JUBILEE DEBT CAMPAIGN MEDIA RELEASE
28 January 2008
Time to drop Suharto’s arms debt
Former Indonesian President’s death must trigger cancellation of ‘illegitimate’ debts
Jubilee Debt Campaign, Jubilee Scotland and the Anti-Debt Coalition Indonesia are today calling on the UK government to cancel £525 million of ‘illegitimate’ debt owed by Indonesia from loans made to former President Suharto, who died on Sunday.
Much of Indonesia’s debt to the UK was contracted in the 1980s and 1990s to buy British arms, including tanks, water cannon and aircraft. At least 75% of the £705 million Indonesia owes the UK – which is still being repaid – is known to relate to arms sales . Suharto’s use of arms to suppress his own people, such as in East Timor, is notorious.
Ben Young, of Jubilee Scotland, said:
“Indonesia is still paying the UK millions in debt every year from arms loans made to Suharto. Rich countries including the UK knowingly lent this dictator billions of dollars, to fund arms sales including Hawk jets and Scorpion tanks. It’s time the Indonesian people stopped paying for their own oppression.”
Yuyun Harmono, of Koalisi Anti Utang (Anti Debt Coalition Indonesia), said:
“The Indonesian media are maintaining that Suharto had no faults; they need reminding that he was a dictator and has committed many crimes. Suharto took out many loans from the multilateral institutions, and from the UK, the US, Australia and Germany. These loans were not taken out by Indonesia, but by a dictator. We’re saying that the Indonesian people will not now pay the loans back.”
Sarah Williams, of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said:
“After the fall of Saddam Hussein there was clear international agreement that whatever the reasons for the original loans, the Iraqi people should not have to repay their dictator’s debts. Yet ten years after the fall of Suharto, the Indonesian people are doing exactly that, while more than half the population live below the poverty line.
“Suharto’s death is a chance for the UK and other rich countries to take the lead in cleaning up international lending – by cancelling Indonesia’s illegitimate debts.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
– Sarah Williams, Policy and Campaigns Officer, Jubilee Debt Campaign, 020 7324 4725
– Ben Young, Co-ordinator, Jubilee Scotland, 0131 225 4321 or 07913 040877
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Obtained following a Freedom of Information request by Jubilee Scotland, see: http://debttribunal.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/export-credit-debt-owed-to-the-uk/.
2. Jubilee Scotland’s briefing for parliamentarians on Indonesian Arms Debts is available at: http://www.jubileescotland.org.uk/forms/Parliamentary%20briefing.pdf. For more information about Jubilee Scotland see http://www.jubileescotland.org.uk/.
3. For more information about Koalisi Anti Utang (KAU)/Anti Debt Coalition Indonesia, see http://www.kau.or.id/.
4. For more information about Jubilee Debt Campaign’s campaign to Lift the Lid on Bad Loans, see http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/liftthelid.