Witness to Injustice: Indonesian Speaker Tour

Kusfiardi –  Indonesian Anti-Debt Campaigner arrives in Scotland!

On Friday 23rd May the Jubilee Scotland team waited excitedly at Edinburgh airport for Kusfiardi the anti-debt campaigner from Indonesia to arrive. After introductions and a drive into Edinburgh the work immediately began with a initial briefing by Kusfiardi on Indonesia’s debt situation. It quickly became  clear that Kusfiardi was both an eloquent and passionate advocate for debt justice for Indonesia and we in the Jubilee Scotland team were immediately engrossed. We can’t wait to tour with him around Scotland!

Our discussions about Indonesia continued well into the evening with Kusfiardi remarkably showing no signs of jet lag (considering the flight from Jakarta had taken 15 hours to get to Scotland) and we looked forward to showing him a little of Edinburgh the next day as an introduction to Scotland.

Straight to work - Kusfiardi briefs Jubilee

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning our first visit was to show Kusfiardi the best view of Edinburgh, from Arthur’s Seat and the Crags, then we drove to East Lothian to North Berwick to walk on the beach and talk more about debt and the Jubilee Scotland campaign to cancel Indonesia’s arms debt owed to the UK.
Kusfiardi in front of Scottish Parliament

Time and again Kusfiardi impressed upon us just how devastating the impact of debt was having in Indonesia not just by taking resources away from the government’s budget but also because of the lack of disbursement of loans in the first place. Not only is Indonesia having to repay the debts but it has never received the full amount that was owed to them in the first place!

It is Kusfiardi’s belief that is this that makes the issue of debt an issue of political control, with the creditors and multinational corporations having the power to control the destiny of Indonesia.

   

Kusfiardi also told us about the current political situation in Indonesia where the government that day were about to increase fuel prices, a development that was being driven by the oil multinational corporations based in Indonesia and the impact this would have on everyday life.

 

 

 

 

But he remains hopeful that by coming to Scotland and campaigning with Jubilee he can show the Indonesian government that there is concern for Indonesia’s debt issue in the international community and that the people of Scotland are determined not to continue to be party to the injustice of the arms debt owed to the UK government.

Tomorrow, the tour begins in Inverurie where Kusfiardi will be talking  with local campaigners and the public on Indonesia’s debt and encouraging them to take part in the Jubilee Scotland campaign. There will also be a screening of John Pilger’s ‘New Rulers of the World’ .

The dates and venues of the tour are:

Monday 26th May  – Inverurie
Tuesday 27th May – Kilmarnock
Wednesday 28th May – Edinburgh
Thursday 29th May – Dumbarton
Friday 30th May – Kirkcaldy 

 For more information about these events click here

 

Here’s an update on our speaker tour with Kusfiardi:

Inverurie 26th May – The Acorn Centre, West Church

Our first stop on the speaker tour was Inverurie and what an opener! A packed hall gave their full attention to Ardi’s presentation and there followed a good discussion afterwards on the issue of Indonesia’s huge odious debt. The audience were also keen to take action and find out what they could do to support justice for Indonesia so the Jubilee Scotland campaign received lots of petition signatures as well as support for lobbying the local MP Malcolm Bruce.

For Ardi, the evening was a sign that Scotland was prepared to do what it could to support his movement in Indonesia and a real encouragement for the rest of the speaker tour.

A thousand thanks go to the organisers at the Acorn Centre who fed, hosted and gave us a bed for the night. Special thanks goes to Ian Groves and good luck to all at West Church!

Ardi in Inverurie Lifting the lid on Indonesia Ardi at the Inverurie event

Kilmarnock 27th May – St. Kentigerns Church
After travelling down from Inverurie and stopping off for a couple of hours in Edinburgh the speaker tour was on the road again, this time to the western town of Kilmarnock. It is amazing to see how people engage with both Kusfiardi and the John Pilger documentary film we show, this combination really translates well the injustice that Indonesia continues to face under the mountain of debt. The discussion continued after the event on a whole range of issues to do with food security, sovereignty and positive conditionality. Thanks to Grant Barclay for all his help on the evening.
Ardi and Ben Young in Kilmarnock Kilmarnock minglings

Edinburgh 28th May – Scottish Parliament
Kusfiardi had the opportunity to address the International Development Group (IDG) at the Scottish Parliament with Patricia Ferguson MSP and impress upon them the issue of Indonesia’s debt. A small meeting, but helpfully arranged by Patricia at short notice to give Ardi the chance to speak to the IDG. There was a good discussion, displaying the depth of knowledge that many of the Group members bring, and Patricia called for the group to review the situation with Indonesia’s debt and to return to it later in the year. This Parliamentary group is one of the most important forums for development and politics in Scotland, and it was great to be invited to it (the photo shows Ardi with Patricia Ferguson MSP, convener of the Group, and former Minister with responsibility for international development in Scotland – plus Adriana Sri Adhiati of Down to Earth, and other members of the Group).

