Fri, 06 Jun 2003

Importers to boycott Sweden over Aceh

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Importers Association of Indonesia (Ginsi) on Thursday said its several thousand members had begun a boycott of all imports from Sweden in a protest over that country's refusal to punish Aceh rebel leaders residing in the country.

"Starting today (Thursday), we will boycott all imports from Sweden. I will be held responsible for the boycott action," Amiruddin Saud Ginsi chairman said at the press conference after a meeting of the association members.

The association groups some 7,800 importers, mostly small firms, across the country.

The Indonesian government has repeatedly asked Sweden to "take action against" Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders, including Hasan Tiro, Zaini Abdullah and Malik Mahmood, who have been living in the country since 1979 and have been granted citizenship.

Sweden, however, declined the request on the grounds that they had not violated Swedish or Indonesian law.

Indonesia is seeking to persuade Sweden again to punish the GAM leaders, by providing evidence indicating that GAM has been involved in terrorism.

Elsewhere, National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar on Thursday said that the police were trying to establish links between GAM and international terrorist network of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI).

Citing several bombing cases which involved foreigners, such as the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) bombing in 2001, Da'i said that there were possible links between the two organizations.

"We did not say in all cases, but for example the involvement of a Malaysian in the JSX bombing may have been related to Jamaah Islamiyah," Da'i said without making clear how that could implicate Swedish GAM leaders.

Indonesia also is reportedly mulling a request to the United Nations (UN) to include GAM on its official terrorist list in accordance with UN Convention 1373/2001 on the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC).

The Jamaah Islamiyah organization was put on the UN terrorist list last year, following the Bali bombing, which victimized more than 200 people.

"We'll first concentrate on giving evidence to the Swedish government, before trying to push for the inclusion of GAM on the CTC," Da'i remarked.

The government team that will try to persuade Sweden of GAM's criminal behavior is slated to leave on Saturday morning and hold a meeting with Swedish officials during the visit.

The two countries have enjoyed good bilateral relations for several years. Sweden is also a member of the major donor countries grouped in the Consultative Group for Indonesia (CGI).

Data from the Central Statistic Agency (BPS) showed that the value of bilateral trade of the two countries has been steadily increasing.

Elsewhere, Amiruddin warned that he would ask all stevedoring companies and all worker's unions at the seaports across the country not to load any Swedish products beginning July 5.

Ginsi has also sent a letter to Bank Indonesia (BI), asking the bank to order all foreign exchange banks in the country not to issue letters of credit (L/C) for importers who import products from Sweden.

"I have just sent a letter to Bank Indonesia this morning (Thursday)," Amiruddin said.

Responding to the reporter's question of whether the 7,800 importers would obey the boycott call, Amiruddin said "As the chairman of Ginsi, I guarantee you that all my members, including the importers of Volvo will obey my instructions,"

Volvo, a high-end automobile manufacturer from Sweden, uses PT Ford Motor Indonesia as its importer.