Indonesia demands Netherlands 'keep eye' on separatists

6th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Indonesia on Wednesday demanded The Netherlands "keep a watchful eye" on exiled Maluku separatists, as a Dutch court rejected their bid to have the Indonesian president arrested for human rights abuses.

A top official in Jakarta said the decision was welcome but not enough for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to reschedule a state visit to the former colonial power, which he abruptly cancelled on Tuesday.

"It's not a closure as it only represents one of the cases put forward by the group," presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said after the district court of The Hague dismissed an application brought by Dutch-based representatives of the rebel South Maluku Republic (RMS) in exile.

"We will monitor the process further and wait for inputs from our embassy in The Netherlands, which understands perfectly the reality on the ground."

He said The Netherlands should learn a lesson from Yudhoyono's cancellation of the visit.

"We want to be certain that they (the Dutch government) keep a watchful eye on the group's movements," the spokesman said, adding that the RMS was a genuine threat to Indonesia's territorial integrity.

"We hope lessons are learnt from this. If there are activities that could trouble the unity of a partner country, it's better to pay more serious attention so that it won't become an obstacle to bilateral relationships."

Explaining his decision to cancel the visit as his plane waited on the tarmac late Tuesday, Yudhoyono said the court case "concerns the pride of the nation" and was an affront to the "dignity and honour of the country".

The Netherlands has said it regretted Yudhoyono's decision and stressed that all heads of state enjoyed immunity from prosecution under Dutch law.

Dutch diplomats have also explained that the government cannot interfere in matters before the courts, a principle Yudhoyono frequently cites to explain his reluctance to dismiss allegedly corrupt officials.

The RMS was crushed and outlawed after it proclaimed independence in 1950, and now manages little more than symbolic protests against Indonesian, rule for which it is heavily punished.

Human rights groups say peaceful political activists -- often arrested merely for possessing outlawed rebel flags -- face torture and abuse in Indonesian custody.

© 2010 AFP

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