Rights of Internally Displaced People
and the Relevance of Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
Mathews George Chunakara
Internal displacement, the forced relocation of people within the
boundary of a state as a result of political, ethnic and communal conflicts or economic,
developmental, and environmental reasons, has created a wave of uprooted people across the
world. The UN Secretary General's Special Representative for internally displaced people,
in his report last year, mentioned that internal displacement is one of the most tragic
phenomena of the contemporary world, affecting some 25 million people worldwide. Today,
after further tragic events in different countries, the number has reached at least 30
million. Commenting on this trend, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has observed that
" the scale and scope of this problem, the human suffering which underlines it, as
well as its impact on international peace and security, have rightly made internal
displacement an issue of great international concern."
Internally Displaced People in Asia
Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) are to be found in a wide range of situations. In most
cases, internal displacement is due to social, political and ethnic conflicts, armed
conflicts, spontaneous escape or forced evacuation from life threatening situations,
natural or environmental calamities or developmental issues. The World Bank estimates that
between 90 and 100 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced over the
past decade as a result of large-scale development initiatives such as dam construction,
urban development and transportation programs. An unknown number of people have been
uprooted by low profile forestry, mining, game park and land-use conversion projects.
The number of internally displaced people in Asia also is increasing on a large scale.
Increasing number of ethnic and religious conflicts, political tensions, etc. are the
reasons for these internal displacements. Ethnic conflicts in different Asian countries --
Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia and East Timor -- have
uprooted hundreds of thousands of people. Fighting between Taliban forces and other
political factions continue to displace large numbers of people within Afghanistan. Many
villagers have been forced out of their homes and herded into Kabul. It is estimated that
in Sri Lanka there are one million internally displaced people, and that 700,000 of them
live in the Jaffna peninsula and the northern Vanni districts. Ethnic, religious and
political conflicts have been leading to violence and displacement in several other Asian
countries too. Armed political and territorial conflict between states, though infrequent
in contemporary Asia, is also leading to internal displacement. The historic tension
between India and Pakistan, especially the recent war in and around Kargil, has uprooted a
large number of people along the India-Pakistan border. In Myanmar, the military has
forcefully moved thousands of people from the countryside into military- controlled
garrisons in an effort to break the supply, recruitment and information chain of the
ethnic minority armies operating on the Thai border. Up to one million people had been
displaced or forcibly relocated in Myanmar by early 1997, primarily in the east of the
country, where the armed forces are engaged in a conflict with ethnic minority groups such
as Karen, Karenni and Mon. To escape the forced relocations, many members of these ethnic
groups have crossed the border into Thailand. In Indonesia, ethnic and religious conflicts
taking place since May 1998 have displaced hundreds of thousands of people in different
parts of the country like Ambon, Molocus, Borneo, Ache etc. East Timor has witnessed a
wave of civil war between pro-independence groups and pro-Jakarta militia groups in recent
times. The independence vote in East Timor and the violence that followed have displaced
thousands. In Cambodia, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the
millions of landmines laid in the country.
Displacements by natural calamities are quite common in countries like Bangladesh,
Cambodia, China, the Philippines and Vietnam. Bangladesh, with nearly 50 per cent of its
land at only fifteen feet above sea level, will be subject to even more severe flooding if
the ocean level rises. Periodic flooding in the flood plains of three major rivers, the
Ganges-Padma, the Brahmaputra- Jammu, and the Megha, has been the cause of displacement of
people and a development constraint on that country. Deltas and river mouths in China,
Vietnam, India, Cambodia are all affected during the monsoon. Forced displacement as a
result of large-scale developmental activity such as dam construction and urban
development, uproots people from their ancestral land and destroys their traditional
livelihood. The ongoing struggle in the Narmada valley in India is a typical example of
this maldevelopment. Of the 30 dams planned across the river Narmada, the largest is the
Sardar Sarovar Dam. The Government claims that the multi-purpose Sardar Sarovar Project
(SSP) will irrigate more than 1.8 million hectares, mostly in Gujarat state. The Narmada
Bachao Andolan, a peoples movement opposing the construction of the dam, counters
that the benefits are grossly exaggerated and would never accrue to the extent suggested
by the Government. It points out that the project will displace more than 320,000 people
and affect the livelihood of thousands of others. Overall, due to related displacements by
the canal system and other allied projects, at least 1 million people are expected to be
affected if the project is completed.
Whatever be the cause or pattern of displacement, the people are forced to live in an
atmosphere of insecurity and fear. The experiences of internally displaced people in
different countries reveal that they generally find themselves in more difficult and
dangerous situations than refugees, primarily because they remain under the jurisdiction
of the state which is unwilling to protect them. The impact of displacement leads to
various forms of impoverishment: landlessness, economic marginalization, increased
morbidity, food insecurity, loss of access to common property and social disintegration.
Despite the worlds growing interest in the situation of internally displaced and
other war-affected populations, many humanitarian issues associated with their plight
remain to be resolved. Doubts have been raised about the very concept of internally
displaced people and the wisdom of institutionalizing this notion in international law.
(UNHCR: 1997-98). Although the notion of internally displaced people is now widely used by
humanitarian agencies and policy-makers, there remains a surprising lack of clarity about
its precise meaning.
