Aberdeenshire UNISON

UNISON joins forces to lobby for the cancellation of Indonesia's arms debt and for ethical overseas investment

The branch joined with Jubilee Scotland and Christian Aid on Saturday 27th Sept 2008 to lobby Malcolm Bruce MP to urge the UK government to cancel the arms debt owed by Indonesia for loans made to the Suharto government in the 1980s >>>>more

Lift the lid on bad loans - Cancel Indonesia's Debt

UNISON is affiliated to Jubilee Scotland who campaign for the cancellation of debt owed by the developing world to the developed world. Many of the world's poorest people are still paying rich countries back for the bad loans we made to war-criminals and dictators.

Their latest campaign is aimed at persuading the UK government to cancel the 500 million arms debt it is owed by Indonesians for loans made to the collapsed Suharto dictatorship.

At a well attended public meeting in the West Church in Inverurie on 26th May, Jubilee Scotland called for support for its campaign to press the UK Government to cancel Indonesia's arms debt of 1 billion.

KusfiardiThe meeting heard from Kusfiardi, Co-ordinator of the Anti-Debt Coalition who described how overall debt has mounted in Indonesia and the desperate plight of many of Indonesia's citizens as a result.

"This debt is left over from the 1980s and 90s, when Britain's Thatcher Government sold weapons to General Suharto's New Order regime, one of the most oppressive on earth," said Kate Ramsden, UNISON Branch Chair, who attended the meeting.

"Not only was this ethically and morally reprehensible, but the weapons were sold on credit, which means that the debt is still being repaid. Citizens today, who were repressed under Suharto, are paying it back."

Suharto came to power in 1967 in a coup in which at least half a million people were killed, including trade unionists, communists and those with left wing views. The coup was supported by the USA and Britain. With Suharto's backing, the West used Indonesia to kick start globalisation. They poured money into Indonesia but much of it ended up in the pockets of Suharto and his family. When Suharto resigned (on the condition that he could keep all his wealth) Indonesia was left with massive debts which today are around $130 billion.

"The effects on Indonesia's people and economy are catastrophic. Today, half of all Indonesians live on less food each day than could be bought for 1 in Scotland. one in three Indonesian children under 5 are malnourished and one in three Indonesian children do not complete primary school. Indonesia spends over three times as much on servicing debt as it does on social services," added Kate.

"Although Britain is not Indonesia's largest creditor, the fact that the debt was for weapons used to suppress human rights and to invade East Timor means that this debt is "odious." It is wrong that the people should pay for the weapons used to oppress them. By cancelling it, Britain would show that it values global justice over finance."

Indonesia now has a democratically elected government. Politicians and citizens are calling for debts to be cancelled and for the money saved to be used to fight poverty.

So what can we in Scotland do to support the campaign?

Write to your MP
Ask them to take a stand on Indonesia's debt and push the Government to cancel it. Encourage your friends to do the same.

Sign the postcard petition
You can order postcards from Jubilee Scotland and hand them in to your MP

Tell others
The recent history of Indonesia reveals grim truths about how the world works and the evils of globalisation. Get more information; arm yourself with the facts; discuss the issues with friends and colleagues.

For more information go to Jubilee Scotland