Brussels/Jakarta "The International Crisis Group is shocked and mystified by the decision of the Indonesian government to ban Sidney Jones, our South East Asia Project Director, from entering the country," Crisis Group President Gareth Evans said today.

Jones was denied entry on Thursday as she was returning to Jakarta from Taipei, where she had accepted an award from TIME magazine on behalf of Crisis Group, which had been  designated in TIME’s 10 October Asian edition as one of “Asia’s Heroes 2005” for its work on conflict prevention and resolution.

Jones had been expelled from Indonesia in June 2004 by the government of Megawati Soekarnoputri but welcomed back in July 2005 by the Yudhoyono government. She had obtained a work permit and a residence permit without difficulty, and all signs were positive that Crisis Group would be allowed to continue its work in analysing sources of conflict and extremist violence in South East Asia.

A Crisis Group report on the Aceh peace process, issued on 15 August 2005, the day an accord between the Indonesian government and the Aceh rebels was signed in Helsinki, was praised inside Indonesia and out as identifying issues that needed to be addressed to keep the peace on track. Another report, published on 13 October, on violence in Poso and Maluku, became required reading as a series of violent attacks erupted in Poso in October and November. The most recent report on the region, on violence in southern Thailand, published on 18 November, was also well-received.

“I’m just baffled,” said Jones from Singapore. “I had no warning of any problems, have no idea why this happened, and don’t know when or if I’ll be able to return.”

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