There are proper definitions of Refugees and Migrant Workers. The definition of refugees
is well established in international law. However, no international agreement has been
reached on an acceptable definition of IDP. The UNHCR says IDPs are a "very disparate
and ill-defined group of people". The working definition the Brookings Institute and
the Global IDP Survey use is that IDPs are "persons or groups of persons who have
been forced to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence as a result
of, or in order to avoid, in particular, the effects of armed conflict, situations of
generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and
who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border" The words in
particular denote that the list of causes of displacement is not exhaustive. This
definition is an improvement on the original working definition used by the Special
Representative of the UN Secretary General on Internally Displaced Persons, which included
the limiting notion of 'forced to flee suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers.
(Louise Ludlam). In protecting the Displaced, Roberta Cohen emphasizes that the definition
must include the following elements: coercion, which induces displacement, human rights
violations as a result of the displacement, and the lack of protection provided by
national governments. Under international law, the primary responsibility for protecting
and assisting IDPs lies with the territorial state based on the principle of sovereignty
and non-intervention. In his article on State Responsibility for the Prevention and
Resolution of Forced Population Displacements in International Law, Chaloka Benyani
stresses that states should be held responsible for causing displacement. By maintaining
supervisory interest over the domestic jurisdiction of other states, states
collectively guard over the protection and promotion of human rights. Unfortunately,
states are primarily guided by political concerns and self-interest in these matters,
especially as the international legal enforcement mechanisms are not strong enough to
stimulate state responsibility as stipulated in the UN Charter. (Louise Ludlam).
Rights of IDPs and Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, presented to the UN Commission on Human
Rights in 1998 by Francis M. Deng, Representative of the UN secretary General on internal
displacement, is one of the most encouraging initiatives at the international level to
advance the cause of IDPs. The Guiding Principles fill up a gap in the international
protection measures for the internally displaced. The purpose of the Guiding Principles is
to address the specific needs of internally displaced persons worldwide by identifying
rights and guarantees relevant to their protection. The Principles reflect and are
consistent with international human rights law and international humanitarian law. They
restate the relevant principles applicable to the internally displaced, which are now
widely spread out in existing instruments, clarify any gray areas that might exist, and
address the gaps identified in the compilation and analysis. The Guiding Principles offer
protection before internal displacement occurs (this means protection against arbitrary
displacement), during situations of displacement, and in post-conflict return and
reintegration. The Principles are intended to provide guidance to the Representative in
carrying out his mandate; to states when faced with the phenomenon of displacement; and to
all other authorities, groups and non-governmental organizations when addressing internal
displacement. The Guiding Principles are, therefore, intended to be a persuasive statement
that should provide not only practical guidance but also an instrument for public policy
education and consciousness-raising.
The 'Introduction: Scope and Purpose of the Guiding Principles' states that "these
guiding principles address the specific needs of internally displaced persons worldwide.
They identify rights and guarantees relevant to the protection of persons from forced
displacement and to their protection and assistance during displacement as well as during
return or resettlement and reintegration". These Principles reflect and are
consistent with international human rights law and international humanitarian law. They
provide guidance to:
the Representative of the Secretary General on internally displaced
persons in carrying out his mandate
States when faced with the phenomenon of internal displacement;
All other authorities, groups and persons in their relations with
internally displaced persons; and
Intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations when addressing
'Section I, General Principles' specifies that "Internally
displaced persons shall enjoy, in full equality, the same rights and freedoms under
international and domestic law as do other persons in their country. They shall not be
discriminated against in the enjoyment of any rights and freedoms on the ground that they
are internally displaced."
Section II, which deals with Principles relating to protection from displacement, states:
"All authorities and international actors shall respect and ensure respect for their
obligations under international law, including human rights and humanitarian law, in all
circumstances, so as to prevent and avoid conditions that might lead to displacement of
persons". The prohibition of arbitrary displacement includes displacement when it is
based on policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing or similar practices aimed at or
resulting in altering the ethnic, religious or racial composition of the affected
It lays down that, prior to any decision requiring the displacement of persons, the
authorities concerned shall ensure that all feasible alternatives are explored in order to
avoid displacement altogether. It further states details that "the authorities
undertaking such displacement shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that
proper accommodation is provided to the displaced persons, that such displacements are
effected in satisfactory conditions of safety, nutrition, health and hygiene, and that
members of the same family are not separated".
Principle 8 of the Guidelines warns that displacement shall not be carried out in a manner
that violates the rights to life, dignity, liberty and security of those affected.
Principle 9 says states are under a particular obligation to protect against the
displacement of indigenous peoples, minorities, peasants, and other groups with a special
dependency on and attachment to their land.
Section III of the Guidelines deals with Principles Relating to Protection during
Displacement. It starts with an affirmation that "every human being has the inherent
right to life which shall be protected by law", and emphasizes that Internally
Displaced Persons shall be protected in particular against genocide, murder, summary or
arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances. It also states that Internally Displaced
Persons shall be protected, in particular, against direct or indiscriminate attacks on
civilians; starvation as a method of combat; their use to shield military objectives from
attack or to shield, favour or impede military operations; attacks on their camps or
settlements, and the use of anti-personnel landmines.