Patricia Ferguson MSP, with Ardi and Adriana and others, Scottish parliament

 

 Edinburgh

Wednesday evening, 28th May. Ardi spoke at Augustine United Church, along with Adriana Sri Adhiati, and David Lunan, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland. “Evil debts” – so David Lunan called the vast sums which function to enslave the developing world.

We were there to discuss the effects of debt on Indonesia. A vast country, tremendously rich in natural resources: “The greatest prize in Asia”, Richard Nixon called it, quoted in John Pilger’s film “The New Rulers of the World.” Adriana showed us a map of “Indonesia Incorporated”, compiled by Friends of the Earth Indonesia. Vast swathes of the country were blocked out in red for mining, brown for logging, and the like — vast swathes: and this in a country longer by far than the breath of the USA (Indonesia is the fourth most populated country, after China, India and the US.


Ardi, James and Adriana at the Edinburgh Witness to Injustice event.

In theory, foreign loans are a good way for a country to develop. If a neighbour has a surplus, why not invest that surplus and take a return from the proceeds of their augmented labours? But Ardi underlined, through multiple examples, the difference between the theory and the reality. The reality is that loans come under certain economic conditions, that they entrench the power of certain elites, and that the financial mechanisms that underpin them serve to pipe wealth out of the country. A comfortable recitation of the theory, it seems, will never give us the whole story of the political economy of debt.

Ardi speaks with David Lunan, Moderator of the Church of Scotland 2008.

 

A few pictures from the event in Dumbarton, at the wonderful St Augustines Church.

 

The last day of Ardi’s tour of Scotland: Friday 30th May. A day of political meetings. In the afternoon Ardi met with Mark Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, and a long time supporter of Jubilee Scotland. Mark asked Ardi about the Indonesian government’s views on debt cancellation, and whether that government would be able to use the money wisely. Ardi pointed out that there is a public budget process in Indonesia, and that the use of funds is open to public scrutiny.

In the evening James, Westaly and Ardi went to Kirkcaldy, seat of the current UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for a meeting in the city council chambers. The audience was small, but comprised Kirkcaldy’s most committed and influential campaigners, as well as Marilyn Livingstone MSP, a member of Fife Council, and a researcher from the Prime Minister’s own constituency office.

This event closed the speaker tour in Scotland. Ardi had spoken at evening events in Inverurie, Kilmarnock, Edinburgh, Dumbarton and Kirkcaldy, at the Scottish Parliament and at a campaign planning meeting with other NGOs; VIPs he met included the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Patricia Ferguson MSP, Mark Lazarowicz MP, Marilyn Livingstone MSP, Fife councillors and a researcher for Gordon Brown: and many of the most heartfelt, wise and committed campaigners in Scotland (one hundred and sixty or so people came to an event during the week).

The next job for Jubilee Scotland is to organise lobbies of the most relevant Scottish ministers to press home the points from the “Witness to Injustice” tour. We still have live hopes of cancelling Indonesia’s arms debts, and setting new rules for international finance.

Ardi, in the meantime, has gone to London for a few days, prior to returning home.

 

On 3rd June I accompanied Kusfiardi to a meeting of the All-party Parliamentary Human Rights Group in Portcullis House, Westminster. 

Jubilee Scotland’s main reason for wanting to attend this meeting was to keep our campaign engaged with civil society perspectives on the human rights situation in Indonesia. Earlier in the year Ben and I had met with Richard and Benny from the Free West Papua campaign, and had been horrified to learn of the extent of continuing human rights violations in West Papua. What would be the consequences of cancellation in this context?

Meeting Ardi made a huge difference to my understanding of the links between debt and human rights. The point that he made, strongly and repeatedly, was that it was at the point of bad loans being issued that they shored up the impunity of odious regimes, as the projects to which they were attached presented ample opportunities for corrupt elites to skim off money. Debt cancellation, by making more money available to the scrutiny of civil society and parliament, serves instead to increase the sovereignty of the people. 

