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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1698


Senator MARRIOTT (TASMANIA) - Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform the Senate whether any formal discussions have taken place between either the Prime Minister or himself and any members of the Indonesian Government in respect of any action being taken in Indonesia in the cause of human rights to release political prisoners who, it is widely alleged, have been imprisoned without trial over a number of years? If discussions have taken place what effect do they appear to have had?


Senator WILLESEE - Yes, such discussions have taken place. I discussed the matter with several members of the Indonesian Government -in particular with the Foreign Minister and Minister for Defence- when I was there earlier in the year. The Prime Minister mentioned this matter, I think, on his visit prior to my being there, and again the other day. We have pointed out to the Indonesian Government, as we have pointed out to other countries which have numbers of prisoners, that although this is a matter for their internal administration nevertheless it is a factor in their relationships with us, particularly as from time to time some of their detainees are fairly well known in Australia. The main detainee in Indonesia, of course, was Buyung Nasution who was well known in law circles in Australia. We have pointed this out to the Indonesian Government.

The Indonesian Government mentioned to the Prime Minister that people from Australia would be welcome to attend trials of political prisoners to see that they were carried out in a proper manner. I cannot answer the honorable senator's question as to what effect the discussions may have had. I do not know what effect we have on the minds of these people. It is not only the Indonesians who have prisoners. I hope that we have a very marked effect on them. It is a difficult situation because it is the internal business of the governments concerned. At the same time it disturbs a lot of people in Australia and throughout the world. I do not blame them for being disturbed about it. Another thing the Australian Government tries to do is to talk to other governments from time to time about any influence they might have with governments that have prisoners. This matter has been mentioned on several occasions to the Indonesian Government







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