TAPOL Press release
Britain and Indonesia: Too close for comfort?
President’s visit prompts fresh concerns about arms sales and training of anti-terror police
October 2012 – British-funded training of Indonesia’s anti-terror
police, Special Detachment 88, should be reviewed in the light of
serious concerns about the unit’s human rights record and its operations
in Papua, says TAPOL ahead of a state visit to London by Indonesian
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from 31 October to 2 November 2012.
the run-up to the visit TAPOL, which promotes human rights, peace and
democracy in Indonesia, is also appealing for an immediate ban on the
sale to Indonesia of any military equipment that may be used for
British businesses are no doubt eagerly anticipating the President’s
visit, victims of human rights abuses will derive little comfort from
the prospect of increased arms sales and ongoing training of Indonesian
security forces,” says Paul Barber, Coordinator of TAPOL.
the UK government prepares a state welcome for President Yudhoyono,
rights groups from the UK and beyond are organizing an alternative
welcome at a demonstration on behalf of the victims of human rights
abuses outside Downing Street from 13:00 to 14:30 on Wednesday 31
Indonesia has made substantial progress in its transition from
dictatorship to democracy since the downfall of former President Suharto
in May 1998, serious human rights concerns remain.
news that the President is to receive a prestigious honour from the
Queen is a gross affront to those who have suffered violations at the
hands of successive Indonesian governments,” said Barber .
Detachment 88, known as ‘Densus 88’ was formed after the Bali bombings
in 2002 to combat terrorism, but is reportedly being deployed to tackle
other issues, such as alleged separatism in Indonesia’s
conflict-affected provinces. Local civil society monitors say Densus 88
is being used to crack down on the Papuan independence movement, and the
unit has been implicated in the assassination of its leaders, such as
Mako Tabuni who was shot dead in June this year.
unit is trained at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation,
JCLEC, which received a minimum of £400,000 in funding from Britain in
the financial year 2011/12, as well as training provided by British
officers. These include the UK’s South East Asia Counter Terrorism &
Extremism Liaison Officer Detective Superintendent Phil Tucker; former
Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Milton, and David Gray, an officer
from the Counter Terrorism Command at New Scotland Yard who sits on
JCLEC’s Board of Supervisors and has been teaching on the course since
July this year, leading Indonesian human rights NGO, KontraS, published
research which stated that Densus 88 operations commonly involved
arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, physical abuse and injury
causing death .
has been identified by the UK as a priority market for defence sales,
with Prime Minister David Cameron boosting the export effort when he
visited Jakarta with arms company executives in April 2012. The value of
approved arms export licences has risen dramatically under the
coalition government. The use of British equipment such as Hawk jets,
armoured personnel carriers and water cannon for internal repression has
been widely documented over the years and was acknowledged by the
British Government in the 1990s. UK Tactica vehicles have been used to
crush protest on the streets of Jakarta as recently as March this year,
and are used by Indonesia’s notorious paramilitary police unit Brimob.
the President’s visit, groups including TAPOL, Down to Earth, Survival
International, Progressio and Christian Solidarity Worldwide will be
highlighting these and other key issues, including Human Rights in
Papua; The Need for Dialogue in Papua; Freedom of _expression_; Rights,
Livelihoods and Climate Justice; Religious Intolerance; and Timor-Leste
Information on these issues is set out in a briefing available here.
Contact: Paul Barber on 01420 80153 / 07747 301 739 or Esther Cann on 07503 400 308.
1. President Yudhoyono will reportedly be awarded the Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Bath by the Queen during his visit.
2. KontraS report on Densus 88 available from TAPOL on request