Human Rights Watch today called on the world's seven major industrialized countries and Russia meeting in England this weekend to make a public call for political reform in Indonesia.
With Jakarta and other Indonesian cities wracked by rioting, Human Rights Watch urged leaders of the countries known as the G-8 to recognize the urgency of political reform if social order and economic prosperity are to be restored in the world's fourth largest country.
The G-8 leaders should use their influence within the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions to suspend any further economic assistance -- save for humanitarian aid and aid specifically designed to strengthen civil society -- until controls on freedom of association, expression, and assembly are eased. Those controls include laws banning the emergence of new political parties and structures that permit the intervention of the military in virtually all aspects of social and political life.
In addition, Human Rights Watch said, the G-8 leaders, while deploring the violence that has rocked Indonesian cities, should call for restraint on all sides and remind Indonesia of its obligation, even in the midst of crisis, to respect human rights. There is deep concern in Indonesia that a declaration of martial law might be imminent, a step that would only strengthen the role of the military, facilitate rights abuses, and fuel resentment against the government.
The G-8 leaders should express concern about targeting of ethnic Chinese and urge present and future leaders of Indonesia to specifically condemn attacks on Chinese homes and shops and call for the inclusion in any political reform program of steps to end to discrimination against minorities.
The G-8 leaders should also collectively reiterate the concern already expressed by some governments in the group over the abduction, disappearance, and torture of political activists in recent months and the need for an impartial investigation into both the disappearances and the shooting of unarmed students on May 12.
Finally, Human Rights Watch urged the G-8 leaders to agree among themselves to provide refuge and assistance as needed to Indonesian human rights monitors who may be at risk as the political crisis continues.