FAO Newsdesks - Friday 28 November 2003
Dismay as British Armoured Vehicles Join War in Aceh
Evidence has emerged that British-built Saracen armoured vehicles are being used by the Indonesian military, TNI, in its brutal war in Aceh. The vehicles have been photographed on patrol with the elite shock troops of the army's strategic command, Kostrad.
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) have today written to British Foreign Office minister, Mike O'Brien, to protest that the use of the vehicles in the military offensive against the Free Aceh Movement, GAM, is a further breach of Indonesian assurances that British equipment will not be used for offensive or counter-insurgency purposes. The assurances have already been flouted by the use of Hawk jets and Scorpion tanks in the Aceh war.
"We are dismayed that British equipment is playing such a key role in a conflict which cannot be solved by military means and which has already claimed hundreds of civilian lives," said Paul Barber, a spokesperson for TAPOL.
TAPOL and CAAT have urged the British Government to protest to Indonesia in the strongest terms and to insist on the withdrawal of all British equipment with immediate effect.
The two organisations have repeated their call for a military embargo against Indonesia set out in a statement signed by over 90 NGOs worldwide on 23 June 2003 [see footnote].
Indonesia launched its military offensive in Aceh, its largest operation since the invasion of East Timor, on 19 May 2003. It extended the operation on 19 November for a further six months. The operation is proceeding at a level which is causing widespread civilian loss of life, gross violations of human rights and the destruction of Aceh's public infrastructure.
The Saracen armoured vehicles were made by the British army vehicle manufacturer, Alvis, and are designed for the rapid transportation of troops around the battlefield.
Footnote: See TAPOL press release, 23 June 2003, at tapol.gn.apc.org/pr030623.htm
For more information contact: TAPOL on 01420 80153 or CAAT on 020 7281 0297.