Subject: AP: Indonesia Grps Oppose Military Ties With US

Dow Jones Newswires July 13, 2000 Indonesia Grps Oppose Military Ties With US

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--Six Indonesian non-government organizations are opposing resumed military ties with the United States, saying it would send signals that Washington supported Indonesia's alleged human rights abuses in East Timor.

In a letter to members of the U.S. Congress and the Clinton administration released Thursday, the Indonesian groups called military ties between the two countries "indefensible."

The letter also warned that any positive effect Washington's suspension of military ties with Indonesia may have had would be squandered.

"Any signal that the U.S. is beginning to warm up to the Indonesian military is taken as signs that the kind of violence that is going on against the East Timorese will be encouraged," said Loren Ryter of the East Timor Action Network, a U.S-based group backing the Indonesian non-governmental organizations in their campaign.

The United States severed military ties with Indonesia in September after pro-Indonesian militias went on a killing rampage in East Timor after its people voted for independence. The United States had been Indonesia's primary supplier of weapons systems for several decades, and the two countries had an active training exchange program until the East Timor crisis last year. Washington is now reconsidering the suspension on condition that those responsible for last year's campaign of terror be punished and a peaceful solution be found to the refugee crisis in Indonesian-controlled West Timor.

U.N. officials estimate there are still about 120,000 East Timorese sheltering in squalid camps dotted across West Timor and that many of the refugees are being prevented from returning home due to violence and intimidation at the hands of anti-independence militias.

"Given the Indonesian military makes no distinction between national defense and domestic policing, the U.S. must admit that any training and aid provided to the military can just as easily be used against Indonesian citizens," read the statement released by the groups.

The Indonesian organizations said when the Pentagon first announced joint training programs with the Indonesian military, members of a prominent non-governmental organization working in East Timor were attacked while authorities watched.

"It indicates the extent to which Indonesian military authorities regard U.S. overtures toward them as a green light to continue the policy that they have adopted for many months," Ryter said.

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