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Skyhawks to Indonesia - Update

Peace Movement Aotearoa

PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173,

Forwarded on behalf of ETIC

17 May, 1999.

MEDIA RELEASE: East Timor groups protest imminent export of Skyhawk jets to Indonesia at Blenheim's "Safe Air" base (Woodbourne) Sunday 23rd May 10-30 am

Pro-East Timor activists from around the country will converge on Blenheim next weekend to protest at Safe Air's export of refurbished Skyhawk ground attack jets to Indonesia. The demonstration will take place at 10-30 am Sunday 23 May at the Woodbourne Safe Air base. The two jets which have been refurbished at a cost of several million dollars are about to be flight-tested prior to being returned to Indonesia.

"During the demonstration we hope to meet with Safe Air Managing Director, Des Ashton to express our condemnation" said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the East Timor Independence Committee. "Jorge da Conceicao Teme, an East Timorese independence activist currently studying here, will lead the deputation. Jorge has just returned from a trip home to East Timor."

"We also condemn our Government which has allowed Safe Air to enter into this lucrative contract with the Indonesian Air Force, in total disregard of the impact of the deal. This arrangement gives the Indonesian military a pat on the back at the very time when that military is encouraging and aiding murderous militia gangs in East Timor."

"Indonesian is blatantly flouting the UN brokered pact signed on May 5, which includes promises that Indonesian forces will preserve security in East Timor until the August vote on independence."

"Even if these Skyhawk trainer jets are never used in East Timor, there is no escaping the negative significance of their export. What hope is there for a fair and peaceful vote on independence in East Timor while countries like New Zealand seem blind to the violence and intimidation being inflicted on the people."

"East Timorese leaders from Bishop Belo down have been calling out for a neutral UN peacekeeping force to halt the escalating violence. Meanwhile evidence is growing that the Indonesian military has given the militia gangs a "license to kill." Militia leaders such as Cancio Lopes de Carvalho, of Mahidi ("Dead or Alive for Integration") openly admit that arms and training have come from the military occupation forces."

"We will launch a new appeal to our government to call on Safe Air to halt this export, and to take steps to ensure that no further such military exports to Indonesia take place. We also call on the Government to end its military training ties to Indonesia. New Zealand must work to get a UN peacekeeping force on the ground in East Timor without delay.

  • To contact the local organisers, Norm and Alison Fletcher, tel 03-573 7226;
  • If you are travelling from Wellington, please contact Joe Buchanan who is co-ordinating the Wellington 'contingent', tel (04) 385 7545,
  • For further information on this media release, please contact Maire Leadbeater 09-8493890, East Timor Independence Committee, P.O. Box 68-419, Auckland.

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