Protesters greet Indonesian President Yudhoyono during state visit to Britain
LONDON — Indonesia’s president met Queen Elizabeth II Wednesday during a visit to Britain that was marred by protesters accusing him of human rights abuses.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Indonesian first lady Ani Bambang Yudhoyono were welcomed by the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, in a ceremony at London’s Horse Guards Parade. The two couples then took part in a state carriage procession to Buckingham Palace, where the visiting couple will stay during their three-day visit.
About 50 demonstrators holding placards that read “Stop killing Papuans” protested the Indonesian leader’s visit outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s residence at 10 Downing Street. They claim Yudhoyono has committed crimes of humanity against tribal people in West Papua.
Rights groups including the New York-based Human Rights Watch have said that Indonesia’s military is responsible for some of the violence in the southeast Asian country’s restive Papua province, home to a decades-long low-level guerrilla war. Yudhoyono has conceded that Indonesian security forces had overreacted at times, but said the attacks were “on a small scale with limited victims.”
Later Wednesday, two human rights activists tried to reach Yudhoyono’s car, but were stopped by police. Scotland Yard confirmed that they arrested one man for attempting to disrupt the leader’s visit. The man, activist Peter Tatchell, was released without charge.
The queen, who along with her husband visited Indonesia 33 years ago, praised Yudhoyono for leading democratic change in Indonesia during a lavish state banquet she hosted in honor of her guests at a ballroom in Buckingham Palace.
The president is the first foreign leader to be welcomed in a state visit during the queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
Minutes after taking off from Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in East Jakarta, lawmakers and politicians demanded the president not kneel in front of Queen Elizabeth II when receiving his honorary knighthood today.
Maps of Prisons with Political Prisoners in Indonesia