|Subject: AFP: Indonesia wants South
African-style look at abuses: Canadian minister
Agence France Presse April 13, 2000, Thursday
Indonesia wants South African-style look at abuses: Canadian minister JAKARTA, April 13
Visiting Canadian minister Raymond Chan said Thursday that senior Indonesian officials appeared to favour a South African style "truth and reconciliation" approach to massive human rights abuses committed in Indonesia.
"The minister indicated ... (that they are) promoting a truth and reconciliation approach," Chan told a press conference in Jakarta after meeting Indonesian Rights Minister Hasbalah Saad.
"It (the approach) seems to have the endorsement of NGO's (non-governmental organizations), and we are very happy to see NGO's having a voice in policy," Chan said.
Saad, he said, had told him that although human rights trials were starting to go ahead in troubled Aceh province, Indonesia simply did not "have the capacity" to handle the sheer volume of cases from the past -- a reference to the 32-year iron-fist regime of former president Suharto.
Chan, secretary of state for Asia and Pacific, said he did not mean to imply that human rights violations had come to an end in post-Suharto Indonesia.
He said he had discussed Ottawa's concerns over human rights violations and the ongoing sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku islands -- which has claimed some 3,000 lives in the past year -- with Indonesian Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri earlier on Thursday.
In the meeting he told Megawati that his government was "very concerned" about the violence in the Malukus, as well as in Aceh and Irian Jaya.
"I was glad to hear from Megawati that reconciliation efforts are underway," in the Malukus.
"She assured us she was putting in a lot of effort," he said, adding that during his meeting with Saad, he had been told that a decentralization package was being prepared for parliamentary approval.
Aceh, on the western tip of Indonesia, and Irian Jaya in the east have both long been plagued by clashes between troops and separatists.
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said before a trip to South Africa earlier this week that one of the main topics of discussion would be whether the South African style "truth and reconciliation" process was suitable for Indonesia.
He was referring to the deluge of grievances that have been raised, many of them against the armed forces, since the fall of Suharto in 1998, who in the last years of his rule became increasingly autocratic.
Chan, who arrived in Jakarta on Monday, is scheduled to fly to East Timor on Friday before returning to Indonesia.
He said the main purpose of his Indonesia trip was to report to his government on the progress and challenges facing the Wahid government.
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