TAPOL letter to David Cameron

13 April, 2012

 

Rt Hon David Cameron, MP.

Prime Minister,

10 Downing Street

London SW1

 

Dear Mr Cameron,

TAPOL has been closely following your visit to Indonesia this week. We note that you praised Indonesia as a ‘Democracy (which) offers hope to the Muslim World’. You were also quoted as saying that you had decided ‘to relax controls of arms exports to Indonesia … as a sign of Indonesia’s democratic maturity’. Your delegation to Indonesia included representatives from several British arms manufacturers.

 

I would remind you that two years ago in an article on West Papua in The Daily Telegraph you were quoted as describing ‘the plight of the tribespeople as a terrible situation’. This is a valid description of what has been happening in the past few years.  Bearing that in mind, we would reasonably have expected you to use the occasion of your visit to Indonesia to express concern about the situation in West Papua.

 

The sufferings of the Papuan people are to a great extent due to operations by the Indonesian military, TNI, which has been conducting ‘sweep operations’, including several now underway in the Central Highlands of West Papua. Whole communities have been attacked and homes destroyed, along with churches, traditional meeting centres and public buildings. Such assaults, purportedly aimed at eliminating the poorly-armed Papuan resistance, have forced villages to flee their homes in search of security in nearby forests where they are cut off from their livelihoods and face the possibility of starvation and disease.

 

Allow me to draw your attention to certain other recent incidents and developments. According to data collected by TAPOL, since 2008 at least 80 Papuans have been arrested and charged with  ‘treason’ or related offences simply for peaceful actions such as raising the Papuan  Morning Star Flag. They have been imprisoned for terms ranging from 10 months to six years.  Under Article 106 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code, anyone found guilty of treason can face a sentence of up to 20 years or life. Among those now incarcerated is Filep Karma, a civil servant, who was arrested in December 2004, convicted of treason and sentenced to fifteen years in jail.

 

In October 2011, the Third Papuan People’s Congress was held in Jayapura, attended by hundreds of people. The Congress proceeded peacefully for three days. However, as the participants were dispersing after the final session on 19 October, police and army troops rounded up hundreds of the participants. Without provocation, the troops opened fire and killed three people. The fact that no-one has been held accountable for the killings is indicative of the impunity enjoyed by security forces personnel.  By contrast, five Papuan leaders who were taken into custody following the Congress were put on trial, found guilty of treason and last month sentenced to three years in prison. This exemplifies the severe restrictions on the right to free expression experienced by the Papuan people.

 

We call upon you to acknowledge that such acts of repression and human rights violations against unarmed civilians should never occur in a democratic country.

 

We further call upon you to take account of all of these facts and urge you not to  allow the sale of military equipment to Indonesia to proceed.

 

We hope that your government will use its close relationship with the Indonesian government to urge it to end to the practice of charging peaceful Papuan demonstrators with treason and press the Indonesian Government to release all those now serving sentences for peaceful political activities.

Yours sincerely

Carmel Budiardjo