27 May 2004

ICG and Elsham among 20 watch dog groups being monitored by Indonesian police

8:18 pm on 27 May 2004

Human rights activists have accused Indonesia's government of intimidation after a police warning it was closing watching 20 local and foreign organisations.

The list includes the Brussels-based International Crisis Group headed by former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans.

He says Jakarta had so far refused to renew the visas of foreign ICG staff based in Indonesia, including its internationally renowned terrorism expert Dr Sidney Jones.

Dr Jones, whose visa expires next month, is regarded as the foremost authority on the Jemaah Islamiah terror network and has strongly criticised Indonesia's failure to outlaw it.

Police have not identified the 20 organisations but it is also thought to include the Papua human rights group, Elsham.

The Elsham director Ifdhal Kasim says he believes his organisation is being singled out because it had criticised the human rights record of leading presidential candidates.

He has told AAP that the warning is a form of intimidation for human rights across Indonesia ahead of the election.

Mr Kasim says it's like Suharto's regime and its culture has come back.