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East Timor & Indonesia ACTION Network ALERT

Signatures Needed on House Letter Opposing More Aid for Indonesian Military

Call your Representative today!

A letter to President Bush urging him to reconsider strengthening military ties with Indonesia is now circulating in the House of Representatives. The letter calls for Indonesia’s rogue military to make considerable progress in human rights and accountability before increasing engagement. We need to get as many signatures as possible to send the Bush administration the strongest message possible. We need YOUR help to do that!

The Pentagon and State Department want to remove all Congressional restrictions on military assistance to Indonesia’s brutal security forces. This month, the House of Representatives is debating the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which contains these restrictions. Your Representative’s signature on this letter will send an important and timely to message both to Bush and other Representatives that support for one of the world’s vicious militaries is unacceptable.

Please call your Representative today. 

  • Urge her/him to sign the letter that Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) are circulating to President Bush to reconsider strengthening ties with the brutal Indonesian military until it makes considerable progress in improving its human right record, accountability, and security force reforms.

  • The deadline for signatures is July 15. To sign on, offices should contact Beth Tritter (Rep. Lowey) or George Phillips (Rep. Smith).  

The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121, or check www.congress.org for contact information.  Every call makes a difference, so please contact your Representative. Please let us know the results of your efforts by sending an email to etan@etan.org. Thanks!

Representatives signed on so far (as of July 8)r:
Lowey (NY), Smith (NJ), Abercrombie (HI), Andrews (NJ), Baldwin (WI), Bishop (NY), Brady (PA), Capuano (MA), Cardoza (CA), Clay (MO), Davis, Danny (IL), DeFazio (OR), Delahunt (MA), DeLauro (CT), Evans, Lane (IL), Faleomavaega (AS), Filner (CA), Gerlach (PA), Grijalva (AZ), Hastings (FL), Higgins (PA), Hinchey (NY), Kennedy (RI), Lee, Barbara (CA), Lewis, John (GA), Lofgren (CA), Maloney (NY), McCollum (MN), McDermott (WA), McGovern (MA), Oberstar (MN), Pastor (AZ), Payne (NJ) Rothman (NJ), Sabo (MN), Sanders (VT),  
Schakowsky (IL),  Serrano (NY), Smith (NJ), Tierney (MA), Udall (NM), Udall (CO), Van Hollen (MD), Waters (CA), Waxman (CA), Weiner (NY), Woolsey (CA), Wu (OR

BACKGROUND

The House of Representatives recently passed legislation for 2006 that would end restrictions on Indonesia from receiving IMET, foreign military financing (FMF), and export licenses for lethal defense articles in the 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. But the struggle to keep the U.S. from fully backing the brutal Indonesian military is not over yet!

Current legislation forbids such export licenses and FMF until critical conditions are met, including presidential certification that the Indonesian government is prosecuting members of the armed forces accused of rights violations or aiding militia groups and punishing those guilty of such acts. (IMET brings foreign military officers to the U.S. for training. Foreign military financing provides grants and loans to help countries purchase U.S.-produced weapons, defense equipment, services and military training.)

When Indonesia’s president visited Washington in May, the Bush administration lifted restrictions in place since 1999 on the sale of “non-lethal” excess defense articles (surplus military equipment) and on foreign military sales of non-lethal items, allowing the Indonesian government to purchase military equipment, services, and training directly from the U.S. government.

Congress first voted to restrict Indonesia from receiving IMET in response to the November 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor by Indonesian troops wielding U.S.-supplied M-16 rifles. All military ties with Indonesia were severed in September 1999 as the military and its militia proxies razed East Timor.  In late February, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice restored full IMET for Indonesia. Just two days later, the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices said, "Security force members murdered, tortured, raped, beat, and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements, especially in Aceh and to a lesser extent in Papua."  East Timorese and Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called for restrictions on military engagement to be maintained.

For more information see

ETAN Accuses House of Representatives of Selling Out Rights, Reform; Bill Would Lift Restrictions on Military Assistance to Indonesia

The Question of U.S. Military Assistance for Indonesia and http://www.etan.org/issues/miltie.htm.  

 
ETAN Advocacy Days demo at Indonesian Embassy.  

