International news briefs

January 26, 2000

International news briefs

Britain to renew arms sales to Jakarta

The British government looks set to resume its highly controversial sales of Hawk fighter aircraft to Indonesia. The European Union's embargo on arms sales to Indonesia, placed at the height of the killings in East Timor in 1999, ended on January 17, freeing any EU nation to resume arms sales.

Unblocking arms sales will undoubtedly be a topic of the talks when Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid visits Britain in February. Of the 16 British Aerospace Hawk fighters approved for sale to Indonesia by the previous Conservative government, only nine were supplied last year.

Britain supplied more than £70 million ($175 million) worth of arms to Indonesia in 1998, including 38 armoured combat vehicles, despite government guidelines which deny an export licence to any arms that could be used in internal repression. Reports from the Moluccas, where fighting between Christians and Muslims has claimed more than 1000 lives in the past year, say that British-made Saladin armoured cars have been used in attacks in Ambon, the provincial capital.

US activists defy ban on Iraq

The third Iraq Sanctions Challenge left New York bound for Iraq on January 14. The international delegation of 60 people took more than $2 million worth of anti-tuberculosis medications, antibiotics and other medical supplies to the Iraqi people, who have suffered from nearly a decade of US and United Nations sanctions.

More than a million Iraqis have died as a result of the sanctions and millions more are suffering from disease and malnutrition.

The Iraq Sanctions Challenge openly defies the so-called trading with the enemy act in the US; delegates face up to 12 years in prison and million-dollar fines.

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