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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 106

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 30 July 2004:

(1) What knowledge does the Government have or has the Government sought about Indonesian journalists Mr Ersa Siregar and Mr Fery Santoro, who were presumed to have been kidnapped by the armed wing of the Free Aceh Movement in 2003.

(2) What action is the Government taking to aid their rescue.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Government is aware that Mr Ersa Siregar and Mr Fery Santoro were reportedly kidnapped by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on 29 June 2003. The Government is also aware from media reports that Mr Siregar was killed on 29 December 2003 during a clash between GAM and Indonesian military forces. The Government understands that Mr Santoro is still being held captive by GAM. The Australian Embassy in Jakarta regularly monitors the situation in Aceh.

(2) The Australian Government believes that a negotiated outcome to the conflict in Aceh is the best way to meet the aspirations of the Acehnese within a united Republic of Indonesia. The Government has called on all sides to respect human rights, including the release of any hostages.