Rights violations over-shadow Presidential visit

Civil society groups question UK-Indonesia ties

Briefing by NGO Forum for Indonesia and Timor-Leste
18 October 2012

Fourteen years ago, the downfall of President Suharto in 1998 set Indonesia on a course of reform and democratic transition that has impressively transformed the country from a harshly repressive
dictatorship to a chaotic yet functional democracy.

But many problems remain. The country’s overall record on human rights, the rule of law and religious freedoms, still falls far short of accepted international standards.

Although the Indonesian military, TNI, has been deprived of its former role as a major political force, it retains an influential role in social and political affairs and continues to be implicated in
serious human rights violations. Egregious past violations, including those committed in Timor-Leste, Aceh, West Papua, and during Suharto’s rise to power in 1965/66, are still unaccounted for.

Some alleged perpetrators continue to play prominent roles in public life at the highest level. As ties between the UK and Indonesia are about to be further strengthened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state visit to London, from 31 October to 2 November 2012, serious questions remain about the human rights, social and environmental impacts of UK business, trade and investment links with Indonesia.

Members of the UK-based NGO Forum on Indonesia and Timor-Leste are highlighting key issues during the visit, including UK training of Indonesia’s counter-terrorism unit; Arms Sales; Human Rights in Papua; The Need for Dialogue in Papua; Rights, Livelihoods and Climate Justice; Religious Intolerance; and Timor-Leste and Impunity. Information about these issues and recommendations from members of the NGO Forum are set out in this briefing.

The Forum believes that British understanding of these issues would be greatly enhanced by a visit to Indonesia, including Papua, by a delegation of UK parliamentarians and is calling for the Indonesian government to facilitate such a visit.

UK NGO Forum for Indonesia and Timor-Leste
The NGO Forum is an informal network of UK-based organisations and individuals that work on issues ranging from human rights and development to the environment and humanitarian relief in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Those contributing to this briefing are TAPOL, Survival International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Down to Earth and Progressio.

The positions taken and views expressed in the briefing are those of the individual organisations to whom they are attributed and do not necessarily reflect those of other contributors.

TAPOL: Paul Barber (paul.barber@tapol.org; 07747 301 739)
Survival International: Chloe Corbin  (c.corbin@survivalinternational.org; 020 7687 8700)
Christian Solidarity Worldwide: Ben Rogers (ben@csw.org.uk; 07823 329 664)
Down to Earth: Andrew Hickman (indonesiandrew@yahoo.com; 07504 738 696)
Progressio: Steve Kibble (steve@progressio.org.uk; 07742 677 654)

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