Subject: Megawati to Troops: Don't Worry About Rights Abuses

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Indonesia's Megawati tells troops not to worry about rights abuses

JAKARTA, Dec 29 (AFP) - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Saturday called on the country's soldiers to be firm in carrying out their job and not to be worried about accusations of human rights abuses.

"Armed with the soldiers' oath and existing laws, carry out your duties and resposibilities in the best possible manner without having to worry about human rights abuses," Megawati said, in a speech at a ceremony marking Army Day.

"Do your job without hesitation," she said.

Rights groups have accused the Indonesian armed forces of gross human rights violations in separatist-plagued regions of Aceh, Irian Jaya and East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Jakarta in 1976.

East Timor voted to break away from Jakarta rule in a UN-sponsored ballot in August 1999.

East Timorese militia, backed by the Indonesian security forces, led an orgy of killing, arson and destruction in the months surrounding the referendum.

Indonesia is due to start a special human rights court in January 2002 to try soldiers, police and civilians accused of the 1999 crimes in East Timor.

Indonesia has also been torn by continuing communal and sectarian violence since the fall of former president Suharto in 1998.

Questions have been raised over the efficacy of the military in containing religious violence in Maluku islands and Central Sulawesi province, which has continued intermittenly and claimed more than 5,000 lives.

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