Britain backs Jakarta denial of Timor terror claims

THE GOVERNMENTS of Britain and Indonesia have joined in an attempt to discredit a report in the Independent on Sunday of 12 November that British-built Hawk war planes were used on a mission to bolster Indonesia's savage occupation of East Timor.

The Government's action comes as protesters world-wide prepare to mark the 20th anniversary on Thursday of the Indonesian invasion of the former Portuguese colony.

The Indonesian government has issued to the Foreign and Commonwealth office a formal denial that two British aerospace Hawk war planes flew low over Dili, capital of East Timor, on the morning of 10 November.

I saw the Hawks make their pass as I stood near the Red Cross compound in a tense and frightened Dili at 8.50am on 10 November while armed troops and police were filling the streets. The military activity was aimed at preventing demonstrations on the anniversary of the killing of 271 armed Timorese protesters at the Santa Cruz cemetery on 12 November 1991. I was expelled from East Timor a few hours later.

Jeremy Hanley, Minister of State at the Foreign Office and former Conservative Party chairman, said: "We have no evidence to support [the] claim that Hawk aircraft flew over East Timor."

Mr Hanley was replying to a letter from Lord Avebury, chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, who had complained to him of the Indonesians' use of Hawks, quoting this newspaper's report. Lord Avebury accuses the Government of having breached the 1993 agreements of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which bans the export of arms to areas where they exacerbate existing tensions.

Lord Avebury has put down a question in the House of Lords asking Mr Hanley why he "prefers to believe the denial by the spokesman of the Indonesian occupation forces in East Timor ... rather than the word of a British journalist".

The Indonesian occupation of East Timor, estimated by Amnesty International to have claimed 200,000 lives, has been condemned by the UN Security Council. Our report also embarrassed Downing Street. Whitehall has maintained that General Suharto, the Indonesian dictator, has promised not to use the Hawks to bolster the occupation. When he was Foreign Secretary in 1989 John Major, against the protests of his Cabinet colleagues, stopped the sale of Hawks to Iraq because they could have been used by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.

In 1991 after the first of my four visits to East Timor, the Foreign Office attempted to discredit my eye-witness report of Indonesian forces using British military vehicles in Dili. It claimed there was "no evidence". The Indonesian air force, with 44 Hawks on order or in service in two counter-insurgency squadrons, is the largest foreign customer for the aircraft, outstripping even the Saudi Arabians. A BAe spokesman said his company hoped Indonesia would buy more; the Indonesians hint they may buy 100. They bought the first eight Hawks in 1978 in a deal blessed by James Callaghan's Labour government. This order later rose to 20. In 1993 an additional 24 Hawks were purchased in a deal worth pounds 500 million.

The Indonesian embassy yesterday had nothing to add to its denial and would not comment on my expulsion. Meanwhile the UN, recognising the erosion of its prestige represented by Indonesian chronic defiance of the Security Council resolutions demanding the withdrawal of its troops, is increasing its activity on the Timor question. Jose Ayala Lasso, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, arrives in Dili this week and, if the Indonesian troops permit, will learn at first hand the views of the Timorese. Next month Portuguese, Timorese and Indonesians gather in London under the aegis of the UN Secretary- General for further talks about the territory's future. Lord Avebury and Ann Clwyd MP have invited me to give evidence to the parliamentary Human Rights Group in the House of Commons on 11 December.

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Domino Developer and Administrator

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

IT Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full or Part Time ICT Teacher ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?