APSN Banner

Mega shows discomfort with bombing campaign

Straits Times - October 15, 2001

Jakarta – Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, in comments indicating a degree of discomfort with the United States-led strikes on Afghanistan, said last night that violence must not beget violence.

Speaking at Istiqlal Mosque here at the commemoration of the Ascension day of the Prophet Mohammad, she condemned terrorism and expressed Indonesia's support to fight it – but added that violence "does not always have to be responded to with violence".

In what amounted to her first indirect comments on the airstrikes, she said that no single individual, group or government should track and punish terrorists by summarily attacking another country.

"If a certain country wants to find those responsible for terrorist activity, it must apply accepted international norms and not do as it likes," she said.

"No one group or state should make its own rules in the use of force and then attack others." Jakarta has said that it is following with grave concern the airstrikes against Afghanistan. There has also been strong public protests against the US and the attacks across Indonesia.

Ms Megawati's comments came a day after Vice-President Hamzah Haz, speaking as chairman of the Muslim-based United Development Party, urged Washington to stop the military campaign in Afghanistan.

At the same time, Jakarta has been moving against militants and others who have been demonstrating in the capital against the US-led strikes.

Police yesterday confirmed they were holding 27 anti-US protesters arrested for possessing weapons, including short swords and slingshots. They were among 65 people arrested on Saturday after hundreds of protesters from Central Java arrived at a train station. They had come to attend rallies opposing the US strikes.