NZ should speak out to avoid brutal Aceh war

Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke wants New Zealand to try to stop the impending military attack on the Indonesian province of Aceh.

Mr Locke warned that Aceh faced large-scale unnecessary bloodshed unless countries like New Zealand exerted maximum pressure on Indonesia to resume peace-talks and avoid a humanitarian crisis.

“The situation is critical now Indonesia has broken off peace talks and declared martial law,” said Mr Locke.

“As a near neighbour, we have a duty to try to stop another war erupting. It would be disastrous for the people of Aceh, who had hoped the peace talks would resolve the outstanding differences between the central government and the province.”

Keith Locke sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff this morning asking him to speak out against a military assault.

“Clearly there are forces in Indonesia, particularly in the army, itching to restart the war. They do not wish to cede any real power to the Aceh people.

“Megawati Sukarnoputri has taken an inflexible position, demanding that the Free Aceh Movement give up its independence demand before real peace talks began.

“Such a condition was not applied in successful peace talks elsewhere in the world, most recently in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil Tigers went into negotiations with an independence position, later modifying it to an autonomy stance.

“The Indonesian military’s atrocious human rights record would make this a particularly brutal war which is why New Zealand and other nations should do everything it can to stop it.”

“It would also undermine any negotiations with pro-independence forces in West Papua,” said Mr Locke.