[ETAN-key] ETAN needs your support
John M Miller
fbp at igc.org
Wed May 24 08:51:53 PDT 2006
To contribute to ETAN
go to http://www.etan.org/etan/2006aappl.htm#online or see below
Dear ETAN activists,
When the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) was founded
fifteen years ago, they took on a quixotic task: not only would they
help a small and overlooked nation gain self-determination, but they
would end U.S. assistance to one of the world's most brutal military
dictatorships. At the time, it seemed most unlikely that a small band
of human rights activists could successfully challenge a bipartisan
belief in Washington that maintaining a strong military relationship
with Indonesia was worth overlooking severe human rights violations
in Indonesia and East Timor.
I can attest to ETAN's effectiveness. I watched its impact from
inside the U.S. government when I headed the political section of the
U.S. Embassy in Jakarta from 1996 to 1999. I recall receiving phone
calls from ETAN at the Embassy during 1999 when military-back militia
were targeting human rights advocates and others in East Timor.
ETAN's pressure on the Embassy to urgently contact the Indonesian
government to rein in the militias probably saved lives.
I retired after almost 27 years in the State Department in 2001.
Since then, I have roamed the halls of Congress and protested on the
streets with ETAN in support of justice, human rights and democracy
in Indonesia and -- now independent -- East Timor.
ETAN depends on the financial support of people like you to get the
job done. Your generous contribution is needed to continue this
important work, now made all the more difficult by an Administration
in Washington which thinks it can support justice and build democracy
in Indonesia by arming its military.
For more than a decade, ETAN won one victory after another against
the U.S. military establishment and Administrations insensitive to
issues of justice and human rights. This increased constriction of
U.S. military assistance helped constrain the feared Indonesian
military, or TNI, to the point that democratic elections were finally
held across the archipelago and the independence of East Timor became
These days, it can be hard to imagine victories. The Pentagon is more
powerful than ever, and Congressional oversight of military aid is
unconscionably lax. In the midst of this, some of the ugliest parts
of the TNI -- having evaded accountability for past human rights
crimes -- are regrouping and regaining their power. This trend
constitutes a growing threat to democracy in Indonesia and renewed
dangers for East Timor. Impunity for crimes against humanity in East
Timor rules supreme.
Many of you have probably heard how Secretary of State Rice last
November unilaterally lifted restrictions on weapons exports and
foreign military financing (FMF) just two days after Congress renewed
a ban for another year. As in many other highly suspect cases, the
Bush Administration continues to justify this very unwise move in the
name of democracy and the so-called "war on terror."
As the most oppressive force in the country with the world's largest
Muslim population, the TNI remains determined to regain full access
to U.S. military technology. And the Bush Administration is all too
happy to oblige. The State Department's pledge to "carefully
calibrate" assistance for the TNI as a way to promote reform was not
worth the paper it was printed on. They have proposed a nearly
seven-fold increase in FMF for Indonesia for next year and will give
the TNI up to $19 million under a brand new Pentagon program, the
largest pot of funds the TNI has seen from the U.S. in over a decade.
Last month, the commander of the Kopassus Special Forces attended a
Pentagon conference in Hawaii. Kopassus has a reputation as one of
the most feared and ruthless military units in Asia. Responsible for
some of the most heinous acts throughout the occupation of East
Timor, Kopasssus has never been held responsible for the many crimes
against humanity its troops committed. Kopassus's tactic of creating
militias, honed in East Timor during 1999, did not end with
independence. It has continued to create other paramilitary forces in
Aceh, West Papua and other regions under Indonesian control. In West
Papua, it was behind the assassination of independence leader Theys
Eluay, and it supported the fundamentalist militia Laskar Jihad to
ferment unrest in Ambon and elsewhere.
In such an atmosphere, the challenges we face are immense. But that
won't stop the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network. I know ETAN
is up to the task. I've seen their work from inside and out. ETAN has
learned well from the East Timorese that "to resist is to win", and
the only way to make the impossible come true is to try.
Unfortunately, at the same time that the challenges before ETAN seem
the greatest, available resources are becoming increasingly scarce.
Your financial support provides a lifeline for the organization's
survival. ETAN relies on individual donations from people like you;
only with your help can ETAN continue its critical work for another
year. I hope you will join me in giving what you can today.
(Retired) Senior Foreign Service Officer
P,S, You can make a secure tax-deductible contribution through
ETAN's website: http://etan.org/etan/donate.htm.
You can also write a check to "ETAN/U.S." in support of its political
advocacy work, or make a tax-deductible donation of over $50 to "A.J.
Muste Memorial Institute/ETAN," which supports ETAN's educational
efforts. Please mail donations to: ETAN/U.S., PO Box 15774,
Washington, DC 20003. Thank you for your support.
More information about the ETAN-Key