Letter: Jets to Indonesia: flying in the face of human rights

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Sir: There has been no comment on the way in which the British aid budget has been used as a bribe to obtain the order for pounds 500m of Hawk aircraft ('British jets 'may be used on Timor rebels',' 11 June) from the Indonesian government.

I am delighted for workers in these job-starved days in Humberside and Lancashire that their jobs are made secure. But should our puny aid budget, supposedly for the poorest in the world, be used as a sweetener for an ugly regime illegally occupying East Timor and which has just imprisoned a local leader after a farce of a trial?

Simultaneously, with the Hawk order, our aid budget has given a pounds 65m soft loan for an Indonesian power station - so soft is the loan that no repayments have to be made for seven years and thereafter they are at 3 1/2 per cent. This can be added to another pounds 110m of soft loans, mainly for railways and communication equipment, and pounds 48m of industrial grants already made to Indonesia this year.

Good news for Indonesia and the British firms who will get the work. But when we only give 0.32 per cent of GDP to overseas aid when we promised 0.7 per cent to the United Nations, is this what our aid budget should be used for?

The Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, claims that human rights records influence the distribution of aid - come off it]

Yours sincerely,


MP for Clydebank and Milngavie


House of Commons

London, SW1