Watch Indonesia! has appealed to the German Chancellor to vehemently speak out against military intervention in Aceh

12th May 2003

von Deutschland geliefert, von Deutschland nachgerüstet: NVA Schiffe

Delivered by Germany, refurbished by Germany: NVA vessels

Photo: Rolf Walter, Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft

On the occasion of the German Chancellor’s official visit in Jakarta the Berlin-based human rights organisation Watch Indonesia! has written to Chancellor Schroeder. In all urgency we appeal to the Chancellor to prevent the Indonesian authorities from executing the planned military intervention in Aceh and to call for a return to the negotiating table of all parties concerned. After troops had already been deployed in and around Aceh for weeks, preparations for military intervention have been geared up during the last days. With the passing of today’s deadline (or possibly only after the departure of Chancellor Schroeder on May 14th) war in Aceh seems imminent.

In this context Watch Indonesia! also protests against the fact that recently the German government authorised the supply of new engines for the 39 vessels of the former GDR-Navy which had been sold to Jakarta in 1993, and that the necessary credits have been backed up by Germany’s export credit agency KfW. Watch Indonesia! acknowledges that the Indonesian navy needs functioning ships for the protection of the archipelago’s vast coastlines as well as in their battle against piracy. However, especially at this very moment during which the navy is massively engaged in the deployment of troops in and around Aceh and with urgently needed military reforms fading into ever further distance, the delivery of these engines for the navy vessels sends the wrong signal to Jakarta. Hence, it is ever more important that the German Chancellor urges the Government of Indonesia to immediately halt their plans for military intervention in Aceh and speaks out in support of the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Indonesia.

As has clearly been shown during the trials before Ad-hoc Human Rights Courts in Jakarta, impunity is still a sad reality in Indonesia. – Under strong international pressure the Indonesian government had agreed to establish the necessary legal framework for the prosecution and trial of those responsible for the gross violations of human rights committed in East Timor in 1999. 18 suspects have been brought before Ad-hoc Human Rights Courts. Most of the defendants have been acquitted, few have been handed down sentences which amount to minimum or even sub-minimum penalties.

„If impunity prevails even for those responsible for gross human rights violations in East Timor, other human rights violations are unlikely to be punished and future ones unlikely to be prevented“, comments Watch Indonesia!. We thus appeal to Chancellor Schroeder, to urge the Government of Indonesia to immediately end impunity, to ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to trial, to ensure respect for human rights, especially also in conflict areas, and to commit itself to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The prevailing impunity clearly demonstrates the lack of rule of law in Indonesia. Urgently needed reforms have so far not been conducted in any scope to speak of. On the part of the United Nations this has strongly been criticised in the report of the UN-Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy. Watch Indonesia! appeals to the German Chancellor to call on the Government of Indonesia to implement the UN-Special Rapporteur’s comprehensive list of recommendations.

Great cause for concern are the recent attempts by both the security forces and the intelligence agencies to increase their power in the wake of the global war on terror – and especially after the Bali bombings. The new anti-terrorism legislation increases the role of the State Intelligence Service (BIN), which has furthermore recently been lobbying to obtain legal codification of provisions which would grant the agency authority of arrest and interrogation. An attempt by the military to increase its power is their lobbying for legal codification of the provision which would grant the TNI Commander-in-Chief the authority to order military operations without prior approval of the President in cases he considers a threat to national sovereignty or territorial integrity.

Watch Indonesia! appeals to the German Chancellor, to urge the Indonesian authorities to prevent developments which would be detrimental to reform and democratisation processes. Should such tendencies get the upper hand, one must fear that the few democratic achievements will be degraded to a democratic facade for an essentially authoritarian regime, dominated by the military. The strengthening of democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights in Indonesia necessitates that the security services and intelligence agencies are subordinated to democratically legitimised civilian control and are restrained from acting outside democratic structures. <>

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