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Tapol calls for international investigation in West Kalimantan

Tapol Press Release - February 13, 1997

Following reports confirmed yesterday of the killing of at least seventeen Dayaks earlier this month at a military roadblock east of Pontianak, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan (Borneo), TAPOL has asked the British Government to take the lead, in the European Union, in calling for an international investigation into the disturbances.

In a letter today to Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Avebury said:

"In December, the British Government issued yet more licences for the export of armoured personnel carriers and other military equipment to the Indonesian army and police. You are always saying that you have assurances that British military equipment supplied to Indonesia will not be used in East Timor but what about Indonesia, and Kalimantan in particular?'

Reports from contacts in the region suggest that scores of Dayaks been shot dead or seriously wounded in the area. There have also been a number of casualties among the Madurese community. Two weeks ago, the Malaysian Government closed the border between Sarawak and West Kalimantan to prevent the ethnic conflict from spilling over.

The disturbances began last December with clashes between Dayak youths and newcomers from the island of Madura. Tens of thousands of transmigrants have flooded the area in the past few years, occupying Dayak land and marginalising the native inhabitants. Forests have been cleared by concessionaires. Following the clashes in December, thousands of Madurese transmigrants fled to Pontianak, seeking army protection.

Soon after, Dayak communities in urban areas came under attack, with hostels and Catholic centres being attacked and torched. The army flew in special troops to reinforce local troops and have set up roadblocks in an attempt to prevent Dayaks from entering Pontianak and other towns. Curfews are in force in several towns and the army is attempting to prevent news from reaching the outside, with no one being allowed into or out of the worst affected areas. Local journalists believe that the military hospital is full of casualties but they have been denied access. One local journalist is in custody over his reporting.

TAPOL has also asked UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, to seek permission from the Indonesian government to visit the area.

For further information, ring Carmel Budiardjo on 0181 771.2904 (day and evening).