Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono postponed a three-day trip to the Netherlands today, fearing arrest in a lawsuit that accuses him of sanctioning the abuse of Malukan political prisoners. SBY reportedly made the announcement after luggage had already been placed on the plane:
Officials and journalists had been assembled at an air force base before the departure and luggage had been loaded on to the jet before news emerged that the flight had been cancelled. (Sydney Morning Herald, "Malukan bid to have president arrested")
SBY speaks to press at Halim Perdana Kusuma airport in Jakarta October 5, 2010.
SBY's spokesperson said that a decision on the case during his visit could be "unpleasant for the honour of the president and this nation."
On Monday, Tempo Interactive reported that the was filed over the weekend by representatives of the pro-independence South Maluku Republic (RMS), in a district court in The Hague. The plaintiffs asked that SBY's diplomatic immunity be lifted and that he be arrested pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
In a statement, SBY said
What I cannot accept is if the president of Indonesia makes a visit to the Netherlands, after an invitation from the Netherlands, the court decides to arrest the president of Indonesia."The visit was to have been the first to the former colonizer by an Indonesian president in 40 years.
Human Rights Watch reports that up to 70-75 are in prison solely for exercising their right to peaceful expression of their views in the Malukus.