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Indonesia

Volume 407: debated on Friday 20 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make representations to the Indonesian Government about the (a) destruction of churches and (b) killing of civilians in the West Papua regency of Wamena; and if he will make a statement; [119475](2) what reports he has received of the activities of the Laskar Jihad in West Papua; and if he will make a statement on the safety of Christians in that region. [119478]

The British Embassy in Jakarta is monitoring the situation in Wamena closely and has met NGOs and community leaders from the area. We are aware of reports of civilians being abused and buildings being burned, which the Embassy will raise with the Indonesian Government.Laskar Jihad announced that they were disbanding in October 2002. There is conflicting information about whether the group is now present in Papua, and if so in what numbers. The local authorities in Papua are investigating these reports. At the moment we are not aware of any particular threat to Christians in Papua.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights in the Indonesian province of Aceh. [119991]

We are concerned about recent reports of human rights abuses in Aceh. During my visit to Indonesia on 3–4 June I stressed to the Indonesian Government the importance of their Armed Forces using proportionate force, respecting human rights and acting in accordance with international law. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a joint press statement with the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, on 20 May calling on the Indonesian Armed Forces to ensure full respect for human rights and to show maximum restraint while they carry out operations in Aceh. We regularly raise with the Indonesian authorities the importance of upholding and promoting human rights and religious freedom throughout thecountry.The Indonesian Government have agreed to allow members of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-HAM) to visit Aceh to investigate any alleged human rights abuses. There have also been two military tribunals at which military personnel have been sentenced to imprisonment for abusing civilians. We will continue to monitor the situation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Indonesian Government's special autonomy law for West Papua of January 2002, with special reference to President Megawati's decree of March 2003 splitting the province. [120129]

The UK, together with EU partners, supports Special Autonomy for Papua. We have encouraged the Indonesian Government fully to implement Special Autonomy as soon as possible.Following a successful visit.to Papua by a Scottish Devolution team in October 2001, HMG provided funding for a devolution expert to go to Jayapura and advise the Papuan authorities, academics and civil society on drafting the legislation required for Special Autonomy. He has been in Papua since September 2002 and will leave in September 2003.President Megawati issued Presidential Instruction 01/2003 in January 2003, which says that Papua should be split into three provinces. It is not clear how this Instruction relates to the Special Autonomy package of 1 January 2002, but the Indonesian Government said in February 2003 that the Instruction and Special Autonomy do not contradict each other and that both can be implemented. We are seeking further clarification on this from the Indonesian Government.