[ETAN-key] Reminder - sign on letter on U.S. Indonesia military assistance
John M Miller
fbp at igc.org
Tue Mar 6 05:50:49 PST 2007
The new Congress offers increased opportunities to place restrictions
and conditions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. The
following letter will be sent to the entire Congress to urge it to
use its power to promote genuine democracy and justice for Indonesia
and East Timor. The themes of the letter are similar to one many of
you signed last November to President Bush prior to his trip to
Indonesia. We hope that your organization will sign this letter. The
deadline is MONDAY, March 12. Thank you if you have already signed.
We look forward to hearing from you. Please contact me if you have questions.
John M. Miller,
National Coordinator, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
john at etan.org; 718-596-7668
PO BOX 21873
BROOKLYN, NY 11202-1873
March XX, 2007
Dear Member of Congress:
As organizations concerned with human rights and justice in Indonesia
and East Timor, we respectfully urge Congress to reinstate
restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia's armed forces.
Restrictions on U.S. assistance to the Indonesian military have been
crucial in Indonesia's transition to democracy and in East Timor's
achieving its independence. For 15 years, Congress played a leading
role in shaping and imposing those restrictions. It should do so
again in order to promote progress in military reform,
accountability, and respect for human rights in Indonesia and East
Timor. Re-engagement with the Indonesian military has failed.
We remain deeply troubled by the Indonesia's security forces
widespread impunity for crimes against humanity and other serious
violations committed against the peoples of East Timor and Indonesia;
its continued resistance to civilian control and oversight; its lack
of budget transparency; and its persistent emphasis on internal
security. In Papua, where outside access is restricted, human rights
violations include the targeting of civilians during military
operations and peaceful activists are imprisonment for their political views.
Due in large part to the Indonesian military's resistance to its
dismantling, the "territorial command" system remains intact. This
system allows the military to operate a shadow government -- exerting
influence over civil administration and politics, commerce, and
justice -- right down to the village level. Moreover, the Indonesian
military at best tolerates and, more ominously, has a long history of
backing militias, whose principle role is to intimidate civilians,
particularly ethnic and religious minorities. The State Department's
own human rights reports have highlighted the military's ongoing
rights violations, illegal business dealings, and impunity.
The prominent Indonesian human rights group Kontras has said, "The
business practices of military enterprises have helped sustain the
reputation of the Indonesian military as abusive, corrupt and largely
above the law." Until the Indonesian military is barred from pursuing
its own business interests, civilian control over its activities will
be limited and human rights will suffer. Indonesian and international
media have exposed military involvement in a range of unlawful
activities, including gun running, illegal logging, and human trafficking.
Restricting military assistance to Indonesia is fundamental to ending
the cycle of impunity and bringing justice to the peoples of East
Timor and Indonesia, No senior officials have been convicted for the
widespread crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East
Timor from 1975-1999. The bilateral Commission on Truth and
Friendship (CTF) would enshrine impunity for human rights violations
rather than encourage justice and has been widely criticized in both
In its final report, East Timor's official Commission for Reception,
Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), an independent body created and
operated with the support of the United Nations, called on
governments to make military assistance to Indonesia "totally
conditional on progress towards full democratization, the
subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian
government, and strict adherence with international human rights."
East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly urged maintaining
restrictions on military engagement.
Finally, we urge Congress to continue its pressure to ensure that
investigation leads to credible criminal proceedings against the
masterminds and perpetrators of the assassination of Munir,
Indonesia's foremost human rights defender, in September 2004.
Evidence implicates members of Indonesia's intelligence agency (BIN),
which is largely staffed by retired military. President Yudhoyono
called resolving this crime a "test case for whether Indonesia has
changed." After October's reversal of the only murder conviction to
date, no one has been held accountable for this crime.
Fifteen months ago, when the administration waived remaining
congressional restrictions on military assistance, it pledged to
remain "committed to pressing for accountability for past human
rights violations, and [that] U.S. assistance will continue to be
guided by Indonesia's progress on democratic reform and
accountability." This pledge has remained unfulfilled. As a result,
military reform has stalled and accountability for the severest of
human rights crimes remains elusive. Congress must once again place
democracy and human rights at the center of the U.S. relationship
with Indonesia. As it has done so often in the past, Congress should
seize this opportunity and exercise the best leverage the U.S. has by
conditioning and restricting military assistance, including foreign
military financing and training.
We thank you for your serious consideration.
ETAN welcomes your financial support. For more info:
John M. Miller Internet: fbp at igc.org
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097
Mobile phone: (917)690-4391 Skype: john.m.miller
Web site: http://www.etan.org
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