letters: Indonesian abuses ignored

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The Independent Online
HUGH O'SHAUGHNESSY is right to point out the stark contrast between the Overseas Development Administration's plan to cut aid to Africa and its favourable treatment of Indonesia ("Pull the curtains tight...", 13 August). Sadly, such inconsistencies are par for the course for the ODA and its Minister, Baroness Chalker.

Following her recent visit to Kenya, Baroness Chalker was commended in the UK for her stand on human rights and democratic reform. During the visit she stated concern about treatment of opposition parties, the press and some legal cases. "We know the horrors of the ethnic tensions that this country went through. And we know the evils of corruption," she said.

Yet earlier, Baroness Chalker visited Indonesia, whose record of such human rights abuses is amongst the worst in the world, to sign a loan agreement for pounds 80m. At a recent meeting of Indonesia's aid donors in Paris, ODA officials agreed to further increase aid. Apart from Japan, Britain was the only major bilateral donor to do so. On neither occasion was the appalling human rights record of the Indonesian government mentioned, nor its illegal occupation and repression of East Timor.Both subjects were excluded from the meeting.

Of course Kenya has displeased Britain by holding back on the liberal economic reforms demanded by the West, unlike Indonesia. Perhaps it is not surprising that Baroness Chalker does not want to upset her Indonesian friends: Britain is one of Indonesia's largest suppliers of major weapons systems.

Ann Clwyd MP

House of Commons

London SW1A