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UK academic course for Indonesian officers scrapped

Tapol - March 21, 1997

A special course for senior Indonesian army officers planned by the Centre for Defence Studies of Kings College, London, has been scrapped following a wave of criticism within Kings College, from human rights organisations and in Parliament. An official announcement from the CDS is expected on Monday.

On hearing of the decision not to go ahead, Carmel Budiardjo of TAPOL said: 'This is a victory for the solidarity movement for Indonesia and East Timor here in the UK. In even contemplating such a link with the Indonesian armed forces, the CDS displayed an abysmal lack of knowledge about the true character of Suharto's brutal regime and the repressive nature of the Indonesian armed forces. It underestimated the strength of feeling here in this country about the present situation in Indonesia and East Timor.'

The project was to have involved six-week courses in Indonesia for fifty armed forces officers for five years, commencing in the summer of 1997. It was negotiated with Suharto's son-in-law Major-General Prabowo Subianto, commander of Indonesia's special combat unit, Kopassus, in close association with the Ministry of Defence. The fact that all communications would have been channelled through the British embassy in Jakarta highlights the role of the British Government in sponsoring the programme.

Within days of hearing about the project, many members of staff and a large number of students at Kings College made clear their objection to such a link with Indonesia, while academics elsewhere called on the Association of University Teachers to halt the scheme. Nearly fifty members of Parliament signed a motion of protest.

Arms sales to Indonesia to face unprecedented court challenge On Tuesday, 25 March, TAPOL along with Campaign Against Arms Trade and the World Development Movement will be going to the High Court in London to seek leave for a Judicial Review of the British Government's decision to licence more than 350 armoured vehicles and water cannon for Indonesia. If granted, the full hearing is likely to take place within a month. This is the first time for Britain's arms export policy to be challenged in court.