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Amnesty International UK calls for UK to stop equipping Indonesian repression

Amnesty International - January 1997

Amnesty International (UK) is calling on the UK Goverment to urgently revoke export licences granted to a UK company, Alvis, for the sale of armoured vehicles to Indonesia. This call comes in the light of mounting evidence about the use of such equipment in commiting grave human rights cviolations in that country.

The organisation is calling upon the company's shareholders, meeting at the company's AGM today in London, to make a stand for human rights and oppose the sale of these armoured vehicles to Indonesia.

AIUK director, David Bull comment: Armoured personnel carriers are part of the machinery used by the Government of Indonesia to crush internal dissent. This export deal places in the hands of the Indonesian Government equipment which we know has been used to commit human rights violations.'

Amnesty International has documented a pattern of human rights violations committed by the Indonesian Armed Forces, including the police, during operations where members of the armed forces and the police have been transported in, or have used, armoured personnel carries (APCs). It also has been monitoring a recent increasing pattern of repression against both violent and non-violent internal dissent since July 1996 which is anticipated to last until at least the parliamentary elections in May 1997.

In April 1996, UK-supplied APCs were used to quell demonstrations by students in Ujung Pandang in South Sulawesi in which at least three students were killed by the military. As a result of the outcry which followed the government's handling of these demonstrations, six Indonesian soldiers were court martialled for 'exceeding official orders' and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. In addition, APCs were also present during the quelling of riots on 27 July 1996 in Jakarta during which the security forces were filmed beating individual demonstrators.

In December 1996, the UK Government confirmed that export licences had been issued for the export of fifty armoured vehicles to the Indonesian Government. The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Hanley, told Parliament on 15 January 1997 that human rights considerations were 'a key factor' in the decisions in granting the licences. However, in the same breath Mr Hanley stated that as the fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia 'is an important country with which to do buisness'. Given the evidence of use of such equipment to commit human rights violations, it appears that commercial considerations may have been allowed to outweigh human rights concerns.

The United States, the biggest supplier of military equipment internationally, has banned the export of armoured vehicles to Indonesia as a result of international comdemnation of the Indonesian Government's handling of demonstrations in mid-1996. If the UK continues to authorise exports of such vehicles to Indonesia it will undermine the US stance. It will lay UK companies and the UK government open to accusations of profiting from another country's stand on human rights.