Letter: Good intentions and arms sales

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Sir: What on earth is taking place at Whitehall? You report (25 June) that the Government has invited three senior officers of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) to a sales exhibition at Farnborough. Such an invitation would sit uneasily with Robin Cook's promise to "put human rights at the heart of foreign policy".

ABRI has committed unlawful killings, "disappearances", torture and arbitrary arrests and operates with almost complete lack of accountability. Military equipment supplied to ABRI always has the potential to be deployed in operations during which rights violations are committed. Hence Amnesty International's call earlier this month for a cessation of lethal training from the UK and for an end to the export of machine guns, armoured vehicles and UK computer surveillance equipment. Sales of water cannon should also be stopped pending the results of a government investigation into their misuse in Indonesia and East Timor.

The arms to Indonesia issue provides the Government with an excellent opportunity to send a clear signal to the world that it intends to stand by its promises. But urgent and decisive action is needed if the good intentions forged in opposition are to become the reality of government.



Amnesty International UK

London EC1