Indonesia wants Sweden to act

  • AseanPlus News
  • Monday, 02 Jun 2003

JAKARTA: Anger was rising in Indonesia yesterday against Sweden over the Scandanavian country's refusal to act on Jakarta's demand that it stop one of its citizens from leading an Aceh separatist group. 

The Indonesian government last month called on Stockholm to act against Hasan Tiro, who helped found the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in 1976 and has since become a Swedish citizen. 

Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz told journalists here that the government has yet to make a decision on the issue but that he favoured pulling out the Indonesian ambassador to Sweden. 

“At least, (we should) first pull out our ambassador from Sweden and ask the Swedish ambassador here to leave ... but that is my own opinion, not the government's,” Haz said. 

He said Tiro plays an important role in the conflict in Aceh and Stockholm's refusal to act against him “will only aggravate the situation in Aceh.” 

Other politicians have expressed similar views. 

“In diplomatic terms, Sweden has taken a hostile position against us,” Amien Rais, chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly, said.  

He told ElShinta radio that the Swedish government should hand Tiro over to Indonesia and that he supported severing ties with Sweden. 

“I think it is a very wise and firm decision,” he said. 

Lesser moves, including downgrading ties or pulling out envoys, would only signal Jakarta's half-heartedness over the matter, he added. 

However, he said Stockholm has a week's deadline to act. 

“What is Sweden? Trade ties only cover several million dollars only and will not hurt us at all, and the role of Sweden in the West, in Europe, is only peripheral, marginal,” Rais said. 

Annual bilateral trade in 2002 stood at around US$350 (RM1.33bil) but Swedish-made Volvo sedans are the official vehicles of Indonesian ministers. 

Swedish officials have said that Sweden does not support the GAM, an organisation it said held no official status in Sweden. But they added they could not take action against a citizen who did not break the law in Sweden. 

A poll carried by the Detikcom online news service yesterday showed that of 3,028 votes, 81% agreed that Jakarta should cut diplomatic ties with Stockholm to show the nation's displeasure. – AFP  

  • Another perspective from The Jakarta Post, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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