Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the Head of the Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to the Clerk of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 16 July concerning the use of Hawk Jets in Indonesia.

  The FCO is aware of concerns that Hawk aircraft might be used for internal repression in areas of conflict in Indonesia, particularly Aceh. Senior members of the Indonesian government and military have given repeated assurances that Hawks and other sophisticated UK-supplied equipment will not be used in Aceh, or in other conflict torn parts of Indonesia.

  The report in The Guardian of 3 July was made on the basis of a letter from the Indonesian Human Rights Campaign (TAPOL) to FCO Minister, Mike O'Brien on 2 July. That letter referred to an Indonesian Airforce operation "Recong Terbang" that commenced on 29 May, suggesting that the operation targeted Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels in Aceh. Our Ambassador in Jakarta discussed the allegations with Co-ordinating Minister Yudhoyono and the Commander of the Indonesian Air Force. They both denied the reports. Neither helicopters nor fixed wing aircraft were being used by the Air Force in operations against GAM in Aceh. Operation Rencong Terbang is an annual reconnaissance exercise over Western Indonesia, focusing on the Malacca Straits. It is separate from counter-insurgency operations. We understand that the exercise is linked to efforts to deal with piracy in South East Asia. The UK supports such initiatives. Bambang Yudhoyono also reconfirmed Indonesian Government policy that no British military equipment would be used in counter-insurgency operations in Indonesia.

  We have no reason to doubt the information provided by the Indonesian government. However, we continue to monitor any reports of improper use of Hawk jets very closely.

  I hope this information is helpful.

Parliamentary Relations & Devolution Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

19 July 2002

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