While reaffirming the cardinal human rights principle that "every human being has the
right to dignity and physical, mental and moral integrity", Principle 12 of the
Guidelines proclaims that Internally Displaced Persons, whether or not their liberty has
been restricted, shall be protected in particular against rape, mutilation, torture,
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and other outrages upon personal
dignity, such as acts of gender-specific violence, forced prostitution and any form of
indecent assault. The guidelines also emphasize the right of another vulnerable section,
the children. It says that in no circumstances shall displaced children be recruited or be
required or permitted to take part in hostilities.
Considering the Universal human rights principle that every individual has the right
freedom of movement and freedom to choose his or her residence, the Guidelines states that
Internally Displaced Persons have the right to seek safety in another part of the country;
the right to leave their country; the right to seek asylum in another country; and the
right to be protected against forcible return to or resettlement in any place where their
life, safety, liberty and/or health would be at risk.
The Guidelines also emphasize the other universal human rights standards to be applied in
the case of the internally displaced people such as:
- All Internally Displaced Persons have the right to an adequate
standard of living, all wounded and sick IDPs shall receive the medical care and attention
- Every human being has the right to recognition everywhere as a
person before the law. To give effect to this right of IDPs, the authorities concerned
shall issue to them all documents necessary for the enjoyment and exercise of their legal
rights such as passports, personal identification documents.
- The property and possessions of IDPs shall in all circumstances be
protected, in particular, against acts such as pillage, direct or indirect attacks or
other acts of violence, being used to shield military operations or objectives, being made
the object of reprisal and being destroyed or appropriated as a form of collective
- IDPs, whether or not they are living in camps, shall not be
discriminated against, as a result of their displacement, in the enjoyment of the rights
to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, opinion and expression; the right
to seek freely opportunities for employment and to participate in economic activities,
participate in community affairs, the right to vote and to participate in governmental and
Principles 24 to 27 in Section IV deal with Principles relating to
humanitarian assistance. These Principles lay down that humanitarian assistance to IDPs
shall not be diverted, in particular for political or military reasons. International
humanitarian organizations and other appropriate actors have the right to offer their
services in support of the internally displaced. Authorities shall grant and facilitate
the free passage of humanitarian assistance. Persons engaged in humanitarian assistance
shall not be the object of attack or other acts of violence. International human rights
organizations and other appropriate actors when providing assistance should give due
regard to the protection needs and human rights of IDPs and take appropriate measures in
In Section V, a set of Principles relating to return, resettlement and reintegration has
been underscored. It recalls the primary responsibility of authorities to establish
conditions that will allow IDPs to return voluntarily, in safety and dignity, to their
homes or places of habitual residence. This section also covers other rights of IDPs with
regard to return, resettlement and reintegration. Principles 28 and 29 stress full
participation of IDPs in the planning and management of their return or resettlement and
reintegration, protection of returning IDPs from discrimination, ensuring their right to
participate fully and equally in public affairs at all levels and have equal access to
public services, the right to recover the property and posessions they had left behind or
were dispossessed of upon their displacement. The last Principle makes clear that
"all authorities concerned shall grant and facilitate for international humanitarian
organizations and other appropriate actors, in the exercise of their respective mandates,
rapid and unimpeded access to IDPs to assist in their return or resettlement and
Even though the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement is not considered a binding
instrument, these principles have enormous pragmatic significance in providing a yardstick
for dealing with IDPs. The Principles can be expected to strengthen the advocacy work of
humanitarian, human rights and development organizations on behalf of the displaced and
can also be of use to governments in drafting laws to protect internally displaced people.
The Guiding Principles consolidate in one document the norms that now lie dispersed in
many different instruments of human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law by
analogy. While analyzing recent trends in protection and assistance for internally
displaced people, Roberta Cohen says: "These Principles not only restate existing
laws but make key provisions more explicit and address the gaps identified." For
example, they provide explicit guarantees against the forced return of IDPs to places of
danger, and they provide for compensation for property lost during displacement. The need
for principles specific to IDPs had been stressed by humanitarian agencies like UNHCR and
ICRC. NGOs also had called for one compact, usable document for better
protection of IDPs. Further, the UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights have
encouraged the development of a standard model framework to strengthen protection
mechanisms for displaced people. However, there were concerns expressed about whether the
expansion of new standards would undermine efforts to implement existing standards of
human rights and humanitarian law. Nonetheless, the main thrust of the Guiding Principles
on a particular group accords with other international initiatives to draw attention to
disadvantaged groups. Since the needs of IDPs are commonly neglected, principles distinct
to them are important in order to make sure that the rights of the internally displaced
people are protected and their particular needs recognized and addressed. The most
important and urgent need is to ensure wide acceptance for the Principles so that they can
be used and implemented by respective actors at all levels and secure the rights of the
internally displaced people around the world.
**[The above article was presented at the consultation on
"Rights of Internally Displaced People: Asian Churches' Response" organised by
the CCA-IA in Sri Lanka from 13-18 September 1999. More articles from this consultation
are available on our website.]
Playing Political Football with Moluccan
George J. Aditjondro
Thousands of people have died in the Moluccas (Maluku), the popularly
known Spice Islands north of Australia, in what seems to be a religious war between
Christians and Muslims. Official estimates have put the death toll at 3,000. However, Rev.
