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UK's arms sales to Indonesia rapped

Free West Papua Campaign (UK) Statement - April 13, 2012

The Free West Papua Campaign has condemned Britain's renewal of selling weaponry to Indonesia as "one of the worst outcomes imaginable," while the UK seeks arms exports opportunities for its businesses.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron and his entourage including representatives from arms companies such as BAE Systems arrived in Jakarta yesterday to discuss plans for Britain to renew arms sales to the Southeast Asian country for the first time in 13 years, aimed at boosting UK jobs and investment.

But activists slammed the UK premier's promise to provide Indonesia with "the best defence equipment in the world," just because the Southeast Asian nation was a "responsible" country.

"How can David Cameron meet Benny Wenda and describe the situation in West Papua as 'terrible' when it was Benny's village that was bombed by British-made BAE Systems Hawk jets which continue to be sold to Indonesia," said the Free West Papua Campaign.

Furthermore, Campaign Against The Arms Trade co-coordinator Kaye Stearman criticized Britain for having a "terrible record" in the wake of the Hawk jets, adding, "Now Cameron is to sell even more weaponry to a country which, although ostensibly a democracy, is still prosecuting a largely hidden war," with the two provinces of Papua and West Papua, located at the Western tip of Indonesia.

During and after the Suharto dictatorship ended in 1998, Britain was Indonesia's biggest military supplier. However, the UK government stopped selling it fighter jets 13 years ago, as the country was accused of bombing its own citizens using British-made planes in East Timor in 1999, and in Aceh in 2003.

According to a study conducted in August last year, Britain has exported arms worth #30.5 million to countries including Libya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia between February and June which shows a 30 percent rise compared with the same period last year.