Cover Letter

Strengthening Military-to-Military Ties with Indonesia is Premature

Urge the President to reconsider moves toward full normalization until transparency, accountability is assured.

June 7, 2005

Dear Colleague,

We hope you will join us in urging President Bush to reconsider strengthening ties with the Indonesian military (TNI) until the Indonesian government makes considerable progress in improving the military’s human rights record, assuring military accountability, and moving forward with security force reforms. We have serious concerns about President Bush’s plans, as he expressed last month during Indonesian President Yudhoyono’s visit, to seek full normalization of U.S.-Indonesia military-to-military ties.

While the Indonesian people have made substantial strides toward democracy recently, the military under President Yudhoyono’s administration is retreating on other promises of reform. Despite repeated expressions of concern by the Administration and Congress, Indonesia continues to resist accountability for crimes against humanity and other serious violations committed by its security forces in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Areas of conflict remain heavily militarized under President Yudhoyono’s administration, and the TNI’s documented support for terror groups very seriously compromises its compatibility with U.S. anti-terrorism goals. Finally, the shocking assassination of Munir, Indonesia’s foremost human rights defender, last September, dealt a tremendous blow to human rights work in Indonesia. The investigation into Munir’s death has stalled, an indication of a lack of government commitment to finding and prosecuting the perpetrators.

We hope you will join us in conveying the message that the normalization of relations at this time would be a premature reward for the half-steps that have been taken. Full normalization would undermine the excellent advocacy the U.S. has traditionally undertaken on behalf of genuine progress on human rights, military reform, and accountability, rather than encouraging more positive steps.

To sign on, or for more information, please contact Beth Tritter (Rep. Lowey) at 225-6506 or George Phillips (Rep.Smith) at 225-3765.

Sincerely,

Nita M. Lowey
Member of Congress

Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress


Letter Text

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our concerns about the trend toward full normalization of military ties between the United States and Indonesia. Specifically, we are troubled that you are seeking such normalization despite the persistence of obvious human rights, accountability, and security force reform problems in Indonesia. We urge you to reconsider strengthening ties with the Indonesian military (TNI) until considerably more progress is made in these areas.

The Indonesian people have made substantial strides toward democracy recently; last year’s first direct presidential election was a highlight. While Indonesia’s defense minister has begun taking some welcome steps to rein in the TNI’s many illicit business ventures, the military under President Yudhoyono’s administration is retreating on other promises of reform. Plans to significantly increase the number of Army territorial commands and the TNI’s granting of permission for active duty officers to run in upcoming regional elections represent a disquieting increase in security force involvement in civilian political affairs.

Further, despite repeated expressions of concern by the Administration and Congress, Indonesia continues to resist accountability for crimes against humanity and other serious violations committed by its security forces in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Indonesia’s failure to issue visas in a timely fashion to the U.N. Secretary General’s Commission of Experts stands out as a testament to a lack of progress toward ending impunity. Areas of conflict remain heavily militarized under President Yudhoyono’s administration, with West Papua experiencing a marked escalation of militarization and military operations continuing in Aceh despite the lifting of the state of civil emergency. In addition, the TNI’s documented support for terror groups very seriously compromises its compatibility with U.S. anti-terrorism goals. A March 2002 study for the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School noted that the Indonesian army had become “a major facilitator of terrorism” due to “radical Muslim militias they had organized, trained, and financed.”

Finally, the shocking assassination of Munir, Indonesia’s foremost human rights defender, last September, dealt a tremendous blow to human rights work in Indonesia. We are extremely concerned with the lack of progress and apparent political interference in this most important investigation. We regard prosecution of all perpetrators of this heinous crime, consistent with international standards, as a litmus test of the Indonesian government’s and security forces’ commitment to the rule of law. Successful resolution of Munir’s murder should be a determining factor in the U.S.-Indonesia security relationship.

While we have great hopes for further change under President Yudhoyono’s administration, we believe strongly that the normalization of relations at this time would be a premature reward for the half-steps that have been taken. Full normalization would merely undermine the excellent advocacy the U.S. has traditionally undertaken on behalf of genuine progress on human rights, military reform, and accountability.

Thank you very much for considering our views; we look forward to your response.


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