John Barr from the Uniting Church of Australia has put the death toll at around 10,000,
which has been confirmed by my sources in Maluku and Australia. This includes the nearly
500 refugees whose boat capsized in the stormy waters between North Maluku and North
Sulawesi, last month.
Despite the state of 'civilian emergency' decreed by President Wahid, killings have still
continued. Therefore, it is important to dissect the forces that are behind the violence
and explore ways for the Indonesian government and it's friendly neighbours to assist the
remaining Moluccans from further extermination.
As has been the case in the post-referendum violence in East Timor, the inter-religious
riots in Maluku which erupted in January 1999 was well-planned and prepared by officers
and politicians loyal to Suharto with initially two goals. First, to destablise one of the
strongholds of Megawati Sukarnoputri, who was then the strongest presidential candidate to
replace Suharto's hand-picked successor, B.J. Habibie. Secondly, to create unrest in
places where then armed forces commander General Wiranto wanted to revive army divisions
(KODAM) abolished by his predecessor, General Benny Murdani.
Indeed, four months after the inter-religious violence began in Ambon, the old Pattimura
Command was revived, covering the entire Maluku archipelago. Similar attempts to recreate
the old Kodams by instigating troubles in Kupang, Pontianak, Banda Aceh and Padang have
not been that successful.
While the violence in Ambon and the nearby islands continued, with more troops flown in
from Java and South Sulawesi, the old Maluku province was divided into the pre-dominantly
Muslim province of North Maluku with its capital in Ternate and the religiously balanced
province of Maluku, with Ambon as its capital.
After initially using Ambonese gangsters as a smokescreen, paramilitary forces close to
Suharto and troops loyal to Wiranto maintained the momentum of killings and destruction by
continuously creating casualties on both sides that cried for revenge.
The religious leaders in Ambon repeatedly tried to make peace between the Muslim and
Christian camps. Repeatedly, however, two officers in the Pattimura Army Command, Colonel
Budiatmo and Colonel Nano Sutarno, made sure that peace could not be restored. Budiatmo,
who is the Territorial Assistant of Pattimura, maintains links with the Christian militia
Meanwhile, Nano Sutarno, who serves as the Intelligence Assistant of the Pattimura
Commander, maintains links with the Muslim militias, who are currently strengthened by the
10,000 Jihad fighters from Java, Sumatra and South Sulawesi. Ironically, his younger
brother, Navy Colonel Nano Sampurno serves as an adjudant to Vice President Megawati
When Major General Max Tameala, the Christian Ambonese Pattimura commander was recently
replaced by Colonel I Made Yasa, a Hindu-Balinese officer, those two officers were kept in
their place by the powers that be in Jakarta. In fact, they probably know Maluku better
than the new Pattimura commander, since they have already been stationed in Ambon before
the Pattimura Command was revived, under Suaidy Marasabessy, a Muslim Ambonese officer
close to Wiranto.
Currently, two other interest groups are involved in maintaining the violence in Maluku.
The first group are radical Muslims who oppose Wahid's presidency and are financially
backed by Dr. Fuad Bawazier, a former Finance Minister under Suharto who is currently
close to Wahid's main nemesis, parliament speaker Amien Rais. The second group consists of
Indonesian business conglomerates which are close to the Suharto family whic benefit from
the troubles in Maluku to escape from their obligation to pay trillions of rupiahs debt to
the Indonesian banks.
The first group had sent the Jihad fighters to Maluku. The bulk of these fighters are
actually na´ve villagers who believe in the existence of an international Christian plot
to dismantle the Indonesian Republic which, in their eyes, began with the liberation of
East Timor. They are assisted by soldiers and deserters from the Indonesian military and
In fact, more circumstantial evidence of the involvement of the Indonesian Army's Special
Forces, Kopassus, have reached the author's desk from sources in Indonesia and Australia.
For instance, journalists in Ambon have observed several Kopassus officers, whom they had
earlier recognised from their assignments in Jakarta and East Timor, among the Jihad
warriors. These Kopassus officers disguised themselves with false beards. At the same
time, other Kopassus officers were seen disguising themselves among the Christian militia,
using 'Lasykar Maluku' (Maluku warriors) t-shirts.
Another source close to the Australian special forces told the author that most fatalities
of the 'mysterious snipers' in Maluku died from gun shot wounds in their heads. This is an
indeniable proof of Kopassus involvement since members of this special force are the
snipers of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) and head shots are their their specialty.
With officers loyal to Wiranto deeply entrenched in the armed forces, and who want to
avoid their patron from being tried for the human rights violations in East Timor, Wahid
and his deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri have their hands and feet tied to end the violence
This 'Wiranto faction' in the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap include officers who have been
accused by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM) for directing the
post-referendum orgy of violence in East Timor, last year. One of them, Major General Adam
Daniri, the former commander of the Udayana Army Command that oversaw East Timor, is
currently the Operations Assistant of the TNI's General Chief of Staff, who also oversees
the army operations in North Maluku.
Another one, Tono Suratman, the former commander of the TNI forces in East Timor, was
promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General and currently serves as a TNI spokeperson.
Speaking about the present situation in Maluku, he ironically repeated Jakarta's line
during the carnage in East Timor by stating to the International Herald Tribune of 28
June, that "there are some rogue elements from within the security forces that are
not acting professionally. They are taking sides and we are going to replace them."