After the meeting – which was attended by several MPs and one Lord – Ardi confessed to me that at points he had felt uncomfortable about some of the language in which the discussion was couched, particularly the way in which the UK government was asked to ‘save’ people from the villainies of the Indonesian government. In his contribution to the discussion he preferred to look at the role of the Western backers of the ‘comprador’ Indonesian regime, at the activities of multinationals like Rio Tinto and BP, to whom Suharto was bribed to open Indonesia and its economy, and who now preside over the environmental and human despoliation we see in West Papua. By extension, he also perhaps led us to look at the possibility of using leverage on Western economic institutions – corporations, IFIs and Export Credit Agencies – to bring about positive change in the field of human rights.

It was a real privilege to meet the Indonesian and UK campaigners who battle – often at great personal risk – for the human rights of people in Indonesia. It was also exciting to see how much Ardi brought to the table. When global justice campaigners look at individual national cases many difficult questions are thrown up, which can be side-stepped when one talks in general terms about ‘the world’s poor’. But this meeting showed that by engaging with these issues head on campaigners who traditionally ply different paths can enrich and strengthen each others work. I hope that the alliances forged at this meeting play a strong role in the future of Jubilee Scotland.

Kusfiardi’s last engagement was on Thursday the 5th of June, when we went with our colleague Sarah Williams from Jubilee Debt Campaign to meet officials from the Export Credit Guarantee Department, the UK government department who ensured – and are currently collecting repayments for – the bad loans that are the focus of our campaign.  

I had noticed throughout the speaker tour that the more confrontational and technical his interlocutors, the more Ardi rose to the challenge, and this meeting was no exception. He refused to be intimidated by the plutocratic architecture of Canary Wharf – ‘the elevator is speaking to us’ he remarked with a smile as we disembarked on the 13th floor of Exchange Tower – and repeatedly brought the discussion back to the core concerns of our campaign.

Ardi stressed the difficulty the people of Indonesia had in finding their feet when around 60% of their taxes went to debt repayments. He did not beg, but stressed the growth of a strong grass-roots movement in his country that was increasingly pushing the Indonesian government to de-recognise it’s illegitimate debts. Within this context I suggested that the Jubilee ‘Lift the Lid’ campaign, with its emphasis on an international and multilateral consensus on odious debts, was worthy of their serious attention.

It’s difficult to gauge how much of this serious attention we got. Certainly the meeting room was stuffed with officials of some seniority, including the CEO – Patrick Crawford. We encountered some of the usual red herrings – including the obligatory statement that it is pointless for the UK to clean up its own act when China behaves in the way it does. We were also told that standards had improved in the last few years, and that no new deals are being made to Indonesia. 

While these last statements are possibly true, they are impossible to verify as long as so many ECGD-backed deals remain shrouded in commercial confidentiality. And while it felt exciting to expose this most business-minded of departments to the views of a campaigner from the Global South, it will clearly to be difficult for our campaign to make headway while the accounts of this secretive organisation remain closed to the public. To lift the lid, in other words, it may first be necessary to open the books.

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3 Responses to Witness to Injustice: Indonesian Speaker Tour

  1. Dwipanagara says:

    Hi,

    I am an Indonesian and residing in Jakarta and I have my own business for a living. For couple of months I began to realize on where I live, that this land is not owned by us, indonesians and even the whole world is controlled by few men only giving away debts to poor nations like us. I am deeply concerned of the situations but almost everybody I talked with about the subject would think that I am mad. They are all asleep!!!

    I just thought if I could be in contact to anybody here in Jakarta that could be in conformation with my concern.

    Thank you and awaiting for your response by return.

    Warm regards,
    Dwipanagara

  2. Perspective Vortex says:

    Hello,

    The Koalisi Anti-Utang may be relevant. http://www.kau.or.id/

    All the best,

    PV

  3. Maurice Frank, Scotland says:

    You must find it shocking that the Make Poverty History campaign and all the global aid and development charities have ignored this. They are more interested in political careers for their own leaders than the suffering of real people.

    This “court change” means no legal decision in any G7 or Western country is final, they are all faultable on their reasoning. Think how that empowers countries fighting against debt burdens, wanting to make their case against having to economically oppress their own people to service the debt, and the pointlessness from the West’s point of view of chasing the debt. Even, after the present banking crisis, that as the banks are now having all their cash flow problems taken care of by their own governments, it no longer means anything for them to pursue the overseas debts.

    COURT CHANGE IN 159 COUNTRIES: decisions are not final.

