UK-supplied equipment used against communities in Aceh, Indonesia

Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) and other human rights organisations were calling on the government last night to immediately suspend all sales of military equipment to Indonesia.

The call follows film footage, shown on yesterday evening’s Channel 4 News programme, of BAE systems-made Hawk jets (formerly British Aerospace) and military transport planes being deployed by Indonesia’s TNI armed forces in yesterday’s invasion of Aceh province.

Last week the Jakarta Post reported UK-supplied scorpion tanks, made by Coventry based manufacturer Alvis (now Alvis/Vickers Plc), would be used in counter-insurgency operations in Aceh by Indonesia’s armed forces too.

The separatist rebellion in Aceh, and the draconian crack-down upon it by Indonesia, has led to around 10,000 (mainly non-combatant) fatalities in 26 years.

Moreover, UK-supplied armoured personnel carriers (scorpions) were used to quell rebellions at universities in 1996 and 1998 which led to student fatalities.

Martin Hogbin of CAAT said:

Despite knowing that Indonesia’s forces have been engaged in a notorrously one-sided conflict against predominately innocent villages, British government have continued to supply the country with arms. We shouldn’t be sending out any sort of message in this situation that implies the customer is always right.

Because of human rights concerns and Indonesia’s violent and illegal annexation of East Timor, the USA placed an embargo on supplying arms to Jakarta.

However, in the past 10 years, the UK has signed over £500m of arms contracts with Indonesia – including permitting £20m of arms export licences to be granted between January 1999 and December 2001.

Mr Hogbin continued:

The film footage blows a myth through the currously naive notion in Whitehall that we can ship arms to the world’s most brutal regimes and that, strangely, they don’t get used.

For further information contact Richard Bingley in the CAAT press office on 0207 281 0297 or Email: media(at)caat·org·uk


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