In conclusion one can say that the ongoing violence in Maluku is basically maintained by
opponents of the current regime who continue to play political football with the lives of
the Moluccan people. Every time Suharto or Wiranto are interrogated, a new wave of
violence flares up in Maluku.
Therefore, the ASEAN foreign ministers, convening this week in Bangkok, should convince
Indonesia to replace all officers and troops which have been involved in initiating and
maintaining the violence in Maluku and East Timor. Thailand, which does not have a
predominant Muslim and Christian populations and was also involved in commanding the
InterFET troops in East Timor, last year, may play an active role by sending a
peacekeeping force, or at least a human rights monitoring team to Maluku.
*) Dr George J. Aditjondro, who teaches at the Department of Sociology and
Anthropology at the University of Newcastle, specialises in the 'Indo-Melanesian' cultural
zone of West Papua, Maluku, Timor and Flores. He has done extensive interviews with
sources in Jakarta, Maluku,
Germany and Australia, to uncover this background of the Maluku unrest.
THE STATEMENT OF
THE COMMUNION OF CHURCHES IN INDONESIA
ON MALUKU HUMAN TRAGEDY
1. The Government of the Republic of Indonesia
2. Churches and Christians in Indonesia
3. World Ecumenical Bodies
4. The United Nations
On behalf of the whole Christian community in Indonesia, the Executive Board of the
Communion of Churches in Indonesia expresses her utmost deep concern on the human tragedy
which has been happening and has at the moment developed to a level of crime against
Various approaches and efforts have been made to overcome the conflict in Maluku. The
latest one, which is now being carried out, is The State of Civil Emergency since June 27,
2000. However, this effort has not brought about any solution. On the contrary the
situation continues to deteriorate and has reached the very worst and is threatening the
very existence of the Christian community in Maluku. It includes wide social and political
implications to the continuation of the process of reformation and the existence of the
Unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Some of the facts which indicate that the State of Civil Emergency is not effectively
stopping the violence in Maluku are as follow:
- At the moment this statement was being made, we received a report that Waai, a christian
village of Salahutu District, Ambon, is being destroyed by mortar bombs and fire arrows.
Hundreds of people's houses, the two church buildings (Protestant and Roman Catholic), the
elementary and secondary school buildings, the village clinic, the police resident complex
are all destroyed. The Security Forces cannot enter the area because they were blocked by
the so called "white group".
- At the moment this draft statement was being typed, at 19.30 (Indonesian Western Time),
we received an SOS call from the PGI Representative of Maluku, the Amboina Episcopate
(Episcopacy), the PGPI and P11, to evacuate all Christians from Maluku for security
- The shooltings by snipers to civilians, including women and children, resulted in tens
dead and injured.
- On the 4th of July 2000 from 05.00 to 14.00 (Indonesian Eastern Time) an attack was
carried out by the "white group" supported by TNI/P0LRI indisplinaries and has
scorched to earth the Christian housing complex in villages of Wailela, Rumah Tiga, Poka
including the Pattimura University.
- Just before this statement is going to released, we were still receiving information
telling that a number of villages and Christian communities were under the threat to be
Taking the facts and data, which are described above and events before the
implementation of the Civil Emergency, we conclude the following:
- The communities in Maluku, Christian as well as Moslem, have been the victims of a
conflict of the political elite who manipulate religious sentiments.
- The escalation and spreading of violence against humanity inspite of the Civil Emergency
implementation was a direct result of the coming of Jihad Troops into Maluku under the
support of the TNI/P0LRI inclisplinarles. So that not only reconciliation efforts which
had been made before were being disrupted, but also such efforts are barred and rendered
meaningless in the present condition.
- The attacks targeted at the Christian communities in Maluku have caused the loss of
human lives, properties and social relationships. There are indications that this movement
will continue with the goal to eradicate the presence of Christians and the Church in
Maluku, which is the oldest Church in Asia. These fads have strongly bothered and annoyed
particularly Christians in Maluku and the whole Indonesian Christian people in general.
Based on the above, we have taken the standpoints as follow:
- As an integral part of the people of Indonesia we, PGI (The Indonesian Communion of
Churches) who covers 76 Synods of Churches in Indonesia with tens of millions membership,
plead to the people of Indonesia to see the Maluku tragedy as a national problem that
could threaten the unity and coherence of the people of Indonesia.
- To express the solidarity of all churches in Indonesia and their church members with the
whole communities in Maluku, who suffer very deeply, with those still hanging on their
places or those who were forced to flee their homes and villages and run into the
mountains and forests or to the other islands. And to call upon all Christians in
Indonesia to directly show their solidarity in the form of prayers and visible actions
with the communities in Maluku who are the victims of injustice.
- With this Christian solidarity to strengthen the national unity of Indonesia comprising
all ethnics, religions, races, and social groups, which is an absolute for the rising from
- To demand that all forms of violence be stopped immediately, and the actors, such as the
Jihad Troops, be arrested and expelled from the areas of conflict (Maluku and North
Maluku) and to pevent external rioteers from entering Maluku.
- To demand that the Government (of Indonesia) to take concrete steps to discipline
members of TNI/P0LRI who take sides with the conflicting parties.
