Britain Promises to Protect Yudhoyono From ‘Citizen’s Arrest’
The British government has promised to guarantee the safety of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on his planned visit to the United Kingdom in October, following the announcement of a reward offer for anyone able to arrest him during the visit.
“We’ve got an assurance from the police in Great Britain that they won’t let such a thing happen, and that [the president’s security] will be fully guaranteed by the British authorities,” presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said on Wednesday in Jakarta.
Julian was speaking in response to an announcement made by the UK-based West Papua pro-independence group Free West Papua Campaign, which offered a 50,000 British pound ($81,000) reward to anyone who places Yudhoyono under “citizen’s arrest” during his visit to Britain, scheduled for Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
The group accuses Yudhoyono of human rights offenses in his handling of the restive Papua provinces.
Julian said the reward offer had caused “discomfort,” as Yudhoyono planned his visit at the invitation of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
“The British government and especially the British queen have invited the president [to come] because he is known to be a figure who has played a significant role in advancing democracy in Indonesia,” Julian said.
“To be honest, this is uncomfortable for us. … The reward offer to arrest the president is considered an insult to a state symbol, especially because it is made by a group of people who probably have certain political interests,” he added.
Julian said, however, that the Indonesian government had yet to decide whether it would take any action against the group in response to the reward offer.