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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17276


Mr Organ asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 May 2003:

Can he advise what action the Government is taking to:

(1) Make provision for immediate humanitarian relief to those civilians in Aceh who are now without food, shelter and access to medical assistance,

(2) Urge the Indonesian Government to revoke the imposition of martial law in Aceh, and pull its troops back to a defensive position,

(3) Call on the Indonesian Government to return to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) process and resume a dialogue in pursuit of a political solution to the problem in Aceh,

(4) Urge the Indonesian Government to allow the involvement of a third party to mediate,

(5) Offer a temporary safe haven to those who are displaced and whose lives are under threat by the actions of the Indonesian security forces, and

(6) Urge the Indonesian Government to guarantee that international norms and conventions are adhered to and to ensure that the Indonesian Government remains accountable for the actions of its security forces deployed in Aceh.


Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Australia is helping to meet humanitarian needs in Aceh through existing UN mechanisms, including through the provision of educational materials and assisting with the dissemination of food packages. In 2002-03, Australia contributed $1.8 million to support the Indonesian operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), including its work in Aceh.

(2) The Australian Government supports the territorial integrity of Indonesia. It considers that a negotiated solution based on special autonomy offers the best prospect for a sustainable solution to the situation in Aceh within a united Indonesia.

(3) See answer to (2) above.

(4) Any third party involvement is a matter for the Indonesian government to decide.

(5) The Australian Government is not offering temporary safe haven to displaced people from Aceh.

(6) The Australian Government has urged both sides to respect the rules of armed conflict and to do their utmost to protect the rights of civilians. The Australian Embassy in Jakarta has conveyed this to Indonesian government ministers and senior officials.