- To call upon all world Christian organizations, Protestants (World Council of Churches,
World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Lutheran Church World Federation, etc.) and the
Catholic Church (Vatican) to demand the government of Indonesia and the United Nations to
ensure the right to life of the Indonesian Christians in accordance with the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
- To call upon the United Nations and the Government of Indonesia to jointly watch and
monitor the implementation ofther State of Civil Emergency in Maluku to prevent further
annihilation of human beings in Maluku.
Jakarta, 8 July 2000
THE COMMUNION OF CHURCHES IN INDONESIA
Rev. Dr. Natan Setiabudi
Rev. Dr. Richard M. Daulay
Vice General Secretary
Message from Aung San Suu Kyi,
To the 33rd Asean Ministerial Meeting & 7th Asean Regional Forum
Bangkok, Thailand . July, 2000
On the occasion of the Asean Ministerial Meeting, the National League
for Democracy would like to take the opportunity to once again reveal the situation in our
country. Burma is very much an integral part of Southeast Asia. Whatever happens in our
country will inevitably have repercussions on the rest of the region. For this reason we
are particularly anxious that the Asean countries understand what is really going on in
Burma today. I do not think there is any necessity for us to repeat what has already been
said about human rights violations and about the lack of the rule of law in this country.
On this occasion I would like to concentrate on other issues, perhaps, less widely known.
One of the main reasons why the National League for Democracy and other forces within
Burma believe that our country needs a change to a democratic system of politics is
because we have found through bitter experiences that authoritarian rule has not brought
any benefits to our country. At one time Burma was a leading light. I have to confess that
some Burmese people would like to think that we were the leading light of Southeast Asia
but these days have vanished together with our democratic rights. We feel that there is a
need to restore stability and the rule of law in Burma, not only that our country may
progress and our people may be happy, but that we may be able to contribute towards
stability and progress in our region.
We are aware that Asean countries, like many any other countries all over the world, are
anxious that there should be stability and peace in Burma. We are aware of the goodwill
towards our country. We are also aware of the difficulties in finding ways and means of
bringing about necessary changes in Burma. The National League for Democracy and other
forces working for democracy in Burma have always understood that the struggle is mainly
ours. It is our duty to do what we can to bring about necessary changes in our country.
But at the same time, we know that it is no longer possible to isolate any nation in this
The links between the nations of this world today cannot be broken. It cannot be broken
without harm to peoples of all the countries themselves. The troubles of Burma have
spilled over our borders. They have spilled over to the west to Bangladesh, over to the
east to Thailand. It is hardly necessary to reiterate what has been happening in Thailand
because of Burmese refugees and Burmese migrant workers. So the days have passed when we
can say that the troubles of one country can be isolated and that the internal affairs of
one country are no concern of its neighbors. We believe that our Asean neighbors
understand this and at the same time we also know that the Asean nations have to cope with
the dilemma of respecting individual sovereignty of nations as well as trying to make
moves that would benefit the whole region.
I would like to take this opportunity to explain why we believe that a democratic Burma
would help to bring peace and stability to this region. First of all, a democratic
government is an accountable government, and as an accountable government, whoever is
ruling Burma within a democratic system will have to ensure that there are good relations
with our neighbors, as well as good relations within the country, between the different
ethnic peoples of Burma. This is one of the most important issues of our country, unity
within the nation. The National League for Democracy has established great trust and
friendship of different ethnic nationality groups. When the Committee Representing the
Peoples Parliament was formed two years ago, four major ethnic nationality parties were
represented on this committee and over two years we have strengthened ties of friendship
and trust with our allies. This is an excellent augury for the future Burma. All those who
are interested in the stability of Burma should encourage this development; the strong
ties of friendship and trust that we have been able to develop between different ethnic
nationalities in this country. We want also to establish strong and friendly relations
with all our neighbors. Since Burma achieved independence in 1948, as a democratic regime,
we have maintained good relations with our neighbors, to the east to the west and to the
north. If there were any islands in the south, we would have established good relations
with them, too. This has always been our policy, to maintain friendly relations with our
neighbors based on mutual understanding of each others' problems. And we are fully
confident that a democratic government will carry on with this tradition.
We also want to talk about the matter of economic cooperation. The Committee Representing
the Peoples Parliament and the National League for Democracy have brought out official
papers on our attitude towards our economy. We have tried to make our Asean neighbors as
well as the rest of world to understand that we believe in an open market economy based on
free and fair competition. We believe in a kind of economy that will benefit the people of
our country as well as all those who have invested in our country. We are not
anti-business, we are not anti-investment but we are very anxious that business and
investment should be conducted in such a way as to be beneficial to our people as well as
to investors. There are many people who question whether we have any plans for a
democratic Burma. It would be difficult in a short session like this to explain what our
plans are. But as I mentioned earlier, we have brought out official papers laying out a
program for a future democratic Burma. Of necessity, it is very much a general program but
they lay out our views on the economy, on defense, on social services, particularly on
education and health, and on relations with the rest of the world. A study of our papers I
think, would make it obvious that a democratic administration would have much to offer to
the Asean region, not just to the people of Burma.