    Its shifting of power in favour of ordinary people ensures that it has been under a media silence. Nevertheless, it’s on publicly traceable record through petitions 730/99 in the European, PE6 and PE360 in the Scottish, parliaments. Since 7 July 1999 all court or other legal decisions are open-endedly faultable on their logic, instead of final. “Open to open-ended fault finding by any party”.

    This follows from my European Court of Human Rights case 41597/98 on scandal of insurance policies requiring evictions of unemployed people from hotels. This case referred to violation of civil status from 13 May 1997, yet the admissibility decision claimed the last stage of decision taken within Britain was on 4 Aug 1995. ECHR has made itself illegal, by issuing a syntactically contradictory nonsense decision that reverses the physics of time, and calling it final. This violates every precedent that ECHR member countries’ laws recognise the chronology of cause and effect, in court evidence.

    Hence, the European Convention’s section on requiring a court to exist requires its member countries to create an ECHR that removes the original’s illegality, by its decisions not being final. It follows, this requires courts within the member countries to be compatible with open-ended decisions and with doing in-country work connected to them. Hence, legal decisions within the member countries’ courts also cease to be final and become open-ended, in the 47 Council of Europe countries.

    The concept of “leave to appeal” is abolished and judges no longer have to be crawled to as authority figures. Every party in a case is automatically entitled to lodge a fault finding against any decision, stating reasons. These are further faultable in return, including by the original fault finder, stating reasons. A case reaches its outcome when all fault findings have been answered or accepted.

    World trade irreversibly means jurisdictions are not cocooned but have overlapping cases. When a case overlaps an affected and unaffected country, the unaffected country becomes affected, through having to deal with open ended case content open-endedly, that can affect any number of other cases open-endedly. Open-endedness is created in its system.

    So the court change is of far-reaching international interest. Anyone can add to a list of countries outside the Council of Europe, where the couert change can be claimed to apply if people there want it as a great advance in democracy. It can even show autocracies, pending their freer futures, as well as democracies.

    United States, Canada, Australia through my ethical dispute about brain research with Arizona university in the late 90s, that was obstructed by a government office then. Obviously there will be many cases making these 3 countries court change, so I should not be seen as seeking the ego fantasy of taking personal credit for it through my case, but time priority entitles me to put my case in the list like this.

