Monday, 1 November 2010

SBY warns Australia ahead of meeting

From Jakarta Post:

Just a day before talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told Australia to stay away from the Papuan torture issue, vowing to bring to justice those involved in the torture.“There’s no need to pressure Indonesia. We have conducted an investigation and are ready for a trial or anything that is required to uphold justice and discipline,” he told a press conference on Monday.
Gillard arrived in Jakarta on Monday morning, and will have lunch with the President on Tuesday before heading to Yogyakarta to visit victims of the Mount Merapi eruption.
Indonesia, which just received the ASEAN chairmanship from Vietnam last week, has long been proud of its democracy and human rights record. Under Yudhoyono, the country wants to set an example in upholding human rights and democratic principles. 
The video posted online last month by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission that showed Indonesian Military (TNI) members allegedly torturing Papuans has tainted Indonesia’s image, with local and international human rights organizations immediately expressing condemnation.
New York-based Human Rights Watch urged Gillard to “press for the accountability of abusive Indonesian security forces” through a letter it sent to Australia’s House of Representatives last week.
“The trial will happen soon, and it will be a just trial. If there is a mistake then we will punish the perpetrators. There will be no impunity,” Yudhoyono said.
The President, however, said the presence of the TNI in Papua was inevitable, “although the world doesn’t believe it, there are in fact separatist movements in Papua.”
The issue of the torture of Papuans suspected to be part of separatist movements, however, has overshadowed other Australian interests, such as the handling of human smuggling and the fate of its citizens on Indonesia’s death row.
Prior to Gillard’s attendance at the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, she said she would suggest that leaders set up regional refugee centers.
“Certainly I will raise the issue of human smuggling and the movement of people,” Gillard told ABC Television. “The dialogue has been continuing.”
Gillard’s trip follows a tour by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, who went to Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor Leste, which Australia has nominated as a potential home for the regional center.
Timor Leste has agreed to discuss the proposal, but remains cautious of the plan that would see asylum seekers held in the country while their refugee claims are assessed.
On a possible plea to let Australian citizens, including Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine, off the hook, Gillard has said she would make it private with Yudhoyono.
Gillard told ABC News that it would be inappropriate to discuss if she would lobby Yudhoyono on behalf of the Australians.
“Clearly, Australia does not support the death penalty — that is our position as a nation,” she said.
“But when it comes to advocacy on behalf of individuals, it’s certainly in the best interests of those individuals to be doing those discussions privately, rather than publicly, and I intend to.”

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