It is I think also worth mentioning that a democratic government is what is desired by the
people of Burma. When they were allowed to vote freely and fairly in 1990, they chose a
democratic system of government by voting overwhelmingly for the National League for
Democracy. To those who say that this was ten years ago, I would like to say give us a
chance to move freely, to operate freely as a political party and we can ensure that the
support of our people not only is maintained but will increase. We are totally confident
that the people of Burma desire a system that will give them a healthy balance between
freedom and security. And this is the kind of balance that we are trying to achieve
through democratic processes.
The National League for Democracy and I have often been accused of being inflexible by
those who are opposed to a democratic transition. I think some members of ASEAN and other
nations are in the best position to know whether or not we are inflexible. We have
accepted suggestions by Asian countries and by ASEAN countries with regard to compromises
that should be made to make dialogue possible between the military regime and ourselves.
And we accepted those compromises. The people who made the suggestions can see for
themselves who actually refused to consider the compromises. When we are accused of
inflexibility, sometimes it surprises us. What have we more to be flexible about? We have
agreed to all reasonable suggestions of compromise. The only thing to which we have not
agreed to is the annihilation of our party and the crushing of the rights of the peoples
of Burma. To that we cannot agree because we are honor bound to protect those who have
supported our party and supported our movement for democracy. In other ways we have always
been ready to compromise for the good of our nation and for peace, stability and harmony
within our region. And this remains our firm policy; that reasonable compromise which
would promote peace, stability and harmony within our country or within our region is
always acceptable to us. There is a difference between a readiness to compromise and a
readiness to kneel. We are not ready to kneel -- that we have to say frankly , because by
kneeling we would be letting down those who have entrusted us to bring democracy to Burma.
This would always be our aim.
When the NLD was founded we promised our people that this party has been founded to bring
democracy to Burma. So we have to keep our word and we have to keep the trust of our
people. But it does not mean that the struggle for democracy is necessarily a struggle to
bring disunity between those who do not believe in what we are doing and those who are
supporting what we are doing. We have to learn that there can be unity out of diversity.
We have to learn that we can find solutions that will be acceptable to all political
forces concerned. We believe that this is what the members of ASEAN would also like --
that we shall be able to find a solution acceptable to all concerned. We have made a
number of suggestions in the past and some members of the international community have
also made suggestions of their own but unfortunately, the military regime has not accepted
any of these suggestions. However, I do not think that there is any reason for us to be
discouraged because I believe that we are all working towards the same end -- a stable,
harmonious Burma that will be a source of pride, as well as a source of material benefit
to our neighbors and to the rest of the world. We intend to keep working towards such a
situation and we would like to invite all the members of ASEAN to help us work towards
such a situation. We do not think that it is possible for our neighbors to ignore what is
going on in this country and certainly, we are not indifferent to the views of our
neighbors. The Committee Representing the Peoples Parliament and National League for
Democracy have always put great importance and the necessity of maintaining good relations
with our neighbors and with the international community in general. We will continue with
our efforts to make our movement for democracy a movement that is supported by all the
peoples of the world because it is a movement aimed at promoting not just material goods
in this world but also such spiritual satisfaction as can only be achieved through peace
I would like to end by thanking all those who have not forgotten the need to take up the
issues connected with Burma and who are truly and sincerely trying to find solutions that
could be acceptable for all of us. Thank you very much.
East and South East Asia Activists Unite
to Protect Rivers, Fight Dams
Anti-dam and river protection organizations in East and SE Asia have
united to form a regional network to fight dams and protect rivers in East and SE Asia. At
the First East and SE Asia Regional Meeting on Dams, Rivers and People, held in Kong Jiam,
Ubon Ratchathani Province from June 28-July 2, more than 60 participants from fourteen
countries announced their intention to "unite our struggle at the local, national and
international level so as to stop the funding of dam projects in East and SE Asia and to
restore rivers to the communities who depend on them."
Mr. Chainarong Srettachau, Director of Thai NGO Southeast Asia Rivers Network, the local
organizer for the meeting, said, "the joining together of groups from all over East
and SE Asia will provide a powerful force to protect the rights of communities who depend
on rivers for their survival. We have recognized that we share common problems caused by
dams the appropriation of local communities' rights to their rivers and water resources by
governments and private developers. By joining forces we will drive a stake through the
heart of the dam-building industry in this region."
Participants at the meeting, which included dam-affected people from Malaysia, Korea,
Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Cambodia, together with allies from across the
region, produced the Pak Mun Declaration, which calls for:
* A moratorium on large dam construction until the problems created by existing dams have
been rectified and reparations made to affected communities.
* The decommissioning of dams which have created irreversible social, environmental and
cultural destruction, and
* An immediate stop to the financing of dam projects by bilateral and multilateral
organizations, particularly the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for
[Send us an eMail if you would like a copy of the final statement - "Pak Mun
SUPPORT CALL TO HALT
CONSTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANT NO.4
- TAIWAN, July 21, 2000
Many social justice, environmental and community groups in Taiwan have called upon other
local and international groups to support them in their fight to halt construction of the
nuclear power plant number 4 (NPP 4) at Kongliao, 90 km northeast of Taipei.
