Letter: Funds for brutality

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It is not surprising that the Indonesian foreign minister, Ali Alatas, repeated the lie about troop reductions in East Timor after addressing a human rights workshop funded by the British Government ("Timor military retreat `a sham' ", 30 October). Far from promoting human rights, the Government continues to help Indonesia sustain its brutal occupation of East Timor through the supply of military equipment to the armed forces.

Last week, Mr Alatas said it would be the height of irresponsibility for Indonesia to continue its arms purchases, given the state of the economy. The only exception would be an order for 16 British Hawk aircraft agreed in 1996.

Recently, you reported that taxpayers would have to meet the cost of rescheduling a pounds 250m bill for an earlier purchase of Hawk aircraft as Indonesia could not keep up the payments on its debts ("Britain to meet pounds 250m jets bill", 26 September). Since that bill is roughly equivalent to the annual cost of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor (estimated at $1m a day), British taxpayers are indirectly subsidising the occupation.

If the Government wants to make a practical contribution to human rights in Indonesia and East Timor, it should condemn the level of military activity in East Timor and cancel the export licence for the remaining 16 Hawks forthwith.


Tapol, The Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

Thornton Heath, Surrey