Moluccan government-in-exile loses appeal

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A court in The Hague has rejected an appeal by the South Moluccan government-in-exile calling for the arrest of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on charges of human rights abuses.

On the eve of President Yudhoyono’s state visit to the Netherlands in October 2010, Moluccan separatists living in the Netherlands applied to the Hague district court for a detention order for the Indonesian president on charges of human rights abuses.

The Republic of South Moluccas RMS claimed that the Indonesian leader was responsible for the torture of Moluccan separatists. Activists have been arrested for as little as raising the RMS flag and human rights organisations have criticised the Indonesian authorities for restrictions to freedom of speech and expression.

Independence lost When Indonesia won independence from the Netherlands in 1949, the South Moluccas believed they too were gaining independence but Jakarta announced a unitary state. The Indonesian military crushed the RMS after it declared independence in 1950. Many Moluccans fled to the Netherlands after Indonesia took over. The RMS government-in-exile in based in the Netherlands.

Even though then Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen assured the Indonesian leader that he was protected by diplomatic immunity, President Yudhoyono cancelled his visit. The court denied the request for a detention order but the decision was appealed. The RMS has now lost the appeal.

The organisation also wanted the court to rule on whether or not the Moluccas should be recognised as an independent republic. Because the Dutch state does not recognise the islands as an independent nation and because the issue was not relevant to the appeal, the court refused to rule on the independence of the Moluccas.



© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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