aid talks open amid protest
The Japan Times, 18 October 2000
Indonesia aid talks open amid protest
Indonesia's donors opened a two-day meeting Tuesday in Tokyo to decide on new aid as protesters of Indonesia's military rallied outside.
The new aid is aimed at bridging the country's expected 2001 budget deficit of 52.12 trillion rupiah (about $5.8 billion), or 3.7 percent of its gross domestic product.
Delegates from 13 countries, including Indonesia, and eight organizations, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, participated in the 10th meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia.
Indonesia's delegation is led by Coordinating Minister for Economy Rizal Ramli, and includes Finance Minister Prijadi Prapto Suharto, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, Home Affairs and Regional Autonomy Minister Surjadi Sudirdja, and Settlement and Territorial Infrastructure Minister Erna Witoelar.
Meanwhile members of 13 nongovernmental organizations staged a protest over what they call years of human rights violations by Indonesia's armed forces.
The NGOs joined the Network for Indonesian Democracy of Japan (NINDJA) to conduct the rally in front of the meeting site, Mita Kaigisho, a Foreign Ministry guesthouse in Tokyo.
"Back to barracks!" one banner said, demanding the Indonesian military get out of the country's politics. "We, citizens' groups in Japan feel responsible that Japan has long supported the authoritarian governments of Indonesia through the CGI," NINDJA said in a statement.
But Japan's senior state secretary for finance, Yoshitaka Murata, praised Indonesia at the beginning of the meeting for making progress in economic programs it had agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund despite such challenges as internal security.
"I hope Indonesia, while facing various challenges, can make further progress in this reform (era)," Murata said.
Chaired by Jamel-ud-din Kassum, the World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, the CGI meeting is expected to be dominated by political issues and the country's corporate-debt restructuring plan.
The World Bank told Indonesia Friday that CGI donors want to see progress in West Timor, where about 130,000 East Timorese refugees still live in squalid camps.
Attorney General Marzuki is expected to explain measures being taken to disarm and disband pro-Jakarta East Timorese militias in West Timor, which were blamed for the Sept. 6 attack on the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Atambua, in which three UN workers were killed.
TOKYO, Oct 17 (AFP) - Protestors on Tuesday appealed to a meeting here of Indonesia's donor nations to force Jakarta to address human-rights abuses before releasing any new aid.
The murders of three UN aid staff in West Timor, violations by soldiers in Aceh and alleged military complicity in violence rocking the Maluku "spice islands" should all dominate donors' deliberations, activists said.
A coalition of Japanese and Indonesian pressure groups said in a statement that "we request that aid be conditioned for achievements on the above-mentioned points."
About 20 protestors picketed the two-day meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) as it got under way in central Tokyo's Mita Conference Hall.
As delegates' cars swept through the venue gates, the activists held aloft banners reading "To support the government is to support the military too" and "Link aid with human rights."
Another banner was a mock recruitment poster from the Indonesian security forces, promising new recruits the opportunity to "Be a National Hero" by killing innocent civilians and creating social disorder.
A handful of police and security guards watched over the peaceful protest outside the venue.
Japan's Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa met Rizal Ramli, Indonesia's coordinating minister for the economy, last Tuesday and said Tokyo was ready to announce fresh support for Indonesia at the donor nations' meeting.
Japan, Indonesia's biggest donor, is likely to provide fresh loans worth 58 billion yen (540 million dollars), Japanese reports have said.
But some donors are still reluctant to provide fresh aid because of Indonesia's lax security measures against militia groups opposing East Timor's independence, the reports say.
The international community has pressured Indonesia to disarm pro-Jakarta East Timorese militias blamed for the murder of the three UN aid workers in West Timor on September 6.
Japan, however, had been happy to overlook abuses in Indonesia, said one of the protestors.
"Japan releases enormous amounts of money to the Indonesian government, despite the fact that Indonesia's human-rights records remains poor," said Natsuko Saeki, head of the Network for Indonesian Democracy (Japan).
"After President (Abdurrahman) Wahid came to power, it appears people started to think that Indonesia was improving its record on human rights," she said.
"But actually, the military is starting to regain its political strength."
The activist also urged the countries and organisations attending the World Bank-backed meeting to cancel some of Indonesia's state debt, which is estimated to reach 4.9 billion dollars next year.
"It's estimated about 30 percent of the debt has gone into the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats," Saeki said.
"The money never reached the Indonesian public, who are now responsible for paying off the debt. I ask the lending countries to forgive at least 30 percent of their loans to Indonesia.
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