    Israel and Lebanon through the case in Belgium on the Sabra-Chatila massacres.
    Kosovo through war crimes cases overlapping Yugoslavia.
    North Cyprus through Turkey’s UN legal challenge against South Cyprus joining the EU.
    Belarus through its election dispute with OSCE election monitoring.
    Vatican City through Sinead O’Connor’s ordination as a Catholic priest.
    Cuba through Elian Gonzalez.
    Haiti through objecting to receiving petty crime deportations from America.
    Antigua through its constitutional crisis on capital punishment.
    Trinidad through its Privy Council case on capital punishment.
    Jamaica through claims on both sides of American linked arms trade background to its violence.
    Mexico through the Benjamin Felix drug mafia extradition to America.
    Belize through Michael Ashcroft.
    Guatemala through the child stealing and adoption scandal overlapping America.
    El Salvador through the trade union related factory closure there by Nestle that made Transfair, the Fair Trade organisation in Italy, reject the Fair Trade mark for Nestle coffee.
    Honduras through the sex slave trafficking cases from Nicaragua.
    Colombia through America’s supposed human rights policy intervention in training Colombian police and military.
    Venezuela through Luis Posada Carriles.
    Guyana through the £12m debt claim dropped by Iceland (the shop).
    Brazil through EU immigration unfairnesses to its football players, necessitating a mafia trade in false passports.
    Argentina through its ECHR case on the General Belgrano.
    Chile through General Pinochet.
    Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay through Judge Garzon’s citation of Henry Kissinger for the South American military conspiracy Operation Condor.
    Chad and Senegal through a French action in Senegal obtaining Chad’s former dictator Habre for trial under Pinochet’s precedent.
    Algeria through the Harkis’ case from the Algerian war.
    Tunisia through the Lord Shaftesbury murder trial.
    Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Morocco through the Insight News case.
    Ivory Coast through the chocolate slavery scandal.
    Ghana through the World Bank’s Dora slave scandal.
    Togo through the Lome peace accords for Sierra Leone, and their breaking as an issue in factional arms supply to there.
    Burkina Faso through an arms trade case of smuggling through it from Ukraine to civil war factions in Sierra Leone and Angola.
    Niger and Rwanda through Oxfam’s case of buying an arms trade “end user certificate” for Rwanda in Niger.
    Burundi through the war crimes trial of Rwanda’s 1994 head of state.
    Tanzania and Japan through the 2000 G8 summit, because Tanzania Social and Economic Trust broadcast a contradiction in implementing both its wishes for economic advance and its debt relief terms.
    Mozambique through its cashew nuts dispute with the World Bank.
    South Africa and Lesotho through a WHO case against American pharmaceutical ethics there.
    Nigeria through reported Nigerian drug mafia crime in South Africa.
    Dahomey and Gabon through their slave trafficking scandals overlapping Nigeria and Togo.
    Zimbabwe through its land finances dispute with Britain in 2000.
    Equatorial Guinea through the charges in Zimbabwe of a coup conspiracy.
    Malawi through its arrests of Zimbabwean refugees callously deported from Britain.
    Zambia through Cafod’s collection of objections to food supply and health violations in its IMF structural adjustment program.
    Namibia through the Herero genocide case against Germany.
    Angola, Congo Kinshasa, Ecuador through arms trade smuggling to them from Bulgaria and Slovakia.
    Congo Brazzaville through the Jean-Francois Ndenge case in France.
    Sudan through Al Shafi pharmaceutical factory suing America for bombing it.
    Madagascar, Mauretania, Nicaragua through the complaint by Jubilee USA and Africa Action that the IMF is breaking the agreed debt relief terms for them.
    Ethiopia through the same, as well as earlier aid sector comment on its conditional debt relief.
    Eritrea through its border dispute with Ethiopia.
    Somaliland through its problem with Russian and South Korean coastal fishing.
    Kenya through the Archer’s Post munitions explosion case overlapping Britain.
    Somalia through the UNHCR coordinator in Kenya protesting and exposing refugee deportations back to Somalia during the 2006-7 crisis there.
    Uganda through the Acholiland child slave crisis and Sudan’s agreement to return children.
    Mauritius through the Ilois rights judgment on the Chagos clearances.
    Yemen through its problem with Spain over the missile shipment.
    United Arab Emirates through Mohammed Lodi.
    Saudi Arabia through the lawsuit by families of 911 victims.
    Qatar through the capture of Saddam Hussein.
    Bahrain through the call for American witnesses in Richard Meakin’s case.
    Kuwait through the terrorism arrests in Saudi Arabia.
    Iraq through the weapons inspection dispute before the invasion. NB this does not mean the dispute or invasion were right!
    Jordan through its threat of “unspecified measures” in its relations with Israel.
    Egypt through its disputes with Tanzania and Kenya over use of Nile water.
    Libya, Syria, Iran through the Lockerbie bomb trial.
    Turkmenistan through Ukraine’s gas pipeline dispute with Russia.
    Kazakhstan through the American court action on oil contract corruption at government level there.
    Uzbekistan through the ambassadorial exposee on evidence obtained by torture there and used in Western courts.
    Kyrgyzia through its anti-terrorist border operations with Uzbekistan.
    Afghanistan through Bin Laden.
    Pakistan through a dispute between supporters of enslaved women and the British embassy for not helping them escape.
    India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia through the World Wildlife Fund’s campaign for tiger conservation, conflicting western romanticism with local populations affected by the homicidal absurdity of conserving a human predator.
    Nepal through the Gurkhas’ lawsuit for equal pay and pensions.
    Vietnam through a church publicised refugee dispute overlapping China.
    Cambodia through its enactment for a trial of the Khmer Rouge Holocaust.
    Laos through Peter Tatchell’s application to arrest Henry Kissinger.
    Thailand through Sandra Gregory.
    Burma through the Los Angeles judgment on the Unocal oil pipeline.
    Sri Lanka through its call for the Tamil Tigers’ banning in Britain.
    East Timor through public reaction to the judgment against trying Suharto.
    Papua New Guinea through WWF’s Kikori mangrove logging affair.
    New Zealand through its ban on British blood donations.
    Vanuatu through the Raymond Coia investment scam case.
    Nauru through the Australian civil liberty challenge on the Tampa refugees.
    Fiji through its land crisis’s nonracial solubility by a Commonwealth constitutional question against rent and mortgages.
    Tuvalu through environmentalist challenges to America’s rejection of international agreements on global warming and sea level.
    Marshall Islands through the Nuclear Claims Tribunal cases.
    Philippines and Malaysia through the international police investigation in the Jaybe Ofrasio trial in Northern Ireland.
    South Korea through its jurisdiction dispute with the American army.
    North Korea through its apology to Japan for abductions.

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