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Euro parliament demands new Indonesia arms embargo


The European Parliament on Thursday accused the Indonesian army of failing to control communal violence in the Maluku islands and called for a renewed European Union (EU) arms embargo.

The parliament adopted a motion criticising "the ambiguous role played by the Indonesian army which appears too often to take the side of the most aggressive Muslim groups and has failed to effective steps to end the provocations."

The last arms embargo, imposed in September during the crisis in East Timor, expired on Monday and has not been extended, despite continuing fierce fighting between Muslims and Christians on the Malukus which has left thousands dead.

Responding to the parliament's call, Portuguese foreign minister Jaime Gama, acting head of the EU's council of ministers, said the embargo could be reimposed if there was confirmation of dramatic developments in Indonesia.

In its resolution, the parliament said the new Indonesian government "seems to sincerely wish to promote democracy and respect for human rights in the whole of the country, and has already taken concrete steps in that direction."

"Regretfully, despite this, the situation on the Moluccas (Malukus) has deteriorated further," said the resolution, "with several thousand lives lost around the turn of the century, many thousands of people injured and once again tens of thousands of people fleeing to neighbouring islands."

The parliament said it would send a delegation to the islands to examine the situation on the ground and called on the council of ministers to do the same.

It called on the international community to support the Jakarta government "insofar as it is trying to diminish the violence and to restore human rights on the Moluccas."

But it also reminded Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and his government of the "commitments" it made "to ensure full protection of the people of the Moluccas."

And it stressed the "urgent necessity for the Indonesian army to strictly comply with government policy and not to play any destabilizing role in the region."

More than 1,800 people have died in the violence in the Malukus -- some 700, mostly Muslims, in just two weeks at the end of last year -- since a minor dispute on January 19, 1999 spiralled out of control into a cycle of revenge attacks.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes as the islands have been systematically divided up into Muslim and Christian only areas.

From : TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

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