Arrest of anti-war activists an act of militarism

Jakarta International Peace Conference – May 21, 2003
Police beat and kicking student protester (AP)

The rhetoric of support for a peaceful resolution in Iraq by the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice-president Hamzah Haz has proven to be lies to manipulate the people. Today, anti-war activists who gathered in Jakarta to declare their solidarity and support for a democratic resolution of the conflict in Iraq as a result of the US and its allies occupation, and the conflicts in Palestine and Mindanao, along with peace activits in solidarity with the Acehnese people were arbitrarily beaten and arrested by police in front of the presidential palace.

The peace activists who had gathered in Jakarta to be part of the Jakarta Peace Conference, the theme of which was “Global Solidarity in the Era of globalisation and Militarism” on May 19-21, had joined the solidarity action in Jakarta. This action was a concrete expression of the conference which concluded that the demands for peace in Iraq will only be possible with the withdrawal of US troops and its allies from Iraq. The action was also in solidarity with the liberation struggle of the people of Palestine as well as a solidarity action calling for the conflict in Aceh and Mindanao to be resolved in a peaceful and democratic manner. The conference delegates joined with Indonesian democratic groups who were commemorating five years since the fall of [former President] Suharto and demanding an end to military operations in Aceh.

The action which began at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout then moved off to the United Nations headquarters and the US Embassy, was peaceful and orderly. However when it arrived at the presidential palace at 4.40pm, police began to provoke rally participants. Then without any warning or reason, local and international anti-war activist were dragged from the rally. However local activists defended the international participants who were to be arrested and were able to safeguard them. The police were enraged. Activists from Jakarta as well as conference participants were beaten, dragged away and forcibly arrested. The latest information is that four anti-war activists from South Africa, North Korea and Australia are being detained along with to activists from Jakarta.

List of detained activists:

1. Lydia Cauncross – Anti-war Coalition South Africa
2. Young-Chan Choi – Asian Civil Solidarity North Korea]
3. Nick Everett – Walk Against the War Coalition Australia
4. Kylie Moon – Books not Bombs Australia
5. Zely Ariane from the Jakarta branch of the People’s Democratic Party
6. Aris, a member of the Kapuk Indonesian National Labour Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI)
7. Ridwan, FNPBI Kapuk member

All of us, the delegates of the Jakarta Global Peace Conference from 22 different countries demand:

1. That the Megawati government immediately and unconditionally release all of the anti-war activists who were arrested. We also condemn the beating and arrest of the pro-democracy activists from Semarang, Makasar, Pekanbaru and Aceh.

2. That the Megawati-Hamzah government apologise for their repressive actions against the people and anti-war community both in Indonesia as well as those from the international community.

3. That the Megawati-Hamzah government must pay heed to the calls for peace by issuing a statement terminating the military operation in Aceh and resolving it in a manner which is peaceful and democratic, that occupying troops be withdrawn from Iraq and support the independence of the Palestine people as well as calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Southern Philippines (Mindanao).

Jakarta May 21, 2003
Jakarta International Pace Conference

[Translated by James Balowski.]