Indonesia leader delays Dutch visit

Decision blamed on legal move by Holland-based pro-Moluccan group to have Yudhoyono arrested.

    Yudhoyono said his decision to cancel the Holland visit was linked to Indonesia's 'pride and honour as a nation' [AFP]

    Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, has postponed his visit to the Netherlands after pro-Moluccan human-rights activists asked a Dutch court to order his arrest.

    He was at the airport on Tuesday in Jakarta preparing to leave when he suddenly called a news conference to announce that the visit was off.

    Yudhoyono was scheduled to arrive in the Netherlands on Wednesday for a three-day state visit.

    "In recent days, a group has filed a request to the court to make an issue out of human rights in Indonesia and request the court to arrest me during the state visit. It concerns our pride and honour as a nation, therefore I decided to postpone this visit," Yudhoyono said.

    The news is unlikely to cause long-term damage to Indonesia's relationship with Holland, but could be an attempt to put pressure on the Dutch government to address Dutch-based Moluccan separatists and their sympathisers.

    Indigenous groups in the southern Moluccas, particularly on Ambon island, have long agitated for the creation of an independent Republic of the Southern Moluccas (RMS).

    Some were jailed in the past couple of years for performing a war dance associated with the movement.

    Indonesian police were recently accused of torturing several activists associated with the movement who were arrested after they were found with banned flags and books.

    A spokesman for the Dutch prime minister's office said Indonesian authorities had not yet given a clear response on Yudhoyono's visit. "We are still in contact," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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