East Timor Vote: Row over use of Hawks to intimidate voters

MINISTERS FACED fresh calls last night to freeze arms sales to Indonesia and withdraw the country's invitation to Britain's biggest military fair.

Senior Labour MPs joined Tories, Liberal Democrats and peace campaigners to plead for an urgent review of UK policy after British-made Hawk aircraft were twice used to intimidate separatists during the run-up to East Timor's independence referendum. Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, confirmed reports that the jets flew over East Timor during the campaign. The planes were sold to Indonesia on condition that they would not be used for internal repression.

The Government's embarrassment was heightened yesterday with news that the Indonesian regime had been invited to the Defence System Equipment International exhibition in Surrey next month.

The affair illustrates "the dangers of selling arms to dictatorial regimes like the previous regime in Indonesia," said Donald Anderson, the Labour chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

"There should be no arms sales to Indonesia until the democracy is clearly established and ... the referendum result is wholly respected by the Indonesian government," Mr Anderson told BBC Radio 4's The World At One. The Labour MP was backed by John Maples, the Conservative defence spokesman, and the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell.

Britain had a strong legal case for revoking the rest of Indonesia's export licence for the Hawks, Mr Campbell said. Only 50 of the 140 jets sold to Indonesia by British Aerospace under the last government have been delivered to date.

Indonesia is guilty of a "flagrant contravention of the purported conditions of sale", which specified that the plane could not be used for internal repression, he said.

However, Nana Sutresla, the Indonesian ambassador in London, insisted that the Hawks were providing "general security" over the eastern part of his country. The planes were sent there after the military received reports that there had been an "illegal over-fly by unidentified planes", he said.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, the Defence Procurement minister, said Britain recognised Indonesia's right to defend itself, as guaranteed by the UN Charter.

Timetable of a Deal

1994: Robin Cook, then shadow Foreign Secretary, attacked Tory policy on arming Indonesia: "Hawk aircraft have been observed on bombing runs in East Timor in most years since 1984."

1996: 16 further Hawk jets licensed for export to Indonesia, with the licence valid for four years.

May 1997: Incoming Labour government announces change in foreign policy, putting "ethical considerations" at its heart.

September 1997: The AEEU, an engineering union and one of Labour's biggest financial backers, says loss of Hawk deal would destroy "trust" between the two countries.

October 1997: The Government says Hawks have not been used in a counter- insurgency role in East Timor.

April 1999: First two Hawks from 1996 deal delivered, with the rest due over the next seven months.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Rockstar Sales Executive - OTE £65,000

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital