Human rights activists warn about "Leopard" battle tanks to be sold to Indonesia

Jakarta plans arms deal with Germany

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns about "Leopard" battle tanks to be sold to Indonesia. "It would be sending the wrong signal if Germany were to build up an army that is accused of serious human rights violations and that has systematically violated German arms export regulations in the past," said the STP's Asia-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Wednesday. "In addition, it would be a disgrace for the European arms export control, if Germany was to sell the battle tanks, now that the Dutch parliament has already rejected the sale of military equipment due to human rights concerns." Indonesia is planning to buy up to 100 "Leopard "-tanks either from Germany or the Netherlands.

"Anyone who seriously thinks about selling advanced military equipment to Indonesia, has learned nothing from the shameful history of the German-Indonesian military cooperation," warned Delius. He recalled that – as early as in 1990 – Indonesia and Germany had signed an internationally binding treaty stating that former German battleships were not to be used in combat but for coastal protection, maritime security and the fight against piracy and smuggling only – which had been ignored. In 1993, the Indonesian Navy had bought 39 landing ships and fighter corvettes held by the former National People's Army (NVA). Some of the landing craft were used in the genocide in East Timor, 1999. Other ships took part in a naval blockade of the embattled Moluccas in January 2000. Former NVA-ships repeatedly carried troops to the troubled provinces of Papua.

"It would be irresponsible to build up the Indonesian army, because it has systematically violated Indonesian and international law and is also responsible for serious human rights violations in the provinces of Papua in the west of the New Guinea island," said Delius. Also, there is a climate of fear and terror under the democratically elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono. In 2011, arbitrary arrests, torture, intimidation of journalists and human rights activists, death penalties and long prison sentences for dissident Papua natives have increased even further.