Sample Letters to the Editor
Please adapt the following letters to your own words. Let us know if your letter is published. Send copies to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents everywhere reward good behavior and punish unacceptable acts. A just foreign policy must be based on the same premise.
Yet the U.S. is rewarding a nation whose military has killed thousands of civilians in recent years. This country scuttled a U.S.-backed ceasefire in Aceh by launching its largest military operation in more than 25 years. The UN stated this military was "responsible for the intimidation, terror, [and] killings" in neighboring East Timor. This same military stands accused of murdering two U.S. teachers last year.
The country is Indonesia. And the Bush administration wants to resume prestigious military training programs for Indonesia cut off more than a decade ago because of human rights concerns.
Any restoration of military assistance will only make U.S., Indonesian and East Timorese citizens less safe.
All the talk about 'normalizing' military relations with Indonesia and the failure to hold the those responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor have emboldened Indonesia to now commit similar abuses in Aceh.
Instead, the U.S. must insist that the Indonesian military be held accountable for past atrocities, through an international tribunal for East Timor (as called for by two UN bodies) and by withholding all military assistance.
Strong or weak, all must be held accountable for wrongdoing. It is easy for the strong to point the finger elsewhere. But the U.S. should resist the bully¹s way out and accept responsibility when appropriate. One such case is East Timor.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. One-third of the population was killed during the illegal, brutal military occupation. The invasion and 24-year-long occupation could not have happened without U.S. political and military support. Transcripts of meetings between then-President Ford, Secretary of State Kissinger and Indonesian dictator Suharto reveal the U.S. gave the "green light" for the invasion.
Given this shameful history, the least the U.S. can do now is release all relevant documents (as requested by East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation) and actively support an international tribunal for East Timor (as called for by two UN bodies and the East Timorese people).
rev. June 2003
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