|Subject: Text: Letter from Madeleine K.
Albright to Megawati Sukarnoputri
[Sent to Joyo by a reliable source]
Letter from U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright to Indonesian Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri
September 13, 2000
Dear Madame Vice President:
Congratulations on the successful conclusion of the First Annual People's Consultative Assembly session last month and on your newly enhanced responsibilities as decreed by President Wahid. It is my most sincere hope that this division of labor will create an environment in which the new cabinet, under your leadership, will be effective in addressing Indonesia's many formidable challenges. I am confident that you will approach your new duties with determination and seriousness of purpose, as this is a critical juncture in Indonesia's political transition. We will continue to do what we can to help promote Indonesia's economic recovery, strengthen its democratic institutions and support its territorial integrity.
Assistant Secretary Roth has briefed me about his two phone calls with you, and I hope that we will have an opportunity to talk ourselves in the near future. In the meantime, I want to share with you some urgent thoughts about the troubling violence in West Timor, which on September 6 claimed the lives of three UNHCR humanitarian aid workers, including American citizen Carlos Caceres. As Assistant Secretary Roth told you, the United States and indeed the entire international community are deeply troubled by this tragic incident, as well as by the subsequent violence and destruction in which innocent civilians and refugees were killed and houses burned. For many months, the United States has urged the government of Indonesia to take steps to deal with the growing problem of unchecked militia power in West Timor, including in a letter from President Clinton to President Wahid. The Security Council, too, had spoken on this problem, holding a special session on August 29 and issuing a strong statement the same day.
I hope that the September 6 tragedy and the outpouring of concern by the world leaders assembled at the Millennium Summit will catalyze your government to redouble its efforts to resolve the West Timor dilemma once and for all. I recognize and appreciate your government's announced intention to do so. In a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, I would like to take this opportunity to make a few suggestions as to how Indonesia might move forward.
-- The first priority must be to regain complete control of the province, ensure the safety and welfare of all refugees, displaced persons, and local citizens, and secure the border with East Timor. This requires that militia groups be disarmed and disbanded. I understand that two battalions of military and police have already been dispatched and are in the process of reestablishing control. Since it will be difficult to disarm all militia members and supporters at once, you might consider going camp by camp, an approach which has worked elsewhere. Once a camp is secured, weapons seized, and militia leaders separated from the population, you can then proceed to process refugees/displaced persons for either repatriation or transmigration.
-- The leaders of the various militia groups must be arrested and prosecuted. With hundreds of people known to have participated in the attack on UNHCR, the only way to achieve accountability will be to pursue those who organized and incited the violence. Experience elsewhere suggests that punishing the leaders of militia groups will have a powerful demonstration effect and erode popular support for their movement. Impunity for the crimes committed, on the other hand, will encourage future violence. In this regard, I bring to your attention notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres. There is credible evidence now, as there has been in the past, that Guterres is responsible for orchestrating violence. I urge the Indonesian authorities to arrest Guterres and send a clear signal to the people of West Timor and to the world -- that this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated.
-- Once the camps and the border have been secured, refugees that want to go back to East Timor should be repatriated and those that want to stay in Indonesia should be transmigrated. Assistant Secretary Roth tells me that you are working on a plan to reassign ex-TNI members and transmigrate pro-integrationists to a nearby island. I urge that you also work to resolve the pension problem for former East Timorese civil servants, many of whom have indicated that they want to return once they receive a pension settlement from Jakarta. The amount required is less than what the government of Indonesia would spend for long-term care and pensions, if these individuals remain on Indonesian soil. As I have told Foreign Minister Shihab on several occasions, and as President Clinton told President Wahid in his August 25 letter, the United States is prepared to help shoulder some of the financial and logistical burdens for repatriation and transmigration. I hope you will work closely with Ambassador Gelbard and Assistant Secretary Roth so that we can coordinate our assistance as you finalize your plans.
-- Troublemakers in Jakarta who are subverting the policy of your government by providing support to the militias must be dealt with. We have credible reports from multiple sources that retired and even active TNI members have continued to provide logistical support and training to the Timorese militias. Such activity is undermining the credibility of your government. I urge you to use your authority to send a clear message to these individuals that assistance to militia groups is illegal and will not be tolerated.
-- Until such time that security conditions permit the return of UNHCR and other international aid organizations, the government of Indonesia must be responsible for providing food and ensuring the welfare of all refugees and displaced persons in West Timor.
The past failure to deal firmly and decisively with the militias has already impacted our relations and is preventing us from resuming a military-to-military relationship. It is also creating pressure from the Congress and NGOs to cut or condition economic aid to your country -- an outcome which we both want to avoid. I am hopeful that with your leadership, the problems on Timor can be overcome expeditiously.
Madeleine K. Albright
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