Subject: TAPOL and Ann Clwyd call for ban on arms sales
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 17:35:58 +0100 (BST)
From: (TAPOL)

Press Release 28 September 1998


Following reports that the British taxpayer will have to meet the £250 million bill for Hawk aircraft sold to Indonesia, TAPOL today urged the Government to cancel the delivery of 16 more Hawk aircraft due to start in the new year and reiterated its call for a ban on arms sales to Indonesia and the revocation of all other licences.

In a statement on her way to the Labour Party Conference, Ann Clwyd MP said:

‘With over £800 million of the £1.7 billion debt to the UK for arms sales, there must be reasonable doubt that these debts are going to be paid. Surely this is yet another opportunity to halt arms sales to Indonesia which I have asked the Government to do many times in the past year. ‘With the shaky political and financial situation in Indonesia and its continuing lack of respect for human rights, it must be time to call an end to these arms sales. I shall be pressing the Government to explain why it is prepared to put taxpayers’ money at risk when so many small firms in Britain have gone to the wall because they were never offered the opportunity to re-schedule their debts. ‘We lost £600 million to Iraq when Saddam Hussein failed to pay his debt. It would be ironic if once again, we were caught out’

In its letter to Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, TAPOL said:

‘…it is quite intolerable for the British Government to facilitate the sale of military equipment to a country that has been so remiss on human rights and that is still in illegal occupation of East Timor. …the British Government ought to be acting firmly not to allow Indonesia to sink further into debt for goods that have no conceivable connection with efforts to rescue the Indonesian people from the impoverishment that has now struck the country.’

The Government previously said it would not be ‘realistic or practical’ to revoke existing licences, but whatever the contractual obligations, there is a higher moral imperative to take action to alleviate the appalling suffering of so many ordinary people in Indonesia.

British military equipment, including Hawk aircraft, armoured vehicles, and water cannon, have repeatedly been used for internal repression in Indonesia and aggression against East Timor. It is time for Robin Cook to implement his ethical foreign policy and stop this indefensible trade once and for all.

For more information, contact: Carmel Budiardjo - 0181 771 2904

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

Join us to celebrate TAPOL's 25th anniversary on 20 October 1998. Contact us for ticket details.

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