Mon, Nov 28, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Indonesia using UK military equipment against civilians

REPRESSION Witnesses say that equipment exported to Indonesia by the UK has been used to suppress demonstrations against rights abuses

THE OBSERVER , LONDON

British military equipment is being used by the Indonesian authorities against civilians in remote parts of the country.

Despite promises by British Foreign Office ministers that UK arms exported to the country are not used for internal repression photographic evidence exists showing a British-made Tactica water cannon vehicle deployed in the troubled eastern province of West Papua.

Eyewitness reports have claimed that the cannon have been used to control demonstrators protesting against Indonesian rule and widespread human rights abuses in the region, including thousands of extra-judicial killings. It is claimed that the water in the cannon is mixed with chemicals that makes demonstrators' eyes burn. The vehicles were made by Alvis in Coventry, England, and sold to Indonesia in 1998.

Last week Foreign Office Minister Ian Pearson told the House of Commons: "We are not aware of any UK-supplied equipment currently deployed in Papua. We have consistently made clear to the Indonesian authorities that no British-supplied equipment, or indeed any other equipment, should be used in any human rights abuses."

The photographic evidence has provoked outrage among groups campaigning against Indonesian rule in the province.

Benny Wenda, a West Papua tribal and political leader now living in exile in Britain, explained: "When I was in West Papua I saw with my own eyes the Indonesian soldiers using Hawk jets made in the UK to bomb our villages."

"They killed thousands of my people and most of my own family," he said.

"Now they are using British weapons again. So this is my message to the government and people of the UK: please, please, stop selling weapons to Indonesia," he said.

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