Subject: TAPOL/CAAT press release: UK arms sales
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 09:24:52 -0500
From: Tapol <>

TAPOL and Campaign Against Arms Trade Press release 25 March 1999


TAPOL (the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign) and Campaign Against Arms Trade have today condemned the British Government for its failure to halt the flow of arms to Indonesia since it came to power and for its lack of transparency and accountability.

The Government's extremely belated annual report on arms exports for 1997, published today, shows that, from May to December 1997, 34 licences were issued for Indonesia. While the report provides a general list of licensed goods ranging from machine gun spares to communications equipment and military simulators it fails to make clear the exact nature, amount and value of the equipment covered by each licence.

In the same year, actual deliveries included 23 armoured combat vehicles and 4 Hawk aircraft valued at £112.49 million. The Labour Government allowed these exports to go ahead despite having the power to revoke the licences. The report reveals that 5 licences for Sierra Leone were revoked in 1997.

Parliamentary written answers show that the number of licences granted by the Labour Government for Indonesia had increased to 92 by the end of 1998. Only seven licences had been refused. This is a similar rate to the Tories and there is no evidence that the new licensing criteria introduced in July 1997 have made a difference.

Today's report has done nothing to improve the transparency and accountability of the export licensing system. It is no coincidence that it has been rushed out on the day the media's attention is on the Kosovo crisis.

Paul Barber of TAPOL says:

'The Indonesian armed forces are even now implementing a 'shoot-on-sight' policy to curb unrest and are supplying arms to militias intent on undermining the peace process in East Timor. British equipment has been used before to repress the people of Indonesia and East Timor and there is a grave danger that it will be used again [see Eds' footnote]. Experience has repeatedly shown that without prior parliamentary and public scrutiny of licensing decisions, British equipment will be used to abuse human rights. Licensing decisions must be publicised at the time they are made, not more than a year later when it is too late to do anything about them.'


For more information, contact: Paul Barber (TAPOL) on 01420 80153 or 0181 771 2904; or Rachel Harford (CAAT) on 0171 281 0297 or 0181 731 9368 (eves).

Editors' footnote:

Both Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Minister of State Derek Fatchett have acknowledged that water cannon have been used against protesting students and striking workers in 1998 and 1999. The Indonesian armed forces have admitted to using British equipment in East Timor (for further details, contact TAPOL).

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 1420 80153 Email: Internet: Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh, 1973-1998

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