Taiwan is a small and densely populated country. It already has three operational nuclear
power plants, i.e., NPP 1, 2 and 3. If a serious accident were to occur at any of these
plants, the cost to the environment and to human lives would be astronomical. Natural
disasters cannot be ruled out: nuclear power plants in Taiwan are designed to withstand
earthquakes of 0.4G (gravity), but the September 1999 earthquake in Chi Chi, central
Taiwan, measured a surface acceleration of 0.98G.
Over the years, the Taiwan Electric Power Company (Tai-Power) has used its economic muscle
to propagate the view that nuclear power is cheap and safe. It has used power-outages to
falsely create the impression that the country is short of electricity, and hence needs to
build the fourth power plant. In fact, the costs of constructing and running a nuclear
power station are far higher than for a high-efficiency natural gas station. America and
most of the industrially developed countries in Europe have abandoned the construction of
nuclear power stations for economic reasons and concern over safety and radioactive waste
Construction of the NPP 4 has already started, but the government has promised to review
the project and cancel it if necessary. To this end, the Committee to re-evaluate the NPP
4 has been set up, and will report its findings to the government at the end of September.
It is essential that all parties make their voices heard and do not allow the interests of
the nuclear industry and big business to prevail.
Groups opposing the plant strongly believe that:
* The government should stop work on the project until the results of the re-evaluation
* The government should ensure that the re-evaluation is carried out in a transparent
manner and that the views of all parties are taken into account
* The Department of Environmental Protection should disclose all information from the
project evaluation carried out by Tai Power, including any problems which were identified.
Please write polite letters to express your concern about this case, urging the government
to conduct an open and comprehensive review of the project and to take the wishes of the
people of Taiwan into account.
Send letters to:
President Chen Shuei-Bian
The Office of the President of Republic of China
122, Chongqing S. Road, Sect. 1
Taipei 100, Taiwan R.O.C
Send copies to:
1. Minister Lin Sin-Yi, Ministry of Economic Affairs R.O.C,
15, Fuzhou Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan R.O.C
2. 'One Person One Letter' campaign at http://tcec.ngo.tw
We write with deep concern about the construction of the nuclear power plant no.4 at
Kongliao. Experience in other countries has proved that nuclear power generation is
uneconomic, unsafe and unnecessary. The impact on the lives of local people cannot be
underestimated and the potential damage to the environment is immense. Taiwan may already
have three operational nuclear power stations, but this should not be seen as a reason to
build more when cheaper and safer alternatives are available. We urge you to conduct a
thorough and open review of this project, to make the findings fully public and to halt
construction of the power station pending the results of the review. We also urge you to
take into account the views of the local population and balance them against those of the
parties who stand to gain financially from the completion of this project.
In the weeks since Chen Shui-Bian was elected president, environmentalists have wondered
what would be done about the controversial NPP 4. The Minister of Economics for the
incoming government, Mr. Lin Hsin-Yi, announced that within three to six months a
re-evaluation of the project will be completed and that Tai-Power should suspend all
construction work for which contracts have not yet been awarded.
The outgoing Ministry of Economics officials stated that huge losses of up to US$2.81
billion would be faced if the project were to be suspended or cancelled. However, others
have pointed out that the Ministry seized upon Tai-Power's own worst-case figures and then
added on the supposed loss due to lack of electricity and other social costs, as if to try
and scare the public. This accounting by Tai-Power fixes the cost of electricity generated
from natural gas to be one and a half times the cost of nuclear power. It is instructive,
then, to look at the history of nuclear power generation in the rest of the world reviewed
by Professor Wang To-Far, Department of Economics, National Taiwan University.
In Britain, according to the Energy Choice Commission of the Lower House of Parliament, in
the 1990s the cost of energy produced by advanced gas-cooled reactors was two to three
times that of energy produced from fossil fuels. The British Government had no choice but
to overturn the policy favouring nuclear power which it had cherished for twenty or more
years, and in November 1989 announce the cancellation of plans to build three pressurised
In the United States, no new nuclear power plants have been built at all since 1978, and
some twenty have been closed prematurely. Between 1972 and 1990 plans for 119 nuclear
plants were cancelled, among them 47 which were already under construction. A report by
the United States Department of Energy for the period 1986-1991 showed that the cost of
nuclear power was on average 1.5 to 2.0 times that of power derived from fossil fuels.
Theoretically nuclear plants should remain operational for 40 years, but in practice a
figure of 25 is more realistic due to rising maintenance and safety costs as the plant
ages. Plants in the US have operated for an average of only 14 years and the average
worldwide is 17. Taiwan's plants have already been operating for 21, 19 and 17 years
respectively, so the country may soon be faced with the question of what to do with
redundant plant and all the nuclear materials it contains.
Furthermore, Tai-Power still has no resolution to the difficult question of what to do
with its nuclear waste. Nuclear power generation produces spent fuel rods containing
radioactive substances with a half-life measured in thousands of years. The burden of
safely looking after this waste will be borne by future generations that had no part in
Bearing in mind these findings, opponents to the plant find it hard to believe the cost
predictions being put forward by Tai-Power and its supporters. Furthermore, past
experience has shown that nuclear power plants in Taiwan always go into tremendous cost
overruns. Both NPP No.2 and NPP No.3 cost almost three times their original budget.
Opponents to the plant are challenging Tai-Power and the Ministry of Economics' continued
claim that nuclear power is cheap.
(For more information visit www.nonukesasiaforum.org)