Jakarta/Brussels ICG's Southeast Asia Director Sidney Jones and Analyst Francesca Lawe-Davies were yesterday ordered to leave Indonesia "immediately". Immigration department officials of the Jakarta provincial government delivered the order to ICG's office at 6 pm on 1 June (11:00 GMT). The letter made no specific charges against Jones and Lawe-Davies but stated that they were in violation of immigration laws.

The order follows public statements by National Intelligence Agency head, General Hendropriyono, that ICG's reports were "not all true" and "damage the country's image".

ICG's President, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, said "the expulsion order is outrageous and indefensible, utterly at odds with Indonesia's claim to be an open and democratic society, and is bound to damage Indonesia's reputation far more than ICG's".

Since establishing its Jakarta office in 2000, ICG has published 37 reports and briefing papers on conflict related issues, including Aceh, Papua, the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist movement, communal violence and the transition from military to civilian rule. The reports and analyses, all publicly available in both English and Bahasa Indonesia on ICG's website, have been widely praised inside and outside Indonesia.

No member of the government will take responsibility for initiating moves to expel Jones and her assistant but moves against ICG began early this year, when a letter from the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) to the Ministry of Labour resulted in a freeze on work permits for ICG staff. No one from ICG ever saw that letter, but it is understood it stated BIN was unhappy with ICG reports on Aceh and Papua.

But to date, not a single Indonesian government department or official has made any complaints directly to ICG. Sidney Jones said, "We haven't even been told directly what we've done wrong - the officials concerned won't meet with us. We have not been able to respond to any charges, and there is no legal mechanism to challenge the expulsion."

"ICG has been working with Indonesians to try and understand the sources of conflict in this country for the last four years" said Evans, "and we urge the government to allow us to resume our activity. To shoot the messenger doesn't say much for the state of political liberty in Indonesia under the Megawati government."

"I deeply regret the expulsion of ICG staff from Indonesia, particularly in these bizarre circumstances", says Chairman of ICG's board in Indonesia, Mulya Todung Lubis. He noted that ICG was among twenty NGOs named as potential security risks for the upcoming presidential elections.

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