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9 Jun 1999 - MEDIA RELEASE: Shock expressed at New Zealand Air Force complicity in outfitting 2 Indonesian Skyhawks: Govt should withhold the export permit
The East Timor Independence Committee is appalled that to learn that the New Zealand Air Force has assisted Safe Air Ltd to refurbish Indonesian Skyhawk jets. This information has just come to light in response to a Parliamentary question which was put to the Minister of Defence by M.P. Rod Donald. *
"This news will come as a major blow to the people of East Timor who are right now so hopeful of achieving their independence, " said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the East Timor Independence Committee. "If the export of the 2 jets goes ahead at this time New Zealand will be seen to be acting on the side of the Indonesian military and the murderous paramilitary gangs it admits it has armed. "
"Improving the lethal efficiency of the Indonesian military and its training equipment is exactly the wrong message."
"In the past few days the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor has been working overtime to try to restore order and calm in East Timor. They have had to contend with militia threats to their own locally recruited staff and get to the bottom of the ongoing reports of militia intimidation and killings."
"The East Timorese expect to vote on their future on August 8 - this moment in history may not come again for them. It is absolutely vital that countries like New Zealand back the democratic process - that is why we support the deployment of NZ police."
"The Government has the power to withhold an export permit as Foreign Minister Don McKinnon conceded in response to a further parliamentary question also asked by Rod Donald." (Question 3800: " ....The Ministry is not bound to issue a permit if the relevant situation changes, or a subsequent reassessment raises fresh concerns.")
"We are calling on the Government to act with urgency to refuse to allow the Skyhawk jets to be sent to the Indonesian military, and instead to redouble their commitment to the United Nations peace process and the ballot to be held on August 8." for further information: Maire Leadbeater: 09-849-3890(messages cleared regularly) contd;
2. *Question 3796: Approved 1/6/99 ".....The Air Force did provide commercial support, at Safe Air's request covering areas of specialisation not common in general aviation, some spare parts and maintenance capabilities not held by Safe Air Ltd. This involved the servicing of ejection-seats, other egress-system components and oxygen-system components, and included the hire of specialist equipment or tooling, engine test facilities, and specialist publications..."